TSA Rules for Vapes and e-Cigarettes (The Big Questions Answered) [2023]

As people return to traveling, a lot of passengers will be asking about the TSA rules for vapes, mods, and e-cigarettes.

The rules are relatively straightforward but there are some specific requirements that you need to be aware of when it comes to things like cartridges and batteries.

In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know about bringing your vape pens or e-cigarettes through airport security.

What are the TSA rules for vapes and e-cigarettes?

TSA allows passengers to bring electronic cigarettes and similar devices (vaporizers, vape pens, mods, atomizers, and electronic nicotine delivery systems) through airport security as a carry-on.

However, these devices are prohibited in CHECKED baggage.

The FAA banned e-cigarettes in checked luggage in 2016 after there were reports of small fires that broke out in the cargo holds. So this restriction is for the safety of all passengers and crew.

Please do not attempt to get around this restriction as it will put everybody at risk.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Bringing vapes and e-cigarettes through airport security

When taking your vapes and e-cigarettes through the airport, you can bring them inside your carry-on or inside a personal item (such as a backpack) no problem.

(I don’t recommend putting them in your pocket while in the airport because you might forget as you go through airport security scanners.)

Some airlines, such as American Airlines and Delta, recommended that you store them in a designated carry case that may have come with the original vape packaging.

If your mod/vaping device has multiple parts then it is recommended that you disassemble your vaporizer prior to entering the security line.

Even better is if you have all of the parts (atomizer, tank, mouth piece, batteries, etc.) neatly placed within a carrier for easy inspection.

When you are actually going through security, it’s recommended to remove your e-cigarette/vape, place it in a tray/bin, and put it through the x-ray scanner separately from your carry-on bag.

If you keep it in your bag, it could look suspicious and cause you to undergo additional screening.

Generally speaking, the larger your device the greater your chances of a TSA agent wanting to take a closer look.

If they want to take a closer inspection, just let them do their thing. If you don’t have any illegal substances, you don’t have anything to worry about.

Note that if you are bringing special pods or packs that contain liquid vape you need to comply with the liquids rule which I will talk about below.

Related: Bringing a lighter through airport security

Remove your vaping device from your carry-on when going through security for a smooth experience.

Liquid vape cartridges

Liquid cartridges such as JUULpods that click into the top of the JUUL devices and other similar containers that contain e “juices” are considered a liquid and, therefore, they will be subject to the TSA liquids 3-1-1 rule.

The liquids 3-1-1 rule requires all liquid containers to be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or smaller and for them to be stored in a quart sized bag (preferably a clear Ziploc bag).

This means that if you are transporting JUULpods or other juice packs, you need to transport them in a very specific way.

First, the vape cartridges need to be smaller than 100ml.

Many vape juice cartridges are much smaller than 100ml so it should not be difficult for you to find TSA compliant vape cartridges.

In some cases you may need to remove your vape cartridge from your device so that the device has no attachments containing liquid.

Second, you need to place these cartridges in a quart sized Ziploc bag.

The key thing here is that the cartridges must fit “comfortably” inside the bag which means the bag cannot be overstuffed or almost bursting at the seams.

If you do not have TSA Pre-Check, you will need to remove your liquids bag from your carry-on as you make your way through the airport screening process.

Because of this screening process you might be better off just transporting your pods in your checked baggage where you can transport unlimited quantities.

There are reports of the pods leaking at high altitudes so having them in a sealed bag is highly recommended. It is also better to transport a partially used cartridge that has room for the liquid to expand to avoid leakage.

Related: TSA Checklist (Tips & PDF)

Vaping pen

Checking your bag at the gate

Sometimes your plane may not have room for your carry-on, especially if you are towards the back of the boarding process.

If this happens to you and you are traveling with your vape, be sure that you remove your vape and batteries from your carry-on bag that they are checking because they will not be allowed as a checked item.

Related: Can You Take Cigarettes on a Plane?

Vape pen chargers

If you are bringing a power charger or power bank that contains a lithium ion battery it must also be packed in your carry-on bag.

This is because such battery packs can cause risks of explosions and fires in the cargo hold. So to be on the safe side, bring your spare batteries with you on your carry-on.

Keep in mind that TSA can apply extra scrutiny when traveling with multiple spare batteries because the batteries can pose a risk. This is especially true if your lithium batteries have more than 100 watt hours.

For that reason, you may want to only travel with one spare battery or pack your multiple batteries delicately so that they cannot come in to contact with each other.

Related: Bringing Batteries on a Plane: TSA’s Rules for Staying Charged Up

Flying with marijuana/THC vapes

With the growing legalization of marijuana in different states, a lot of travelers are now curious as to how they can legally fly when carrying marijuana on them.

The first thing to note is that marijuana is still illegal on the federal level which makes it illegal to fly with.

Reportedly, regardless of what airport you are departing, TSA’s response to finding marijuana will be the same.

“It is important for me to note that TSA’s response to the discovery of marijuana is the same in every state and at every airport – regardless of whether marijuana has been or is going to be legalized,” TSA spokesperson Lorie Dankers explained. 

“This also covers medical marijuana.”

But in practice it’s not clear that this is the case.

If you are flying from a state that has legal marijuana, such as Colorado, and you were caught with marijuana at the airport, it is possible that they will simply request for you to dispose of the cannabis.

But if you were traveling from an area where marijuana is not legalized, the response could be much different.

The bottom line is that this is still a bit of a gray area that is still developing and so there are basically no guarantees as to how TSA will react upon finding marijuana in your possession during the security screening process.

The second thing to note is that TSA is not actively looking to discover marijuana or other illegal drugs that might be in your possession. The TSA website states:

TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs

However, they do note that if illegal substances are discovered during the security screening process the TSA will refer the matter to a law-enforcement officer.

Many vapes containing THC are pretty discreet so they may not always be easily detected.

So if you are traveling with (small amounts) of marijuana/THC vape pens you may not encounter any problems but you should be prepared to have to dispose of your marijuana if it is detected by TSA and in a worst-case scenario, be prepared to explain why you have it in your possession to a law-enforcement officer.

Related: Can You Smoke Weed in a Hotel Room?

Related: Can You Bring Food on a Plane?

Vaping pen marijuana

The back up plan

Some travelers who are weary about losing items when going through security will bring a self-addressed envelope with postage so that they can mail off any item that would be confiscated.

I’ve personally never tried this before but I have seen reports online of people doing it successfully. While a rare occurrence, it could come in handy when a TSA agent uses discretion to confiscate your vape due to some unknown reason or suspicion (TSA agents have discretion to prevent you from bringing items through security).

I don’t see any reason why the self-addressed envelope route could not work in many instances but if you are trying to mail off illegal substances such as marijuana then it could obviously be very problematic (and illegal) so use common sense.

TSA rules for vapes FAQ

Can you vape in an airplane?

No, you are not allowed to vape inside an aircraft. This is to protect people from the devices’ second-hand vapor and to reduce the risk of a device malfunctioning. If you are caught vaping on a plane you could be subject to a large fine up to $4,000.

Do I need to turn my vape off during flight?

Many airlines require your vape to be turned off or to be placed in safety mode during flight.

Can you vape in an airplane lavatory?

No, you are not allowed to vape anywhere inside an aircraft.

Can I bring an e-cigarette as a carry-on?

Yes, e-cigarettes are allowed to be brought on a plane as a carry-on.

Why are vape pens not allowed and checked baggage?

Vape pens are not allowed in checked baggage because they present a hazardous risk. The batteries could be prone to exploding and catching fire in the cargo compartment.

Can you charge an e-cigarette in an airplane?

Many airlines will not allow you to charge an e-cigarette during flight and may require it to be powered off. You can ask a flight attendant but be prepared for them to tell you no.

Can I bring an e-cigarette on an international flight?

Some countries have banned e-cigarettes from flights and from importation so before attempting to travel with an e-cigarette on an international flight you should first verify that possession of the e-cigarette in the country is legal.

Can I travel with a vape containing THC?

While TSA does not actively seek out vapes containing THC, it is possible that if it is detected they will request for you to throw it out or refer you to airport authorities. This can even occur when departing from a state with legalized marijuana.

Do I have to declare my electronic cigarette?

No, you do not have to declare your electronic cigarette or vape. However, you should remove it from your carry-on and comply with the liquids rule if needed.

Do vapes leak on airplanes?

Cartridges containing liquids tend to leak at high altitudes as the liquid expands under the decreased air pressure. So it is recommended to not carry cartridges that are full with e-liquid. In addition, storing them in a sealed bag or container could be a good idea.

Can vapes set off the smoke alarm in a plane?

Yes, vapor can set off the smoke alarm on a plane which is another reason why you do not want to vape on a plane. Passengers have gotten into trouble with this in the past, so it’s something you don’t want to risk.

Final word

Traveling with an e-cigarette or vape through airport security is permitted so long as you comply with the liquid rules.

You want to pay extra attention to make sure you do not leave your cigarettes in your checked baggage because that could present major risks to the flight and also get you into legal trouble.

REAL ID Act: Explained with Detailed Timeline [2023]

You’ve probably seen the term REAL ID quite a few times over the past few years. It’s been in the news, on the blogs, and even at airports and other ports of entry.

Some people are surprised to find out that the REAL ID has been a thing for over 15 years!

But now, we seem to be closer than ever to the point when the REAL ID will be officially implemented so it definitely pays to know what it is all about.

Below, I’ll give you a breakdown of what the REAL ID is and talk about the background of how it came about. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about it including giving you a detailed recap of its timeline.

What is the REAL ID Act?

The REAL ID Act is an act of Congress intended to make state-issued drivers licenses and IDs more secure by helping to reduce fraud.

Specifically, the Real ID Act prohibits federal agencies from accepting drivers licenses and other ID cards issued by states and territories that do not comply with the REAL ID Act’s minimum standards.

The result is that people without compliant state IDs cannot access certain federal government facilities, nuclear power plants, and cannot board flights, unless they provide some type of alternative ID (such as a passport).

For your average traveler who is not visiting government facilities or nuclear power plants, the biggest and most notable change will be that you will not be able to rely on your drivers license to get you through TSA unless it is REAL ID compliant.

How to know if you have a REAL ID compliant ID

REAL ID-compliant licenses are marked by a star on the top of the card. It’s usually very easy to spot but if you aren’t 100% sure just contact your state driver’s licensing agency or local DMV.

Keep in mind that there are some IDs that do not have stars on top of the card that can still be accepted. For example, these may include enhanced driver’s licenses (EDLs) and enhanced IDs.

Only five U.S. states (Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington) offer EDLs.

Related: Can You Get Through TSA and Fly with No ID?


How to get a REAL ID compliant ID

If you need to get a REAL ID compliant ID, check out this official website from the DHS. You can then click on your state or territory and then you will be able to set up an appointment. You can also just contact your local DMV.

Be aware that you will need certain documents when you head to the DMV.

At a minimum, you must provide documentation showing:

  • 1) Full Legal Name
  • 2) Date of Birth
  • 3) Social Security Number
  • 4) Two Proofs of Address of Principal Residence and
  • 5) Lawful Status

Some locations may require you to submit even more documents which is why you want to contact the office nearest you.

REAL ID Act background

After the attacks of September 11, the US established the 9/11 commission to help find out ways to reduce future terrorist attacks.

One of the recommendations that came out of the report was a recommendation to establish federal standards for IDs.

