TSA To Stop Being So Crazy About Liquids

Soon you might be able to take your shampoo and booze on the plane once again without trouble. The head of the TSA told WSJ’s The Middle Seat Terminal blog, “I think realistically in one year we, the TSA and foreign colleagues, will be a position to relax liquids restrictions…We are within a year of having the ability to differentiate threat liquids through the screening process.” The rule relaxation is thanks to airports deploying new x-ray machines and scanners that should be able to tell the difference between a bottle of water and a bomb. Just don’t expect it to happen any time before 2009.

TSA Likely to Relax Restrictions on Liquids in 2009 [The Middle Seat] (Photo: AP)


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  1. Yankees368 says:

    So I will be able to bring my bottle of water onto the plane? What a luxury!

    • Veeber says:

      @Yankees368: No even better. You don’t have to buy that bottle of water for $5 after you pass through security.

      • howie_in_az says:

        @Veeber: This is only going to further damage the already fragile economy: if travelers don’t have to pay $5 for water then airlines won’t get $8 for onboard water which means airlines will quickly go out of business, putting more people out of work which will further jeopardize mortgage payments resulting in more foreclosures.

        Clearly the solution is, post-TSA screening, water that costs $700 billion.

  2. thaJack says:

    They’ll be good to go as long as you promise to label your water “Water” and your bomb “Bomb.”

  3. zigziggityzoo says:

    One word: ANNOYING. I get sick of paying $2.99 for a bottle of water to bring on the plane with me, or $5 for some crap can of soda on a flight. Once, the TSA even took my EMPTY Nalgene bottle from me. WTF?

    It’s about time they relax these rules. It couldn’t come soon enough.

  4. ribex says:

    I’m puzzled by the second clause of this sentence from the article: “The restriction has been a source of frequent complaints and frustrations for travelers, and the requirement to remove the baggie and send it separately through X-ray screen slows up security lines.”

    I have never been required to, nor have I seen fellow travelers, remove items from the plastic bag. Have I just traveled too infrequently or been at the wrong (or right) airports?

    • Etoiles says:

      @ribex: They mean, “the requirement to take the ziploc bag, full of liquids, out of your carry-on,” not, “the requirement to take liquids out of the ziploc bag.”

    • ribex says:

      Duh, of course they just mean that the bag CONTAINING the < or = 3oz containers has to be placed in the bin…not that items have to be taken out of the ziptop bag. Why can’t I just delete or edit my comment?

      • ribex says:

        Perhaps this move is tied to some soopur sekrit agreement made with airlines who want to charge for water, as US Airways has done already. They know that passengers will revolt if all airlines follow US Air’s model.

    • TheStonepedo says:

      @ribex: I’ve lately not had to remove the bag of liquids from my carry-on, but then again I travel extremely light (three work shirts, two shorts, underpants, socks, and paperwork). If your bag isn’t a disorganized mess of random things of random density you can breeze through security.

      • electrogeek77 says:

        @TheStonepedo: The same thing happened to my husband recently. At first I thought it was a fluke, but if it’s happening to others, then either they’re easing up or the screeners are THAT bad.

  5. h0mi says:

    How about food? If I take another trip somewhere, I want to be able to buy hard to get food (frozen, cooked, unopened or whatever) to bring back.

    • SabreDC says:

      @h0mi: You can check food in your luggage, assuming it complies with all import/export regulations.

    • JmoneyGangsta says:

      @h0mi: I’ve taken food on flights before. When my wife and I visited Chicago looking for an apartment we brought some leftover deep dish pizza on the plane. It wasn’t even in a bag, we carried it on in the styrofoam. It was a good thing to because our flight was delayed 3 hours. Our leftovers made a great on-flight dinner!

  6. johnva says:

    Some defense contractors must be making a mint off of the TSA’s constant screening technology upgrades.

    • jamar0303 says:

      @johnva: Depends on whether the TSA is stepping up or giving up. Japan already has the technology to screen large liquids without dumping them, so it’s there.

