Avoid These Travel Toiletries Bag Problems

Even if it fits in the quart bag, toiletries over 3.4 ounces are not allowed through TSA

As en elite frequent flier, I always carry on toiletries. I see many people get stopped for a secondary search because of toiletry bag problems. These are the most common. Don’t let them stop you.


This bag is overstuffed. This zipper doesn’t close. It definitely will trigger a secondary inspection (i.e., full body and luggage search that can cause up to an hour delay).

Tip: Unpack non-liquid items until it zips closed. Better yet, replace it with a clean bag.

Items larger than 100 mL (3.4 ounces)

This bag looks like it might pass TSA because it’s not overstuffed and closes. But look again. That hand lotion is larger than 3 ounces. This traveler will be given the option of going back to airport check in counter or surrendering the lotion.

Tip: Remove all items larger than 100 mL or 3 ounces before checking in for the flight.

Can’t see through the bag

This bag was issued to first class travelers by American, and it is quart sized. However, that doesn’t matter because the agents at TSA cannot see through it. It will trigger a secondary inspection.

Tip: Use only clear bags for carry on toiletries.

A good solution is a heavy duty PVC ziptop bag. These bags are TSA-approved and will take hundreds of flights before wearing out (assuming you don’t over stuff the bag and break the zipper).

Pro Tip: Always carry backup quart bags in your luggage.