How Many Oz Can You Bring on a Carry On? A Guide to TSA Liquid Restrictions

A glass of water

Are you planning to take a flight soon? Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time flier, it’s crucial to know the TSA liquid restrictions for carry-on bags. The last thing you want is to have your favorite bottle of perfume or lotion confiscated at security. But don’t worry – we’re here to help! In this blog post, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide on how many ounces you can bring on a carry-on. From the TSA liquid restrictions to understanding ounces and determining how much you can bring, we’ve got you covered. So sit back, relax, and let’s dive in!

TSA Liquid Restrictions

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has strict guidelines for liquids that are allowed in carry-on bags. These guidelines are in place to ensure the safety of all passengers on board. According to the TSA, liquids include gels, aerosols, creams, pastes, and lotions. These items must be in containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. Additionally, all items must be placed in a single quart-sized, clear plastic, zip-top bag. Each passenger is allowed only one bag per carry-on. The bag must be placed in a visible and easily accessible location for screening purposes.

It’s important to note that some items are exempt from the TSA liquid restrictions. These items include medication, baby formula, breast milk, and juice for infants or toddlers. However, these items must still be declared to TSA officers at security checkpoints.

Understanding Ounces

When it comes to measuring liquids for air travel, ounces are the most common unit of measurement used. One ounce is equivalent to approximately 29.6 milliliters. It’s important to keep this in mind when purchasing travel-sized items. Most travel-sized toiletries, such as shampoo, conditioner, and lotion, come in containers that are 1-3 ounces in size. To ensure that you comply with the TSA liquid restrictions, be sure to check the size of your container before packing it in your carry-on.

Determining How Many Ounces You Can Bring

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Now that you understand the TSA liquid restrictions and how to measure ounces, it’s time to determine how many ounces you can bring in your carry-on. The TSA’s 3-1-1 rule is a helpful guideline to follow. This rule allows each passenger to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. It’s important to note that the bag itself does not count as an item, so you can fill it to capacity as long as each individual item is compliant.

To determine how many ounces you can bring, simply add up the total volume of all the liquids you plan to bring in your carry-on. If the total volume exceeds 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) per item or 1 quart (946 milliliters) in total, you will need to either pack the items in your checked luggage or leave them behind. To make this process easier, we recommend using a TSA-approved toiletry bag to store your liquids in. These bags are specifically designed to fit the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule and can be easily accessed at security checkpoints.

Packing Tips for Liquids

When it comes to packing liquids in your carry-on, there are a few tips that can make the process smoother and more efficient. Firstly, consider purchasing travel-sized toiletries in advance. These items can be found at most drugstores and are specifically designed to comply with the TSA’s liquid restrictions. By purchasing travel-sized items, you can avoid the hassle of transferring liquids into smaller containers and ensure that each item is compliant.

Additionally, consider packing your liquids in a plastic bag before placing them in your toiletry bag. This can help prevent leaks and make it easier for TSA officers to screen your items. You may also want to consider packing your liquids in a separate compartment of your carry-on bag to make them easily accessible during the screening process.

Exceptions to the 3-1-1 Rule

While the 3-1-1 rule is a helpful guideline to follow, there are some exceptions to this rule. The TSA allows certain items to be brought in carry-on bags in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) and outside of a quart-sized bag. These exceptions include medications, baby formula, breast milk, and juice for infants or toddlers. However, these items must still be declared to TSA officers at security checkpoints.

If you’re unsure whether an item is exempt from the 3-1-1 rule, it’s always best to declare it to TSA officers. They can provide guidance on whether the item is allowed and how to properly pack it in your carry-on.

TSA PreCheck and Liquid Restrictions

If you’re a frequent traveler, you may want to consider applying for TSA PreCheck. This program allows pre-approved travelers to go through expedited security screening, which can save time and reduce stress at the airport. However, it’s important to note that even TSA PreCheck passengers are subject to the liquid restrictions.

