Please sign in to post.

3-1-1 still enforced?

I gotta be honest… i had to google this 3-1-1 bag you all keep talking about. While I had a vague memory of why I bought a couple of those clear plastic zipper bags that are still in my travel “cache,”, I haven’t used them in years! I have frequently flown carryon only (albeit only domestic flights) and I just pack my normal makeup and toiletries bags. And I am positive that I carried on my cosmetics and some toiletries in my backpack for both Australia and Italy and never used those clear bags. Granted, i am careful to make sure every liquid is under 3 oz…but I have never been “unpacked” by security or even questioned as to why things aren’t in the clear pouches. Have I just been lucky?

Posted by
2626 posts

Yes you’ve been lucky. And security in Europe is much tighter when it comes to liquids. Use your bag.

Posted by
838 posts

If you have TSA Pre then you aren't required to remove the 3-1-1 bag in the US so unless your bag got flagged for other reasons the screeners wouldn't know. In Europe the rules are different. At Heathrow they were checking and I had to squeeze medical liquids ( nose spray and eye drops) into my 3-1-1 bag because their rules are different.

Yes Jane you've been lucky.

Posted by
14220 posts

Yep, you've been very lucky! 😳
And as mentioned above, unless you have TSA Precheck, they ask that you to remove the 3-1-1 bag from your carryon and place it separately in the bin with your shoes, certain electronics, etc. before it goes through the xray machine. I'm curious when you've last flown as this has been a "thing" since 2006?

https://www.tsa.gov/travel/travel-tips/travel-checklist

About TSA Precheck:
https://www.tsa.gov/precheck

Posted by
5131 posts

You will have a lot of people glaring at you if they’ve been in longer lines at the airport now and get behind you at security with none of your liquids ready to be scanned - whew! You wouldn’t want to give the security team a reason to consider dumping your suitcase for an entire search at an international airport, either.

Posted by
3450 posts

Last week we were at LHR behind a family of 4 who all of a sudden had to tear through their 4 carryon bags on the floor at the security conveyor belt. It looked like a scramble to find “something” they’d packed “somewhere”. There were signs posted all along the way showing what was allowed and not allowed and what needed to be taken out before screening but they didn’t respond until they were next in line. We quickly went to the next conveyor belt.

Posted by
18 posts

I fly several times a year, most recently this summer with a carryon Indy to LaGuardia. I took my niece and I had my LARGE cosmetics bag and a makeup bag with liquid foundation. Not precheck, didn’t remove anything nor were we asked to. As I said, most of my flights have been domestic, and I am not officially a Precheck although once in a while we get a random precheck from Delta (maybe because because of our FF status?) Australia 2013, Italy 2016. My husband and son say the same and they are bigger flyers than me.

Sooo…I am assuming this caution is for international flights and we will need to be careful on our upcoming trip to France. Thanks for the heads up!

Posted by
6377 posts

I am not officially a Precheck although once in a while we get a random precheck from Delta

Yeah, that is something you may no longer get, they have pretty much done away with complementary Precheck.

Posted by
14220 posts

As I said, most of my flights have been domestic,

It doesn't matter; the 3-1-1 rules are the same to pass through U.S. airport security whether the flight is domestic or international. Really, i'm positively gobsmacked that you haven't been nailed yet as they often TELL you that as you're approaching the bins/conveyor belt. "Shoes and jackets off, pockets empty, liquids/3-1-1 bag out of your bag, belts off...." etc, etc.

Posted by
132 posts

Some airports have the new machines where you don't need to take toiletries or electronics out of your bag. Love those! I always put my liquids in a 3-1-1 bag. My husband just throws them in his toiletry case and does not put them in a 3-1-1 bag. Granted his toiletries (liquids) have been very minimal, but he has always been able to go through TSA screening. On international flights, we have always checked bags, so I can't comment on those.

Posted by
3751 posts

...positively gobsmacked that you haven't been nailed yet...

So am I. If you put your liquids (not all make up is liquid) in a 3-1-1 bag, have it easily accessable, and just put it in the bin, you may save yourself a much more intrusive security screening if they discover it on their own. Never hurts to take the more conservative approach.

Posted by
18 posts

Okay, continuing this conversation may sound argumentative, but honestly that is not my intent. I called my most “international” friend who travels to a Europe several times a year. These were his replies (30-something, hates checking a bag):
“Even when I check a bag, like I had to on my last two trips to Italy this summer, I have hand sanitizer and lotion in my backpack…was only ever an issue at Heathrow- they were such a pain in the *** there. My girlfriend and I had to repack all of our liquids while getting yelled at in British 😂😂
The Italians were very relaxed in Rome both times this summer and Milan last October. Italy basically gave 0 care about what we had in our carry ons in October..
Your only issue may be at CDG when coming back. Most things I’m reading right now says CDG enforces the rule strictly.”