“The federal government should set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as drivers licenses.”

Before 9/11, every state had its own set of rules for how IDs were provided and what information was showing on IDs, including security features. And these are not always the most robust requirements or processes.

Going back to the 1990s, many DMV’s struggled to deal with fraudulent actors who were seeking IDs for nefarious purposes, so this has been an ongoing problem.

However, they didn’t have the resources or the structure (or just the proper motivation) to successfully combat these and that is what the REAL ID initiative helped provide.

Related: TSA Pre-Check Guide (Application Process, Locations, Status)

What are the REAL ID Act requirements?

The REAL ID Act requirements primarily affect the agencies that are issuing the IDs and require them to comply with certain standards. Specifically, there are 39 REAL ID standards or benchmarks (although some argue there are 43).

The state or territory issuing the ID must meet certain standards when issuing an ID such as:

  • Capture a photograph of the applicant
  • Store digital images of the applicants documents
  • Verify the documents with the authorities who issued them (e.g., verify with the Social Security administration)
  • Verify existing IDs issued by another state are terminated
  • Limit the validity of ID documents to eight years
  • Implement background checks of employees
  • Maintain a database of ID documents issued along with driver histories
  • Provide access to other states and territories (State-to State (S2S) Verification Service)

The applicant must provide documentation of the person’s full name, date of birth, and residential address.

They must have a Social Security number or document that they are not eligible for one and they need a document that they are a US national or a foreign national legally in the US.

An applicant will have to show at least two documents showing their address. If they present a birth certificate, it must be verified through the EVVE. Also, US passports and visas on foreign passports must be verified with the Department of State.

As for the actual ID card, the REAL ID Act requires it to contain the following information:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Photograph
  • Address
  • Signature
  • Document number
  • Security features
  • Machine readable technology

Interestingly, states can still issue non-REAL ID compliant IDs but they have to make it clear that the document is not accepted for federal purposes.

Related: TSA Liquid Rules Ultimate Guide (3-1-1 Explained)

Timeline of Real ID events

July 2004

The 9/11 Commission Report is published and recommends that the federal government create standards for the issuance of identification documents such as drivers licenses in order to improve national security.

December 2004

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) is signed by President George W. Bush on December 17, 2004.

This required the federal government to set regulations for the minimum standards for federal acceptance of driver’s licenses and ID cards — the first time national standards had ever been applied to ID cards.

May 2005

On May 11, 2005, the REAL ID Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush. (REAL is capitalized but apparently does not have meaning as an acronym.)

According to the DHS, the “REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the states and the federal government to improve the reliability and accuracy of state-issued identification documents, which should inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulent identification.”

The REAL ID Act specified that the new rules would go into effect on May 11, 2008. However, there was widespread opposition by many governments and so the deadline was extended.

March 2007

The DHS published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for REAL ID and opposition by state governments begins to grow.

Several states believed compliance would be too expensive and burdensome.

They also rejected it largely on the grounds of individual liberty, limited government, and privacy concerns.

For example, they believed having data from every American consolidated would make people more vulnerable to identity theft. Others saw it as a potential violation of the 10th Amendment and a slippery slope to federal government control.

As a result some states enacted legislation to oppose the law and prevent the state from being forced to comply.

For example, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer stated “No, nope, no way, hell no,” and signed one of the toughest anti-REAL ID state laws in the nation. Many other states like Maine and Utah had also done the same or similar.

July 2009

Due to all of the opposition and uncertainty, critics of the REAL ID, including the ACLU, declared that the REAL ID act was essentially dead.

“Real ID is essentially dead. It’s time for it to be formally repealed and replaced with a process that works, one that protects civil liberties and license security,” said Michael Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

This time frame was truly the low point for the REAL ID as 15 states had passed legislation prohibiting participation in the REAL ID program including: Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, Oregon, and Missouri.

In addition, 10 other states had enacted resolutions that were against REAL ID including: Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota and Tennessee.

it certainly was not looking great for the rea ID.

January 2011

Despite a lot of opposition and doubt during the first few years of the REAL ID Act, by January 2011, 11 jurisdictions were in compliance with all of the REAL ID benchmarks — a significant sign of progress for the REAL ID.

Some states were finding it less expensive than initially expected which was helping more states to get on board.

The ease of compliance was also largely a product of the REAL ID Program Office working closely over the years with AAMVA and the individual DMVs to ensure that the new implementations were practical.

This was a tricky relationship for many states because while the DMV offices were generally in favor of strengthening the security of their IDs, they also had to contend with the fact that their governors may have opposed the REAL ID Act. Not only that, but some DMV’s were even told to report to the governor any attempts by the DHS to secure REAL ID compliance.

December 2013

The DHS announced a “phased enforcement” plan for the REAL ID Act. The first three phases were to begin between April 2014 and October 2015.

These phases meant that the restrictions would go into place for certain government facilities such as the DHS headquarters, nuclear power plants, and restricted areas for federal facilities and some semi-restricted areas for other federal facilities.

The fourth phase was to apply to boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.

It required individuals to have a REAL ID compliant ID to board an aircraft although they could also carry a second form of ID if they only had a non-compliant ID.

This was supposed to go into effect no sooner than 2016.

January 2016

In January 2016, the REAL ID took a large step forward when the DHS announced what was believed to be the final phase of implementation for REAL ID.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that effective from January 22, 2018, passengers with a driver’s license or ID card issued by a state that is still not compliant with the REAL ID Act (unless that state has been granted an extension to comply with the Act) would need to show TSA an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel.

It was stated that starting on October 1, 2020, every air traveler would need a REAL ID compliant license or another acceptable form of identification.

July 2016

Things really begin to heat up starting July 15, 2016, when TSA, in coordination with airlines and airport stakeholders, started to issue web-based advisories and notifications to the traveling public.

On December 15, 2016, TSA then expanded the “marketing” outreach at its airport security checkpoints through signage and handouts.

Spring of 2017

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announced in the spring of 2017 that he remained committed to the enforcement of the REAL ID rules.

He also reiterated the January 2018 deadline set by Secretary Johnson, and DHS officials continued to state that the October 2020 deadline is still set.

Some states like Missouri in Alaska repeal state laws against the REAL ID.

August 2017

Missouri became the last state to commit to REAL ID compliance.

January 2018

REAL IDs are required for air travel for all states unless they have an extension. However, it appears that all states that were not in compliance at the time secured an extension so air travel was not impacted.

November 2019

Substantial progress was made by many states in jurisdictions to be compliant with the REAL ID act.

For example, 51 jurisdictions were compliant and only five jurisdictions—New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands—had extensions or were under review.

All jurisdictions were set up to begin issuing compliant licenses by the summer of 2020.

January 2020

At the end of January 2020, DHS reported that the states had collectively issued more than 95 million REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards. This represented about (34%) out of 276 million total cards.

At this point, REAL ID had come a long way with every jurisdiction set up to begin issuing compliant licenses very soon.

Unfortunately, the world was in the process of adjusting to a very unexpected threat….

March 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic began to erupt and caused DMV’s to temporarily close or cut down on personnel, and the deadline around the corner for the REAL ID, Congress decided that they would need to extend the deadline.

On March 23, 2020, President Trump announced he would be delaying the deadline.

And then a few days later, Congress approved a relief package (CARES Act) that included a push back of the deadline by at least one year.

DHS Secretary Chad Wolf then set a new deadline of October 1, 2021.

September 2020

On September 10, 2020, The Department of Homeland Security announced that after more than 15 years, all 50 states were now in full compliance with the REAL ID Act.

In addition, over 105 million REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards had been issued, representing about 38% of all card holders.

April 2021

On April 27, 2021, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be extending the REAL ID enforcement date by 19 months, from October 1, 2021 to May 3, 2023.

This delay was once again caused by the coronavirus pandemic, as many DMV offices were still operating with limited capacity.

December 2022

On December 5, 2022, it was announced that the REAL ID would once again be extended from May 3, 2023 to May 7, 2025.

This means that beginning May 7, 2025, “every traveler 18 years of age or older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another TSA-acceptable form of identification at TSA security checkpoints.”


Do minors have to comply with the REAL ID?

REAL ID applies to travelers 18 years of age or older.

When will the REAL ID be enforced?

The REAL ID is scheduled to be enforced on May 7, 2025.

How do I know if my ID is compliant?

REAL ID-compliant licenses are marked by a star on the top of the card. Some states may offer an enhanced driver’s license which will not have a star but will still be compliant.

Will I be able to fly if I don’t have a REAL ID-compliant license?

Yes, you will still be able to use alternative forms of ID to get through airport security. For example, you could use a passport.

Will my gender be on the REAL ID license?

Yes, gender is one of the required fields of the ID.

Do I need a REAL ID to visit any federal facility?

No, not every federal facility will require you to show a REAL ID.

Do I need a REAL ID to vote?

No, the Act does not apply to voting or registering to vote.

Does the REAL ID create a federal database?

No, states will continue to issue their own unique license and maintain their own records. However, they may share information with other states.

Final word

The REAL ID was created as a response to the attacks of 9/11 and has had a very long (and uphill) journey to get where it is today.

It is still not fully in effect, probably mostly due to the circumstances that followed the pandemic of 2020.

However, all of the states are now in full compliance with the REAL ID and more and more of these are getting issued every month.

Based on the traction that has finally developed and the amount of time that has passed since the outbreak of coronavirus, it’s likely that the next deadline will be the final deadline for the story of the REAL ID.


TSA Medication Rules for Flying on Planes [2023]

Traveling through airport security can already be a pretty nerve-racking experience. But when you are also worried about getting your necessary medical items through security and onto a plane for a flight, it can be even more anxiety inducing. Luckily, there are some pretty lenient TSA rules and guidelines when it comes to flying with your medication.

In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about TSA medication rules and flying on a plane with medication. I’ll go over the rules for things like prescription medications, pills and liquid medication and other situations like over the counter (OTC) drugs. 

What are the TSA rules for flying with medication on a plane?

TSA will allow you to travel with your medication but there are some restrictions that you need to be aware of, especially if brining medical liquids. Below, I will go through some of the most common restrictions that might apply to you and tell you how you can go about them when flying with medication. 

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Does TSA have a limit on the amount of medication I can bring on a plane?

TSA does not have a limit on the amount of medication that you can bring on a plane whenever the medication is in solid form, such as pills. So if you have a need to travel with multiple bottles of pills then you should not be limited to a certain amounts of pills or bottles. 

If you have an outrageous amount of medication on you then you might be subject to additional screening. However, in many cases as long as they can x-ray your medication they will not require you to undergo additional screening.

If you do not want your medication exposed to the x-ray machine then just let the TSA agent knows this and they will allow you to go through a different type of screening (note that this could take more time and require you to open up all of your bottles).

Note: Medical Nitroglycerin medicines are allowed.

Related: Can TSA Ask About Your Medical Condition?

Tablets and pills
You can bring your medication in pill or solid form in “unlimited amounts” as long as it is screened.

What are the TSA rules for traveling with liquid medication on a plane?

If you are not aware, TSA has a rule that forbids you from bringing in liquids than can’t fit in 3.4 ounce containers. Also, these containers must fit into a quart size bag (typically a clear Ziploc bag).

This is known as the “TSA 3-1-1 rule” and you will be required to remove the bag from your carry-on unless you have TSA Pre-Check (which I highly recommend). 

