Airport security checkpoints tend to have very specific rules on what type of liquids are allowed onboard and where you should place them during the screening process. These procedures are quite timely, especially if you’re required to remove items from your bag and make adjustments on the spot.
To prevent such issues from arising while dealing with airport security, it’s best to be well informed on the current rules and regulations set for liquids. This article will help you understand which items classify as liquids in 2022, which ones are banned in airports, the amount you’re allowed to carry, and the primary reason why these regulations were set in the first place.
What’s the 3-1-1 Rule for Liquids in Hand Luggage
Most airports worldwide have the same 3-1-1 rule for liquids. It doesn’t completely ban you from bringing liquids in your hand luggage, but only limits the amount you can bring. The 3 refers to the maximum amount you can bring – all of your liquids must be in 3.4-ounce (100 ml) containers or smaller. The first 1 means that all of your liquids must fit in a 1-quart / 1-liter / 20×20 cm transparent, re-sealable bag. And the last 1 indicates that each passenger can only have one of these bags in their hand luggage.
However, several items are excluded from the 3-1-1 rule, including hand sanitizer, baby formula, breast milk, diabetic kits, and liquid medicine, so they can be in larger containers and don’t have to be packed inside the re-sealable bag. It’s also worth noting that the 3-1-1 rule doesn’t apply to your checked luggage – only for hand luggage, which includes your carry-on and underseat item.
Tip: The Packism TSA-approved toiletry bag is ideal for organizing your toiletries and preventing them from spilling to the rest of your luggage. Because it’s TSA-approved, you won’t need to worry about finding a new ZipLock for your toiletries before every flight.
Why Can’t You Bring Liquids on a Plane
In a few words, it’s to prevent terrorism. The liquid ban was implemented after British security services caught several terrorists trying to carry liquid explosives onboard by disguising them as regular soft drinks. Shortly after these terrorist plans were discovered, TSA created the 3-1-1 rule, and most airports around the world introduced nearly identical rules.
Airports set limitations on the amount you can carry with you because they can’t accurately identify the type of liquid inside bottles by only using their security screening equipment. These measurements were carefully set up by researching the maximum amount of liquid explosives that could cause little to no damage to the plane and passengers.
When Did Airports Ban Liquids From Hand Luggage
The liquid ban on hand luggage was first introduced as a safety measure in August 2006 after the arrest of several terrorists who plotted to detonate liquid explosives on several transatlantic flights. The attack was planned to let the explosives go off around the end of the flight to cause maximum damage to the passengers and the citizens of the cities they were flying to. The terrorists were arrested on August 9th, and the liquid ban was implemented starting on August 10th, 2006.
In 2022, Liquids Are Still Banned From Hand Luggage in Most Airports
As surprising as it is, most airports worldwide still have the liquid ban in place in 2022. The amount and type of liquids you’re allowed to carry in your luggage are limited, and you’ll need to remove your liquids from your luggage during airport screening. However, a few countries are slowly starting to lift the ban by introducing new scanning security systems that don’t require you to remove liquids from your bag during security checks or have any restrictions on the amount you want to carry.
Which Airports Have Lifted the Liquid Ban on Airplanes
One of the first airports to have lifted the liquid ban is Ireland’s Shannon Airport in October 2021. They were able to do this by fully implementing the new CT scanning security system, which is similar to the CT scans used by hospitals. This advanced technology enables security to see the items in your bag in 3D instead of 2D and helps them accurately determine whether these items can pose a threat or not. Another airport that has lifted their bans on liquid is Donegal Airport, located in Ireland, and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. The London Heathrow Airport in London has also stated that they plan to lift the liquid ban before the end of 2022.
Furthermore, there are even countries that have lifted the liquid limitations in hand luggage altogether. If you’ll be flying on a domestic flight in Australia, you won’t need to worry about how much and where you pack your liquids, because, on domestic flights, there aren’t any limitations for liquids, powders, aerosols, and gels. That’s because all airports in Australia are now fitted with these now, improved CT scanners.
Which Items Are Considered Liquids by Airport Security
Before deciding which items you can fit in your luggage while still following the 3-1-1 rule, it’s important to know which items classify as liquids. The TSA guidelines state that any free-flowing or viscous substance is considered liquid. Some examples of liquids that fit the description include:
- Drinks: Water, alcohol, sodas, juices, etc.
- Liquid toiletries: Shampoo, conditioner, nail polish, perfume, etc.
- Creams and pastes, and gels: Body lotions, shaving cream, hair gels, foundation, toothpaste, etc.
- Clay and wax: hair wax, hair clay, etc.
- Liquid food: Peanut butter, tomato paste, soups, etc.
- Any other liquid
Aerosols and Powders Are Also Restricted on Airplanes
Some countries limit the size of all powders in hand and checked luggage to 350 grams, or require additional screening when packed in hand luggage. All aerosols are treated identically to liquids and must follow the same 3-1-1 rule.
Some Liquids Are Exempt From the 3-1-1 Rule
Generally, most liquids that serve medical or child-care purposes are allowed in hand luggage without any restrictions. These include:
- Liquid, paste, and gel medicine
- Hand sanitizers up to 12 oz (350 ml)
- Breast milk and baby food
- Any other liquid, gel, or paste needed for medical purposes or for taking care of infants
Which Liquids Are Completely Banned in Hand and Checked Luggage (Even Below 100 ml)
It’s important to remember that not all liquids that meet the 3-1-1 or checked baggage rule are permitted to pass security checks. Some liquids that are banned in luggage include corrosives (acids, hydrogen peroxide, wet cell batteries, and mercury), flammable liquids (spray paints, cooking fuel, lighter refills), bleach, insecticides, compressed gas cylinders, bear spray, cooking spray and alcoholic beverages with over 70% ABV (140 proof).
If airport security finds banned liquids in your packed luggage, they will dispose of it, confiscate it, and possibly even ask you to step aside for private screening, where they’ll ask you to explain why you’re bringing dangerous items on aircraft. Even if it was an accident, they’ll most likely add you to their “higher-risk” screening list and revoke your TSA PreCheck status (if you have one).
How to Carry More Than 3.4 oz (100 ml) Of Liquids on Planes
While packing, you might notice that not all your essential liquids will fit in your allowed quart-size bag. In this case, you can move some of the liquids you don’t need during your flight to your checked luggage.
Or you may want to eliminate some items you think you can easily find and purchase at your destination.
You might also find it beneficial to replace some of your liquid toiletries with ones that classify as solid such as stick deodorants instead of spray ones or soap bars instead of liquid body soap. And if you’re traveling with a child, you can claim that some of your liquid beverages are for them, excluding them from the 3-1-1 rule.
In 2022, only a few airports worldwide have switched to the new CT systems, but more and more airports are added to this list each year. This will help loosen up the strict rules and limitations regarding liquids or lift the ban altogether. But until then, we’re still stuck with the 3-1-1 rule for liquids.
And even though it may seem unnecessary, it’s there to prevent terrorism. There are at least two actual, real-life, planned terrorism acts that intended to blow-up aircraft with liquid explosives in hand luggage. So even though you may not like it, it’s there for a reason.