…yelled at in British…ha!

We will be checking bags on the way home, and really could check our bags on the one-way flight there (free for us) but as I said I always have SOME Liquids in my personal bag anyway so I will prepare accordingly this trip.

Posted by
403 posts

I travel frequently and the liquids thing hasn't been a problem in any of the US airports I've been to. Granted, I don't bring big bottles of sunscreen or water but I do have small things like a mini-sunscreen that is clipped to my bag, toothpaste and lip balm. However, when we flew through Heathrow in May, it was a major pain.

Although we'd made it through our home airport security with no issues, Heathrow was very tight. It seem much stricter than when we went through security there in 2019. To my great embarrassment, we were those people fishing through our bags to consolidate all these small fluids and put them into one bag. On the trip home, we did have all our fluids in order. There were other interesting security features in Rome but not a focus on liquids. We won't be complacent about this again!

Posted by
1467 posts

Hand sanitizer is excepted off the list since the pandemic.

Honestly anecdotal evidence really isn’t your friend here. It’s akin to saying “texting and driving is fine. I’ve done it lots of times and nothing has ever happened”. It is until it is not.

As many people have mentioned to you, TSA pre-check in the states gives a lot of leeway as well as certain airports. Even individual screeners. If you don’t want to cause trouble for yourself and others, best to follow the rules.

Posted by
18 posts

I agree. I did not include his experiences to say rules don’t apply.. I include it (along with my own experiences) to say that this is why the
3-1-1 bag has never been on my radar. I am glad I am on this forum and as I say will plan accordingly, but I am a little less “gobsmacked” (awesome word btw! 🙂) that I have never encountered trouble…

Posted by
14220 posts

LOL, Jane, "gobsmacked" was a gift from friends in England. Much more fun than boring American English, eh? 🤣
Ya'll be careful with those liquids now, hear?

Posted by
1228 posts

I am not gobsmacked either. I flew CLE-ATL-MUC. We were instructed "keep everything in your bag except laptops/tablets". Maybe Cleveland has these "new machines" mentioned above? I did have my 3-1-1 bag in a separate zippered pouch at the top of my bag. In Prague I just simply forgot to pull my 3-1-1 out of the bag. Bag went right through.

I have also been lucky that my single Hunger Hiker collapsible stick has made it through security in Cleveland, Portland, Istanbul, Izmir, Keflavik and Prague.

Posted by
1189 posts

The 311 rule is mostly misinterpreted to mean you only get there bottles. Not true.

Posted by
111 posts

Please excuse my ignorance. I had never heard of “311 bags” until I started following this forum. Maybe it’s not a Canadian thing. I looked them up on Amazon. Correct me if I’m wrong, but how does the 311 bag differ from a ziplock bag? Other than price. I haven’t flown since the pandemic, but I’m hoping my ziplock will not get me in trouble at security😜.

Posted by
2175 posts

Susie:
I've never bought an official 3-1-1 bag, as why, when ziplocs are cheaper and do the same thing anyway?!!
I just use a good quality ziploc so it won't tear.

(Love Qualicum...have family and friends nearby.)

Posted by
639 posts

Susie, 311 bags definitely are a thing in Canada. Maybe you have been accidentally using a ziplock bag of the right size so have gotten away with it. Buying a 311 bag that is the correct size will save you the hassle of packing liquids that are too large and having problems at security. Although, I seem to manage to get the 311 bag right, but forget to empty my water bottle before security😱

Posted by
777 posts

We’ve always packed all carry on liquids in the separate bag as required. I got precheck a year or so before my wife, so we’d go through separate security lines. There were several instances when it was announced in the general security line that people didn’t need to take anything out of their bags. She was surprised and pleased. A couple of times she got through regular security before I got through precheck (I have knee replacements so always have to go through the scanner and I always get a pat down, sometimes quick and cursory, sometimes not).

Posted by
3777 posts

I was in the TSA line in Seattle on an international trip a few years ago when a woman behind me was forced to toss the very important (to her) large container of body lotion she was trying to carry on. She had multiple excuses for why it shouldn't count. It was a lotion not a liquid. It was only half full. It was very expensive.

The TSA guy was amused, but pointed out that:

  1. "Anything that makes a puddle outside of its container" is counted as a liquid.

