TSA 3-1-1 Rule for Carry-Ons

The 3-1-1 Rule & TSA Carry-On Tips


What is the TSA 3-1-1 Liquids Rule?

TSA has been charged with keeping us safe during our travels.  It’s no easy task. As travelers, we should be willing to do all we can to help them in this process. Sure, sometimes this pulls us out of our comfort zone (full body scan, anyone?) but in the end, knowing the passenger to my left was screened as thoroughly as I was is comforting. InsureMyTrip breaks down the “3-1-1 rule” and it’s limitations on liquids in carry-on items. We’ll also examine best practices for getting medications and other toiletries through security.

Below we’ll go over the 3-1-1 liquids rule and explain some additional tips to keep airport security lines short, travelers prepared, and faces smiling as you cross the TSA gates.

The 3-1-1 Rule

TSA 3-1-1 Rule Quart Bag

Know it, love it, and follow it. The 3-1-1 rule dictates how passengers bring liquids on the flight. Your carry-on is allowed to contain ONE quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes.  However, the size for each item is limited to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.  There are aisles of 3-1-1 sized toiletries at nearly every pharmacy and big-box store.

You Can Carry On More Than You Think

Airline passengers can bring a light saber on the flight. You can bring a live fish on the flight. Can’t travel without your bowling ball, you can bring that too.  In fact, TSA has a whole section dedicated to what you can and cannot bring.  It’s awesome, if only to skim and question why someone needs to have antlers in their carry-on luggage.

Check it out: TSA, What can I bring?

Traveling with Medications

Flying with Medications

Medications are exempt from the 3-1-1 rule. Your medically necessary liquids, medications, and creams can be placed in your carry-on bag, but you’ll still need to remove them from your bag to be screened. Just be sure to inform the TSA officer BEFORE screening begins.

Age 75 and Older Screening Options

You have the option to leave your shoes and a light jacket on during screenings, but if you set off an alarm during the security screening, you may be required to remove your items or undergo a pat-down.

TSA Hours of Operation

Taking the first flight out and want to avoid lines at screening? Remember that not all airports operate under a 24 hour schedule. Make sure you know what time the TSA check point opens. While your flight may be 6:30 AM, the TSA may not open their gates until 5 AM. Getting there at 4 AM may avoid the line, but not the hour long wait.

At the end of it all, just be kind, patient and helpful. You’re headed somewhere awesome and the agents have 8 more hours of reminding people to take their belts off.

11 comments on “The 3-1-1 Rule & TSA Carry-On Tips”

  1. Traveling through India by plane has always been super strict in airports everywhere. From check in where they thoroughly check you and each bag, you are further body and bag searched 3 more times before boarding the plane.

  2. For $85 per person you can do the paperwork for the TSA Pre Check – making the lines so much shorter. Try it you will love it. Requires a bit of work – but if you travel more than once certainly worth checking it out.

  3. Unbelievably TSA does not allow, under 1lb each, trekking poles with (practically lighter than air) cork hand grips, but folding canes with hard plastic hand grips are allowed.

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