TSA does not enforce the liquids rule for medically required liquids (and gels and aerosols). They also don’t require you to put your medically necessary liquids into a liquids bag.

However, they do have some limitations on liquid medication.

They require you to only bring “reasonable quantities” and state that the liquids rule exemption only allows certain items to be carried on the aircraft when the item is declared and it is:

  1. Required during your flight and/or at your travel destination;
  2. Not available at the airport in the sterile area (after the screening checkpoint) and/or;
  3. Not available at your travel destination.

Reasonable quantities for your trip

When you are bringing your liquid medications through security the TSA 3-1-1 rule does not apply. Instead, TSA will allow you to bring in “reasonable quantities for you trip.” This is a subjective definition so there is going to be room for agent discretion. 

Therefore, try not to go too far with your liquid medications if you think that you might be bringing in an unreasonable amount. It is a very good idea to have a clear stated purpose for why you need that quantity of liquid medication. And it might even be a better idea if you have a signed doctor’s note explaining why you need that much medication.

It could probably help your cause if you can explain your dosage requirements in relation to the quantity of medication you are bringing. For example, if you require 10g of medication per day and you are bringing 100g with you on a ten day trip, that makes total sense.

But if you require 10g of the medication per day and you are bringing 3,000g with you for a weekend trip that could be a different story….

At some point TSA added more clarity to this rule when they stated that the medication would need to not be available at the airport in the sterile area (after the screening checkpoint) and/or not available at your travel destination.

I don’t really like this rule because essentially a TSA agent could force you to throw out a large bottle of NyQuil just because it would be available at an outrageous price within the airport. Also, sometimes it’s difficult to know whether or not something will be available at your destination so it is just smart thinking to bring it with you. Nevertheless, those are the rules.

Notify the agents 

TSA also states that you should notify the TSA agent about your liquid medication before you go through security screening.

Personally, I have flown with liquid medication many times before and have never notified TSA about it nor have they given me any push back (there’s a prescription on the medication bottle).

Even though that is how I have done it in the past, I would recommend disclosing your medication just to make things easier. This is especially the case if you’re traveling with accessories associated with your liquid medication such as freezer packs, IV bags, pumps, and syringes.

If TSA does notice your liquids or you tell them about them, the medically required liquids will be subjected to additional screening that could include being asked to open the container. They might pour the substance into another container, test out a small sample of the medication, or swab it for explosives.

So just be prepared to pop the top if you are asked to. 

Note: You will not have to put your liquid medications into a Ziploc bag.

Related: Can You Bring CBD on a Plane? (TSA Rules)

Liquid medication bottles
Medically required liquids are not subject to the TSA 3-1-1 Rule.

How to pack medication for a flight in a carry-on or checked bag

TSA will allow you to bring your medication onto a plane via carry-on or checked baggage.

Obviously, you will not have access to your checked baggage when you are flying in the plane so if you are in doubt about whether or not you might need access to your medication, then I highly recommend that you pack it in your carry-on. 

Plus, remember if your checked bag containing your meds gets lost your medication is also lost.

If you bring your medication as a carry-on you should not be required to show or declare that you are bringing medication, unless you are bringing liquid medication or certain other types of medical instruments like syringes.

(Some travelers inform the TSA agents about all medications they are bringing but that does not always seem to be required in my experience.)

When packing pills or medication I would try to keep them organized in a clear plastic bag just to make things easy at all times.

Try to pack that bag in an easily accessible area within your carry-on so that you can quickly retrieve it if you need to declare or allow inspection for any of your medications.

Also, it’s a good idea for your medications to be labeled to facilitate the security process. (Labeling your meds is not required but it is recommended by TSA.)

When packed in a carry-on and going through a security checkpoint your medication can undergo a visual or X-ray screening (you can choose).

Does TSA require pills to be in a prescription bottle?

Believe it or not TSA does not require your pills to be in a prescription bottle or to show them a copy of your prescription. The catch is that states have different laws regarding how you can legally travel with prescription items.

Some states might require you to carry your pills and a bottle with a prescription and therefore it is always a good idea to keep your pills in a bottle with a prescription label if possible or at least keep the prescription with you if you are using a pill container/organizer. 

Also, many countries have very strict rules on prescription medication so be sure to keep up with the latest laws before departing the country. Some might require you to submit a letter from a physician and some countries such as those in the Middle East have very strict laws regarding bringing in certain types of medications.

It is not very difficult to find stories about US tourists getting locked up abroad in prison for bringing medications through the airport. Read more about traveling internationally with medication here.

One interesting thing about prescriptions is that if you forget your ID you can actually use your prescription labels to help verify your identity.

Tip: Ask your pharmacist for extra containers with your name and the medication information on them if you want to carry smaller amounts of drugs with you.

It’s always a good idea to have your prescription on you.

What are the TSA rules for flying on a plane with injectable medication?

You are allowed to travel with injectable medication on a plane. You may also bring unused syringes when they are accompanied by injectable medication. You must declare these items to security officers at the checkpoint for inspection. TSA also recommends, but does not require, that your medications be labeled so it’s a good idea to go with their recommendation. 

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

What if I need to keep my medication refrigerated when flying? 

If you need to keep your medication refrigerated you can use “ice packs, freezer packs, gel packs, and other accessories” to keep your medication cool. You will need to present these at the screening checkpoint in a frozen or partially-frozen state.

It would be a good idea to do a “test run” to see how long your packs can stay refrigerated, especially if you are going to be dealing with a long layover or flight. Some airplanes may have refrigeration but I would not count on that.

Does TSA allow over the counter medication on a plane?

TSA will allow you to bring over the counter medication on a plane, which means you’ll be fine to bring along things like: Tylenol, Advil, Aleve, ibuprofen, etc. Just remember that the rules pertaining to liquids will apply to OTC drugs unless they are medically necessary.

I always advise people to put their medication in a clear plastic bag just to make things easier when making your way through airport security.

Related: Does TSA Check For Arrest Warrants?

What about flying with other items?

If you have questions about bringing other types of items through TSA airport security screening (like food or alcohol), make sure to check out the articles below: 


Can you take prescription medication on a plane?

Yes, prescription medication is allowed on planes.

Does my medication have to be in original bottles when flying?

No, your medication does not have to be in the original bottle. However, it’s usually a good idea to have a prescription on hand just in case you’re questioned about the medication.

Can you “sneak” pills on airplane?

It’s best to be upfront about bringing medication through TSA, especially because TSA is pretty flexible about what medications you can bring through and all medication must be screened. If you are trying to sneak illegal drugs through TSA security you could be referred to law enforcement.

Can I take a pill organizer on a plane?

Yes, you can bring your pill organizer on a plane with your pills inside.

Can I bring someone else’s prescription on a plane?

TSA does not require you to show your prescription so it could be possible to bring someone else’s prescription meds with you on a plane. However, it’s a good idea to make sure you are complying with state laws regarding prescription drugs when traveling. In some cases, it may be illegal to possess controlled substances prescribed to someone else.

Can you fly with cough syrup?

Yes, cough syrup will be considered a liquid so you should “declare” it when going through TSA, especially if it is above 3.4 ounces.

Can you bring testosterone gel on a plane?

Yes, you can bring testosterone gel on a plane. While you may not need your prescription it never hurts to bring it along.

Can I bring needles (syringes) on a plane?

TSA states used syringes are allowed when transported in Sharps disposal container or other similar hard-surface container. Unused syringes are allowed when accompanied by injectable medication. You must declare these items to security officers at the checkpoint for inspection.

Final word

As you can probably tell, TSA rules regarding medication are actually pretty lenient. They allow you to bring an unlimited amount of pills and solid drugs and they don’t even require you to show or disclose that you are bringing those drugs through the airport and onto the plane. 

They also will allow you to go above the liquids rule if you are willing to allow them to inspect your drugs if necessary. And they don’t even require you to show your prescription for drugs. Therefore if you are planning to travel through the airport with your medication you may not have as difficult a time as you may have imagined. 

Known Traveler Number Guide: (How to Lookup, Global Entry, Pre-Check) [2023]

This comprehensive article will tell you everything you need to know about your Known Traveler Number.

I’ll cover how you can get one and the best way to do that with programs like TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry. I’ll show you how to look-up your Known Traveler Number and add it to your travel itineraries with airlines like United, Southwest, and Delta.

Finally, I’ll explain the differences between a Known Traveler Number and a Redress Number.

What is a Known Traveler Number?

A Known Traveler Number, also called your “KTN,” is a 9-digit number used to link your TSA Pre-Check enrollment to your travel itinerary in order to ensure that you can receive TSA Pre-Check benefits like expedited security screening.

This is the same number used for other trusted traveler programs, such as Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI. However, for these latter programs, this number is known as your “PASSID.”

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

TSA pre-check station
Your Known Traveler Number is vital for getting expedited security screening with TSA Pre-Check.

Why do you want a Known Traveler Number?

With a Known Traveler Number, you can participate in TSA Pre-Check, which means you’ll be able to breeze through security at airports.

How do you get a Known Traveler Number?

You can get a Known Traveler Number by signing up, getting approved, and paying the fees for any of the following programs:

TSA Pre-Check

As already discussed, TSA Pre-Check will usually get you through airport security in a breeze.

You’ll usually get access to a priority security line which is often much shorter than the standard security line (though not always, unfortunately).

You’ll also be able to go through a less restrictive and invasive screening process. You often only have to pass through a traditional metal detector (as opposed to the full-body scanners) and you also get to enjoy the following benefits:

  • Shoes can stay on
  • Belt can stay on
  • Light jackets can stay on
  • Laptops allowed to stay in bag
  • Liquids (3-1-1 Rule) can stay in bag

This program costs $78 to enroll for five years and it does not require the extensive interview process that Global Entry requires. There are multiple ways to get TSA Pre-Check for free and you can read about those here.

The benefits of TSA Pre-Check.

Global Entry

Global Entry would be my preferred method for obtaining a Known Traveler Number. That’s because not only will you get TSA Pre-Check, but you’ll also get expedited entry at Customs and Immigration when making your way back into the US.

This program does require you to attend an interview to be approved but the interview process is not difficult at all. If you’ve got a clean criminal history and come prepared with your documents then you should pass the background check and interview without any issues at all.

In some cases this “interview” process will only take about five minutes total.

You might get asked some very basic questions like what countries you have visited and whether or not you have traveled for business or pleasure. It’s hardly anything close to an interrogation in most cases.

The hardest part is often scheduling the interview because availability can be limited and in some cases it might take weeks (or even months) to find an open slot.

Luckily, some airports offer interviews upon arriving from international locations. So if you have some international travel coming up, this can be one of the easiest ways to get approved for Global Entry.

There are many credit cards that come with a $100 statement credit for your Global Entry application fee, so it’s very easy to get this program for free. My personal recommendations for getting a $100 statement credit for your Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check is to go with the United Explorer Card. It has great perks and a low annual fee and you can read more about it here! 

Since you’ll get both TSA Pre-Check and expedited entry back into the US, I think Global Entry is the way to go for many people.