While TSA PreCheck passengers are not required to remove their liquids from their carry-on bags, they are still required to comply with the 3-1-1 rule. This means that all liquids must be in containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item and placed in a quart-sized, clear plastic, zip-top bag. TSA PreCheck passengers are also required to declare any exempt items, such as medications or baby formula, to TSA officers at security checkpoints.

In addition to TSA PreCheck, some airlines offer expedited screening for their frequent fliers. These programs may have different liquid restrictions, so be sure to check with your airline before packing your liquids.

International Travel and Liquid Restrictions

If you’re traveling internationally, it’s important to be aware of the liquid restrictions of both the TSA and the country you’re visiting. While many countries have similar rules to the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule, some countries may have different restrictions or no restrictions at all.

For example, the European Union’s liquid restrictions allow for liquids in containers up to 100 milliliters (3.4 ounces) to be brought in carry-on bags, but they must be placed in a clear, plastic, zip-top bag. Other countries, such as Japan and South Korea, have similar restrictions to the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule.

It’s important to research the liquid restrictions of the country you’re visiting before you travel to ensure that you’re packing compliantly. You can usually find this information on the country’s embassy or tourism website.

Alternative to Carry-On for Liquids

If you have liquids that exceed the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule, you may want to consider packing them in your checked luggage instead of your carry-on. While this may not be an ideal solution for everyone, it can be a good option for travelers who need to bring larger quantities of liquids, such as photographers who need to bring chemicals for developing film or parents who need to bring large quantities of baby formula.

If you do decide to pack liquids in your checked luggage, be sure to pack them in leak-proof containers and wrap them in plastic bags or other protective materials. This can help prevent leaks and damage to other items in your luggage.

Tips for Getting Through TSA Security Quickly

Getting through TSA security can be a time-consuming process, especially during peak travel times. However, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to help speed up the process and get to your gate on time.

One important tip is to arrive at the airport early, at least two hours before your flight if you’re flying domestically and three hours if you’re flying internationally. This will give you enough time to check in, go through security, and make it to your gate without feeling rushed.

Another tip is to pack your carry-on bag in a way that makes it easy to access your liquids, electronics, and other items that need to be screened separately. This can help speed up the screening process and prevent delays.

Additionally, consider signing up for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, which can help you get through security faster by allowing you to use expedited security lanes and keep your shoes, belt, and jacket on.

What to Do If Your Liquids Are Confiscated by TSA

If you accidentally pack a liquid that exceeds the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule or is prohibited, it may be confiscated at security. While this can be frustrating, there are a few things you can do to avoid losing your item entirely.

First, you can ask the TSA agent if you can take the item back to your car or check it in your luggage. If neither of these options is possible, you may be able to mail the item home or to your destination.

If you’re not able to do any of the above, the item will be discarded. It’s important to remember that the TSA’s job is to keep travelers safe, and they have the authority to confiscate any item they deem a security risk.

Tips for Packing Liquids for a Long Flight

If you’re taking a long flight and need to bring liquids with you, such as medication, contact lens solution, or skincare products, there are a few tips you can use to ensure they stay fresh and usable throughout your journey.

One tip is to pack your liquids in travel-sized containers that are no more than 3.4 ounces each. This will ensure that you’re compliant with the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule and that your liquids won’t take up too much space in your carry-on bag.

Another tip is to store your liquids in a separate, sealable plastic bag to prevent leaks and spills. You can also use a small plastic container to store your liquids and prevent them from leaking onto other items in your bag.

Finally, if you’re traveling with medications or other important liquids, it’s a good idea to pack them in your carry-on bag rather than your checked luggage. This will ensure that you have easy access to them throughout your flight and that they don’t get lost or damaged in transit.


In conclusion, understanding the TSA liquid restrictions is crucial for any air traveler. By following these guidelines, you can avoid having your liquids confiscated at security checkpoints and ensure a smooth travel experience. Remember to check the size of your containers before packing them in your carry-on and use a TSA-approved toiletry bag to make the screening process easier. We hope this guide has been helpful and wish you safe travels on your next flight!