TSA’s 3-1-1 rule

If you’re like me, you probably think the Transportation Security Administration’s ban on liquids is pretty ridiculous. Their current policy (what they now refer to as “3-1-1”) was implemented in August 2006 after they foiled some liquid-based terrorist plot. Remember that shoe-bomber guy, and how we now have to remove our shoes to go through airport security because of him? I’m just waiting for some terrorist to sharpen the underwire from bras into pointy weapons; I’m sure the TSA can’t wait to prohibit women from wearing bras. These inconveniences are like death by 1,000 paper cuts, and the sad part is that it’s being done to us by our own government.

All complaining aside, if you find yourself having to fly, you will need to mind their 3-1-1 policy for taking liquids with you on the flight. Here’s how the TSA explains it:

Make Your Trip Better Using 3-1-1

  • 3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3 ounce bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3 oz. container size is a security measure.
  • Consolidate bottles into one bag and X-ray separately to speed screening.
  • Be prepared. Each time TSA searches a carry-on it slows down the line. Practicing 3-1-1 will ensure a faster and easier checkpoint experience.
  • 3-1-1 is for short trips. If in doubt, put your liquids in checked luggage.
  • Declare larger liquids. Medications, baby formula and food, breast milk, and juice are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint.

There’s actually quite a lot you can do within their allowed parameters, and I’ll be going over each of these steps in detail separately:

  • Use a nondisposable plastic bag. There are way better alternatives that let you fit your bottles better.
  • Pack liquids in your own containers
  • Reduce the number of items that are in liquid form
  • If you’re traveling with a partner or a group (such as a family), each person can carry a 3-1-1 bag, so consider distributing liquids evenly among all party members.
  • Don’t bother carrying the stuff with you; that is, ship it, buy it there, store it there, or go without.