NEXUS is a joint program between the US and Canada that will grant pre-approved, low-risk travelers expedited entry into both Canada and the US. Specifically, membership in the NEXUS program allows you to reduce your wait times at designated ports of entry by:

  • Using dedicated processing lanes at land border crossings
  • Using NEXUS kiosks when entering Canada
  • Using their card in dedicated SENTRI lanes along the U.S.-Mexico border
  • Using Global Entry kioks when entering the United States, and
  • Calling a marine telephone reporting center to report your arrival into the United States and Canada

You may also be granted access to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) Security Line at some Canadian airports to expedite airport pre-boarding security screening. (This is like a Canadian version of TSA Pre-Check.)

Just like Global Entry, NEXUS will require you to clear a background check. The difference is that this background check also is submitted to Canadian authorities, such as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

One of the major draws to the NEXUS program is that the application fee is only $50. This is surprising since NEXUS comes with both Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check, which cost $100 and $85 respectively. For people who live near or travel between the US/Canada border, NEXUS is an especially attractive bargain.


The Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.

You can enter the United States by using dedicated primary lanes into the United States at Southern land border ports so this is a program you might be interested in if you’re traveling between the US and Mexico a lot.

You might be a little overwhelmed with all of the different Trusted Traveler programs and perhaps you’re not sure which program you should sign-up for.

If that’s the case you can check out this TSA tool which can help you narrow down what program is most ideal for you based on your citizenship, number of flights, and travel destinations.


CLEAR is a privately owned service offered to passengers that allows them to bypass the lines going into airport security, whether you are going into the standard security line or the TSA Pre-Check line.

In order to use it you find the CLEAR line leading to security which should have little to no line and then you simply scan your boarding pass and biometric data and then you’re off to the races and able to skip whatever line you would have been waiting on. You don’t even have to show your ID.

CLEAR can be great for frequent flyers in busy airports but it’s not cheap at $179 per year (though cheaper promos are often available). This program does not require you to have a Known Traveler Number.

Mobile Passport

Launched in the fall of 2014, Mobile Passport Control is an app, developed by Airside Mobile and Airports Council International-North America in partnerships with CBP, that you can download to use in order to expedite your entry into the US. It’s available in the Apple App Store and Google Play.

It’s free to use and can be just about as good as Global Entry at some airports, though I’d still take Global Entry over Mobile Passport.

That’s because Global Entry gets you Pre-Check and also allows you to get through customs AND immigration while Mobile Passport often only get your priority access through immigration. This program also does not require you to have a Known Traveler Number.

Image via CLEAR.

Adding a Known Traveler Number

Once you have your Known Traveler Number, you’re going to need to add that number to your travel profiles for the various airlines so that your Known Traveler Number will automatically show up in your itineraries.

However, you should note that your Known Traveler Number will NOT automatically show up in all of your travel  itineraries.

Many people assume that once they add their Known Traveler Number to their profile, it will always show up but that’s not the case. So you always need to double check that your KTN was added.

Below, you can see how to add your Known Traveler Number to some of the major airlines. For whatever reason, it is not always the easiest thing to do since you often have to click around a lot.

Usually you can find where to input it if you just look for your profile and a button allowing you to edit your profile, but the steps below should help you locate this.

American Airlines

Sign in to your American Airlines account and then click on your name at the top of the page. Then click on “your account.” Next, click on “edit account” and then click on “Information and password.” Scroll down and then under “Secure traveler,” you will see where to input your Known Traveler Number.


Sign in and click on “My Account” and then scroll to “My Preferences” to change your personal details within your profile information.


Sign in and click on Profile and Preferences and then click on “Travel identification documents” and then you’ll see the area to enter it in below.


Go to the Delta website and log-in and then proceed to My Delta -> My Profile -> Basic Info. You’ll then see a field where you can input your Known Traveler Number.


First, sign in to your JetBlue account. Click on the arrow in the upper right corner by your name and then click on “Edit profile.” Scroll down and you will see where to input your information.

Hawaiian Airlines

First, sign in to your Hawaiian Airlines account. Go to My Account and under that click on “Profile & Settings.” Click on the travel tab and you will see where to input your information.

Hawaiian Airlines known traveler number entry

Travel portals and OTAs

Most online travel agencies (like Expedia) will allow you to enter in your Known Traveler Number into your profile which should populate into your itinerary when you make a booking.

But since you’re dealing with a third party, you should always verify that your number was properly included in your booking.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Add Known Traveler Number after booking?

If you add your Known Traveler Number to your profile after you make a flight reservation, there’s a good chance that your flight itinerary is not linked to your Known Traveler Number and you won’t get TSA Pre-Check. 

In that case, you should be able to call up the airline and request for them to input your number into your itinerary.

You could also just wait until you arrive at the check-in desk for baggage and request for your Known Traveler Number to be added to your boarding pass.

Also, sometimes you’ll have to re-add your Known Traveler Number to specific itineraries. It’s not always clear why this happens but sometimes you’ll just have to do it.

If you ever are given a boarding pass without TSA Pre-Check on it and you know you have a TSA Pre-Check membership, simply approach an agent at the check-in desk and tell them you would like to add your Known Traveler Number.

It’s usually no problem for them to do this and they can re-issue you a boarding pass in a couple of seconds that has TSA Pre-Check.

For the reasons above, I highly recommend that you keep your Known Traveler Number somewhere easily retrievable like in your smart phone in a folder or app that you won’t forget about and can quickly pull up.

Where can I look up and find my Known Traveler Number?

If you are a member of the TSA Pre-Check Application Program you can, look up your KTN online.

If you are a member of another trusted traveler program, such as Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI, log on to the Trusted Traveler Program website to obtain your PASSID, which once again is the same as your KTN.

You’ll find it right under “Program Memberships.”

ktn look up

You can also check the back of your trusted traveler cards for your PASSID. Note that TSA does not issue an ID card like Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI do.

Related: Can You Get Through TSA and Fly with No ID?

Global entry card with pass ID known traveler number
Global Entry card showing where you can find your Known Traveler Number. Image via United.

What is a redress number?

You might also be wondering about a redress number since that field often shows up near where you input your Known Traveler Number.

A redress number is the record identifier for people who apply for redress through the DHS Travel Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP).

“DHS TRIP is for travelers who have been repeatedly identified for additional screening and who want to file an inquiry to have erroneous information corrected in DHS systems.”

For example, someone might share the same name as another person on a no-fly list and that might bring up a red flag every single time this unfortunate traveler attempts to board a plane.

The redress number will help those people avoid additional searches, pat downs, and questioning in the future.

So in case you were wondering a redress number really has nothing to do with your Known Traveler Number.

Known Traveler Number for Military members

If you are a member of the military, you can utilize TSA Pre-Check for free.

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces can get expedited screening including those serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, Reserves, and National Guard.

This can be done by using the official Department of Defense (DoD) identification number when making flight reservations. Your 10-digit DoD ID number is located on the back of your Combined Access Card ID and it is not the same as your SSN. Read more about how to utilize this benefit here.

TSA Pre-Check vs Global Entry

Now that you’re aware of all of the benefits you might be wondering whether or not you should choose TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry.

The answer to this question depends a lot on your personal preferences.

If you are only going to be traveling within the US then your need for Global Entry will be nearly zero.

In that case, getting TSA Pre-Check should be just fine. The only drawback to that is that if an unexpected trip comes up you’ll lose out on the benefit you could have had with Global Entry.

On the other hand, if you’re going to be traveling internationally then you might want to think about Global Entry since it will save you a lot of time getting back into the country.

The two drawbacks to Global Entry are that it requires you to attend an interview and that the background check can be tough to clear if you have anything on your record like a DWI, DUI, etc.

Known Traveler Number FAQ

What is the easiest way to get a Known Traveler Number?

The easiest way would be to get approved for TSA Pre-Check.

Do I need a Known Traveler Number for CLEAR?

No, you do not need a Known Traveler Number for CLEAR?

How do I add my Known Traveler Number to my itinerary?

At the time of booking, you will typically see a field where you can enter your Known Traveler Number. In addition, you can add your Known Traveler Number to your frequent flyer profile.

If you are at the airport, you can also ask an agent to add your Known Traveler Number to your boarding pass.

What is the difference between a Known Traveler Number and PASS ID?

There is no practical difference and these are essentially the same.

Final word

As you can see, getting a Known Traveler Number can be very easy and can even be done for free with the right credit card.

I recommend going with a program like Global Entry to get your PASSID/Known Traveler Number and using a credit card with a $100 credit for Global Entry.

If you always keep your Known Traveler Number with you at all times you’ll be able to add it to your boarding pass when needed and there shouldn’t be any major issues.

Can You Take Cigars on a Plane? TSA’s Turf vs Your Herf

Want to enjoy your fine cigars when traveling but don’t want to give up your precious stogies when heading through TSA?

I don’t blame you.

But before you decide to take your cigars through airport security and onto a plane, you should be aware that there are a few common pitfalls people often experience.

The good news is that if you are aware of these, you can easily avoid them and safely and securely transport your cigars to your destination.

Below, I’ll give you all the latest TSA rules and tips for bringing your cigars, lighters, cutters, and other accessories like humidity pouches.

Can you take cigars on a plane?

Yes, you can bring cigars on a plane as a carry-on item or in your checked bag.

You’ll want to take extra care when packing your cigars and also be careful about bringing certain cigar accessories because some of them won’t be allowed, such as torch lighters.

When traveling internationally, make sure you are mindful of the limitations and also the current status of the law when it comes to Cuban cigars.

Keep reading below to find out all the details of what you need to know.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

smoking cigar

Carry-on or checked baggage?

Since TSA allows you to travel with your cigars in either your carry-on or checked baggage the decision is up to you on which one best suits you.

With that said, I would always recommend to put your cigars in your carry-on bag for a few reasons.

My general recommendation is to never put anything in your checked baggage that you feel like you cannot live without. That’s because your luggage could be lost, knocked around, or in rare cases, objects from your luggage could be stolen.

For some aficionados, premium cigar collections could certainly fall within the “can’t live without” category.

The checked baggage hold under the plane will also be subject to more extreme temperatures and conditions.

They typically are temperature and pressure controlled but could have temperatures much different from those found in the cabin, potentially affecting your precious cigar cargo.

And finally, in the event you are flying one of the premium first class products out there, you might have access to a first class lounge that has a cigar room.

You could partake in one of the cigars offered at the lounge but you also may want to enjoy one of your own so having them in your carry-on could make sense there.

cigar lounge
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Cigar Lounge.
cigar lounge
Etihad First Class Lounge Cigar Room.

How to pack and transport your cigars

When traveling with your cigars, a few things can go wrong.

The first thing is that your cigars can get crushed.

This will happen when placing your cigars into one of your luggage bags without sufficient hard-sided protection. A lot of people underestimate how easy it is for cigars to get squished with even the slightest amount of pressure.

On the flip side of that, if you place your delicate cigars in a large container where they are not secure, they can get tossed around during the flight and all kinds of beat up or cracked.

The third issue is that your cigars could get affected by the environment. This could be temperature, humidity, sunlight, etc.

But it could also be whatever materials you decide to store your cigars in since they can easily absorb aromas and tastes.

So when traveling the goal will be to avoid your sticks getting crushed or beat up and to minimize how they are impacted by the environment.

Luckily, there are a few ways you can do this.

Travel humidor

While bringing your full-size desktop humidor is an option (more on that below), typically the most convenient way to transport your cigars will be to store them in a travel humidor.

One of the best ways to pack lots of cigars is to place them inside of something like an air-tight Herf-a-Dor Travel Humidor.

