3 oz Rule Applies To Christmas Items Too

The TSA’s 3 ounce liquid/gel rule doesn’t just apply to shampoo and lotion, it also also applies to festive season items like pies, jams, salsas, sauces, syrups, dips, lotions, creams, scented oil, liquid soaps, perfumes, and snow globes. They also don’t want you flying with wrapped gifts but that’s just kind of a “please, thanks,” they’re not going to confiscate your presents. Yet.

TSA Holiday 3-1-1 Tips [TSA]


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  1. BigNutty says:

    The TSA is a joke. Go to their website at [www.tsa.dhs.gov] and read about their new Officer Campaign called “I am TSA.”

    Check out the group picture on another page of the website and then tell me you feel safer flying with these ex-fast food employee’s turned security officers.

  2. firefoxx66 says:

    They might very well be an asshole about it though, especially if you’re coming into the US. My sister returned from spending Xmas in the UK with my dad, bringing with her wrapped presents from my dad to the family over here.

    At US customs she was selected for ‘interrogation’ as I call it (we are both US citizens), and they unpacked her bag, as they do. They found the presents, and took her into a small room, where they repeatedly asked her over and over to identify what was in each package.

    Of course, she only knew the contents of one package – a ceremonial Yemenese knife that had been presented as a contract signing gift to my mother, my dad was sending it to her. Of course, you are very much not supposed to fly without knowing the contents of your bag, and it doesn’t really look good to not know the contents of your bag and have a Yemenese knife inside. (This was checked, so carry-on laws were not an issue.)

    She nervously took wild guesses as to the contents of each package, and said the knife was a ‘board game’. They made her name everything 5 or 6 times, but then never actually opened or made her open any of the packages – which is good, because she might have been there a few days explaining herself!!!

    So, be careful, and don’t follow her example this Christmas. Ship your ceremonial Yemenese knives.

  3. B says:

    But it’s just not Christmas without my C4 pie.

  4. firefoxx66 says:

    Oh, and she was about 13 at the time (3 or so years ago). It’s good they’re protecting our country from those damn kids on my lawn!

  5. HRHKingFriday says:

    Wait, so I’ll have to make 3 oz. pies? That sucks.

  6. kepster says:

    I’ve had gifts unwrapped in the past by the TSA. Now I just order almost everything online and have it sent ahead, then wrap it at my destination.

  7. Jeff_McAwesome says:

    So are they just giving up and admitting that the x-ray machines don’t work at all?

  8. clickable says:


    The kicker is your sister’s age at the time, because if she had been an adult, I’d have to say, I can see why they (security services) might be nervous in such a scenario.

    I think the best lesson learned from your situation is to ship knives (or cutlery) by mail or UPS. Because if they can give you a hard time even about something that’s in your checked baggage, who needs the headache? It’s not illegal to transport a knife, or even a firearm, for that matter, although anyone legally possessing and transporting a firearm probably already knows the correct procedure. But more people may want to give gifts that include knives (even though in a lot of cultures it’s considered a bad omen to give a knife as a gift), and if you plan in advance, it’s easy enough to ship one parcel by mail or UPS and bypass any potential airport hassle entirely.

    If it were me, that’s what I would do. Anything to lay low and avoid attracting attention, just keep the line moving. Doesn’t matter that what I’m doing is perfectly legal. Christmas travel season is not the time to stand on principle with the TSA.

    Not gonna ask not gonna ask not gonna ask what the hell kind of contract was being commemorated with a ceremonial knife, of all things? Is your family name Soprano? But like I said, not gonna ask ;).

  9. We’re shipping ahead everything we can, and sending the wrapping stuff in that box, so the couple of things we have to put in the suitcase we can wrap on arrival. Stupid airlines.

  10. Dervish says:

    Just a heads up that they really seem to be cracking down on this rule, at MSP airport at least. I’ve never been stopped for the 3-oz rule before and I’ve traveled quite a bit for short business trips (i.e., no checked luggage). At the end of November my husband and I were flying to Albany for my grandmother’s funeral. Given the nature of these things, we planned it two days before we flew and we had an really tight connection in Detroit. We carried on our luggage since we only had small bags and since we knew it wouldn’t make the connection if handled by the baggage folks.

    Well, we got the 3-oz degree when going through screening in Minneapolis. They even took away our tube of toothpaste – which, though it was originally 6 oz., had maybe 3 rounds left in it. The guy who frisked me loudly proclaimed to everyone there that it was “my choice” that I wasn’t checking my baggage, and “my choice” that I was giving up my apparently explosive 4 oz. of facewash.

