A high-quality reusable water bottle is a traveler’s best friend. Eco-friendly travelers, thrifty savers, and minimalists all love a good long-lasting water bottle.
Regarding air travel with your trusty stainless steel water bottle, here’s the good news: yes, you can bring your reusable water bottle through airport security, as long as it’s empty.
For an empty water bottle, there’s no size limit. Any typical material is fine, too: steel, plastic, and even glass are all fine to bring through security and onto the plane.
Once you’re through the Travel Security Administration (TSA) screening, you’re welcome to fill up your bottle. It’s okay to bring a full water bottle on the plane with you.
What Is the TSA 3-1-1 Liquids Rule?
When packing for a flight, it’s good to know the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule for liquids. Here’s the TSA’s exact wording of this rule:
“Each passenger may carry liquids, gels and aerosols in travel-size containers that are 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters. Each passenger is limited to one quart-size bag of liquids, gels and aerosols.”
The 3-1-1 rule is typically relevant for toiletry items like shampoo, mouthwash, and toothpaste. The name refers to the container size limit of 3.4 ounces (3), the need to pack them all in one quart-sized bag (1), and a plastic bag limit of 1 (1).
In your water bottle, if there’s any water in there at all, the amount is likely over 100 millimeters. Either way, the TSA specifically bans water bottles with liquid in them.
What Happens if I Come to Airport Security Screening with a Full Water Bottle?
If you hit the security line with a full water bottle, you’ll have to dump out the contents. Of course, nothing is as easy as it sounds when it comes to airport security.
There might not be a sink provided for dumping out your water, and backtracking could result in losing your place in line. If you’re in a big rush, you might end up needing to forfeit your bottle if you don’t have time to take it out.
Any snag, no matter how minor, in the airport security process should be avoided. So, remember to finish drinking or dump out the contents of your water bottle before you hit the TSA line.
Eco-Friendly Water Bottle Tips for Air Travel
Once you’re through the airport’s security screening, you’re free to fill up your water bottle. Most airports have lots of water fountains, and many have fountains with vertical bottle-filling taps. If you can’t find a fountain, ask a bartender. As a last resort, use the bathroom sink.
Fill your bottle up all the way before you board the plane. That way, you can reduce waste by turning down the single-use mini bottles that are provided during the flight.