The Secret to Bringing Water Through Airport Security

Yes, it IS possible!

First, let’s take a moment of silence for every water bottle you were forced to toss at the airport security gate, as well as all of the money you’ve spent on overpriced bottles of water at the airport convenience store. The thought alone is pretty depressing, right?

But for those who mourn the loss of countless water bottles, we have some good news. There is actually a way you can bring water, or any other liquids, through the TSA security screening checkpoints at the airport—and it’s totally legal. Worried about being stopped anyways? Here’s what a TSA agent first notices about you.

Common knowledge says that all liquids must be stored in containers weighing 3.4 ounces or less and zipped up in a small plastic bag when flying. But few people know that TSA regulations make an exception for frozen liquids.

Don’t believe us? The TSA website states: “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.”

“We frequently transport patients on the commercial flights that require that medications be kept refrigerated. In that scenario, we bring ice onto aircraft,” says Bob Bacheler, MSN, CCRN, CFRN and managing director of Flying Angels. “There is usually extra security with a supervisor and or an explosives expert brought in, but we have never faced more than a 15-minute delay.”

There’s only one catch: Your bottle needs to be fully frozen. The procedure requires a TSA agent to check the bottle and make sure they can see through it; doing so ensures that it’s frozen solid. If not, the agent will probably ask you to toss it. Don’t worry though—while you’re not getting that water bottle back, there is a way to get back other items that TSA confiscated.

To prevent your frozen liquids from melting, just keep them in a small, cloth cooler filled with dry ice or ice packs. Then, once you make it past security, you can easily collapse the cooler and store it in your luggage. While this method might not be worth the effort for short flights, big families going on long-distance or international flights could definitely use this stash of water bottles once it thaws.

Bet your TSA security agent won’t tell you that! But before you hop on your next flight, make sure you’re aware of these 13 things that get your luggage flagged by the TSA.

Brooke Nelson
Brooke Nelson is a researcher at PBS FRONTLINE in Boston, Massachusetts, and writes regularly about travel, health, and culture news for Reader’s Digest. Previously she was a staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her articles have also appeared on MSN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance, among other sites. She earned a BA in international relations from Hendrix College. Follow her on Twitter @BrookeTNelson.