Can You Bring Bottled Water on a Plane?

You can buy water on most flights but some people may want a particular brand (although water is water in my opinion) or perhaps may not want to pay airline prices. So can you bring bottled water on a plane and, if not, what are the alternatives.

Bottled water and any other liquids in containers no greater than 100 ml/3.4oz are allowed through the airport security checkpoint and must be placed in a single resealable quart-sized bag. There are exceptions for those traveling with babies or live fish. You can take larger quantities of water onto the aircraft if purchased after the security checkpoint.

The airport security liquids rule is probably the most common rule that passengers fail to understand so end up having their liquids, including bottled water, confiscated by the security agent.

Can You Bring Bottled Water on a Plane
Can You Bring Bottled Water on a Plane? 1

Can you take water through airport security

The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) rules regarding taking liquids through an airport security checkpoint are very strictly adhered to.

TSA rules state that you cannot take any liquids in containers that are larger than 3.4 fluid ounces (100 ml) through airport security. Those liquids that are within those dimensions must be carried with other liquids into a quart-sized, resealable clear plastic bag.

There would be very little purpose in taking a bottle of water that was only 3.4 fluid ounces in size as that would hardly quench anyone’s thirst.

In most airports, when you join the line to go through security there will be notices reminding you about the maximum liquids rule and bins provided for you to dispose of any water or other liquids you have which are larger than 3.4 ounces.

See my article The TSA 3-1-1 liquids rule for full details of how you must carry liquids through airport security.

Exceptions for babies

The TSA liquids rule applies to all passengers but is relaxed for parents who are traveling with a baby.

A parent may take sufficient bottled water with them for the baby during the flight, either to drink as water or to use to make up baby formula. The same applies to boiled, sterile water.

You can also take quantities of ready-made formula or expressed breast milk over the 3.4oz/100ml liquids rule limit to feed the baby during the flight.

The water and other liquids for the baby do not need to go into your liquids bag but you should separate them and inform the security agent that you have them as they may require additional screening.

It is perhaps obvious but worth saying nevertheless that you must actually have the baby with you when you pass through airport security to be able to take the above with you.

Taking water on a plane for a baby

Exceptions for fish!

Another exception to the liquids rule applies to those passengers who are wishing to bring live fish on board an aircraft with them. In this case, the amount of water can be greater than 3.4 fluid ounces but there are a few additional requirements:

  • The fish must be alive and swimming!
  • The container they are in must be clear plastic or glass and be spill-proof

You should notify a security agent that you have the fish as they will want to make a visual inspection. Also check with your airline to make sure they allow live fish to be carried and if flying internationally check customs regulations.

water liquid rules for live fish

Exceptions for frozen water/ice

Frozen bottled water or any frozen liquids larger than 3.4 fluid ounces can be taken through security in your carry on bag provided that it is completely frozen when it passes through the security checkpoint.

frozen water on a plane

Can you take water on board the aircraft?

Clearly, when you look at the restrictions above relating to being able to take water past security, then it would seem unlikely that you can take water on a plane with you at all.

But you should remember that airport security is trying to stop potentially dangerous liquids, disguised as water, on a plane. They are not actually trying to stop real water from being carried. So there are ways you can take water on board with you.

If you can’t take bottled water through the security checkpoint how can you take it on board?

Well there are a few options.

  1. You can buy bottled water in many airports after you pass through airport security. The departure lounge in many airports will generally have lots of stores to relieve you of your money while you wait for your flight and some will sell bottled water.
  2. You can take an empty water container through airport security and then fill it from a water fountain in the departure area, which many airports are now providing for passengers. In these days of reducing plastic use this is also a very green option. But remember, the bottle must be empty! If it has any liquid in it, even if it is less than 100ml, then it is not allowed through airport security.

Can you bring unopened water on a plane?

It makes no difference if a water bottle is opened or unopened. If it is larger than 3.4 ounces it cannot be taken through security. If you buy it after security then you can take an unopened or opened water bottle on an airplane.

Can you take water in your checked bags?

As with many things, even items that are potentially contentious from an airport security point of view, you can often pack them in your checked bags. Bottled water is no exception so you can put it in your checked bag or bags if you are taking any.

Personally I cannot really see why you would want to pack it in your suitcase as water is heavy so it would use up much of your limited checked bag weight allowance.

Of course the exception might be if you are traveling to a country that has very poor sanitation and where sterile bottled water is not available. It may make sense to at least carry some in that case.

For full details of the checked bag liquids rules please see my post How much liquid can you take on a plane in checked baggage?

Can you bring an empty water bottle on a plane?

Yes, you can bring an empty water bottle on a plane and through airport security. It does matter if it is a stainless steel water bottle, glass water bottle or one made of aluminum or plastic as long as it is an empty bottle otherwise it will be confiscated by the security agent – even if it only has a small amount of water in it.

You can buy many different types of water bottles. These reusable water bottles are available on Amazon Go on – save the planet!

Can you take an empty stainless steel water bottle on a plane?
Reusable water bottles

Is it good to drink water on a plane?

Air travel can certainly leave you dehydrated so drinking plenty of water while flying will help to reduce the possibility of this and make you feel less tired. Try not to drink alcohol, or at least keep it to a minimum, as alcohol does dehydrate you.

Can you take cans of soda on a plane?

Yes you can take cans of soda, or any other type of drink, on a plane. Also these can be in bottles too. BUT you cannot take them past security with you (assuming they are not the tiny cans) so you will need to purchase them in the airport lounge to take on the plane with you.

And, no, they will not explode on a plane, either in your carry on or in your checked bags.

See my article on the complete guide to passing through airport security quickly.

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