    • TechnoDestructo says:


      Meh, I’m okay with it…so long as it works as advertised (big if), and preferably automatically, that’s the only part of this whole farce that ISN’T just theater.

  7. ironchef says:

    how quickly we forget Al Qaeda actually used a liquid bomb hidden in a bottle of contact lens fluid that successfully blew a 2 foot hole just above the fuel tanks in a 747 shortly after the first WTC bombing attack.


    You know what they say about people who don’t study history….

    • Inglix_the_Mad says:


      Yeah, and if you want to live in fear go to China where the state will guarantee (falsely) to protect you from the big, bad, terrists. Americans have been targets for 200 years, this isn’t new mate. Heck the British burned Washington to the ground so I suppose anything flammable must go when in Washington. I suppose we shouldn’t have air travel at all after 9/11 because there is no way to guarantee another plane won’t be taken over. I suppose we should cordon off Hawaii in case someone else decides to bomb Pearl Harbor.

      The level of fear in Americans is sickening. Whatever happened to “Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!”?

      Here is the price of freedom: Your every ounce of pain, pint of courage, and drop of blood. Paid in advance.

      Oh and if you the TSA is useful, I got news for you, they aren’t. I’ve got enough metal in me to freak out any metal detector, yet, whenever it’s busy I don’t set them off. Go through the same detector later that day or week, et al, when it’s not busy, and it alarms.

      Enjoy your false illusion of security.

    • teh says:

      @ironchef: Yes, but with the current regulations, contact solution isn’t subject to the 3-oz limit. So yes, this may still be a problem, but isn’t prevented even with our current regulations.

    • lawndart says:

      @ironchef: They are doomed to stand in long pointless security lines? A contact lens container of Liquid Nitroglycerin would slip through just as easily today, or since its not magnetic you could just tape it in a flat gel pack to yourself and skip the whole thing. You could also just freeze it (freeze point around 50 degrees F) and then it’s not a liquid anyway, it’s my bar of soap. The liquids restriction is still just to look like they “are addressing the issue”. If they wanted to actually solve it, they would ban non-essential liquids completely or use the explosive residue detectors they check some luggage with on everyone.

    • TechnoDestructo says:


      And what would have happened if security personnel had asked the bomber to put a drop of it in his eye?

    • Ajh says:

      @ironchef: pity the current restrictions do crap about that kind of bomb huh? They’re more annoyance than useful…

  8. sir_pantsalot says:

    Knowing the TSA the ban will be lifted on liquids but the actual bottles will still be banned. You can carry as much water as you want but that is limited by how much you can cary in your cupped hands.

  9. 4deb says:

    I flew a couple weeks ago, had to toss out a bottle of water before going through security, only to walk on the other side of the gate and buy a bottle of water…for $3.00 of course! Couldn’t they just ask me to take a drink of my liquid to see it’s okay?

  10. ViperBorg says:

    People still fly?

    • MoreFunThanToast says:

      @ViperBorg: unfortunately people still need to get from point A to point B within a limited amount of time, which makes boating across the ocean not an option.

    • kalemaat says:

      @ViperBorg: If there were a quicker way to travel between Chicago and DC (the route I have to fly several times a month), then believe me, I would absolutely do it. I’m annoyed by some of the TSA’s security measures as much as everyone else, but unfortunately, a 17-hour-long Amtrak ride just isn’t an option.

      • jamar0303 says:

        @kalemaat: I keep thinking that America needs what Japan has- Chicago-DC in 17 hours may be unreasonable, but the same in 6 hours is quite doable factoring in airport time dealing with things that you don’t have to mess around with at Amtrak.

  11. levenhopper says:

    I’ve always wondered if Ziplock and the TSA made some sort of inside deal forcing passengers to buy Ziplock bags…

    • Pandrogas says:

      @levenhopper: I always wondered who would come up with such a stupid rule to begin with. Holy crap, they have a bottle in their carry-on that isn’t in a ziplock bag! I mean come on, it has to be one of the worst security policies I’ve ever seen.

      Maybe the next time I fly the TSA won’t take away my toothpaste for being in a standard size tube.

