When you commit to a low-waste lifestyle, one of the very first golden nuggets of advice other low-wasters offer up is to carry a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go. Since every piece of plastic ever made still exists -- read: hasn’t broken down yet because plastic is not biodegradable -- the most sustainable options for reusable water bottles are either glass or stainless steel.
But that leads us to a very common question people have while traveling, particularly via airplane: What are the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines for bringing a water bottle on a plane? Can you bring a glass bottle? What about a stainless steel one? And if you do bring a water bottle on, do they always have to be empty? It’s time to clarify.
Since our Healthy Human reusable water bottles are made from insulated stainless steel, we heed this question a lot. Especially if you are a frequent flyer, you’ll want to know what kind of water bottle you can bring with you on a plane when shopping around for a reusable. We totally understand.
That’s why we gathered some intel about what exactly TSA allows and does not allow when it comes to bringing water bottles on planes. (Spoiler alert: Feel free to add that Healthy Human bottle you’ve been eyeing into your cart because our water bottles are totally allowed on planes!)
What’s allowed through TSA and what’s not
It can be tricky demystifying what exactly TSA means with their water bottle guidelines. You may know that there is a comprehensive list of items that are not allowed on airplanes. These can include items like electronic lighters, some weapons, and highly-flammable items. TSA even breaks down on their website what can be in a carry-on and what can only be brought if packed away in a checked bag. So, where do water bottles stand?
When it comes to water bottles, you can bring it with you. However, there are special instructions. Bringing a water bottle on an airplane is actually no problem. The part that involves special instructions is making it through TSA security and as we all know, that comes first.
You can bring an empty reusable water bottle through TSA security. Read: It has to be empty. After your items and carry-on bag have gone through security, you can fill up your water bottle at a nearby refilling station.
If you bring your full water bottle to the security checkpoint, it’s not a big deal. A security person will simply have you dump it before it can go through the checkpoint. Once everything has been checked out, you can refill it.
What about the TSA Liquid Rule?
The TSA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the main goal of which is to practice security over the traveling public into, out of, and around the United States. You may remember that this department -- as well as its 3-1-1 Liquid Rule -- was formed as a response to the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001.
The 3-1-1 Liquid Rule states that liquids, aerosols, creams, or gels cannot exceed 3.4 oz or 100 milliliters per container. This rule applies to items like toothpaste, gel deodorants, shampoo, conditioner, lotions, and all other personal care items like sprays and makeup.
So, does the TSA Liquid Rule apply to bringing your water bottle onto a plane? Well, kind of. If you’re bringing bottled water, that is. According to the TSA, consumables -- which include bottled water and other to-go items like peanut butter for example -- are required to comply when packed in a carry-on. The liquids must also fit into one quart-size, see-through bag and must be taken out of the carry-on item while going through the security checkpoint.
If you are not bringing water in a reusable bottle instead of bringing bottled water, you likely won’t get away with filling the container up to only 3.4 oz of water. TSA security will most likely have you dump the water and scan the bottle through the checkpoint while it is empty.
Can you bring an empty water bottle on a plane?
Yes, you can bring an empty water bottle on a plane. According to TSA, you can bring an empty water bottle on a plane by packing it in your checked bag or by stowing it in your carry-on.
Can you bring a stainless steel water bottle on a plane?
Yes, you can bring your reusable stainless steel water bottle with you on an airplane. Nowhere on the TSA website does it specify certain water bottle materials that cannot board the plane. As long as your stainless steel bottle was empty when it went through the security checkpoint, you should be good to go.
Can you bring a glass water bottle on a plane?
Again, the answer is yes. According to the TSA What Can I Bring page, there are no specifications for certain water bottle materials. As long as the water bottle went through the security checkpoint empty, you can fill it up in the airport and bring it with you on the plane.