  2. The container MUST be 3.4 oz (100 ml) or less.

  3. Price is irrelevant.

  4. And of course, that you're only allowed to carry on 1 quart sized 3-1-1 bag per person.

If this is a repeat, I'm sorry, but I liked the illustrations: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/frequently-asked-questions/what-3-1-1-liquids-rule

I will say that I've had one TSA person tell me that my eye drops had to go in the 3-1-1 bag and one in the same security area say they could stay with my meds. 🥴

And one time I forgot I had a lip balm in my pocket and showed it to them and they just waved me through, saying that lip balm didn’t count.

A few years back someone honestly thought that it was okay to put her belongings in multiple trays to go through the carry on scanner with a 3-1-1 bag in each tray. Apparently she'd done this successfully a few times before.

And on a domestic trip in early June this year, I was moved to the supposed fast lane due to my age (76). It was such a crowded, jumbled up mess that I totally forgot to put my 3-1-1 bag in the tray and nobody said anything.

The point is that any TSA person or European equivalent can strongly enforce or totally ignore the rules.

I'll be flying British Airways from Heathrow back to Seattle on Wednesday. I'm going to check my main bag and carry on a change of clothes "just in case" but I'm definitely going to follow the more stringent UK 3-1-1 rules about those eyedrops!

Posted by
15327 posts

I must be in a bad mood, because I can't help responding. My home country is very security-conscious. We had security checks way before most. Our security personnel are well-trained, polite, professional and ex-military. There has never been a restriction on liquids here. I bring drinks from home for every flight and usually go through security with at least 1.5 liters, usually more since the airlines never have what I want.

I'd feel a lot safer if security folks in other countries were more like ours.

Posted by
3505 posts

Heathrow makes you use their ziplocs instead of the slightly larger more durable ones that Target sells and that I have never had questioned anywhere else.

EDITED: When I go thru Heathrow, I grab a few of their bags for future trips so I can pack my toiletries in one of them BEFORE I go to the airport.

Posted by
20 posts

Like Jane my husband always had any liquids packed in his travel shave kit carry on and was never checked leaving the US or on domestic flights. Maybe once at Heathrow he had to repack in a clear bag for security. I always carried mine in a 3-1-1.

**I am not officially a Precheck although once in a while we get a random precheck from Delta

Yeah, that is something you may no longer get, they have pretty much done away with complementary Precheck.**

Glad we just applied for Precheck although I received my approval in 48 hours but my husband is still waiting after two weeks and our appointments were back to back.

Chani: you did not sound in a bad mood at all. Like you said security is well trained and I’m sure they know who to scruntinize no matter the liquid amount as well as the general public knowing how professional, well trained and from ex military your airport security is chosen.

Posted by
14434 posts

Chani, I'm with you. I get tired of the can I break the law or violate the terms of my ticket (over sized bags) questions.

Now. I don't mind pushing things to the limits ... but come on guys, just follow the rules and enjoy the trip.

Posted by
3505 posts

I recently accidently brought a large bottle of water through the security line you pass through in Atlanta after immigration and customs at an international flight and was amazed when I discovered it later. (I had bought it after security at Heathrow). I will say that the inspection seemed very cursory at the time-but remember that in that instance, the passengers had never left the secure area. I can tell you that another time, at that same airport, at the initial TSA, the small bottle I accidently brought was immediately removed.

Posted by
583 posts

I definitely comply with the 3-1-1 directive. I once accidentally left a chap stick in my pants pocket which created an incident totally not commensurate with the item. It's easier to avoid turmoil.

Posted by
9034 posts

Flying out of Newark Airport, 311 hasn't been enforced for going on two years (non-pre-check). I'm not suggesting that they will let you through with a big bottle of water. But tiny bottles in your carry-on not in a zip-lock doesn't raise any eyebrows with TSA.

Flying back to the US from Berlin two weeks ago, strictly enforced.

Posted by
571 posts

This whole things annoys me. Yes, like Chani, I wish we had Israeli level security in the US.

Instead, we have folks who can't even go to tsa.gov and read up on security measures; while I can tell you both LHR and CDG outbound procedures (and New Delhi, because i looked it up for a redditor). TSA rules don't exactly apply - my contact lens solution in the US, which is exempt from the 3-1-1 requirement, doesn't get that exemption in most other countries....

I am precheck and have been for many years, but still comply with 3-1-1, even though I don't have to pull the 3-1-1 bag out of my carryon, and knowing i'm going to buy 'liquids' over 3.4 oz when I am visiting somewhere, I pay for a checked bag.

Yet - even though I'm precheck and have packed 3-1-1, I get a TSA agent in EWR in 2019 who spends 5 minutes investigating my brand new, 3 oz, sealed, labelled maple syrup bottle which is a gift for my host in London.....

Yet y'all get away with everything else? Smh..

Ftr, it also annoys me when youtubers and other travel bloggers discuss packing but fail to mention 3-1-1 or that they're tsa pre check.

