Liquids On The Plane With Kids: When A Quart Isn’t A Quart

Packing to take a plane trip with children is stressful enough but the new-ish TSA (Transportation Security Administration) rules about liquids only add to the challenge. The current rules explicitly state that each passenger is allowed only one-quart sized ziploc bag of liquids and none may be over 3 ounces. This rule would seem to disallow the needed milk, juice, some food (applesauce?) and medicines for children so let us explain why this is NOT the case.

The TSA rules clearly make an exception for breast milk, formula and juice for children. They also make an exception for all medications, prescription or not. This is all good news but still leaves the traveling parent to question if we can bring cow’s milk or liquid foods such as baby food or applesauce.

The TSA’s website does not explicitly answer the above questions, so we offer you our anecdotal response. We have flown with Grace both internationally and domestically more than a half a dozen times in her first 16 months and we have never, not once, had a security agent question the quantity of liquids no matter how much, so long as we pack them in clear ziploc bags (gallon or smaller), pull it out at each security checkpoint and, in a few rare cases, explain the liquids are for our child. Typically we have at least 3 single-serve boxes of milk, a bag of baby meds (liquid tylenol, benadryl, etc), a sippy cup which may or may not have liquid in it as we go through security, plus a bag of various liquid-type baby foods like jarred pureed fruits or veggies. On top of these liquids for Grace we still always bring one quart-sized bag each of our own toiletries.

We can not tell you unequivocally that this quantity of liquids will always be allowed when traveling with children. TSA only says you must bring a “reasonable” quantity so it is possible what one security agent deems “reasonable” may not be seen so by another. Still we think it’s safe to say that, so long as you bring more or less what you think is reasonable, pack it in clear ziploc bags and pull it out at security, you will likely be just fine. If you are given a hard time you can always ask to speak to a supervisor to explain why you need certain items for your child.

Have you had any issues carrying liquids on planes with your children? If so please share them with us here.


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