That is a hard-sided case lined with foam cushioning that you can purchase in different sizes such as 5-count, 10-count, 15-count, and 40-count.

Other solid brands include: Perdomo, Xikar, Peter James, or Cigar Caddy.

Each of those sizes should be allowed to get through TSA security.

If you want something a little bit more portable and fashionable consider something like a Klaro leather case made for smaller amounts of sticks. Some of these have hard sided cases on the inside and still have room for your accessories including humidity pouches.

And of course, if you want to go even smaller and slimmer you could always go with the “finger cases.”

These usually pack a quantity of two to three cigars — perfect for those weekend getaways. Cases like this are easy to slip into sleeves in your backpack or sometimes even a coat pocket.

cigar travel case

Humidity Pouches

Some travel humidors feature a humidor in the the case, but others will require a humidity pouch, such as a Boveda Humidity pack.

Bovedas contain purified water, natural salts and odorless food grade thickener (the same type of thing that is used in salad dressing).

The potential problem with Bovedas and similar packs (gels, etc.) is that they will be considered a liquid and depending on how much liquid is in your pouch, that could be a problem for your carry-on.

The TSA liquid rule allows you to bring in liquid containers no larger than 3.4 ounces and these should be placed in a clear, quart sized bag.

Many of these humidity packs should be under that 3.4 ounce limit and so they should be okay. In fact, some people even keep these packs inside their Tupperware or travel humidor when going through security and have no problem.

But if you have a checked bag, you can avoid any potential issues by simply placing them in your checked bag.

Humidity Pouches
Image via Boveda.

How many humidity packs will you need when traveling?

Generally, it’s best to have one humidor pack for every twenty cigars. (Here’s a handy calculator.)

For longer trips and for trips to dry areas such as the desert, consider packing extra just in case.

If you’re not exactly sure how the humidity will affect your travel humidor at your destination, it might also be a good idea to bring humidity packs with different relative humidity levels. (You can purchase packages with pouches of different levels.)

That way, you can play around with which ones help get your travel humidor in the needed sweet spot. See the graphic below.

Tip: Some also add small cedar planks to help with humidity and aroma.

Portable cigar hygrometers, whether digital or analog should not be a problem for TSA so make sure that you bring one along to monitor your travel humidor.

Keep in mind that if you are smoking your cigars within just a few days of departure, you may not need the humidity pouch.

You could simply store your cigar(s) in a tightly sealed Ziploc bag and place that inside of a hard sided container (Tupperware works).

Image via Boveda.


Cigar cutters are allowed in checked baggage and “generally permitted” in carry-ons with the caveat that a TSA agent could confiscate them when bringing them in a carry-on.

For that reason, I would strongly advise you to always place your cigar cutter in your checked baggage.

If you absolutely have to bring it in your carry-on, consider purchasing a cheaper one that you wouldn’t mind getting thrown out. The cheap disposable ones can also be a good option.

cigar cutter

Lighters & matches

Lots of cigar aficionados love to use ultra-hot torch lighters from makers like Xikar, Jetline, and Visol for their intensity, precision, and ability to withstand outdoor conditions.

Unfortunately, these cannot be brought as a carry-on or in your checked bag.

According to the FAA, when traveling on a commercial airline you can bring one lighter that uses a flammable gas (butane) or that uses a flammable liquid (Zippo-type of lighter).

Some of these like Zippos are known to affect the flavor of cigars but butane may not.

You are allowed to bring disposable and Zippo lighters without fuel in checked bags but there must be no traces of fuel or vapor inside the lighters. If you go that route, it’s a good idea to leave a note by your lighters explaining that they are 100% empty.

If you do plan on bringing non-empty lighters in your checked bags this is possible but you need to comply with the Department of Transportation exemption.

This exemption allows you to bring up to two of your disposable/Zippo lighters in checked baggage if they are properly enclosed in a DOT approved case. 

These are basically special airtight containers that will help reduce the risk of transporting non-empty lighters.

If you want to ditch the lighter and go a little bit more old-school with matches you’ll be happy to know that one book of safety (non-strike anywhere) matches is permitted as a carry-on item. No matches are allowed in checked baggage.

When using wooden matches for your cigars, it’s a good idea to wait to expose the cigar until after the sulfur burns off to better preserve the flavor.

Related: TSA Rules for Bringing Lighters on Planes

cigar lighter

Desktop humidors

Some cigar lovers decide it’s best to just take a long their desktop humidors. If you go this route, you want to check your hygrometer religiously because your humidor will acclimate to the different environments.


Make sure that you are aware of the Customs Duty as it relates to bringing cigars back into the US.

Specifically, if you don’t want to exceed the amounts specified in the personal exemptions, this means you cannot bring more than 100 cigars if arriving from other than a beneficiary country and insular possession.

Cuban cigars

In 2016, things opened up with Cuba and cigars were allowed to come in as the CBP stated:

On October 17, 2016, the Office of Foreign Asset Control relaxed restrictions so authorized travelers, arriving direct from Cuba, are now able to bring Cuban merchandise for personal use back to the United States 

Former President Trump changed things when he was in office and in 2020 a ban resumed on Cuban cigars.

Per the CBP, the current policy for Cuban cigars as of 2022 is the following:

  • Authorized travelers may no longer return to the United States with alcohol and/or tobacco products acquired in Cuba as accompanied baggage for personal use
  • Persons authorized to travel to Cuba may purchase alcohol and tobacco products while in Cuba for personal consumption in Cuba.
  • Persons subject to United States jurisdiction may purchase or acquire Cuban-origin merchandise, including alcohol and tobacco products, while in a third country for personal consumption outside the United States.

So you can purchase and consume Cuban cigars for personal consumption while in Cuba or while in a different country but you cannot bring them back to the US.

Cuban cigars

Smoking cigars in the airplane cabin

Hopefully, you are aware that smoking anything (including vapes) anywhere inside the airplane cabin, including the lavatory is 100% illegal.

While the aviation industry does have a history of allowing smoking on planes, that is no longer the case.

If you decided to chance it and got caught smoking on a plane you could get fined, sued, and end up ruining a trip for a lot of people.

Smoking on a plane is just not worth it no matter how big of a craving that you get.

And just in case you were wondering, there are smoke alarms in the plane bathrooms.

I talk more about that interesting history in this article focused on bringing cigarettes through TSA; feel free to give that a read.


If you’re planning on bringing some whiskey or other type of alcohol to your herf, TSA has some very specific rules on alcohol.

You can bring your own mini bottles in a lot of cases but you need to be mindful of the alcoholic content because TSA/FAA does put some strict limitations on those.

We put together a comprehensive guide that will tell you everything you could possibly want to know about taking alcohol on a plane so be sure to check that out.

Final word

Cigar lovers can bring their cigars on a plane in either carry-on or checked baggage. However, I strongly recommend you to bring your cigars in your carry-on to preserve the quality of your cigars.

Ideally, you will bring them in a hard sided container, such as a travel humidor and take some humidity pouches with you if you will be gone for several days or longer.

Don’t forget to place some of your accessories in your checked baggage like your cigar cutter and possibly your humidity pouches. And pay extra attention to the restrictions on lighters since they are not so straightforward.

And then finally, remember the limitations with customs and Cuban cigars when coming back into the US.

Do TSA Officers Have Guns & Arrest Powers? [2023]

A lot of travelers get a little bit nervous when going through airport security. They are afraid of something going wrong and having a badged TSA officer give them trouble as they try to make their way through the airport.

But do these TSA officers have the same level of authority as law-enforcement officers? For example, can they arrest you and can they carry guns on them?

In this article, I will take a look at whether or not TSA officers have arrest authority and can legally carry guns.

The answer to this question might make you feel a little bit more at ease when going through security but there are still some things that might surprise you.

Do TSA officers have guns?

Most TSA employees are Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) who do not possess arrest powers and are not permitted to carry weapons, including guns. However, there are some employees under the TSA who are allowed to carry guns with them. Keep reading below to find out more.

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TSA Overview

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is an agency of the DHS with a mission to “protect the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.”

The agency, which now has over 54,000 employees, came into existence following the 9/11 attacks with the goal of improving airport security procedures and centralizing air travel security under one agency.

While TSA is most commonly associated with air travel, the agency also develops policies to help protect the U.S. highways, railroads, buses, mass transit systems, ports, and pipelines.

Although most people think of TSA employees as coming in one universal form, there actually are several different types of TSA employees.

Most of these employees do not have arrest powers or permission to possess firearms but that is not always the case….

Below, I’ll give you a breakdown of some of the TSA departments and explain which ones may have authority to carry guns and arrest people.


Most TSA employees are Transportation Security Officers (TSOs).

TSO’s are those officers that greet you (with varying levels of friendliness) at airport security checkpoints and usher you through to those wonderful full body scanners.

When people think of TSA officers, TSO’s are usually what they are thinking of.

While most of the time they are concerned with facilitating the standard security screening process, some TSOs may have additional responsibilities.

For example, some TSOs are also Behavior Detection Officers (BDOs).

These are TSA agents tasked with observing passengers as they go through security checkpoints, looking for certain types of behaviors that might indicate the person is up to no good.

It’s important to note that TSO’s do not carry weapons, are not allowed to use force, and they also lack the authority to arrest individuals.

So the vast majority of TSA employees cannot lawfully carry guns.

Federal Air Marshalls

The Federal Air Marshal Service is the law enforcement arm of the TSA.

These are TSA employees who usually work undercover and are the TSA personell known for carrying guns on them.

In order to be a Federal Air Marshal, you have to have exceptional marksman abilities which makes sense since firing a gun in a plane is not exactly low-risk.

Federal Air Marshals also need to be well versed in close quarter combat since they may be tasked with disarming and disabling threats.

These agents are adept at blending into the crowd so in a lot of instances it could be very difficult to point them out. However, if you know what to look for sometimes it’s not so hard to spot them.

Federal Air Marshals are not on every plane since that would take an incredible amount of resources. Instead, they could be assigned to flights randomly or based on a destination or suspected threat level.

For example, if someone is on a government watch list and flying on a plane, there’s a good chance at least one Air Marshal will be on board.

Air Marshals are known to closely observe passengers and travelers in airports, looking for odd behaviors and movements.

The types of behavior they could be looking for are almost infinite but could include things like an abrupt change in direction when walking through the airport, constant fidgeting, changing clothes, etc.

Basically, anything remotely suspicious.

Related to the Air Marshals are the Federal Flight Deck Officers (FFDOs). Many people have no idea about these volunteer officers but it’s actually a pretty interesting program.

These are mostly pilots who are former military and they are officially deputized by the TSA.

Their jurisdiction is limited to the flight deck but these are pilots who are allowed to carry a weapon and know how to use it.

Like the Air Marshals, they undergo similar training focusing on constitutional law, marksmanship, physical fitness, behavioral observation, defensive tactics, and emergency medical assistance.

One of the big differences is that these are just volunteers and don’t earn extra wages for taking on this additional responsibility.

Related: Do Airline Pilots Carry Guns in the Cockpit?

TSA Canine handlers

If you’ve traveled enough you’ve certainly seen canine handlers and the airport.

These are people who take care of the dogs that go around patrolling for explosives and other dangerous items. Some dogs might be sniffing out drugs but typically it is the bombs and explosives that are a primary concern in the US.

These canine teams are made up of TSA inspectors and local law-enforcement officers.

