Travel Tips

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Plane-Proof Your Scent: Navigating TSA Liquid Laws

Ever sprinted through an airport and wondered if your favorite scent would land you in hot water? Let's unpack the mystery of flying fragrant without the TSA takedown.

Tobi Miles
June 18, 2022

Vacations are one of the best ways to relax and unwind from life's stresses, but there are a few hurdles to jump over. Figuring out what to pack for your flight can be a daunting task, especially when factoring in TSA regulations regarding liquids. It can be confusing to know if you can bring cologne on a plane or any other toiletry item.

The TSA allows cologne and perfumes with secured release devices onto planes in checked luggage and carry-on bags. Cologne and perfumes in carry-on luggage must adhere to the TSA liquid rules to pass the security checkpoint. The cologne must not be larger than 3.4oz (100 ml) and fit comfortably in a 1-quart clear plastic bag.

The TSA liquid rules also apply to everyday travel toiletry items like shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and mouthwash. Full-sized containers are not permitted in carry-on bags. However, you can pack them in checked luggage. Aerosol containers also have quantity limits in place, regardless of whether it’s in checked or carry-on baggage.

Will the TSA Confiscate Cologne?

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The TSA will not confiscate your cologne or perfume as long as it meets the following criteria. The bottle must be less than or equal to 3.4oz/100 milliliters and a cap over the button/nozzle. The cologne must also be inside a clear plastic bag along with other approved liquid items.

You can also pack cologne and perfume in checked baggage. However, there are restrictions for that too. FAA limits the total amount of aerosols (and medical and toiletry items) to 2 kg (70oz) or 2 L (68oz). The amount of each aerosol container must not exceed 0.5 kg (18oz) or 500ml (17 FL oz).

Be aware that it’s the TSA officer’s final say on what will and will not pass through security checkpoints. If agents confiscate your cologne, they’ll toss it, along with other seized liquids. You will have to purchase new cologne and perfume should yours end up in the trash at the security checkpoint.

Therefore, it's in your best interest to know the rules before you pack. Overall, taking the extra time to prepare properly can save you money, time, and headaches.

A Quick Look at the TSA’s Rules for Cologne and Perfume

  • For checked baggage, medicinal and toiletry items, including aerosols, cannot exceed 2 kg (70 oz) 2 L (68 fl. oz).
  • Aerosols must have a cap over the button/nozzle to prevent accidental release.
  • Cologne and perfume may go in a carry-on as long as they are 3.4 oz or less. Other liquids, gels, and aerosols are also permissible under these restrictions.
  • You must place liquids in a single clear 1-quart plastic bag in order to go through security. Each passenger is allowed one bag for liquids, aerosols, and gels.
  • Containers that exceed the 3.4 oz restriction must go in checked luggage, regardless of the amount inside.
  • Exceptions for the container restrictions apply to medicines and baby and child nourishments.
  • The TSA officer makes the final decision about what can pass through the security checkpoint.
  • Agents will throw away confiscated liquids, gels, and aerosols as they are prone to tampering.

Related Read: What Does 100 ml Look Like?

Can I Bring a Full-Size Cologne Onto a Plane?

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You can take full-sized bottles of cologne onto a plane; it will likely need to be in a checked bag. If the full-sized bottle of cologne is over 3.4oz, you must pack it in your checked luggage. Bottles of cologne under 3.4oz are permitted in carry-on bags, as long as it follows the 3-1-1 guidelines.

If the bottle of cologne appears to have less than 3.4oz but is full-sized, it still goes in checked bags. TSA agents have to go by the size of the container, regardless of the amount of its contents. Keep buttons/nozzles capped at all times in order to prevent accidental discharge.

According to FAA aerosol regulations, the total quantity per person cannot exceed 2 kg (70 oz) 2 L (68 fl. oz). The capacity of each aerosol container cannot exceed 0.5 kg (18 oz) or 500 ml (17 fl oz). Exceptions do exist for medicinal and toiletry aerosol canisters.

Are Travel-Size Colognes Allowed on a Plane?

Travel-sized cologne is allowed in your carry-on if it falls under the TSA liquid rule guidelines. The amount of liquids allowed in carry-on bags is 3.4 oz and placed in a clear 1-quart bag. If the travel-sized bottle exceeds the allotted amounts, you won’t be allowed to bring cologne on a plane.

Related Read: How Big Can My Toiletry Bag Be To Fly? Quart-Size Bags

What Size Cologne Can I Bring On a Plane?

According to the TSA liquid rules, liquids packed into carry-on luggage cannot exceed 3.4 oz or 100 milliliters total. Cologne must not exceed 3.4 oz (100 milliliters) to be allowed in your carry-on. If the bottle of cologne is more than 3.4 oz, it must go in checked baggage.

