Packing Security

Not Just Liquids: TSA Adds New Rule for Carry-ons That Will Change How You Pack

If you’re packing coffee, spices, baby powder, or anything else that could be considered to be a “powder-like substance” in your carry-on, you’ll need to keep it to 12 ounces or less or be subjected to additional screening, according to a new rule from the TSA.

Any container of powder of 12 ounces or more will have to be X-rayed separately or inspected by hand, and if TSA officers consider the substance to be dangerous or unidentifiable, you’ll have to throw it away or move it to your checked bag in order to board the plane.

The rule takes effect on June 30 for all international flights into the United States, and is already in place for domestic flights.

TSA spokesman Mike England told the New York Times that agents will be screening for powders such as fentanyl and pepper “that could be used to irritate or harm aircraft passengers and aircrew if released during flight,” as well as those that could be used to make an explosive.

As anyone who’s dealt with the TSA’s already-confusing liquid rules knows, it can be hard to define what constitutes a liquid or a powder (did you know that peanut butter is considered a liquid?). American Airlines issued a statement to address this: “Powder-like substances are described as fine dry particles produced by the grinding, crushing or disintegration of a solid substance (i.e. flour, sugar, ground coffee, spices, powdered milk and cosmetics). Aviation security authorities outside the United States will use their discretion and training to determine what is considered a powder-like substance.”

Baby formula, medicines, and human remains will all be considered exempt from the rule.

These new restrictions are a reaction to a failed terrorist plot that was foiled in Australia last year.

What to Pack for Your Next Flight


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By Caroline Morse Teel

Unfortunately for her bank account, Principal Editor Caroline Morse Teel is powerless to resist a good flight deal. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

Caroline joined Boston-based SmarterTravel in 2011 after living in Ireland, London, and Manhattan. She's traveled to all seven continents, jumped out of planes, and bungeed off bridges in the pursuit of a good story. She loves exploring off-the-beaten path destinations, anything outdoorsy, and all things adventure.

Her stories have also appeared online at USA Today, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Yahoo,, TripAdvisor, Buzzfeed, Jetsetter, Oyster, Airfarewatchdog, and others.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Earplugs. A good pair has saved my sleep and sanity many times!"

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.

Travel Motto: "Don't be boring."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle (when the first class private suite isn't available)."

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