Travelling through Brussels, my saline solution, which is legal for US TSA, was declared illegal by airport security.

Are medical exclusions different for USA Travel and Foreign travel?

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    Since the TSA operates in the US, I would guess that the rules are different for every other country. – Michael Hampton Jul 28 '14 at 14:48
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    For what medical purpose do you need to bring saline solution through security? – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jul 28 '14 at 16:58
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    In my experience, security at Brussels is extra-extra-strict for at least some destinations, on account of EU and NATO diplomatic and military traffic. For BRU-IAD there is an extra layer of screening, and it is the only airport ever where I have been made to turn on my laptop, had every pocket of my carry-on bag emptied and searched, or strip searched (had to remove shirt, shoes, and trousers). They had only 3 agents screening an entire 777 and suffice to say, that left no time to visit the lounge, either. I hate BRU-IAD so much, I would consider connecting— even connecting at CDG. – choster Jul 28 '14 at 17:31
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    Different from what? Foreign with respect to what? As you may have noticed on your travels, whatever country you come from isn't the whole world and, in an international context, assuming that your country is "normal" and the rest of the world is "different" isn't really appropriate. – David Richerby Jul 28 '14 at 21:11
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    @Aditya: I know, but surely not more than 100ml? – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jul 29 '14 at 10:51

Just so we are clear. Security at airport(s) in Brussels is not the responsibility of the US TSA even if flight is coming from or going to the US.

If you're interested you can go to the Brussels Airport Site on Bags & Security for more details on what is and is not allowed on board which among other restrictions states:

  • Medicines and dietary supplements for use during the flight are also allowed (ask your doctor for a certificate to prove their necessity).

Saline Solution isn't a dietary supplement nor it is a medicine so if you require it on board you should probably have a doctor write a letter authenticating that you require to have Saline with you at all times for a medical reason.

There are exception to the Liquid and Gels Policy but Saline still doesn't qualify. So if you brought a large bottle of it with you on board the security personnel seem to be well within their right to disallow it.

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  • While Saline Solution is not a dietary supplement or a medicine but it is frequently used to wash contact lenses. Maybe the OP required some to either store his lenses or wash them on board the flight. – Aditya Somani Jul 29 '14 at 2:04
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    @AdityaSomani Quite possibly but even for the longest flight you don't need more then 100ml to do that. – Karlson Jul 29 '14 at 2:06
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    Yes, I agree, but the OP did not mention the quantity he was carrying. Maybe they just had a bigger bottle and thought it's okay because it's "in the medical exclusions list". – Aditya Somani Jul 29 '14 at 2:07
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    I have no idea why you might need so much of it either but it seems but getting more than 100ml of “saline solution” through security really is allowed in the US. – Relaxed Jan 27 '15 at 8:19
  • Probably because noone had yet figured out how to turn saline into a weapon. :) – Karlson Jan 28 '15 at 2:59

No, the rules are not different in this context.

Currently the rules for liquids are exactly the same in US and EU.

The rules are:

  • Containers up to 100mL (3.4oz)
  • In clear bag up to 1L (1 quart)
  • One bag per passenger

Also in both in US and EU exceptions apply, but they are essentially the same:

  • US – „Medically required liquids, such as medications, creams and breast milk, are permitted to be brought on board an aircraft.”
  • EU – „Medicines and baby food are permitted, if demonstrated that these are essential during the flight.”

The rest is up to security screening officer, his interpretation of the rule and your ability to convince him that liquid is „medically required”. I imagine that outcome would vary even with different TSA agents at same airport. You just got lucky once.

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    The wording may make all the difference there are medical uses of saline for such things as wound irrigation or IV electrolyte replenishment, so saline may be medically required in some cases for example to replace a bandage on the wound but it is not a medicine. – Karlson Jul 28 '14 at 17:14
  • @Karlson I suppose a bottle of saline that came with prescription stickers and a valid prescription would be considered medicine. You actually need a prescription to buy saline approved for IV in some places. – Spehro Pefhany Jul 28 '14 at 20:00
  • @SpehroPefhany If you're buying Saline in an IV bag yes. Most of the time I've seen it come in a bottle. And in the US you don't need a prescription to buy salted water: cvs.com/shop/product-detail/… – Karlson Jul 28 '14 at 20:12
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    rules are different, and the TSA certainly doesn't make the rules applied in European countries. Of course there's a lot of overlap, they work together after all, but they're not identical. – jwenting Jul 29 '14 at 12:47

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