    It’s worth noting that on our way back, flying out of Albany, I forgot to take my baggie of stuff out and send it through the scanner outside of my bag – and no one even batted an eyelash. Now, I know I didn’t follow the rules. Yeah, I had things that weren’t technically travel size. I just wish they’d be consistent in enforcing the rules.

    So, be warned – even if you’ve never been stopped before, you might be stopped now.

  11. Jozef says:

    I automatically put all liquids into my checked luggage, and stopped flying to Atlanta because they run you through a checkpoint even after disembarking. It cost me a very nice bottle of Scotch from a duty free shop to learn that lesson…

  12. rbb says:

    This has the potential for a great fund-raising activity – set up a gift wrapping table after the security checkpoint. Course the downside is getting cleared to do it and what would you cut the paper with?

  13. Heyref says:

    On my recent trip to to Germany and Italy, I noticed that they don’t have any of this 3 oz. bushwah in Europe. The only time I had to deal with it was boarding at the international terminal at SFO. I also noticed that no one is using after shave, holiday pies, shampoo and/or single malt whisky to blow up planes. Maybe it has something to do with the real security they have rather than the window dressing and mouth breathers.

  14. bbbici says:

    Ha, leaving Austria a few years ago, the security scanners were JUST BEFORE the ramps to the planes. Everything was so delayed and lined up, they were just waving everyone through without any inspection whatsoever. Yet, surprisingly, the planes didn’t go down in balls of flames.

    The whole airport security thing is just a means for the government to maintain a culture of fear so citizens will support military spending. If terrorists want a plane down, there are many easier methods to do it.

  15. Buran says:

    @Heyref: That’s because this does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to protect you and there IS NO THREAT from this stuff. It’s all a “we have power and you don’t” act.

  16. teqsun.com says:

    wait wait wait…

    does this mean we can only have 3oz of Volume in our pies? or can they weigh only 3oz?

  17. Hawkeye1659 says:


    Yup, yet another instance of “Security Theater”. Also, what’s the point of having this moronic scare mongering Terror Alert meter with the colors when they never ever turn it to low. It’s always at Elevated or High. I can’t believe people aren’t more up in arms that they are confiscating pies and the like when it seems like every time they do those secret security studies, they are able to get fake bombs and weapons through security. Probably because the TSA agents are too worried about grandma’s 4 ounce bottle of nasty smelling perfume…

  18. DrGirlfriend says:

    I had to laugh at “snow globe”, because when my mom was flying back home a few weeks ago after spending Thanksgiving with me, I helped her separate all her liquids for carry-on. We did a bang-up job, except we forgot that one of the gifts she was bringing back and was carrying with her was a snowglobe. D’oh. Fortunately, the TSA people directed her to a counter where they boxed it up securely and checked it for her. After being so careful, we were foiled by a snowglobe.

  19. drrictus says:

    Why must the gifts be unwrapped?

    “The better to pick out the best goodies for ‘confiscation’, my dear!”

  20. Freedomboy says:

    A couple planes going down seems like it would be worth it, since they bad guys, all 7 of them, would be able to do it anyway, 3 oz or no 3 oz.

    In Vegas I sat and watched the gate area outside the window, a contruction fence in the near foreground, the Strip in the distance, the gap under the fence was 8 or 9 inches and the area just beyond had tool sheds, potty thing etc. I could see where a remote controlled car toy with a grenade could be driven right under the fence on then across the 80 feet to the underside of any of 19 planes within sight and………bye bye. Now THAT would change the whole thing and nobody ever even thinks of it.

  21. whydidnt says:

    I’m probably reading into this what isn’t there, but how do those of you that feel this is “scare mongering” and a power play feel about profiling? My experience is those that tend to think the TSA is about this stuff also seem to be against profiling of boarding passengers, which would do away with 75% of these moronic rules, since they wouldn’t feel the need to question an 80 year old grandmother about why she has 5 ounces of scope in her purse.

    The fact of the matter is that transporting explosives onto a plan in a liquid form was one of the ways the terrorists planned on carrying out activities out of Great Britain. We have to remove our shoes because a terrorist DID attempt to blow up a plane by smuggling explosives in his shoes.

    It’s a pain in the neck and I agree silly rule, but until we get a dose of reality and allow the TSA to devote a majority of the time to fliers who might be a high risk, then I think we need to shut up and live with these inconveniences, even if you think they do no good.

