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I am soon travelling from Schiphol to IAH, and I have heard about the 'resealable' bag rule.

The TSA website says I can fill a 'quart' sealable bag with liquids less than 100grams. What is a 'quart' bag? Can I fill 1/4th of the bag? What if I just buy a bigger bag?

I am planning on taking 2 liquid items of less than 100 grams with me, do I need to put these in a resealable bag or is the fact that they would fit in a bag good enough?

I fail to see why I would need a resealable plastic bag. Resealable bags are not common here and I prefer to just keep them organised in my carry on, instead of in a plastic bag.

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Since you are flying to the US, TSA rules may apply but EU rules are actually not very different. You are supposed to put all your gels and liquids in a special type of transparent 1L bags, which are available free of charge at Schiphol, just before the safety inspection. Two little bottles are definitely OK so you don't need to worry about that but this rule is also a reasonably easy way to put a cap on the total quantity allowed (without computations!) and prevents people from playing games like having dozens of 100 mL containers.

It's also convenient to have all liquids in a separate bag as you may be asked to remove them from your hand luggage and put them on a separate tray, which is why I usually keep the bag from one trip to the next to save time. Once however, I forgot it at home and only noticed it as I was unpacking my stuff for inspection. What happened next is that my stuff was flagged for a secondary inspection and an employee went through my liquids manually, nothing more so no reason to panic even if you can't find a bag while waiting in the queue.

This also means that, resealable bag or not, you probably won't be allowed to keep your liquids neatly organised in your carry-on. You should pack them together and make sure they are easily accessible as you will be asked to remove all liquids from your carry-on (certainly at Schiphol, which also happens to be my "home" airport)! Another anecdote on this: I once travelled with two glass bottles filled with large candles (also at Schiphol). This is allowed but because they look like bottles on the machine, I had to unpack my whole bag for manual inspection.

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    "definitely be asked to remove your liquids": I frequently forget to remove my liquids, and, more often than not, nothing happens. I have only had to remove them two or three times. I generally don't have more than two to four very small bottles. If there are only two bottles, this might be JaneDoe1337's experience, too. – phoog Sep 29 '16 at 14:37
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    @phoog At Schiphol? I didn't test it too often because I usually do it myself but they still ask at least, did you tell them "I forgot"? The one time I did not do anything by the book, I was treated to a manual inspection so YMMV. – Relaxed Sep 29 '16 at 14:44
  • It's been several years since I've flown from Schiphol, so I don't remember whether it's ever happened like that there. Certainly with the TSA, and in some other European airports. – phoog Sep 29 '16 at 14:46
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    At BRE I was forced to acquire a bag, which cost me 0.50 € at duty free, for a single 75 ml container of toothpaste. So I wouldn't bet on not having a bag being ok! – I'm with Monica Sep 30 '16 at 7:12
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    @phoog they have always asked me to remove the liquids at Schiphol, I've just never had it in a resealable bag. And since security is up since recent threats I expect them to be on their toes. – Summer Sep 30 '16 at 9:37
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A "quart" is a unit of measurement - about 0.945 litres. It's a standard bag size in the US, if you google for "quart resealable bag" and click on "Images" you can get an idea of the size. In my experience, the TSA is not strict about the "resealable bag" part, especially if you don't have many liquids, and if you just show them 2 small (<100ml) items they will easily let you through.

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To answer your question:

I fail to see why I would need a resealable plastic bag. Resealable bags are not common here and I prefer to just keep them organised in my carry on, instead of in a plastic bag.

There are a number of practicalities of using a resealable plastic bag for both the security officer and yourself:

  1. Everything is on show in one place inside the bag without opening it.
  2. The seal stops any liquids or containers escaping.
  3. The bag can be opened and closed quickly by either party.
  4. The 1 litre size stops the passenger from bringing more than allowed (to some extent)
  5. The uniformed size and style makes the process of checking liquids in hand luggage the same for all. In theory all airports adopt the same process (in reality there are many subtle differences that different airports use just to keep you on your toes)
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In my TSA experience, I've never had any problem with bigger bags, just as long as the liquid containers itself are <100 ml. Also, at every TSA checkpoint i've been (IAD,EWR,JFK,LAX), while waiting in line, there's free bags you can grab to put your liquids in. So just keep them in your carry-on, put them in the free TSA bags while going through the checkpoint and when you're through put them back in your carryon.

