Can I carry contact solution onto a plane that is more than the 3oz limit?

  • According to http://apps.tsa.dhs.gov it says the following:

    You may carry liquids, gels and aerosols in your carry-on bags only if they adhere to the 3-1-1 rule: containers must be 3.4 ounces or less; stored in a 1 quart/liter zip-top bag; 1 zip-top bag per person, placed in the screening bin. Larger amounts of non-medicinal liquids, gels, and aerosols must be placed in checked baggage.

    Medically required liquids, such as baby formula and food, breast milk and medications are allowed in excess of 3.4 ounces in reasonable quantities for the flight. It is not necessary to place medically required liquids in a zip-top bag. However, you must tell the Transportation Security Officer that you have medically necessary liquids at the beginning of the screening checkpoint process. Medically required liquids will be subjected to additional screening that could include being asked to open the container. We recommend, but do not require, that medication be labeled to facilitate the security process. Many airports have designated lanes for families and individuals with items requiring additional assistance with screening.

    The problem is, I've been able to do this once (domestic), however the second time I had it taken away (international).

    The time that I had it taken away was when I actually told the dude I had it in my bag, they removed it, kept it, and told me it was not allowed.

    Is this up to the discretion of the TSA officer, or is it due to the fact I was in the international terminal versus the domestic terminal? I don't really see the difference.

    Note that it says "in reasonable quantities for the flight" - how much contact fluid do you really need for the duration of a flight?

    @CMaster It's more of I need it for the flight, as well as my stay at my destination without having to purchase a potential unknown brand which could cause eye irritation.

    @JasonHeine I'm not saying that you don't have a good reason to want to take more - but the rules only oblige the TSA to let you take as much as you need on the flight. So it would seem that the second encounter was within the rules, as frustrating as that may be.

    @CMaster I hear ya, I just didn't know if there was a different for international versus domestic. Rules seem to bend one way or another sometimes in my experience. I guess in all reality, it's up to the TSA officer.

    @JasonHeine quantities of medical liquids for use after you arrive at your destination should be carried in checked luggage if they are over the limit. You should bring a small bottle for the flight and a large bottle for use at your destination, which you ought to be required to check. The fact that one TSA officer allowed you to keep the solution on the flight is probably either a testament to your negotiating skills or a result of the TSA officer being more lenient than she or he is supposed to be. International vs domestic may have played a role, but I doubt it.

    @phoog This is an excellent point. I'd say that is the correct answer if you want to convert your comment to an answer, I will accept it. Thanks

    @JasonHeine Did they just not notice it the first time? I've accidentally had liquids in my bag that went unnoticed in the xray scanner; I assume it's just not all that good, and/or TSA employees just don't pay all that much attention sometimes.

    @Joe Oh yeah, they noticed it the first time, they even pulled out a little white strip to check to make sure there were no explosives in it (or drugs or something).

    @JasonHeine Ah, then they just apparently made two different decisions... not unusual for TSA in my experience...

  • phoog

    phoog Correct answer

    5 years ago

    You quote the TSA:

    Medically required liquids, such as baby formula and food, breast milk and medications are allowed in excess of 3.4 ounces in reasonable quantities for the flight.

    The key is "reasonable quantities for the flight." For most people, 3.4 ounces of contact lens solution is far more than would be needed for a single flight. If you need more contact lens solution than that for use at your destination, you are supposed to put it in your checked baggage. For longer trips, therefore, you would need two bottles: a small travel bottle for use on the plane and a larger bottle for use after you arrive at your destination.

    I don't know why the TSA would have allowed you to take a larger bottle on the domestic flight. I can imagine that any of several reasons might apply. For example:

    • The TSA officer may have been unfamiliar with contact lenses, and therefore unfamiliar with the amount of solution one typically needs to use.
    • The TSA officer may have decided that you didn't represent a threat, and therefore may have exercised discretion (which may or may not have been in keeping with the rules) to allow you to retain the solution.
    • Re-reading your question, I note that you don't say whether you actually discussed the contact lens solution with the officer when you were allowed to keep it. If you did not, they may simply not have noticed it. I've once or twice accidentally carried bottles of liquid through that the TSA screeners missed.
    • If you did discuss the solution with the TSA, as I noted in my comment, it may just be that the TSA officer was not in the mood to argue, or that you are a particularly skilled negotiator. That's kind of frightening, but it's possible.

    I do not know whether TSA rules allow laxer screening of domestic flights, but I doubt it.

    Thank you for this. My question was more out of curiosity than anything, but after all the comments and now a couple of answers, I know that I need to just check it, and get a small bottle for the flight. Thanks again.

    @Wayne - *"What's allowed?" I asked. "Saline solution, or bottles labeled saline solution?" "Bottles labeled saline solution. They won't check what's in it, trust me."* - scary stuff!

    @JBentley my personal experience is that TSA is a joke. I made it through security with a Gerber (multi-tool with knives and files) accidentally. I know someone who did the same with a Gerber machete. Ironically, when he was trying to carry baby formula through for his daughter (with her) he got hassled. As a veteran, he was totally thrilled by the experience

    The problem is _getting_ smaller bottles of contact lens solutions than 120ml: These are not normally sold by vendors.

    @MartinSchröder they are easy to find in the US.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM