Clarification on TSA Regulations

I have always checked my suitcase, but now would like to carry-on. I've scoured the TSA website, but I still don't have a clear understanding of how they classify deodorant and shaving cream. Stick-solid deodorant doesn't seem to be either a liquid or gel, so I would assume I can pack a full-sized container in my carry-on suitcase. Shaving cream seems to be a gel or aerosol, so I assume I'd need a 3 oz. travel size for this. Is there a definitive source for this information? Thanks.

Posted by Angela
Chicago/Rural WI
809 posts

Lamont,

Before I replied to your question I first went to the TSA website and it looks like they've changed their format since I'd last looked at it. And not necessarily for the better. They used to break down all this information in a handy guide, but now I can't find it.

Anyhoo, solid deodorant is not considered a liquid (but the gel kind is), so no need to put it into the 3-1-1 bag. However, shaving cream is considered a liquid so you'll need to abide by the 3 oz rule and keep it in your quart-sized bag.

As an additional FYI (just in case...), toothpaste is also considered a liquid. Hope this helps!

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

Gels, liquids, pastes,creams and aerosols are not allowed in anything larger than 3 oz.

Technically, a solid deodorant does not have to be in the 3-1-1 bag--unless you come up against a TSA officer who thinks it should be.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

When I traveled last year, I saw a sign that stated the rules in a very simple way. It said if you can pour it out (liquid), squeeze it out (gel/paste), or spray it out (aerosol), it goes in the 3-1-1 bag. Your solid deodorant doesn't need to go in. The rules are listed in links on the righthand side of the home page at www.tsa.gov, under "3-1-1 rule", and "prohibited items".

Posted by JER
Seattle, USA
981 posts

I would also add that, although in the early months of the liquids-gels-aerosols restrictions, there was a lot of random variability among TSA screeners as to what was allowed and what was not. But in the last year or so, I've not seen any more of that kind of inconsistency. Stick deodorant, chapstick, and other "creamy" solids are all no problem in carry-on outside the magic 1 quart ziplock baggie.

(I have to say, though, that I am really, really looking forward to the phaseout of this policy!)

Posted by Lane
Mansfield, GA
847 posts

I read something not long ago that the TSA was going to relax their liquid carry on rules in 2009 and allow passengers to carry big bottles of liquids onto their flights. The containers will still have to be removed from bags for separate screening. They said technological advances are the reason for the change because of new x ray machines that are capable of distinguishing between harmless liguids and dangerous explosives.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1521 posts

Lamont, they make travel sizes of solid deodorants, so you should downsize anyway. Every ounce counts in carry on.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7213 posts

It's never a bad idea to downsize. My shave kit now fits easily in two plastic bags, one for liquids (taken out for TSA) and one for solids/toothbrush/razor. I used to use Rick's smaller shavekit for travel, now I find that's too big.

Posted by Lamont
Corsicana, Texas, USA
351 posts

Thanks for all of the help. I'm surprised that this information isn't spelled out in crystal clear fashion by the TSA. There is a lot of outdated or incorrect information out on the web regarding this subject. Veteran travelers know the regulations from experience, but new travelers need guidance. I'm not beating up the TSA - they have a difficult job. It's just that educating us before we get to the airport would be in the TSA's best interest, to make for efficient screening.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3511 posts

How about just stopping in a drug store or supermarket when you get to your destination and buying those things. Even if they are more expensive than at home, the convenience may be well worth it

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4877 posts

I have travel sized shampoo, conditioner and hairspray that are in 3.4 oz. bottles. Are those considered okay, or are they too big?

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

If you get a crabby screener, they will be too big.

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

Nancy, my mother had a couple items that were 3.4 ozs and they were taken from her in our city airport. It really depends on the individual you meet.

I'd stick to 3 oz if I were you.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

That's why I said if you get a crabby screener, it will be too big. Yes, it does depend on who you get. I never travel with more than 3 oz. sizes.

Posted by carol
vancouver, BC, canada
16 posts

Just finished returning from Europe (FRA)
they were not asking people to show their baggie of goodies at all. I did put mine in the bin but others ahead of me didn't and no questions asked.
to be on the safe side, keep to the 3 oz limit.

in Europe they probably will weigh your carry on while at my airport in Canada, they did not.

make sure you know the limits of the carry on ie the weight allowed for your airlines

Posted by Lamont
Corsicana, Texas, USA
351 posts

Thanks again for the info. I have been through four security screenings since posting this question, and signs at the entrances were always precise about what was/was not allowed. I was just hoping to find this same clear information in advance, on the TSA website.

