Liquids on Planes: 20 Most Common to be Thrown Away By Airport Security

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For better or for worse, attempting to bring a liquid item onto a plane has become a hassle. Because of the threats posed to flight security in recent years, restrictive measures have been taken to ensure that no potentially harmful substance makes it past check-in areas. Items that are considered flammable, explosive, corrosive and infectious are banned, and everyday items that are necessary for hygiene and grooming purposes often fail to make the cut due to their sizes.

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), items that weigh less than 3.4 ounces are allowed on flights, though exceptions are made for baby formula, breast milk, food and medication because they’re absolutely necessary. If you plan to transport a few liquid items, take a look at the liquids listed below that are commonly discarded by airport security and adjust accordingly.

  • Alcoholic Beverages
    Although you can include a container of alcohol in your checked luggage, it’s subject to international rules and regulations when you’re flying abroad. For example, some Middle Eastern countries prohibit alcohol altogether. If you wish to bring it in your carry-on bag domestically, it must meet weight requirements. In many cases, travelers are unfamiliar with the requirement and don’t have room for a container of alcohol in their checked bags – that’s when it goes to waste.
  • Most Shampoos
    Again, if your bottle of shampoo weighs less than 3.4 ounces, you can include it in your carry-on bags. If it’s larger, you can transport it as a part of your checked luggage. However, many people incur the same problem pertaining to a lack of space with shampoo bottles as they do with liquor bottles.
  • Sloppy Food
    If it jiggles and drips, it’s a no-go in carry-on luggage. So an average jar of jam, for example, is prohibited. You can include as many as you like in your checked bags as long as they are appropriately wrapped.
  • Most Aerosols
    The few aerosols that are allowed aboard must be 3.4 ounces or smaller and for personal care or toiletries. Otherwise they won’t be permitted for inclusion in either carry-on or checked bags.
  • Mace
    Mace isn’t entirely banned from flights, but it must be equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge. Only one four ounce container is allowed in checked bags. Sprays that contain more than two percent by mass of tear gas are prohibited altogether. That leaves little margin for error, so it’s not uncommon to see mace containers piling up with other liquids that missed the cut.
  • Pepper Spray
    Pepper spray – an inflammatory agent made from hot peppers – is a different substance from mace, but it poses an equal danger to passengers and the flight crew if utilized inappropriately. For that reason, it’s subject to the same rules.
  • Lighter Fluid
    Lighter fluid made from butane is highly flammable and unsafe to bring aboard a plane. So regardless if it’s in your carry-on bag or checked bag, it’ll end up discarded once security finds it.
  • Cooking Fuel
    Any type of cooking fuel is banned. Nobody wants the plane to become a giant barbecue pit. If you have barbecue plans at your next destination, buy cooking fuel after you arrive.
  • Gasoline
    The only gasoline that’s allowed in an airplane is held in the fuel tank. Passengers who attempt to bring their own containers of gasoline aboard – for who know’s what reason – never see them again.
  • Spillable Batteries (corrosive liquid inside)
    An exception is made if the spillable battery is necessary for the use of a wheelchair, but it must be inspected before permission is given to board a flight. These batteries possess openings that make the highly corrosive liquid chemical inside spillable.
  • Paint
    Flammable paint – including spray paint – is not permitted to fly; however, if it’s non-flammable liquid, gel or aerosol, then it can accompany you to your destination.
  • Paint Stripper
    Some paint strippers are highly flammable, while others may cause harm upon exposure by irritating eyes and skin, causing drowsiness, nausea, dizziness and headaches. All paint strippers are banned from boarding planes.
  • Turpentine
    When turpentine is inhaled, it’s capable of irritating eyes and skin, and damaging the central respiratory system. And, of course, it’s flammable. Leave it behind.
  • Bleach
    Bleach is an essential household cleaner and brightener, so you might be tempted to bring a container along during lengthy trips. Because the substance is corrosive and produces unhealthy fumes, airlines exclude it from carry-on and checked bags.
  • Mercury
    Items that contain mercury are barred from flight because of the liquid’s ability to damage a plane’s aluminum frame. If you’re transporting an old school thermometer, for example, prepare to part with it.
  • Pool Chlorine
    Chlorine is another substance that isn’t meant to come into contact with humans in large doses, and therefore it’s not permitted on planes.
  • Weed Killer
    Airport security prefers not to take chances with potentially harmful chemical substances, and weed killer fits the bill. Such containers are rounded up before they board a plane.
  • Insecticide
    If it kills insects, it likely poses a health threat to humans as well. Nobody wants to deal with the unpleasantness of spilled insecticide during a long flight.
  • Medical Lab Specimens
    For obvious reasons, medical lab specimens – like white blood, plasma, serum, urine and other body fluids – are barred from luggage. Of course, they aren’t just carelessly thrown away after being removed from a bag. Safety always prevails.
  • Bacterial Cultures
    Liquid bacterial cultures en route from one lab to another are halted when they reach airport security. Like the medical lab specimens, they pose health risks to flight passengers.

Cross posted from Hospitality Management Schools.

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