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Tuesday Travel Tip: You can bring (frozen) drinks through TSA

July 07, 2020
3 min read
Tuesday Travel Tip: You can bring (frozen) drinks through TSA
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The cost of a case of water at the grocery store? $3.99. The cost of a single bottle of water inside the terminal? $4.25.

It's no secret that juice, soda and even bottled water sold inside the airport terminal can easily cost several times what those same beverages may cost at your normal grocery store. Of course, you can bring your own empty bottle to the airport to refill with water once you pass through security, but there's another solution if you want to bring your own beverage from home to enjoy on the plane.

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The TSA rules are that as long as your liquid is as frozen as a block of ice, it can pass through the TSA screening. The specific wording is:

Frozen liquid items are allowed through the checkpoint as long as they are frozen solid when presented for screening. If frozen liquid items are partially melted, slushy or have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they must meet 3-1-1 liquids requirements.

In practice, this means that your toddler's favorite juice flavor from home can probably fly with you, as long as it is 100% frozen when it passes through security. We used to do this pretty frequently when our kids were smaller because while the TSA allows milk, formula and pumped breast milk through security without set limits, there's an unwritten cutoff when your kids appear to be 2 or 3 years old when they stop allowing families to bring other liquids through security, even if the drink is for the kids.

A simple workaround is this frozen method. But you can use this tip for yourself, too. Freeze that carefully mixed green smoothie, some iced tea, iced coffee or filtered water from home and enjoy it on the plane once it thaws. Alternatively, you could get a large cup of warm water in the airport after you clear security to speed the melting along if you need to hurry up the process.

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This is an especially timely tip right now, because while travelers are again returning to the airport in increasing (though still, comparatively small) numbers, many restaurants, shops and lounges inside the terminal remain closed, further reducing your drink options post-security.

(Photo by Apu GOMES / AFP) (Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

Remember that if your drink is slushy, only partially frozen, in the process of melting, etc. then it's going to land on the no-fly list and can't be carried through security and onto the plane. If you really want to carry it on, you have to keep it 100% frozen until you gather your belongings and are past the screening process.

Also note that while the TSA rules do permit frozen liquids going through security, and I can vouch that it does usually work in practice, some TSA agents simply interpret things differently from most so be prepared with the rules if you don't want to toss your drink. I also wouldn't go crazy with a dozen different frozen drinks unless you are looking to land yourself in some secondary screening.

Additional reporting by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy

Featured image by Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
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    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.

    Earn 60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There’s a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It’s been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you’re hitting the skies soon, you’ll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there’s no reason that the foodie shouldn’t add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x).
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  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months.

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories.
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits.
  • Few travel perks and protections.