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What Can I Pack in My Carry-On?

Dear Jessica,

I’m confused about the rules for flying. What can I pack in my carry-on?


Dear L.F.,

You’re not alone in your confusion.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) encourages travelers to remember the rules by knowing the “3-1-1 for air travel.” Basically, each traveler can pack a one-quart clear, zip-top plastic bag full of 3.4 ounce or smaller bottles. The bag must be taken out of your carry-on and placed in a security bin that will pass through the x-ray machine. Only one bag is allowed per person.

Exceptions to the 3-1-1 rule include medication (both prescription medications and over-the-counter products like saline solution and eye drops), baby formula or breast milk for small children, and liquids needed for people with medical conditions. These approved liquids do not have to be packed in plastic bags, but must be declared at security checkpoints.

RELATED: 7 Things You Should Never Pack in a Carry-on

Liquids or gels purchased beyond the security checkpoints, such as water or coffee, are allowed onboard.

For more information on banned items beyond liquids, the TSA has a comprehensive permitted and prohibited items list for carry-on and checked baggage on its website.

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Last Updated: August 17, 2015

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