  12. crabbyman6 says:

    Soooo, are they going to take samples of all the liquids now? Explosives have vapor pressures in the ppm-ppt range, which is incredibly small for a real life situation. I pity anyone who was out in the garden fertilizing before they left for the airport if they actually did implement these new rules, that is until they lower the sensitivity to speed things up yes maintain the security illusion.

    They probably just got sick of people complaining and since these insane rules don’t actually make it safer, just decided to drop it.

  13. TechnoElf says:

    I don’t even know how many times I have forgotten to take out my ziploc bag of toiletries, but was able to just walk through. They don’t even care if I put it in a separate bin! Or they just don’t care in general. It’s all very silly =

    • DrGirlfriend says:

      @TechnoElf: I took the bag out the first couple of times I flew after the rules were put in place. I realized no one else was doing it, so I didn’t either. Haven’t done it since, and it’s not been an issue.

    • MissPeacock says:

      @TechnoElf: I once didn’t have my toiletries in the quart bag; they were in a clear bag, just not a quart-sized Ziplock. They actually went through my luggage for that.

  14. gglockner says:

    I don’t think it will take a year. Once Die Fuhrer is out of the White House, I bet the TSA gestapo will get fixed.

  15. kaylabear says:

    I hate the TSA’s rule on liquids.

    Back in 2006, at Heathrow Airport in London, my tube of lip balm was confiscated because it qualified as a ‘liquid.’ I explained to the airline employee that I needed it because my lips were horribly chapped (they actually hurt), but they weren’t having it. So, throughout the 11 hour flight from London to San Francisco, my lips actually bled, on and off, only being relieved with constant dabs of ice cubes and napkins. Heathrow, Virgin Atlantic, and the TSA would rather see someone’s lip bleed over the course of 11 hours than ‘risk’ the possibility that a tiny tube of lip gloss may be used to make a bomb (I don’t even think most lip balms contain flammable ingredients…).

  16. maneki neko says:

    Thank goodness! This regulation has been all sorts of dumb, especially since they’re very spotty about the enforcement. Once I discovered I had accidentally brought several containers of more than 3 oz. of liquid through the checkpoint at LaGuardia(I’d just forgotten they were in my carry-on), but they only stopped me to look at the package of cookies in my backpack, because it looked sort of like a water bottle.
    For some reason, though, the Indianapolis airport is always pretty hard-core about the security measures. It’s quite odd.

  17. windycity says:

    These rules are only as good as the TSA agents who enforce them. Flying out of O’Hare, I’m told to throw away my water bottle because it is not allowed. Flying out of Miami, the woman behind me in the security line asks if she can take her water bottle through and is told Sure! Go ahead!

  18. axiomatic says:

    “threat liquids”


    Speaking as a son of two chemists, I want someone from the TSA to say that too me with a straight face.

  19. BeeBoo says:

    The terrorists WON when we had to start running around airports barefoot.

  20. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    So.. what happens if say, you have a full bottle of water. And they move to confiscate it. And then.. you drink it.

    Then what? Do they confiscate you?

  21. Benny Gesserit says:

    My better half and I were flying recently and had a container of jam confiscated. (Partridgeberry jam – only available in Newfoundland. YUM)

    Being a Canadian in a Canadian airport, the gal was friendly about it and, when we suggested she and her colleagues use it in their lunchroom said “Love to but no, it has to tossed away.” And so she did, into a large garbage container not 2 feet from her. It joined sundry items from previous passengers.

    After we gathered our things and moved into the departure area proper, the other half said:

    “You know, that’s a crock of sh*t. IF they REALLY thought it was dangerous, they’re never TOSS it into an OPEN garbage container. It’d be some sort of secure vessel that could contain an explosion and they’d be wearing body armour, dammit.”

    “Shhh” I replied “Let’s leave talk like that until we’re home and away from prying ears.”

  22. dtmoore says:

    The security at airports is so sketchy anyway, I accidentally left a 6″ buckknife in the side pocket of my bag from when I went camping. Made it to vegas and back obviously going through security both ways and they didn’t catch it. I didn’t even notice until I got home and unpacked. This was last year.

