These days, the prospect of flying anywhere is enough to strike fear in the heart of the most intrepid traveler. The terrorist attacks that occurred in the United States on September 11, 2001 have forever changed airline travel. It seems like the rules are always changing regarding what is allowed in carry on luggage. Carry on liquids became outlawed back in August 2006, when British authorities foiled a plot involving liquid explosives on a U.S. bound aircraft. When the plot was initially discovered, the Transportation Security Administration, otherwise known as the TSA, banned all carry on liquids and gels on airplanes. Suddenly, it was no longer okay for mothers to carry baby formula or asthmatics to carry rescue inhalers.

Over the past five years, the TSA has loosened regulations involving carry on liquids and gels. According to an article in USA Today, the total ban was eventually lifted when the FBI conducted tests to find out how much of a true threat to public safety liquid explosives might be. Thankfully, the results of the tests showed that it’s extremely unlikely that terrorists could bring down a plane with explosives made from small amounts of liquid.

According to the TSA’s official Web site, the following rules concerning carry on liquids are in effect in 2011:

1. Remember 3-1-1. Passengers are currently permitted to carry on a container of liquid in a bottle that holds 3.4 ounces (100ml) of liquid or less. Place the 3.4 ounce or less container in a clear, 1 quart, zip-top plastic bag. Only 1 bag is allowed per passenger.

2. Be prepared. Having your liquids properly prepared ahead of time helps keep the security line moving.

3. Only carry on liquids that are absolutely necessary during your flight. If you’re not going to need your hairspray or nail polish remover while you’re in the air, pack it in your checked luggage.

4. Liquid medications, breast milk, baby formula, and baby food are all exceptions to the 3-1-1 rule and can be carried on in larger quantities than 3.4 ounces. If you need to carry on any of these items, be sure to declare them to the security officer, but be aware that they may be subject to additional screening.

5. The 3-1-1 rules are in effect in many countries around the world, so you should prepare your carry on liquids even if you’re not flying from the United States.

Know these rules before you head to the airport and you should have no trouble passing through the security line and getting your air travel underway.


The Transportation Security Administration’ s official Web site:

Frank, Thomas “Liquids Not as Risky as First Feared” (September 26, 2006). Retrieved from: rlines-liquids_x.htm