Having your liquids properly presented at airport security in a TSA-approved quart-sized bag will not only make your passage through security quicker but will also help those passengers behind you in the line.
There is little that is more frustrating than being in a hurry to catch a flight, only to be stuck behind some idiot in the security line who has toiletries in their carry on bag that are all over the place rather than being all in one, easy to inspect, carry on liquids bag. Don’t be that person!
In this article we will explain the quart-sized bag rules, how big is a quart size bag and how strict is the quart size bag rule.
How Strict Are The TSA About Quart Sized Bags?
This is the part where you find out all your worrying was probably a waste of time.
At the end of the day, it comes down to the judgment of the TSA officer who inspects your toiletries bag.
And in general, they are not looking very closely at the capacity of your toiletries bag.
You only need to look at the reviews on Amazon to see that while it’s almost impossible to find a clear transparent “TSA compliant” quart bag that’s actually 1-quart size they all have happy customers regardless.
Almost everyone is getting away with it!
Occasionally someone like Kate does get into trouble:
If you do want to try to travel with a larger toiletries bag I recommend buying one that isn’t flat. It’s much less noticeable and the dimensions are unlikely to be checked if the front-facing dimensions of the bag are roughly 6 x 9.
You’d probably waltz through with a bag that was 6 x 9 x 2 inches which is almost 2 quarts!
The TSA security officers just eyeball it and so long as it’s about the shape of a paperback book it’ll pass.
There is no measuring or mathematical modeling involved!
How Many Quart Size Bags Can You Carry On a Plane?
You can only carry on 1 liquids bag per passenger in your hand luggage.
Flat Quart Size Bag Dimensions Calculator
This calculator that I created below doesn’t precisely calculate the volume capacity of a quart-sized toiletry bag, but it’s close enough.
It’s sort of hacked together to give you something you can use when you travel. It was created using the TSA’s assertion that a 6 x 9 inch Ziplock bag is quart sized to create the formula.
Go ahead and adjust the dimensions of the ziploc bag to find out if its quart-sized and TSA approved.
You can see that there are numerous sizes of baggies that are 1-quart capacity.
The sandwich bag is a half-decent substitute when packing liquids in your hand luggage. It’s 6.5 x 5.8 inches and 0.7 quarts. So if you are using a sandwich bag you’ll have 70% of the maximum space of taking liquids on planes.
Here is the root of the problem in my opinion…
When the TSA says “quart-sized” they don’t really mean a bag that has a volume capacity of 1 quart or 946 ml.
Quart size technically means, a quarter of a gallon. But while it’s a liquids bag you are not filling it up with water from the tap. You’re filling it with bottles and containers. So you won’t fit a quarter of a gallon of toiletries in your quart bag. Check this post to see how many bottles you can actually fit when planning your packing list.
The TSA just want you to use a little plastic bag roughly the same size as those sold and marketed as a quart bags. They want it to be clear plastic so your items are easily inspected. They want to be able to see the 3.4 oz bottles or containers that you packed inside. That’s how the rules were initially set up (because of terrorists trying to take liquid explosives on to a plane in 2006) and I doubt much thought has been given to them since.
Surely, there must be a better system than unsustainable plastic bags in 2020 and it’s time the TSA revisited their guidelines to make this clearer.
Although it hardly seems worth worrying about the environmental impact of the plastic TSA liquids bag when you are about to fly in an airplane and dump vast amounts of co2 into the atmosphere.
Still, it is better to reuse your bag and in that case, you might want a toiletries bag that is a little more substantial.
Are Ziploc sandwich bags quart-size?
How big is a 1 quart Ziploc bag?
Is TSA strict about quart-size bags?