Law enforcement officers make up roughly 65 percent and the other 35 percent are transportation security inspectors.

This means that most of these canine handlers should have arrest powers and also likely have guns.

You can usually tell the TSA canine agents apart because they wear khaki pants and the law enforcement officers are usually dressed in all black or something else. I believe the TSA agents who handle the canines are also unarmed.

Visible Intermodal Protection and Response (VIPR)

Visible Intermodal Protection and Response (VIPR) is a program designed to “augment the security of any mode of transportation at any location within the United States.”

Officers enrolled in this program are part of the TSA’s Office of Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshal Service, which allows some of them to have arrest powers and to carry weapons.

While you could find members of VIPR at an airport, you wont typically find them at airports.

Instead, you would usually find these at pretty much any other place of transportation including: railroad stations, bus stations, ferries, car tunnels, ports, subways, truck weigh stations, and rest areas.


United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the largest federal law enforcement agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security.

They are charged with “keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating lawful international travel and trade.

CBP officers do have arrest powers and also are allowed to carry weapons. They are distinct from TSA but sometimes there is overlap between personnel in certain types of departments (e.g., VIPR).

Related: Is Customs the Same as TSA? (Key Differences)

Should TSA officers have guns?

In 2013, TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez was gunned down at LAX airport. He was the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty in the agency’s history.

This raised the question of whether or not TSA agents (TSOs) should have guns while on duty.

Opponents point to the fact that there are over 40,000 TSO’s and that arming all of them with guns would inevitably lead to a lot of mishaps and unnecessary deaths.

They question the training that TSOs would receive with respect to using a weapon and how qualified those agents would be to fire in an airport with hundreds of bystanders often in close proximity.

It’s very difficult to disagree with these concerns.

A more practical solution might be creating a smaller unit of law enforcement within the TSA that trains TSO agents to use firearms. Essentially, these would be similar to the Federal Air Marshals except their domain would be the security checkpoint stations.

However, opponents think this is still “mission creep” and think that there are better solutions. For example, there could be a more reliable presence from law enforcement officers in airports, panic buttons installed for TSA agents, etc.

Unfortunately, we don’t typically see major changes in security procedures until after some type of attack or attempted attack. So my guess would be that until we experience another incident at airport security, things will probably remain the same.

Bringing firearms through the airport

If you are interested in legally transporting a firearm yourself then you should be well aware of the TSA firearm rules.

Basically, under no circumstances can you ever bring a firearm through airport security as a carry-on.

However, you are allowed to bring certain types of firearms in your checked baggage.

When doing so, you need to make sure that you comply with some of the rules like making sure the weapon is not loaded and having the weapon in a secured luggage bag.

We’ve put together an in-depth guide on traveling with firearms and you can check it out here.

Final word

Most TSA employees are TSO’s who do not have arrest powers and do not carry weapons of any kind, including guns.

However, there are some individuals under the TSA such as Federal Air Marshals who do have law enforcement powers and are allowed to carry guns through the airport and even on planes.

In addition to them, some pilots may also be armed if they are in the FFDO program.

Can You Bring Hair Spray on a Plane? Making TSA’s Rules Stick [2023]

Using hair spray is one of the easiest ways to keep your hair on point when traveling. But there is a major point of confusion when it comes to bringing hair spray through airport security and on a plane.

For example, can you bring aerosol cans of hair spray and are there certain size restrictions?

In this article, I will clear up all of the confusion and provide you with clear explanations as to the type of hair spray you can bring and give you tips on the best ways to bring it.

I’ll also inform you about some important FAA restrictions you may not know about.

Can you bring hair spray on a plane?

Yes, you can bring hair spray on a plane. If bringing hair spray as a carry-on you will need to make sure that your liquid or aerosol bottles are under 3.4 ounces.

If you are transporting hair spray in your checked luggage, you can bring larger canisters but you must still comply with FAA size-limit restrictions.

Keep reading below to find out more about the rules and restrictions for bringing hair spray on a plane.

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Aerosol versus pump hair spray

Most people probably use aerosol hair spray.

This is the type of pressurized canister that has a small nozzle on top which allows hair spray to be dispersed continuously in a cloud of spray.

Pump hair spray requires you to pump the nozzle in order for it to make its way out of the bottle. This type of hair spray should be treated as a true liquid since it is not an aerosol.

However, for purposes of carry-on and checked baggage TSA rules, it doesn’t really matter if you have an aerosol or pump hair spray.

The only major difference between the two is that aerosol cans will require that the button/nozzle is protected by caps or other suitable means to prevent accidental release.

Make sure you don’t blow off the requirement for a cap. It might seem like such a small requirement but in the past I have been forced to throw out aerosol cans because the cap was missing!

How to bring hair spray on a plane

When traveling on a plane, you will have to decide if you want to bring your hair spray in a carry-on or checked bag. Both are allowed by TSA.

Your carry-on bag comes with you on the plane which means that you will have your hair spray with you for the entire flight. The drawback is that your item is subject to the liquids rule which means you can only bring the smaller sized canisters.

If you bring hair spray in your checked baggage, you will not have access to it during your flight. However, you can bring larger cans in your checked baggage but there are still some FAA size restrictions which I will talk about below.

Putting hair spray in your carry-on

The first thing you need to know about bringing hair spray on a plane is that you’ll be subject to the TSA liquids 3-1-1 rule.

This rule states that your liquids must be contained within a container no larger than 3.4 fluid ounces or (100 mL) and that all of your liquid containers must fit comfortably within a quart sized, re-sealable bag.

A normal size bottle of hair spray will likely range from 8 to 12 ounces. This means that you cannot bring a normal size can of hair spray in your carry-on.

However, the good news is that you can find travel sized hair spray cans pretty easily.

You can buy TSA compliant bottles of shampoo which are basically just travel bottles of hair spray that come in containers smaller than 3.4 fluid ounces.

Some popular travel hair spray bottles include:

You will want to keep your hair spray in your luggage during your flight virtually all the time.

You absolutely do not want to spray your hair spray in the cabin.

The main reason is that because this is a confined space you could send those aerosols flying in the face of other passengers.

Some people can be very sensitive to chemicals and you could actually end up harming someone by spraying your hair spray at your seat.

Indeed, this is why the FAA tells passengers to “consult the flight crew before using items that give off strong odors or vapors.”

Spraying hair spray in the plane lavatory (bathroom) is a different matter.

Personally, I would try to avoid it if you are dealing with a small lavatory and flying economy.

The reason is that there are a lot of economy passengers and the odds of someone coming in right after you are pretty high — if you just sprayed a lot of hair spray, that could be a harsh experience for some passengers.

However, I have flown on some business and first class flights where there are larger lavatories and there were no issues with using hair spray in those.

Putting hair spray in checked baggage

If you want to put your aerosol hair spray in your checked baggage that is permitted but there are special restrictions on the quantity that you can bring.

Basically, the FAA outlaws hazardous materials on planes but they make exceptions for certain medicinal & toiletry items like: hairspray, hand sanitizers, aerosols, rubbing alcohol, inhalers, nail polish and remover, etc.

Below are the two restrictions you need to stick to your memory.

Individual hairspray container size limits

For checked baggage, the FAA states:

The capacity of each container must not exceed 0.5 kg (18 ounces) or 500 ml (17 fluid ounces).

(This limitation can also be found when searching the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).)

The hairspray size limit of 18 ounces or 17 fluid ounces is pretty generous.

As mentioned above, most hairspray containers probably range from 8 to 12 ounces so that gives you a bit of buffer.

Total amount of hairspray allowed

The FAA also has a limit for the total amount of hairspray that you can bring in your checked baggage.

This limit factors in all of the containers in your checked bag subject to this FAA hazardous materials exception.

So, for example, if you had hairspray and perfume in your checked baggage, you would add the size of those containers together and your total would need to be under the limits below.

They state:

The total aggregate quantity per person cannot exceed 2 kg (70 ounces) or 2 L (68 fluid ounces).

The aggregate limit of 68 fluid ounces means that you could probably bring about five to six cans of normal sized hair spray in your checked baggage but not much more than that.

Initially, I suspected that these FAA size-limit rules only applied to aerosol hair spray and not pump-action hair spray.

But if you take a look at the language used you will see that they include aerosol separate from hair spray:

Hairspray, hand sanitizers, aerosols, rubbing alcohol, inhalers, nail polish and remover, etc.

For personal use including aerosols, hair spray, perfumes, colognes, nail polish, rubbing alcohol, shaving cream, inhalers, medicines

Because they specifically list out hair spray separate from aerosols, it suggests that even purely liquid pump action hair spray is subject to this limitation.

Furthermore, they also include other pure liquid items like nail polish, alcohol, etc.

So if you are bringing non-aerosol hair spray you should abide by the above limitations.

The quantity limits are there for good reason.

Placing aerosol cans in the cargo hold of the plane code, under the right circumstances, could result in a catastrophic explosion.

Hair gel

Hair gel is another commonly asked about item related to hair spray. Gels are considered liquids for TSA which means that you will be subject to the same liquids rule above.

The best course of action is to purchase travel sized bottles of hair gel or simply pour your gel into containers no larger than 3.4 ounces.

There are special travel bottles you can buy online that are squeezable and better suited for gels than the bottles that cannot be squeezed.

I don’t see hair gel listed as a toiletry on the FAA restrictions above which makes me wonder if those quantity restrictions for checked baggage don’t apply.

It seems likely that the restrictions would apply based on the nature of the liquid so you may not be able to bring unlimited quantities of hair gel on a plane.

However, TSA does not state that these limitations apply to hair gel in checked baggage.

Dry shampoo

We have an entire article dedicated to the restrictions around bringing shampoo, including dry shampoo. The rules are very similar to bringing hair spray but you can check out the full guide here.

What do individual airlines have to say about hairspray?

All of the major US airlines should have similar policies as TSA when it comes to hairspray.

For your quick reference, you can view their policies below:


Is hair spray considered a liquid by TSA?

Yes, hair spray is considered a liquid and subject to the TSA 3-1-1 liquids rule.

How big can my hair spray containers be?

When bringing hairspray as a carry-on, your containers can be no larger than 3.4 ounces. When bringing hairspray in checked baggage, your containers can be no longer larger than 17 fluid ounces and the total amount being brought needs to be under 70 ounces.

Is hair gel considered a liquid by TSA?

Yes, hair gel is considered a liquid and subject to the TSA 3-1-1 liquids rule.

Can TSA confiscate my hair spray?

Yes, TSA can confiscate your hairspray if your canister is above the size requirements or if you have failed to transport your aerosol can with a suitable cap.

What size hairspray can you bring on a plane?

In your carry-on, you can bring hairspray containers no larger than 3.4 ounces. In your checked baggage, the container must not exceed 0.5 kg (18 ounces) or 500 ml (17 fluid ounces).

Can you bring hair mousse on a plane?

Yes, you can bring hair mousse on a plane. In your carry-on, you can bring hair mousse containers no larger than 3.4 ounces. In your checked baggage, the hair mousse container must not exceed 0.5 kg (18 ounces) or 500 ml (17 fluid ounces).

Final word

It is perfectly acceptable to bring hair spray on a plane and through TSA security. However, you need to be mindful about the size of your canisters and how you are transporting them. You also need to be aware of the limitations on quantity for both aerosol and pump action hair spray.