  23. British Benzene says:

    If we cared about security, we wouldn’t have people making $8-12 an hour working in the TSA.

    (Probably getting flagged for cavity search next time I fly)

  24. azntg says:

    I doubt it’s the “advanced scanning machinery.” It’s probably TSA’s way of saying that they have to cut down costs and that they’ll do it by lowering waste disposal costs.

    It’s about time they got rid of the stupid 3 oz. rule!

  25. nfs says:

    Good. now I can take a bottle of water with me instead of paying 5 bucks in the airport stall on in the plane.

  26. MrFrankenstein says:

    the absurd amateurs of the TSA and their little deliberate airport-theatre performances, are all about sustaining a two-part illusion – of ‘security’ and demonstrating ‘control’ (of the public).

    The reality is that the TSA have ‘prevented’ no terror incidents, and lack the ability to do anything apart from catching the occasional untrained civilian going postal.

    The TSA is just a relatively untrained bunch of laughable amateurs, exercising and demonstrating Government control over a docile and predominantly ignorant public, who are no safer – and who are under as little threat as they were pre-911, from so-called ‘terrorists’.

  27. anonvmoos says:

    headline is false, the tsa is still going to be nuts about liquids, these new machines wont help any.

    next they’ll ban clothes because of some bullshit “clothes bomb” that they try to pin on some guys in britian with no plane tickets or passports etc.

    flying is such a nightmare, its crazy how it still beats trying to go anywhere on amtrak (last two train trips had 9+ hour delays, including bussing between cities.)

  28. Triborough says:

    Now if they can only remove the bloat that is the TSA, which is just another black hole for tax dollars.

  29. BoraBora says:

    Maybe then I can bring some brie in my carry-on. Seriously, the San Jose airport took my cheese because it said “triple cream.” I tried to explain that it was a solid CHEESE, but since the package said “cream,” I couldn’t bring it on the plane. I think the TSA had a box of crackers in the back room and thought “score!”

    I’d like to see terrorists try and make a bomb out of my brie. At best it would stink up the place :)

  30. ShridulaMnemosyne says:

    Was that August 2006 right after the threats about Heathrow? I was also flying back to the US from London 3 days after those threats and at that time they confiscated ANYthing, not just liquids. You were not allowed any carryon items at all, not even a purse. Plus they did a thorough pat-down on every single person. You could bring your passport and money and everything else had to go in checked baggage. (I managed to get a few tampons through, because 11 hours without them would have been a crime scene. But I had to unwrap them.)
    But those rules loosened up a month or so later.

    I don’t think you can really blame them for being so extreme about your chapstick immediately after a terror threat against Heathrow specifically. We were lucky to be able to fly out at all.

  31. Maulleigh says:

    Thank god I can carry on luggage again!

    Although I’ve learned to take an EMPTY water bottle through security and then filling it up at the water fountain. :)

  32. CRCError1970 says:

    I’ve got to try REALLY hard not to rant on this subject. IMHO most airport security “policy” is a huge sham. First of all… The whole friggin shoe policy is stupid. The dude that tried the shoe bomb *FAILED*… It didn’t work.
    Second… the 3oz rule of liquids. Nothing is stopping 5 terrorists from each bring the max amount of liquid separately and joining on the plane. Binary explosive agents are not that hard to make.
    Lastly, I’ve found a sure fire way to get “randomly” selected for extra screening. Buy a one way ticket. Like a one-way ticket means I’m more likely to bomb a plane. A terrorist is going to KNOW this and buy a round trip ticket to decrease the odds of a flag. What the hell do they care about the extra cost of the ticket? They plan on being dead!

  33. manhattan says:

    Finally, I won’t die of thirst on the plane :) I can bring my harmless bottle of poland spring yay! It is funny that in school libraries, I can bring in nothing but a closed bottle of water.. But I couldn’t bring one on the plane. By the way, can I keep my laptop in my bag next time I put it through the scanner?

  34. synergy says:

    Considering people are broke and can’t afford to go down the street… who cares!