Posted by Paulo
Austin, TX
1 posts

Thanks for the info on deodorants, this is the only place I got a solid (not gel) answer. The TSA website gives no hits if you search for info on this.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4769 posts

Yep, got not only my new toothpaste confiscated, but also my almost used toothpaste. (I never considered that it was a "liquid") It doesn't seem to matter how much is in there, but what it says on the package. so if you have a half empty, 4 oz. bottle, it will still count as 4 oz.

Posted by Audrey
Keizer, Oregon, USA
577 posts

I had a TSA agent tell me I could pour the water out of my 16 oz bottle, keep the bottle, and fill it up from water fountain once I passed security. So I did it. I filled the water bottle a couple of times before I discarded it.

The problem is inconsistency.

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

Jo, sounds like some of those folks simply follow the rules and forget about common sense. My mother also lost a bottle of her Oil of Olay because it was 4 oz and she had forgotten to check with her luggage. She said not more than 2 oz remained in it, and she asked them about that, but they said, nothing over 3 oz even if it's empty!

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

This is one of the problems that Frequent Fliers complain about--no consistency.

The rule is that any bottle that can hold more than 3 oz is not allowed in the KHIAI bag (also known as the 3-1-1 bag). The TSA's response is that the agents can just eyeball how much is in it.

Technically, an empty bottle should be allowed but some TSA agents won't allow even empty bottles that hold over 3 oz.

Technically, a solid deodorant should be allowed. However, some TSA agents don't.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4769 posts

For those of you who have to take medication that needs to stay chilled, here is a good tip that I recently got. Since those ice gel things probably wont go through with TSA, here is what you can do instead. Put your medication in a cool bag. Surround it with Tupperware filled with ice. Before going through security, dump out the ice. As soon as you are through, stop at any restaurant and get your Tupperware filled up again. TA DA!

It is also a myth that airplanes have refrigerators for you to keep things like medications cool. They don't. Also, if you have a layover, some of the airlines will let you go to their lounges and they will chill your meds for you while you walk around the airport, etc. I found this to be very kind of them. They even offered me coffee and snacks!

Posted by Flight Attendant
Niagara Wine Country, Canada
808 posts

You can "make" a portable refrigerator out of an air sickness bag lined with plastic and one of those instant chemical activated cold packs.

I forget what you call them but you can buy them for your First Aid kit. You roll and pop them to activate. They are less bother than ice which melts.

If anyone needs to chill medication during a flight I would suggest they come equipped with at least two of the things I mentioned. Your Airline may or may not have these on board for you so come prepared.

(Sorry for the hijack...just responding to further comment above.)

Posted by Doug
Chicago, IL, USA
1 posts

New 2009 TSA Rules: You can now carry on liquids up to 3.4 oz.

It's about time! A common worldwide package size for toiletries is 100ml, which translates to 3.38 oz (NOT 3.0 oz). Finally, the TSA caught up with the rest of the world.

The official TSA web site with new 2009 3.4 oz liquid carry on rules: http://www.tsa.gov/311/index.shtm

The following TSA article clarifies that as of 2009, liquids up to 3.4 oz are allowed to be carried on all USA planes and how the TSA 3.4 oz / 3.0 oz. liquid policy confusion happened:

http://www.tsa.gov/blog/2009/02/3-oz-or-34-oz-what-gives.html

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

Doug, I hate to tell you this, but you could always take on 3.4 oz (100ml)....it was just easier to say 3 oz. instead of 3.4. (Just as it's easier to say 3.4 than 3.38)

Posted by JER
Seattle, USA
981 posts

It's true, the limit was always 3.4 oz (100 ml, actually) but a lot of TSA screeners didn't know that. If I was determined to take a 3.4 oz. container in my baggie, I'd have a print out of the clarified TSA regs. Otherwise it's "Do you want to fly today!?"

I've found that decanting many of my liquids and gels into small containers helps me get more products into my bag without getting TSA hassled. I have some clear clamshell cylindrical containers that I get at Storables in Seattle. They're about the diameter of a 50 cent piece. The one that's the height of a golfball holds about 6 weeks worth of gel deoderant at less than the weight of a solid stick. The only that's about a half inch or so holds four or five uses of conditioner. Another holds a month's worth of hair styling gel, another takes my eye cream. Any thick liquid works fine in them.

Another tip, especially for women who use facial serums. Asian grocery stores sell tiny plastic bottles that hold a teaspoon or two of liquid. They're designed to carry soy sauce for Japanese bento box lunches. But they hold a couple of weeks supply of vitamin C serum, liquid foundation, etc. A bag of 20 cost me two dollars total.