Why Does Cologne Have to Be In a Plastic Bag?

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Putting your cologne and other liquids in a clear plastic bag is so TSA agents can clearly inspect the bottles. Having the containers in a single plastic bag also keeps agents from rummaging through the carry-on during an inspection.

This makes the security process easier for the TSA agents and passengers so that the lines can move quickly. It is important to remember to place your liquids inside a clear plastic bag that secures in some way. It also protects the rest of your bag’s contents should a liquid item leak.

What Is the 3-1-1 Rule?

The TSA 3-1-1 rule is to help passengers remember how much liquids and how to store them for carry-ons. Passengers can bring liquids up to 3.4 oz in a 1-quart plastic bag and one bag per passenger.

This rule applies to all liquids. However, there are exceptions for medications and baby and child nourishments.

The TSA 3-1-1 rule only applies to liquids packed in a carry-on, not checked bags. It will not be accepted if you have a large container with leftover liquids that appear under the 3.4 oz. What matters is what’s written on the label, not what’s inside, so it’s best to put these in checked bags.

Can I Carry Travel Size Perfume In My Purse?

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You can carry travel-sized perfume and cologne in your purse if it meets the liquid rule criteria. The perfume bottle should be 3.4oz or less with a capped nozzle to be accepted through security.

Airlines typically allow one piece of carry-on luggage and one personal bag onto the plane. By definition, any bag brought onto the plane with you is carry-on luggage. Purses are personal carry-on bags, as are computer bags, small backpacks, and diaper bags.

All items are under the discretion of the TSA officer, and the final decision falls to them.

Can I Pack Cologne In My Checked Luggage?

Yes, you can pack cologne in your checked luggage. However, there are some FAA restrictions. The FAA states, “The total aggregate quantity per person cannot exceed 2 kg (70 ounces) or 2 L (68 fluid ounces). Each container must not exceed 0.5 kg (18 ounces) or 500 ml.”

These rules are identical for hair spray, nail polish, inhalers, shaving cream, and medicine. According to the FAA, if it doesn’t touch your body during use, it doesn’t qualify as medicinal or toiletry.

You need to cap any permitted aerosols’ release device (button/nozzle) and secure it at all times. This step applies to aerosols in carry-on and checked bags. This prevents an accidental release during the flight or at the airport.

It is important to remember that checked bags weighing more than 40 lbs are subject to additional charges. These charges apply to each bag over 40 pounds per direction.

Related Read: How to Choose an 18x 14x8 Bag

Can I Bring Cologne on International Flights?

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According to the TSA, Cologne and perfumes are allowed on international flights in checked luggage and carry-on bags.

Bringing cologne in a carry-on, you must adhere to the TSA liquid rules; 3.4oz (100 ml) or less. You must pack bottles of cologne and perfume larger than 3.4 oz (100 ml) in a checked bag. The cologne must be able to fit inside a clear 1-quart plastic bag along with other TSA-approved liquids and gels.

Aerosols must have the button/nozzle capped to prevent accidental release. It’s important to remember, that what is allowed through security checkpoints is the final decision of the TSA officer.

Related Read: How Strict Is Alaska Airlines With A Carry-On?

Still Not Sure If You Can Bring Cologne on a Plane? Ask the TSA

For more information or additional questions about what you can bring with you on your flight, contact the TSA. The TSA customer service offers various convenient methods to answer your questions, whether through chat, calling, or email. Before contacting TSA customer service, read through the FAQ section and see if your inquiry already has an answer.

The TSA customer service page offers three ways to contact customer service. The live assistance works through Facebook Messenger, Apple Messages, and Twitter daily from 8 AM to 6 PM EST. Calling TSA customer service offers automated answers; representatives are available 8 AM-11 PM EST on weekdays and 9 AM-8 PM on weekends.

For comments, complaints, a TSA PreCheck concern, or TSA Cares Assistance information; then email is the best option. Email is helpful if your inquiry doesn’t need immediate attention; if it does, live assistance and calls are best.

Our Final Take

This article covers TSA liquid rules, 3-1-1 guidelines, and FAA regulations for aerosol containers.

Remember, the TSA allows cologne and perfumes, with secured release devices, onto planes in checked luggage and carry-on bags. Cologne and perfumes in carry-on luggage must adhere to the TSA liquid rules to pass the security checkpoint. The cologne must not be larger than 3.4oz (100 ml) and fit comfortably in a 1-quart clear plastic bag.

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has specific regulations regarding aerosols. The total aggregate quantity can’t exceed 70 ounces or 68 fluid ounces per person. Each container can’t exceed 0.5 kg (18 ounces) or 500 ml.

Contact the TSA customer service by phone, live assistance, or email for additional questions or concerns.

Article updated:
January 5, 2024

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