US security is sadly a joke.

Posted by
2127 posts

Jane, if you are flying to France, you definitely need to comply. CDG is extremely strict about the 3-1-1 liquids. I normally carry my liquids in a Tom Bihn clear plastic 3-1-1 pouch, which I have used for years and have never had a problem until I flew into CDG this year.

I had a transfer there on my way to Berlin, and when i got to security, she made me transfer EVERY liquid from my Tom Bihn clear plastic pouch into a plain quart size ziplock bag (which she gave me). So I would strongly suggest that you use the ziplock bag for your liquids at least when going to CDG.

Posted by
1457 posts

Thanks, Silas Marner. I've been using it for a couple of years but only domestic. Great little bag that fits a lot in.

Posted by
583 posts

Thanks, Silas Marner. I've been using it for a couple of years but only domestic. Great little bag that fits a lot in.

I see in some recent reviews that it was rejected at LHR so I deleted my comment. I don't want to mislead anyone.

Posted by
1457 posts

I'll just use a ziplock when I go there next year then just to be safe!

Posted by
11012 posts

I agree with Mardee's experience at CDG although mine was departing from there. The agent tried to get me to take one of their ziplock bags but when I pulled my quart-sized ziplock out and held it up he nodded and waved me thru.

I found some cute quart-sized slider lock ziplock bags with flowers on them at TJ Maxx last week. I am going to use it for my 3-1-1 but as I was packing it yesterday I just left the items in the old clear ziplock and put them in the flowered one in case I needed to pull out the clear one. I'm transiting thru CDG next month so will be prepared.

And Roubrat...no, the CDG folks I've interacted with would not allow a plastic container even if it was the correct size!

Posted by
2127 posts

roubrat, no, my pouch was almost completely clear and they still made me transfer everything. Just bring a ziplock for that airport.

Posted by
583 posts

I'll just use a ziplock when I go there next year then just to be safe!

roubrat, I guess we will do the same....anything to avoid hassles.

Posted by
2127 posts

Luckily, my next trip goes through AMS, and from what I can remember, they are not that strict about the 3-1-1 bags. Although I'll probably bring one just to be on the safe side.

Pam, that's a good idea!!

Posted by
1457 posts

I found some cute quart-sized slider lock ziplock bags with flowers on them at TJ Maxx last week.

Watch there be some obscure rule in tiny print that ziplocks cannot have flowers on them LOL

Posted by
1457 posts

Luckily, my next trip goes through AMS, and from what I can remember, they are not that strict about the 3-1-1 bags. Although I'll probably bring one just to be on the safe side.

Well now I'm not sure what to do. I'm flying in and out of AMS next month. I'll bring some too, I guess.

Posted by
3777 posts

I've purchased special 3-1-1 bags in the past because I thought they would be sturdier and last longer. However, when I tried putting my normal contents in them, they were smaller than the normal Ziploc freezer bags I use.

We buy the freezer bags (both quart and gallon size) in quantity at Costco because they are stronger. We use them for lots of things besides what they were originally created for.

Mine for the trip home probably won't even be half full, so I hope the LHR bags will accommodate my very few carry on liquids.

Posted by
11012 posts

"Watch there be some obscure rule in tiny print that ziplocks cannot have flowers on them LOL"

Hahahaha!! Yes...too true!

I also use the freezer quart ziplocks just because they are heavier weight. Do not use Dollar Store ziplocks because they are really flimsy!

I came back in thru AMS in May and to be honest, I am not sure I had to take out my 3-1-1. I did not have carry on, so just had a quart ziplock with my regular purse/personal item liquids (saline nose spray, toothpaste, packets of p-nut butter, eye drops).

Posted by
45 posts

Lo - my zip lock with liquids fit easily inside the Heathrow 311 bag.

Silas Marner- I, too, made the chapstick in the pocket mistake and was given quite a stern lecture about it by the security person. Now, just before going through security anywhere, we remind each other to check pockets for chapstick. That lecture made quite an impression. :-)

Posted by
15327 posts

I really don't think everyone has to have the tight security we have, but I do wish security staff would be trained to pay more attention to potential dangers and a whole lot less to nitpicking and being petty tyrants.

And the whole liquid thing annoys the heck out of me. If we don't do it, is it really necessary?

I just stuck in the ex-military bit - just about everyone here is ex-military.

Posted by
3751 posts

... like Chani, I wish we had Israeli level security in the US.

Here, here!

Posted by
15 posts

Hand sanitizer doesn’t need to go in your 3-1-1 bag. I also take anything that’s liquid in my medication bag such as nose spray or eye drops and put it into a snack sized ziploc bag just to avoid any problems.