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On my recent flight from Riga to Amsterdam, I had a 125ml toothpaste tube in my carry-on. That's 25ml over the limit, but the security person let it pass and just told me that it's technically disallowed. On my flight back however, I was forced to throw it out.

So I wonder, what if I just didn't take it out of my carry-on luggage and pretended I don't have any liquids? Could their X-Ray machine detect it? Are there any repercussions for not taking out the liquids?

  • 2
    TL DR: yes the machine sees the liquids. – JoErNanO Apr 14 '17 at 17:18
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    Repurcussions? None, really - if they discover it, they take it off you. I have flown transatlantic last year with a full 500ml bottle of water after the employees at Toronto security missed it.... – Moo Apr 14 '17 at 17:34
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    Just be prepared with an "oh, I forgot about that!" and you'll avoid 99% of potential repercussions. – phoog Apr 14 '17 at 19:25
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Yes the x-ray machines detect the liquids when scanning your luggage. Not taking the liquids out of your hand-luggage will not raise any issue in those countries in which it is not mandatory to do so. However, in the remaining countries, your luggage will either be placed on a separate conveyor belt coming out of the x-ray machine, or will be pointed at by the security officer manning the machine, and will be hand inspected by the airport security staff. Needless to say they will enforce the rules. Moreover, this will ensure you lose at least fifteen minutes of your time whilst all the checks are completed. The UK is one such country. Last time I flew out of EDI, there were signs explicitly stating that failure to remove liquids from hand-luggage would result in extra, and lengthy, security checks.

  • Is there a list of such countries? Neither RIX nor Schiphol seemed to have any separate conveyor belts. – Nikolai Apr 14 '17 at 17:31
  • @Nikolai I wouldn't think so. It'll most probably depend on country and airport. Buy what usually happens, regardless of the conveyor belt, is that the luggage is checked if you don't remove the liquids. – JoErNanO Apr 14 '17 at 18:11
  • I often use Schiphol airport and you have to take out your liquids there. If you do not you might be lucky and them being ignored, or found and thrown out. But you can also get the extra inspection which while not announced may well take 15 minutes or even longer. There is no separate conveyor belt, there are separate bins, as long as the plastic bag with liquids is visible in a bin it is alright. – Willeke Apr 14 '17 at 18:16
  • @Willeke If it's found and thrown out, that's cool. Extra inspection sounds annoying though. What would you say is the probability of that happening? – Nikolai Apr 15 '17 at 9:56
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I will depend entirely on how the screener examining the x-ray image interprets that image. The shape of the container will appear though.

Worst case scenario: Your bag will be searched.

Next to worst case scenario: They will locate and remove just the suspicious item, but not search the entire bag.+

Shortly after the TSA liquid bad I had, just as you, a tube of toothpaste confiscated after a screener saw it on the belt, not in the x-ray.

After that, I just stopped taking my liquids out. The replacement was never confiscated.

+The screener charged with searching the bag will look at the image to learn the exact location of the item.

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Here's my experience from a recent trip when I decided to hide my 125ml toothpaste tube:

RIX: had to go through extra security checks for some reason, but the toothpaste went unnoticed.

SFO: the toothpaste went unnoticed. So much for TSA.

FRA: they noticed it and threw it out while speaking angrily in German. That took about 5 minutes of extra time.

In conclusion, it seems you generally don't risk much by leaving your liquid in the bag.

  • Your milage may vary. Your three departures are not a big number to base a general rule on. – Willeke May 22 '17 at 16:35

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