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To address the why part of the question, all these rules date back to the summer of 2006, when it was announced that UK security services had learnt of and foiled a plot to attack a flight from London to the US using a liquid binary explosive. That is to say a bomb made by mixing a couple of safer parts together to make a more dangerous one.

The immediate response was mostly to ban people taking any liquid whatsoever onto flights with them. This wasn't popular, especially with the duty free shops, and the rules were eventually relaxed towards the type we have today, where liquids brought through security from landside have to meet maximum volume limits, both individually (the 100ml/4 ounce limit) and in bulk (fitting into the prescribed size of bag). Sources are divided on whether this makes us significantly safer, but those are the rules, and depending on the airport and level of alertness, not obeying them might lead to complications catching your flight.

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    You've left out the part about how this plot was completely incompetent and you can't make an explosive from liquids of that volume. Or that 100g of nitroglycerine is more than enough for a good 'boom' anyway. – Carl Witthoft Sep 29 '16 at 17:36
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    The total ban on carrying any liquids at all was only ever intended as a temporary measure, while the authorities figured out what was going on and what to do about it. It's somewhat misleading to suggest that it was relaxed due to pressure from the duty free shops. – David Richerby Sep 30 '16 at 9:33
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    They banned even more than just liquid right after the plot was foiled. In the UK, EVERYTHING had to go in the hold, even handbags and carry-on luggage. The only exceptions were for things that were absolutely essential for travel and identity verification, like travel documents and a wallet. They couldn't even have a crossword puzzle in the cabin, based on reports from passengers I read in the newspaper. These restrictions were relaxed 5 days later. – Nzall Sep 30 '16 at 14:35
  • @DavidRicherby I agree that the duty free industry wasn't the only group lobbying on the issue, but given that the rules eventually introduced around the world effectively allow 3 classes of liquid on board (baby food, cosmetics under 100ml and duty free in a sealed security bag) and given that the industry does lobby, I don't think my summary is unfair. – origimbo Sep 30 '16 at 15:40
  • @origimbo I don't think there was every any chance that the entire duty-free booze industry would be closed down. – David Richerby Sep 30 '16 at 15:45
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In most flights that I've been on, there are all kinds of bags of varying size and shape. I personally use a little clear zipper bag that you get when you buy a set of small airline approved toiletries or containers.

Since you have these items organized in your carry-on, you probably have them in a bag already. If it was a clear bag, you're all set. If not, I'd still give it a try, just remember to take it out of your carry-on. Worst case is you have to go get a little baggie by the wall over there (!) and put your stuff in it. I've never seen anyone complain about the size or shape of the bag, but always the full size bottles of sunscreen, shampoo, lotion or toothpaste that people still insist on bringing. Don't be that person. Get smaller travel sized items or buy it when you get there.

There have even been times when I forgot to take the bag out of my carry-on and didn't get stopped. And I'm a person that refuses the cancer scanner!

Basically, if you make it convenient for them to see what kind of liquids/gels/etc (usually toiletries) you're bringing with you without them having to open your bag the less hassle you'll get. If you have all the correct sizes of things, they should all pretty much fit, and again, the less hassle you'll get. Not even a second look, I guarantee.

Having to open your carry-on will just cause a delay for everyone else down the line and that's why you will want to take it out. Having items like that in your bag might also invite you to a pat down, cuz that's how we roll here now.

Happy Flying :)

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The TSA rules only apply when entering terminals in the United States, but that does include domestic connections from international arrivals.

The resealable bag is a Ziptop/Ziplock style bag. Ziploc Storage Bags - 1 qt. See this diagram by the TSA.

But I have also witnessed people with much larger bags, but clearly compliant liquid amounts.

The reason they ask for this is so the bags of 100ml liquids containers can be put through the x-ray separately, outside any luggage.

Despite the lax enforcement I've witnessed lately, you should still comply just in case.

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    Leaving from Schiphol you have to follow the European rules, 100ml per container and all of those in one 1liter bag, but the sizes are so close to the TSA (American) rules that you can follow either set of rules and the security on the other end will also accept them on your return journey. – Willeke Sep 29 '16 at 15:44
  • Sure, but the OP referred specifically to TSA rules. – Johns-305 Sep 29 '16 at 15:51
  • @Willeke Actually, I think the rules are identical. TSA just advertises it as a quart because Americans are more familiar with that and quart-sized bags are more common in the U.S. than Liter-sized ones. Just like they advertise 3 oz, when the rule is actually 100 mL. – reirab Sep 30 '16 at 3:31

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