What Is a Liquid, and What Isn't: Part Two

The 3-1-1 rule has been around since 2006, but the policy continues to vex travelers. What, exactly, consyitutes a liquid in the eyes of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and when does the TSA make exceptions? I tackled this question a few months ago, but as is often the case with complicated airline safety regulations, those answers only spawned more questions. So let's take a look at a few of the inquiries that readers posted to that article.

Reader Blkbyrd2010 wrote, "I will be traveling with medication I must take for a kidney transplant. The medicine is liquid Prograf. Will I have a problem. I am due to travel beginning March 2, 2010."

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The TSA makes exceptions for liquid medications, but there are a few things you need to do. First, place any medications in a separate zip-top bag—not the same bag you use for your other liquids. Then declare your medications to TSA screeners at the airport and present the items for additional screening at the X-ray machine.

Reader csbmacbean asks, "I'm going to Mexico and read that it would be a good idea to take baby wipes. Do I put these in a baggy in my clear plastic bag with my shampoo, etc.?"

I had to call the TSA about this one because no mention of moist baby wipes appears on the TSA website. I was told that moist wipes are allowed in any quantity or container. Skeptical, I asked, "So I could just buy box of these wipes and toss them in my carry-on?" Yes, was the answer. So there you go.

Reader wburdine wondered, "What about the Duty Free perfume and liquor? Since you cannot put that in checked baggage, are they allowed as carry on?"

In short, yes. Duty-free liquid items purchased beyond security are permissible, but be careful not to exceed your maximum allowable carry-on limit. If you plan on making a large duty-free purchase at the airport, your shopping bag may be considered a personal item, so try to limit your purchases to items that can fit in your carry-on.

However, as reader nto pointed out, "don't try to take [duty free liquids] through a second security if you have to transfer mid route. I have seen such items confiscated by the security at the transfer site, even though they were in a clear, sealed duty free package from the place where the first flight originated."

This is absolutely correct. If you are returning to the U.S. and have a connection in the States, transfer your duty-free liquids to your checked bags. TSA will confiscate oversized liquids even if they are in an official tamper-evident bag.

That's it for this round of liquid questions, but I'm sure the book is far from closed. If you have any tips for dealing with the 3-1-1 rule, share them below. And as always, share your travel-related questions in a comment below or shoot me an email. Thanks!

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