If you’ve ever flown before, you’ll be aware from going through airport security that there is a limit as to how many ounces of liquid passengers can take on board a plane.
In the US, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was founded in 2001 to make transport by air safer. The TSA allows passengers to carry up to 100 milliliters (3.4 ounces) of liquids, aerosols, or gels on board a flight.
This requirement is often referred to as the TSA 3.1.1 Liquids Rule.
This is not a total limit. You can bring multiple containers, as long as EACH container is 100 milliliters or less (3.4 ounces or less). See below for the total limit allowed.
As with a lot of rules, there are certain exceptions, and we’ll highlight these within the article.
The requirement can often be confusing because some items that you’d never consider to be a liquid are, in fact, considered a liquid by the TSA rules.
Table of Contents
How Many Fluid Ounces Can You Take On To A Plane?
The TSA states: “Each passenger may carry liquids, gels, and aerosols in travel-size containers that are 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters.”
The TSA also mentions that typical examples of liquids that come under the 3.1.1 rule include toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, and lotion.
The airport security procedure is that each passenger needs to remove all liquid containers and place them in a transparent 1-quart bag (sealable).
This bag is placed in a provided tray that then proceeds to go through the airport security scanners.
If the scanning technician wants to take a closer look at any object, the tray will be taken aside and manually inspected.
Are There Different Rules For Domestic and International Flights?
No. The same security procedures and requirements apply regardless of whether your flight is domestic (within the US) or international (outside of the US).
Do The FSA 3.1.1 Rules Vary By Airline?
No. The FSA 3.1.1 rules are the same no matter which airline you are flying with.
Regardless of whether you are flying with Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, United, or American Airlines, the 3.1.1 liquid carrying rules will still apply to you.
This means that no matter which airline you fly with, you can still only carry individual travel-sized containers of liquids, gels, or aerosols that, individually, don’t exceed the maximum of 3.4 oz or 100 milliliters.
Is There a Total Amount of Fluid Ounces of Liquid You Can Take On A Plane?
Yes, the TSA had to draw a line somewhere. You can carry up to 32 ounces (1 quart of liquids) on board a plane.
That’s a generous allowance that will suit the vast majority of flying passengers.
In reality, most travelers will carry 2 or 3 of the clear resealable travel bags, each containing a number of travel-size containers of liquid, gel, or aerosols.
Remember, the 3.1.1. TSA rule allows for each individual container to hold no more than 100 milliliters or no more than 3.4 ounces.
So, in total, you can take a maximum of 32 ounces on board with you.
What Are the Exemptions to the TSA 3.1.1. Rule?
There are a number of exceptions to the TSA 3.1.1. traveling with liquids rule.
Here is a list of the 3.1.1. exceptions. You’ll need to remove the following items from your carry-on bag to be screened separately:
- Baby formula (medically necessary liquid)
- Breast milk (medically necessary liquid)
- Ice packs (only if still frozen solid)
- Freezer packs
- Frozen gel packs
- Gel or liquid-filled teethers (pacifiers)
- Canned or jarred baby food
- Hand Sanitizer (only since the global pandemic of 2020)
What Will Happen If You Try To Carry More Than 3.4 Ounces or 100 ml?
If you attempt to go through airport security with liquids, gels, or aerosols exceeding 100 ml (3.4 oz), the security personnel will confiscate the offending items.
That means you’ll have to continue on your journey without the items they have confiscated.
This is because of the TSA 3.1.1. rule. Remember that there are certain exceptions to this rule, and they are listed above (baby formula etc.).
Ironically, in many international airports, after completing the airport security checks, you’ll soon find yourself in pre-boarding gift shops where you can purchase even more liquids that you can legally take on board with you!
How Can You Get Around The 3.1.1 Rule And Carry More Than 100 ml (3.4 ounces) On Board A Plane?
In most cases, you cannot.
However, if you’re traveling with a baby or toddler, you can probably hang on to your bottle of water and if questioned about it, simply state that it is for your child.
The worst thing that can happen here is that they’ll take it off you. This discretion will come down to the individual security personnel and how familiar they are with the TSA rules.
The TSA Classifies These Items As Liquids, And the 100 ml (3.4 oz) Rule Applies
These items often catch unsuspecting air travelers off guard.
They all need to be under 100 ml (3.4 oz) or less if you want to take them on board with you:
- Nutella or peanut butter
- Pomade or gel for hair
- Contact lens solution
- Snow globes!
- Sun Lotion
What Liquids Are Not Allowed On A Plane?
Current TSA rules prohibit these liquids on planes (even if less than 100 ml or 3.4 ounces):
- Most flammable liquids
- Aerosols (non-toiletry)
- Certain alcoholic beverages
- Other cooking or cleaning liquids
These are all potentially dangerous items. They could pose a threat to aircraft crew or fellow passengers if misused.
If you’re unsure whether you can travel with a certain liquid, the best thing to do is check in advance with the specific airline you are flying with.
How Much Liquid (in Ounces) Can You Take On Your Checked In Baggage?
You will likely have an overall weight limit that you take on board a plane as checked-in baggage.
For unrestricted liquid items, you can take as much as falls within your regular overall checked-in bag weight limit.
According to the TSA, some liquid items are restricted, and these restricted items must not exceed 2 kg or 2 L in total.
These restricted items that form part of the limit include:
- Perfume and cologne
- Nail polish and nail polish remover
- Hair products like hair spray and texturizer
Also, individually, each of these items must be in a container holding no more than 18 ounces or 500 ml.
I hope this clears up any confusion regarding how many ounces of liquid you can take with you on a plane.
Airport security will always have the final word regarding what you can carry on board.
If you enjoyed this article about what you can or cannot bring onto a plane, you’ll love this Mile High Club article about what you should or shouldn’t get up to on a plane. Enjoy!