Bringing Batteries on a Plane: TSA’s Rules for Staying Charged Up [2023]

For some people, bringing batteries on a plane always feels like a guessing game.

Are they allowed in your carry-on or checked bag?

What types are okay and what types are just asking for trouble?

In this article, we will remove all of the confusion by clarifying the TSA and FAA rules for bringing your batteries whether it is in a carry-on or in your checked bag.

Can you bring batteries on a plane?

Yes, you can bring most batteries for personal use in your carry-on and through a TSA security checkpoint.

Most batteries allowed in your carry-on can also be brought in your checked baggage although you are not allowed to bring spare lithium batteries in your checked baggage.

Electronics containing lithium batteries like laptops are allowed in checked baggage but the FAA recommends putting them in your carry-on.

Approval by the airlines may also be needed for larger lithium batteries.

Below, I break down all of the different types of batteries and electronics you may think about bringing to give you even more clarity so be sure to keep reading!

3 key things to know about bringing batteries on a plane

Carry on vs checked baggage

When bringing batteries on a plane the first thing you want to think about is whether or not you are bringing your items in your carry-on or checked baggage.

There are not many restrictions when bringing batteries in your carry-on.

Aside from bringing large lithium batteries and protecting spare batteries from short circuits, you don’t really have much to worry about.

However, there are certain battery types that are completely banned from going in your checked baggage.

Also, the FAA generally discourages people from bringing electronics containing lithium batteries in checked baggage.

Not only can it be a little bit risky sometimes but you also risk theft and damage to your device so I would advise you to follow the FAA guidelines as much as possible.

Batteries inside electronics vs spares

The second major consideration is: are your batteries located inside of electronics or are they spares?

Spares are just batteries by themselves.

For example, you may have an extra camera battery that you keep in a pouch in your camera bag.

Anytime you are bringing spare batteries you need to be careful about damage and short circuiting.

Damage is usually straightforward. If you have a battery that is busted up that won’t be allowed.

But you also are not allowed to bring batteries that have been recalled or they have a tendency to create sparks or generate a dangerous evolution of heat. These are not allowed in your carry-on or checked bag.

Short-circuiting is basically whenever the ends of a battery come into contact with another battery or something metal like coins, keys, etc.

This could create sparks and heat which could be very dangerous for batteries stowed away in the baggage hold and in the aircraft cabin.

To prevent a disaster, the FAA recommends that you prevent short-circuiting by:

  • Leaving the batteries in their retail packaging
  • Covering battery terminals with tape
  • Using a battery case
  • Using a battery sleeve in a camera bag
  • Putting them snugly in a plastic bag or protective pouch

Quantity limits

Aside from large lithium batteries and nonspillable wet batteries, there are no quantity limits for bringing batteries as long as they are for personal use.

So if you are bringing batteries for further sale or distribution (e.g., vendor samples), those are prohibited.

Lithium battery covers
Battery covers can prevent short-circuiting.

Different types of batteries

Dry alkaline batteries

Dry alkaline batteries are some of the most common batteries used in electronics.

These are often your typical AA, AAA, C, D, button cell, 9-volt, etc., used in every day items like flashlights, headlamps, portable fans, etc.

Common brands include Duracell and Energizer.

Alkaline is very common but you also may have rechargeable dry batteries with nickel metal hydride, nickel cadmium, etc.

You can bring these dry batteries in your carry-on or checked bags whether they are inside of electronics or brought as spares.

If you’re bringing them as spares they need to be protected from damage and short circuit.

Lithium batteries

Most of the worry and confusion when traveling with batteries is related to lithium batteries.

Lithium batteries can come in two main different forms:

  • Lithium ion
  • Lithium metal

Lithium ion batteries are commonly found in popular electronics like: cell phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, etc.

You are allowed to bring these in your carry-on in unlimited quantities (for personal use) whether they are spare batteries or inside of electronics.

However, they must be limited to a rating of 100 watt hours (Wh) per battery.

How do you know what the lithium rating is?

Well, newer lithium ion batteries should have their Wh marked on them.

If you don’t see it, you can still work it out by finding out the bolts and amp hour numbers using this formula: Watt hours (Wh) = Volts (V) x Amp hour (Ah).

Keep in mind some airlines will require proof of the Wh, especially for larger items.

Here are some common watt hours used in batteries for various electronics:

DSLR CameraCanon 6D11
TabletiPad Pro 12,9 ″ WiFi + Cellular (5th Gen, 2021)40.33
LaptopMacBook Pro (16-inch, 2021)99.6
Cell phoneiPhone 14 Pro12.38

Contrary to what many believe, you can bring lithium ion batteries in your checked baggage as long as they are inside of the electronic device.

So for example, you could bring your lithium-ion powered laptop in your checked baggage. (See the section below on personal electronic devices for more detail.)

You will still need to get special permission if you go above the size requirements which I’ll talk about below.

And you also need to keep in mind that certain lithium powered devices like vapes are never allowed in checked baggage.

But the biggest thing to note is that spare lithium (ion or metal) batteries are never allowed in checked baggage.

These include power banks, external battery chargers (portable rechargers), and cell phone battery charging cases

Tablets are known for having lithium batteries.

Larger lithium batteries

If you want to bring larger lithium ion batteries you have to abide by special size requirements and also get permission from the airline.

With airline approval, you can carry up to two spare larger lithium ion batteries (101–160 Wh) or Lithium metal batteries (2-8 grams).

According to the FAA, “This size covers the larger after-market extended-life laptop computer batteries and some larger batteries used in professional audio/visual equipment.”

Larger lithium laptop battery

Lithium metal devices

Lithium metal (non-rechargeable) batteries are limited to 2 grams of lithium per battery.

These include all the typical non-rechargeable lithium batteries used in cameras (AA, AAA, 123, CR123A, CR1, CR2, CRV3, CR22, 2CR5, etc.) as well as the flat round lithium button cells.

They can be brought as a carry-on although spares are not allowed in checked baggage.

With airline approval, passengers may also carry up to two spare larger Lithium metal batteries (2-8 grams). 

Nonspillable wet batteries

Nonspillable batteries with absorbed electrolyte (gel cell, absorbed glass mat, etc.) used in portable electronic devices must not exceed 12 volts and the battery watt hour rating must not exceed 100 watt hours.

These can be brought in your carry-on or checked baggage.

Just keep in mind:

  • No more than two spare (not installed in device/equipment) batteries may be carried.
  • Spare/uninstalled batteries must be in strong packaging.
  • Battery and outer packaging must be marked “nonspillable” or “nonspillable battery.”
  • Battery-powered equipment must be protected against accidental activation.

There are separate exceptions for powered wheelchairs.

Nonspillable wet battery
Photo via batteries4stores.com.

Commonly brought items with batteries

Personal electronic devices

Pretty much every traveler is walking around with multiple personal electronic devices nowadays.

These include things like: cell phones, cell phone battery charging cases, laptops, cameras, tablets, watches, etc.

If you’re electronic device has lithium metal or lithium ion batteries (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) it is allowed in checked baggage but should be carried in carry-on baggage when possible.

When portable electronic devices powered by lithium batteries are in checked baggage, they must:

  • Be completely powered off
  • Protected to prevent unintentional activation or damage

If the device can generate extreme heat, the heating elements should be isolated by removing the heating element, battery, or other components.

The FAA allows you to bring in as many personal electronic devices as you want for personal use but just keep in mind the quantity restrictions on larger lithium batteries and spare nonspillable wet batteries.

Smart luggage with batteries

Some luggage comes with battery-powered features.

Baggage equipped with lithium batteries must be carried as carry-on baggage unless the batteries are removed from the baggage.

The exception to this is if the smart luggage contains lithium metal batteries with a lithium content not exceeding 0.3 grams or lithium ion batteries with a watt-hour rating not exceeding 2.7 Wh.

In those cases, it can go in checked baggage.

Battery-powered E-cigarettes (e-cigs), vaporizers, vape pens

TSA allows passengers to bring electronic cigarettes and similar devices (vaporizers, vape pens, mods, atomizers, and electronic nicotine delivery systems) through airport security as a carry-on.

However, these devices are prohibited in checked baggage.

Read more about bringing vapes through TSA here.

Lithium Battery Powered Lighters

Tesla coil lighters, flux lighters, arc lighters, double arc lighters are allowed in your carry-on but not in checked baggage.

We have a full breakdown bringing lighters through airport security and you should check that out if interested.

Recreational vehicles powered by lithium ion batteries

Recreational vehicles are those battery powered hoverboards and other similar small electronics that people love to wipe out on. See YouTube.

You can bring these in your checked or carry-on bag but the airline must approve of them. Many airlines do not allow these so it’s not a guarantee.

Remember, a device with a lithium ion battery that exceeds 160 watt hours (Wh) is prohibited as carry-on or checked baggage.

Medical devices

If you have a medical device like a pacemaker with a lithium ion battery, whether implanted, externally fitted, or carried on your person, the same limits for personal electronic devices apply.

So basically there are no quantity limits unless you are carrying larger lithium batteries and spare nonspillable wet batteries.

Checking your bag at the gate or plane side

Sometimes you may have to check your bag at the gate just before departure. This usually happens whenever you are flying basic economy or have a boarding position towards the end of boarding.

If this happens, you need to make sure that the bag you are checking complies with all of the rules above.

If you get stuck in this situation my device would be to just tell the flight attendant or crew member that your bag has lots of lithium-ion items in it and you would prefer to not carry them with you in the cabin.

This may be enough for them to choose someone else over you to check their bags.

Final word

Hopefully, after reading this article you can see that bringing batteries through airport security and in your checked bag is doable.

As long as you pay attention to the size and quantity limitations and take care to prevent short-circuiting, you can bring a lot of batteries with you on your travels.

Sources: FAA chart, Packsafe

Will TSA Accept Expired, Damaged, or Paper Driver’s Licenses? Here’s What to Know.

If you’re thinking about getting through airport security but worried about getting through with an expired, damaged, or even paper driver’s license, there are certain things you want to know before arriving at the airport.

Check out the article below — complete with direct guidance from TSA — that will break down everything you need to know and put your mind at ease!

Will TSA accept expired driver’s licenses?

As of the summer of 2023, yes TSA will accept expired drivers licenses but only under certain conditions.

First, the drivers license must have expired after March 1, 2020. Second, the ID could not have been expired for longer than one year.

Since we are now a few years away from March 2020, the only criteria that matters is that your ID has not been expired for more than one year.

This policy followed the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic when many government agencies were shut down or had limited service making it difficult or impossible to get a license renewed in any kind of timely manner.

Since 2020, things have calmed down significantly regarding the pandemic. It’s not clear how long this “grace” policy will continue that will allow travelers to get by with an expired ID.

So far, we have not heard any updates from TSA so as of the summer of 2023, it appears you can still get through airport security as long as your driver’s license has not been expired for over one year.

Colorado ID


Over the years, you’ve probably seen articles talking about the REAL ID.

Basically, an oversimplified reading of REAL ID is that it’s just a requirement that your ID has to meet certain specifications in order for TSA to consider it a valid ID.

We put together a comprehensive breakdown of the evolution of REAL ID and how it’s many expected deadlines have been extended over the years.

However, it appears that the next deadline set for May 7, 2025, is going to be the final deadline based on all of the progress that has been made on REAL ID.

So if you don’t have a REAL ID, I highly suggest that you look into getting compliant with that because I doubt another extension is around the corner!

