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I know you can't bring bottled water and such with you on the plane. However, is it safe to bring an empty bottle with you to fill up later? Or do you risk losing your possibly expensive/fancy/awesome water bottle when going through security?

  • Agreeing to @user7806 you can bring plastic bottles wherever you want....empty bottles is just a security-green product and not liable for any trouble :) – hagubear Aug 4 '13 at 9:00
  • There is no security check when boarding the plane. You can take as much liquid as you want onto the plane, as long as you acquired it after the security checkpoint. – TonyK Nov 25 '16 at 0:09
54

I always have one or two plastic bottles with me. I empty them before I go through security and then re-fill them from a tap in the restroom in the waiting area.

I've done this many times, and security never asked about the empty bottles, and even if they do you can explain what they are for.

  • 3
    And note that some airlines will fill your bottle for you if you ask, even before they come around with the cart, and some planes have drinking water taps outside the bathroom (labelled drinking water) so you can fill up yourself on long flights. – Kate Gregory Sep 25 '12 at 15:57
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    Many (but not all) airports have water fountains after security, so you can fill up your empty bottle before boarding. Make sure you check if there's an additional security check at the gate before doing this though! – Gagravarr Sep 25 '12 at 19:36
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    This will be possible until someone tries to blow up a plane with some kind of gaseous material. At which point, breathing on planes will be banned. – oliver-clare Sep 25 '12 at 21:20
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    @LordScree s/breathing/passing gas/, beans and cabbage will be banned – vartec Jan 10 '14 at 12:53
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    @Gagravarr: even if there are no water fountains, I've had success just asking one of the coffee places to fill my bottle with tapwater. Never been asked to buy something before they'll do it. – Steve Jessop Sep 16 '14 at 10:41
12

Yes, do this all the time.

Probably not necessary, but I take the lid off and put it in another pocket to ensure it's seen as an empty bottle.

UK airports generally have a bar airside and I've never had a problem asking them to refill the bottle.

  • 1
    I never take the lid off and never had any problems in EU and US. – mts Sep 3 '16 at 8:49
  • No need at all to take the lid off. The worst that can happen is that they'll ask you if the bottle is empty and the screeners have always believed me when I said yes. – David Richerby Jan 29 at 19:06
11

In the United States, the website of the TSA specifically states:

You may take empty drink containers through the checkpoint and fill them afterward.

Unfortunately, I didn't see a way to link directly to the page containing that text, but if you go to the link above and then type "empty water bottle" into the "Can I bring my..." search box, it will display the above text.

Most (all?) U.S. airports have water fountains airside where you can fill up your water bottle after going through security. Hong Kong and Incheon both had them, as well. Some airports even have water fountains specifically designed for filling up water bottles (where you don't have to tilt the bottle over to get water in it.) I've seen these both in Nashville and in Phoenix.

The only weird thing I've ever encountered with this was one time on a flight from Hong Kong to the U.S. There were actually security personnel inside the jetway in Hong Kong that were going through everyone's bags and confiscating non-empty water bottles, including the ones that people had purchased inside the concourse. For more information on this see the questions:

Why were water bottles confiscated in a boarding gate jetway in Hong Kong?
When are U.S.-bound flights required to confiscate liquids at the gate?

4

I have been using cheap(ish) drinking bottles as well as re-used 'one time' water bottles for going through security in Europe.
Mostly I have the bottle on the outside of my luggage or place it in the bin next to my laptop or shoes.

Several times I have been asked whether the bottle is empty, on the answer: "as empty as I can get it by drinking" it was allowed to go through.

But no single airport security site I have seen so far guarantees the passage of empty water bottles and I would not take my expensive water bottle in hand luggage.
Most of the time it will not be a problem at all but when you run into the one officer or one airport that does not allow it through, losing a cheap bottle will hurt less than losing an expensive or loved bottle.

By the way, I find it no hardship to drink half a liter of water within a few minutes and have done so, like when I met a security check where I did not expect one. Waiting outside the line, although at that point in time there was very little line to wait next to.
The security officer on my side of the system offered to empty the bottle into their bin and return it to me, I declined as I was in need of a drink by then.

2

It depends on where you are in the world. In Britain there are rarely places to fill bottles up, yet they are allowed through. In a way, I think its a moneymaking scam, if you have liquids in the bottles at UK security the bottle goes, in Sweden the liquid goes. In Britain they probably sell the bottles

  • semantics. As there's no way to empty the bottle short of drinking its entire content there and then, which for a bottle with more than a few mouth fulls of liquid isn't feasible, effectively in Sweden too the bottle'd get confiscated. – jwenting Oct 15 '13 at 10:37
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    Isn't feasible? I've lost track of the number of times I have drunk an entire bottle of water while standing on the security line. It is not a difficult thing to do. – Kate Gregory Jan 10 '14 at 12:57
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    "In Britain there are rarely places to fill bottles up, yet they are allowed through. In a way, I think its a moneymaking scam". Doesn't work on me. If there's no cold taps or water fountains airside I ask one of the food/drink concessions to fill my bottle with tapwater. I don't remember ever being refused, even if I'm not buying anything, and once I was even offered sparkling-mineral-water-on-tap when I wasn't buying anything. Approx 50% of my flights depart from Heathrow or Gatwick (the other 50% arrive there). – Steve Jessop Sep 16 '14 at 10:38
  • @jwenting Most airports I've been to have trash cans or some such receptacle in the security lines where you can pour out the water. I haven't been to Europe, so I can't speak for what it's like there, but this has been my experience in the U.S. and Asia. – reirab Sep 16 '14 at 16:44
  • @reirab in Europe I've never seen things like that. Sometimes there's trash cans where you can deposit bottles and other "contraband" rather than have it confiscated, but that's it. And in my travels in central and south Asia there wasn't even that much. – jwenting Sep 17 '14 at 4:31
0

Though security might let you get away with this, regulations clearly state (UK, but the same applies elsewhere) that vessels that are able to contain more than 100ml, even when they contain less (or nothing at all) are not allowed through security.

Case in point: have you ever tried to take a half empty tube of toothpaste through security?

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    There is a difference between less and nothing. Completely empty containers are allowed. Half empty, or 1/7 full or whatnot, are not. – Kate Gregory Sep 27 '12 at 13:29
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    That is common sense speaking :) The relevant line in the text I link is "Containers larger than 100ml (excluding essential medicines) will not be allowed through the security point even if they are only part full." so, you might get away with a empty bottle, you might not. – MastaBaba Sep 29 '12 at 21:23
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    Again, what actually gets through security is loosely dependent on what regulations say. However, for the UK, containers larger than 100ml will not be allowed, even if they are only part full. The rules state that containers larger than 100ml will not be allowed. The rules say nothing about empty containers larger than 100ml, which means that the only thing that applies is the rule related to containers larger than 100ml (whether they are full, half full or not). But, again, your milage may, and clearly does, differ. I typically never put my liquids in a bag, which never is a problem either. – MastaBaba Oct 2 '12 at 11:16
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    I think that @KateGregory is right because they don't want you to bring 100ml or more in liquids. Since an empty bottle contains no liquid at all while a container larger than 100ml and only part full may contains 100ml (or more) in liquids, which is difficult to estimate during the customs. – Geeo Aug 4 '13 at 7:59
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    @Relaxed Does a suitcase satisfy the definition of "container"? – Federico Poloni Sep 16 '14 at 21:06

protected by Mark Mayo Jan 10 '14 at 8:52

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