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.
The airport security liquids rule is probably the most common rule that passengers fail to understand properly so end up having their liquids, including bottled water, confiscated by the security agent.
So can you take water on a plane and, if not, what are the alternatives?
The Quick Answer:
You can take water through airport security but only if it is in a container that is no larger than 3.4 ounces/100ml.
There are a few exceptions, for example if you are flying with a baby, that I have detailed below.
Water can be taken on a plane if purchased after the security checkpoint. Empty water bottles can be taken through security and filled after passing through.
- 1 Can you take water through airport security?
- 2 Can you take empty water bottles on a plane?
- 3 Why can’t you bring water on a plane?
- 4 Can you take water on international flights?
- 5 Can I bring an unopened bottle of water on a plane?
- 6 Can you take water in your checked bags?
- 7 Will bottled water explode in checked luggage?
- 8 Is it good to drink water on a plane?
- 9 Can you take cans of soda on a plane?
- 10 Summary
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 and these rules apply to taking water through airport security too.
The TSA liquid rule states 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.
It is the size of the container, not the amount of liquid in it that counts!
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 311 liquids rule for full details of how you must carry liquids through airport security.
Also read: How many ounces on a plane?
Exceptions for babies
The TSA liquids rule (link to TSA website) applies to all passengers but is relaxed for parents who are traveling with a baby.
Parents often ask can I take baby bottles with water through airport security? 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.
How much water is allowed on a plane for a baby?
There is no hard and fast rule that defines exactly how much water you can take through the TSA checkpoint with you. You are permitted to take sufficient water for your baby to drink or to make up baby formula for the duration of the flight and until you reach your final destination.
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.
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 they are completely frozen when you pass through the security checkpoint.
You can bring an empty water bottle through airport security, but not if the water bottle contains any water at all.
It doesn’t matter if it is a stainless steel water bottle, a glass water bottle or some other type of hydro flask 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!
Although you may hear people talk about an “airline-approved water bottle”, actually such a thing does exist. You can take any type of water bottle on the plane with you.
How big of an empty water bottle can you bring on a plane? There are no restrictions on the size of an empty water bottle that you can take with you.
Why can’t you bring water on a plane?
As you have read, you can actually take water onto a plane with you, you just cannot take it through the security checkpoint. At least not in a container larger than 3.4 ozs.
But you should remember that airport security is trying to stop potentially dangerous liquid explosives, disguised as water, from being taken on a plane. TSA regulations are not actually trying to stop real water from being taken on board.
If you do take water in a container that is small enough it will be screened separately and may be tested for explosives by a TSA agent.
If any size water bottle was permitted then they would all need to be screened separately and that would cause huge delays at security, which no one wants.
How to bring water on a plane?
There are a few options.
- You can buy bottled water in many airports after you pass through airport security. The departure lounge in many airports will generally have more than one airport convenience store that sells water.
- You can take a reusable water bottle through TSA security screening checkpoints and then fill it from a water fountain in the departure area, which many airports are now providing for passengers. These days reducing the use of plastic bottles is very on trend so taking a reusable bottle is also a very good, green option.
But remember, the bottle must be empty!
If it has any liquid in it, even if there are less than 3.4 ounces, then it is not allowed through airport security.
How much water can you bring on a plane?
Once you pass through security there is no actual limit on the amount of water you can take with you on a plane. You are limited only by the amount you can fit in your carry on bag.
Can you take water on international flights?
It makes no difference whether you are flying on a domestic flight or an international flight as the rules are the same.
Can I bring an unopened bottle of water on a plane?
When it comes to the question of can you bring unopened water through TSA, it actually makes no difference if a water bottle is opened or unopened.
The rules are clear – if it is larger than 3.4 ounces it cannot be taken through TSA security, regardless of whether it is unopened or not.
If you buy the water after passing through security then you can take an unopened or opened water bottle on the plane with you.
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. 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 bottled water in checked luggage 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 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?
Will bottled water explode in checked luggage?
It is unlikely that bottled water will explode if you pack it in your checked baggage. This is particularly true if it is in a glass bottle.
However, if it is in a thin plastic bottle and it only has a small amount of water in it (meaning there is lots of air too) then, as the air will expand in the lower pressure at altitude, there is a small possibility that the plastic might crack and allow the water to escape.
Is it good to drink water on a plane?
Air travel can certainly leave you dehydrated as the cabin air is generally not very humid. So drinking plenty of water while flying will help to reduce the possibility of dehydration 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.
Can you take water on a plane? 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.