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3-1-1 Rule – Avoid A Crisis At TSA Security Checkpoint

What is the 3-1-1 rule? It can mean several things, but today we will talk about what it means for TSA and how to follow the rules when you fly. Avoid a crisis at the security checkpoint when you understand and follow the guidelines set by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration.)

Have You Heard of the 3-1-1 Rule?

Chances are if you are searching for the 3-1-1 liquids rule, you heard it somewhere. But let’s get a bit of history to better our understanding. The 3-1-1 liquids rule began in place after September 11th, 2001.

The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) sets rules to keep us safe when we fly. A lot of these rules changed with the disaster of 9-1-1. In other words, the TSA 3-1-1 liquids rule started after the towers came down.

When we fly and comply with the TSA rules, we can simplify the airport security screening process and pass through easily.

Why Is It Called The 3-1-1 Rule?

To sum it up, the 3 are liquids no more than 3.4 ounces each, only a 1-quart size bag full, and only 1 per person per flight in your carry on bag.

What Does The 3-1-1 Liquids Rule Say?

Let’s break down what 3-1-1 says.

  1. The 3 refers to the amount of liquid you can carry in a bottle onto your flight, either in your carry on luggage or personal carry on. So you must have a 3.4-ounce travel size container with only 3.4 ounces of liquid products in each one.
  2. The first, 1, refers to a one-quart size bag. You can stuff all the liquids you can fit into this one-quart size bag. The bag must be clear and no larger than a quart.
  3. The second, 1, refers to how many bags one person can carry onto the plane. Each person can have only one quart-sized bag with liquids as a carry on item, so if you are traveling alone, then only one bag. But if you have children who carry their own carry on luggage, they can also have one bag apiece.

Which Liquids Does TSA Allow In Your Carry On?

Now that we have a better understanding of what the 3-1-1 rule stands for, you may wonder what liquids you can take on a plane.

Below is a list of liquid items you can take; however, it is not an all-inclusive list. Please check with tsa.gov for further instructions.

NOTE: The list is for domestic US flights only, and each one must be in an individual 3.4-ounce container.

Alcohol 3.4 ounces and less than 70% alcohol contentE-liquids 3.4-ounce bottles or lessLiquid foundation 3.4 oz or lessPeanut butter 3.4 oz or less
Cream cheese 3.4 oz or lessEye drops 3.4 oz or lessLiquid soap 3.4 oz or lessSalad dressing 3.4 oz or less
Chocolate liquid 3.4 oz or lessEyeliner 3.4 oz or lessLotion 3.4-ounce or less containerShaving cream 3.4 oz or less
Conditioner 3.4 oz or lessHair gel 3.4 oz or lessMakeup remover 3.4 oz or lessSoups 3.4 oz or less
Cream 3.4 oz or lessJelly 3.4 oz or lessMaple syrup 3.4 oz or lessToothpaste
Cream spreads and dips 3.4 oz or lessLiquid detergent 3.4 oz or lessmascara 3.4 oz or lessVitamins (liquid) 3.4 oz or less

The 3-1-1 Rule Exemptions

However, there are some exemptions to the liquid rule. For instance, if you are coming to the US from an overseas airport on an international flight, you can enter with duty-free liquids. In other words, when you buy bottles of alcohol or, let’s say, some liquid makeup, you can have more than 3.4 ounces.

But this rule also has stipulations such as:

  • You must purchase them at a duty-free site
  • It must be on a flight into the US, and it must be an international connecting flight because you will have to recheck your bags through customs.
  • The retailer must place your purchase in a clear, secure bag with no evidence of tampering.
  • You must have the receipt of the purchase to show security.
  • Finally, the liquids were purchased in the past 48 hours.

A second exemption includes nourishment for infants and children. These items include breast milk, formula, baby/toddler food, and toddler drinks. TSA requires you to take all products out of your bags and place them in a bin to pass through the security scanners. It will also help to inform TSA of what you are carrying and why. See further rules on the TSA site.

A third exemption to the 3-1-1 rule is in the case of liquid medications. A medical document from your doctor describing your condition will help make a smooth transition through security. See further information on medications on the TSA site.

What Happens At The Security Checkpoint If I Don’t Follow The 3-1-1 Rule?

3-1-1 rule pin

Well, maybe nothing will happen, and then again, you may lose your liquid items. By lose, I mean TSA can take them away if they are not following the limitations on liquids rule.

But some TSA agents are a bit more relaxed on the liquids rule. With that said, I don’t know where these laid-back TSA agents are. So if you want to take the chance that you won’t have your liquids when you reach your destination, by all means, try taking larger amounts and see what happens. 

Each TSA agent can make a judgment call on the 3-1-1 rule based on their training and what they know has happened that day, week, or month and decide if you are carrying travel-size bottles or not.

If you have more information on this, please leave it in the comments below for all of us. Thank you. 

Video Overview Of The 3-1-1 Rule

This short video will help with a better understanding of the 3-1-1 Rule.

Read Next: Top 34 TSA Approved Questions And Answers

3-1-1 Rule Conclusion

We now better understand the 3-1-1 liquids rule and how to follow the guidelines to avoid a crisis. 

Happy travels, my friends.

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Laura Fuller

My name is Laura Fuller, I am a fanatic about luggage and all types of travel. I will be your luggage pilot to help you make the right choice for your travel needs.

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