For seasoned travelers, the question of what you can bring on a plane (or through the TSA security checkpoint at an airport) might seem a bit pedestrian, but for those of us who are like me and travel by plane once or twice a year, I always have to do an Internet search of the TSA rules in order to determine what is allowed past security.
Every time I travel, I find myself always second guessing whether I can bring on aerosol cans. I think back to the 80s — surely I never left my Aqua Net Super Hold grounded on a Formica vanity, or did I? Are aerosol cans allowed on a plane today? Were they ever allowed??
To find the answer, I consulted my handy dandy TSA list of prohibited items.
“Fun” Fact: Things you can check in your suitcase but didn’t know it — brass knuckles, an axe, hatchet, bow and arrow, saber, meat cleaver, ammunition, swords and firearms. (Who knew?)
And yes, you can bring aerosol cans as long as they are limited to personal care items and/or toiletries.
About four years ago, apparently after living under a rock since the Aqua Net days circa 1986, I saved all my toiletry buying for my vacation destination so I figured this time I’d do the same. Upon arriving, I stocked on FULL size shampoo, body wash, mouth wash, eye makeup remover etc. I figured, I’ll just throw these in my carry on upon my return — waste not, want not, right? Well, surprise, surprise, I was stopped by the TSA upon my return home reminding me just what a flying novice I am. The TSA agent could hardly believe that I was that ignorant. The only thing that saved me from further inspection and scrutiny is that I quickly said, “Oh, shoot. I never fly and completely forgot about that rule. Dump it all. Throw it out.” With a raised eyebrow, the TSA agent threw out about $30 worth of toiletries waiting for a reaction, which was grab my purse in embarrassment and hightail it to my gate.
This story is meant to remind families of the 3-1-1 rule.
I would have been fine if I had bought travel sized toiletries. You’re allowed to bring 3.4 ounces of liquid per container (100ml) or less. The travel sized bottles must be in a quart size clear plastic zip lock bag of which, you can must fit all your liquid toiletries in this one quart sized bag (hence the 3-1-1 rule). Got that? One quart sized clear zip lock with all the 3.4 oz. toiletries you can fit into it. That’s it. The TSA suggests that if you’re in doubt, just check the liquid items in your checked bag and be done with it. You can even bring full size liquid toiletries in your checked back, although I wouldn’t recommend it given that you’re liable to have a hot mess on your hands if the liquid leaks out on your other items.
Breast milk and formula (and liquid prescription medication) are exempt from the 3-1-1 rule, however, the TSA recommends that families only bring enough pumped breast milk or baby formula to get them to their destination. The TSA also required travelers to declare they have pumped breast milk or baby formula in excess of 3.4 ounces before they go through screening. Travelers must also let TSA agents know if they don’t want their breast milk or baby formula x-ray’d, however, if a traveler declines an x-ray inspection, the traveler may have to separate the breast milk or baby formula out into smaller containers in front of TSA agents.
While adults have to take their shoes off before entering the screening station or metal detector, children under 12 are given special consideration.
Here is a helpful list of dos and don’ts especially geared towards families and children:
Shoes: Children under 12 don’t have to take off their shoes!
Children’s blankies, teddy bears and comfort items: These items will be x-ray’d. Please let your child know that their special comfort items will have to go on the conveyor belt and be screened.
Other family items that will need to go through conveyor x-ray machine: Strollers (fold down and take all items out of pockets and underneath storage area and place in plastic bin by conveyor), backpacks, baby carriers, car seats and baby slings. For items that cannot fit through the conveyor, please let a TSA agent know so that they can inspect the item manually and hand off to an agent on the other side of the imaging machine.
All children who are able to walk are asked to go through imaging machine or metal detector on their own. Babies and toddlers may be carried.
Parents, please note: If a TSA agent asks your child to be screened alone or asks your child to to anything that would cause the child to be separated from you, the parent or grandparent, please ask for a supervisor as this is a violation of their policy.
If your child has disabilities which would inhibit their ability to comply or if your child is in a wheelchair, notify a TSA agent. TSA agents may perform a manual pat-down if a child cannot be removed from wheelchair. If child can be removed from wheelchair, it is your responsibility to remove the child without assistance.
Also of note: If a baby is carried through a metal detector in a sling, additional visual and/or physical screening may be required.
A fun video is available on the TSA website, especially designed for younger children to help explain the process of the TSA airport security process in a way that children will understand.
Finally, it can take upwards of 90 minutes to get through busy airport security checkpoints so leave yourself an ample amount of time to get to the airport before your scheduled flight so make sure your phone is charged in case your kids need something to do while waiting.