  22. FLConsumer says:

    I’ve posted it before, but seriously, what would it take to get rid of the TSA and where do we start? I’m all for security — REAL security. None of this 3 oz liquid crap, nor the taking off your shoes crap. When I enter higher-security federal buildings I don’t see any of this going on and the buildings I’ve been in have a lot more to lose with unauthorized electronics & such.

    Hasn’t the TSA ever considered that if such a liquid bomb was viable (which it’s not as the compounds required are far too unstable), there’s more than 1 person on a plane. As with all hijackings, there usually are more than one passenger involved. Get a few friends together and bring all the liquids on-board that you wish.

  23. LionelEHutz says:

    The TSA is nothing more than a group of uneducated thugs who were empowered by a bunch of know-nothing congress critters to give the ignorant masses the appearance of security. Considering that TSA “screeners” miss things most of the time — [www.msnbc.msn.com] and [www.usatoday.com] — I see no reason why these goons and the agency that employs them should even exist anymore. We’re just throwing money down the rabbit hole to make the people gripped by fear feel better.

  24. bunnymen says:

    @Dervish: To quote the very first thing I see on the TSA’s Permitted and Prohibited Items page”

    “All liquids, gels and aerosols must be in three-ounce or smaller containers. Larger containers that are half-full or toothpaste tubes rolled up are not allowed. Each container must be three ounces or smaller. ” [emphasis mine]

    So there ya go…

    I’m flying out of MSP in a few weeks myself. First time in nearly eight years. Scary shit.

  25. mgyqmb says:

    I was going through the checkpoint in St Louis this past summer when I asked one of the TSA guys whether or not my gel stick deodorant was subject to the 3oz rule, and whether or not it needed to be in a baggie. He asked me “what do you think deodorant is made out of?” and I told him that I thought it might be a thick, condensed paste of some sort. He said “there you go”. Which didn’t really answer my question, but I got through with it.

  26. varco says:

    The key is just to pad the crap out of the stuff, wrap it up in plastic bags, and toss it into the checked luggage. I’ve flown to and from both China and Germany with bottles without any problems.

  27. gmark2000 says:

    On a trip last month, I had two sets of car keys in my jacket pocket that went through the X-ray. Both sets of keys had mini-Swiss Army knives which I forgot to take off. Nevertheless, they were never detected.

  28. rachmanut says:

    Why does the original post mention pies? The TSA website specifically mentions jams, salsas, sauces, syrups, and dips, but says nothing about pies, and, indeed, I was able to bring a frozen pie on board this past thanksgiving with no problems whatsoever. When they originally introduced 3-1-1, there was confusion about pies, but I believe pies are okay now.


  29. rachmanut says:


    When was this trip? I was in Germany and Italy this summer/fall and they were doing the whole 3 oz. thing there. Did they scale it back since, or was your trip earlier than that?

  30. FLConsumer says:

    @rachmanut: Oh good, so I can now hide my 100% impractical, mythical Hollywood-only explosive in pies when I fly.

    Guinness guys: Brilliant!

  31. Heyref says:

    @rachmanut: I just got back a couple of weeks ago. I was there pretty much the whole month of November, so maybe they dropped things a notch or two after tourist season. It took longer to go through passport control than screening. They put TSA to shame.

    I’m always impressed with the difference in the security approach in Europe. One thing I always notice is the lack of opaque trashcans to drop your bombs in. The other is the presence of lots of friendly, polite, highly professional, and very heavily armed federal police.

  32. Amelie says:

    @whydidnt: You can put up with TSA b.s. if you’d like, but where do you get off telling the rest of us to “shut up”? DIAF!

  33. Comeaja says:

    I can tell you now, theres alot more ways for someone to take out a plane if they want it down than kill themselves. Does the TSA have a policy for if a stinger missile is fired at a commercial passenger plane? Didnt think so.

  34. Joessandwich says:

    When I flew back to LA from San Francisco right after Thanksgiving, I got through the International terminal with 3 large tupperwares full of leftovers. This included mashed potatoes, a sweet potato dish, and lots of cranberry sauce. The guy did a double take, looked at me, back at the x-ray, and then let it go, but honestly, I was shocked I got through.

  35. FLConsumer says:

    @Comeaja: Easiest way is through cargo, since air cargo’s still not inspected whatsoever.

  36. Chols says:

    From the TSA 3-1-1 Holiday Tips site:
    “Be considerate and save jokes for after the checkpoint”

    Great, we can say bomb bomb bom-bom-bom bomb while waiting at the gate because our flight was delayed.