This is just my speculation, but it’s also possible that the one-year extension on expired IDs may be sunsetted sometime around May 2025.

This is because many people will be focused on the REAL ID deadline, and therefore, TSA may think it’s also a good opportunity to publicly draw attention to the change in the one-year ID extension policy.

However, there is some evidence that TSA accepted expired IDs before the pandemic so this could be a continued policy. In fact, that article from TSA even mentions that you could also bring expired passports not more than 12 months past the identified expiration date!

Image via AZ DMV.

Will TSA accept damaged driver’s licenses?

Another potential problem could be trying to get through airport security with a damaged driver’s license.

As you may have already suspect it, “damage is in the eye of the beholder” in a lot of cases.

In some instances, it’s clear that a drivers license is damaged but in other cases you could just argue that it’s a little bit of normal wear and tear.

In the end, it typically comes down to whether or not the details are legible but again, that could depend on the agents eye sight and their comfort level with deciphering less than 100% clear details. One agent might be okay with a crack slightly obscuring a letter or two while another agent may have a zero tolerance policy.

Here is some guidance on when your drivers license may be considered damaged and a second list of when you might be able to get away with a little bit of damage.

When a Driver’s License is Clearly Considered Damaged:

  1. Severely torn or shredded, making it difficult to read the information.
  2. Water damaged, causing the information or photo to be illegible.
  3. Burned or charred, impairing the visibility of essential details.
  4. Cut or perforated in a way that affects the readability or integrity of the document.
  5. Partially or completely faded ink, making the text or photo indiscernible.
  6. Altered or tampered with, such as scratched off or modified information.
  7. Bent, folded, or crumpled to the extent that it obstructs the necessary details.
  8. Defaced with markings, scribbles, or stains that obscure relevant information.
  9. Damaged magnetic stripe or barcode, preventing scanning or verification.
  10. Warped or distorted due to exposure to extreme heat or other external factors.

When a Driver’s License May or May Not be Considered Damaged:

  1. Minor tears or creases that do not hinder the ability to read the essential information.
  2. Minimal water damage that does not significantly impact the visibility of details.
  3. Slight fading of ink that still allows for the identification of key information.
  4. Normal wear and tear, such as minor scratches, without impairing the legibility.
  5. Small holes or perforations that do not affect critical sections of the document.
  6. Moderate bending or folding that does not obscure important data or photo.
  7. Light smudges or stains that do not obscure the necessary details for identification.
  8. Minor wear on the magnetic stripe or barcode that does not prevent scanning.
  9. Cosmetic damage, such as a chipped corner, without compromising information.
  10. Slight warping or discoloration due to exposure to normal environmental conditions.

What about temporary IDs or paper IDs?

If you just made a change to your driver’s license or just received a new one, you may only have a paper driver’s license or temporary ID.

And the question is will TSA accept a paper ID?

Typically, something like a paper driver’s license is only valid for giving you the legal right to be driving on the road. Some states may allow you to purchase things like tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana with a temporary ID.

But for the most part these are not valid for identification purposes. And this much was made clear by the TSA when they stated, “[i]nterim driver’s licenses are temporary paper documents and are not currently an acceptable form of ID.”

So, if you have a paper ID, the best course of action would be to follow the directions linked in the article below regarding what to do when you don’t have an ID.

As shown below, you can present forms of secondary ID which can help verify your identity.

For example, if you had a paper ID and a student ID or perhaps a Social Security card, a TSA agent may allow you to get through security by showing all of those.

Also keep in mind that if you are talking about a minor, TSA does NOT require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling within the US.

Tip: Always try to bring more than you think you need when trying to verify your ID and be sure to give yourself extra time at the airport to get through the identification process.

Will TSA accept digital IDs?

One of the newer initiatives that the TSA has focused on is accepting digital IDs.

This could be a great strategy to use when getting through airport security if you have a damaged ID or if you can’t locate your physical ID card.

This is something that can be very helpful for people with TSA Pre-Check.

That program requires you to pay a fee and go through a background check but it’s a relatively simple procedure and the benefits include being able to get through airport security much quicker.

But an additional benefit is that you can upload your ID to a TSA approved app or to your phone’s digital wallet (Apple Wallet, Google Wallet, etc.) and then rely on the app to get you through identity verification.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind about digital IDs.

First, they come in different forms which could be biometrics, mobile drivers licenses, and digital identification. Second, each state handles these differently so don’t expect to have the same experience in one state to another, at least not right now.

Another way to get through security without having to hassle with your ID is to enroll in CLEAR.

This is what I used to get through the airport and I simply have to scan my eyes or fingerprints whenever I arrive at the security checkpoint and then I get to cut the line and get through to security screening very quickly.

CLEAr kiosk

What to do if you don’t have an ID

Many people are surprised to find out that if they don’t have an ID or if they have an ID that is considered too damaged to be accepted, they can still get through airport security.

What this comes down to is your ability to come up with secondary documents that can prove your identity.

There is no exact formula for what documents will be needed because TSA allows for a lot of flexibility. However, they do give guidance and we went to full detail about how to go about the situation in this blog post.

But for summary purposes, here are some of the documents you could potentially use:

  • Library card
  • Business card
  • Social Security card
  • Student ID
  • Mail
  • Credit cards
  • Photo of an ID
  • Voter registration card
  • Prescription with your name on the label

Final word

Verifying your identification is crucial when getting through airport security. Typically, on a domestic flight this is done with a driver’s license or ID card.

If your ID card is expired, damaged, or in the paper form, you can still get through airport security but it depends on when your ID expired and what other supporting documents you have to verify your ID in the latter two cases.

If you follow the steps in this article, you should be able to get through airport security without too much hassle but always remember to give yourself extra time at the airport when going about ID verification in a non-traditional way.

Can TSA Ask About Your Medical Condition?

For many individuals, the process of navigating airport security can be quite anxiety-inducing. However, for those with medical conditions, this experience can be even more stress-inducing.

Lots of people wonder whether or not TSA can ask about their personal medical conditions.

In this article, we aim to shed light on this matter and offer guidance on what to anticipate when going through airport security while dealing with medical conditions.

Can TSA ask about your medical condition?

TSA may inquire about your medical condition but the questions usually should only pertain to those necessary for security screening.

Typically, this would mean getting clarification on the medical devices and liquids being transported through a security checkpoint although TSA does ask passengers bringing devices for certain conditions (such as diabetes) to disclose their specific medical condition.

If you have an external device or other medical object that you travel with, it could be helpful to carry a TSA notification card which contains details about your medical situation so that you don’t have to explain yourself every time you go through security.

Related: Can Airlines Refuse To Serve Sick Passengers?

Does HIPPA protect you from TSA agents?

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy and security of individuals’ health information. While HIPAA establishes important safeguards for the healthcare industry, it does not extend its protections to all situations or entities.

Specifically, it only covers Health Plans, Most Health Care Providers, Health Care Clearinghouses, and all their associates.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at airports is primarily focused on ensuring the safety and security of travelers and aviation. Their primary concern is not the handling or disclosure of personal health information and the specific provisions and protections of HIPAA do not apply to TSA agents at airports.

With that said, TSA agents should not be on a quest to uncover all of your personal and private health details. Instead, questions should only arise as they pertain to security screening of specific objects.

If you ever feel like a TSA agent is going too far and is forcing you to disclose details you’re uncomfortable with disclosing or is harassing you over a medical condition, you should request to speak with a TSA supervisor.

And if you feel the need to gather evidence of mistreatment, you are allowed to record a TSA agent as long as you are not interfering with screening or recording sensitive information such as the screen that shows up at the x-ray machine.

When TSA may ask about your medical condition

TSA may feel the need to inquire about your medical situation whenever you are going through screening and you are bringing in items that are usually prohibited or that require extra inspection.

Typically, the inquiry should be focused on the medical devices or objects being brought forth but sometimes that questioning bleeds over into questions about the actual medical condition.

Common items that people often bring through are medical liquids. These could be prescribed or over-the-counter but TSA allows for oversized liquids to come through when they are “medically necessary” (subject to the discretion of the agent).

If you are bringing a large liquid bottle through security, it’s possible that an agent will want some details about the contents of that bottle.

One reason is that some medically prescribed liquids could pose a hazard. For example, there are certain types of contact solution that are typically not allowed.

TSA states that the protocol for bringing medically necessary liquids through security is for you to declare them and “separate them from other belongings before screening begins.” They recommend that you label your medications to facilitate the security process but that is not required.

When you declare these items, that is the time when some questions might be asked. In addition to inquiring about the contents, an agent may also inquire about the quantity that you are bringing through.

You can make your case stronger by explaining why the amount you are bringing is necessary for your flight or the duration of your trip. Also, if you are not able to purchase the item in the sterile area or at the destination, that can also help your case.

Common examples of medically necessary “liquids” include:

  • Prescription liquids, creams, and gels;
  • Breast milk, infant formula, baby/toddler food (to include puree pouches), and toddler drinks;
  • Ice, gel, and freezer packs used to cool breast milk, infant formula, and or other medically necessary items;
  • Hand Sanitizer

Note that sunscreen is not typically found to be medically necessary.

When bringing larger liquids through, it’s very possible that they will be subjected to additional testing. This could be a closer look through the x-ray machine, swabbing, or some other type of testing. In the event that your liquids “fail” the test, they will not be allowed to get through security.

Instances when your medical situation may be brought up

One of the most common situations where your medical details will come up is if you have diabetes. If you are bringing a Blood Sugar Test Kit, TSA states to “notify the TSA officer that you have diabetes and are carrying your supplies with you.”

If you are bringing an external medical device with you then you also may need to disclose that particular device.

The type of devices that you will need to inform the TSA officer of include: a bone growth stimulator, spinal stimulator, neurostimulator, port, feeding tube, insulin pump, ostomy or other medical device attached to your body.

You’ll need to let the TSA officer know where the device is located and you can expect that area to be closely inspected by an agent, although they should use special care. You may also get a pat down.

As far as having to explain the details of a specific medical condition requiring the device, that’s not always necessary.

But one strategy that people use is that they utilize the TSA notification cards or other medical documents which describe their condition. This way, all they have to do is quickly show a card and that will disclose all of the necessary details.

When bringing nebulizers, CPAPs, BiPAPs and APAPs, they are are allowed in carry-on bags but must be removed from the carrying case and undergo X-ray screening. Don’t be surprised if you get questioned about these, especially if you forget to remove them from your carrying case. And also don’t be surprised if they require explosives trace testing.

Certain portable oxygen concentrators are permitted onboard the aircraft, including Inogen One, Sequal Eclipse, Airsep Lifestyle but don’t be surprised if you get questioned or these require a closer inspection.

Finally, it’s possible that when going through a full body scanner, the scanner could pick up on things like scar tissue. You may need to explain to an agent that you had a surgery or medical procedure that created scar tissue in that region of your body.

If you have medical implants, it helps to be familiar with the process of TSA pat downs which we have detailed thoroughly.

Final word

For the most part, a TSA agent should not be requesting details about your medical condition unless the questions relate to medical objects or medically necessary liquids you are trying to get through security.

The questions should focus on allowing them to discover the contents and composition of the items and not necessarily the details of your diagnosis.

With that said, providing context in the form of a TSA notification card can help expedite the screening process by allowing the agent to quickly put together what you are bringing through security and why.

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