How Peanut Butter could get you in trouble with the TSA

Posted on June 23, 2011


Of course you need to follow the 3-1-1 rules for carry-on luggage when heading on vacation, but there is more. For those who don’t know the 3-1-1 for carry on luggage, it is what you can have in your carry on bag when you load the plane. You should place it in a bin when going through airport security:

  • 3.4 ounce bottle or less (100ml by volume)
  •  1 quart size, clear, plastic zip lock bag
  •  1 bag per passenger

Here are a few more things you may not have thought about, that just might get TSA to give you a closer look.

*Headbands:  They are not banned, but the metal frames can trigger the detector.  Solution; Take off any hair accessories beforehand and put on the X-ray belt

*Alcohol Bottles:  TSA is focused on potential explosives, not on your personal traveling bar.  Again not banned, but you must follow the 3-1-1 rule.  Alcohol must be less than 3.4 ounces, bottled in original container, and fit in a one-quart sized bag.

*Keys, coins and other metal objects: Try to pack all unnecessary metal objects in your checked luggage. Make sure you place everything from your pockets in the bin BEFORE going through security and you will save precious time for yourself and all travelers.

*Snow Globes: The liquid in most snow globes exceeds the 3.4 ounce limit.  So if you want to get that snow globe home, (the one that your daughter just couldn’t live without); you better put it in your checked bag. Make sure you pack carefully and double bag in case of breakage during flight.

*Larger Liquids: Some amounts larger than the 3.4 ounces of liquid are allowed, but make sure you declare BEFORE inspection occurs. These items can include baby food and formula, breast milk and some medications. These items may need additional screening, but less time than if you did not declare and have to be detained even longer.

*Aluminum Foil:  Even though most candy, gum and cigarettes are now wrapped in paper, there are still a few wrapped in metallic foil. So, when you get to security; empty your pockets completely before going through the metal detector.

*Inhaler: Although needed for medical reasons, inhalers can sometimes cause a TSA agent to take a second look.  So the best thing to do is make sure that they are properly labeled and inform the TSA officer in advance that you have an inhaler.

*Underwire Bras: Yes, even bras can be the culprit. Even though TSA says this isn’t a problem, there are still women who have had to go through a second inspection when that was the only issue.  So you can either take your chance with TSA, or wear a non underwire bra and pack your questionable bras.

*A JAR OF PEANUT BUTTER: Even though it’s not a liquid, it can “conform to the shape of its container” like toothpaste and other lotions.  So if you really need a certain kind, pack it in your checked bag.  Of course pre made peanut butter sandwiches are all right.


Anything you can do to speed up the check in process, will lessen your stress level and will help all passengers have a smoother and hopefully quicker line through security.

For a more complete list go to Prohibited Items.

For other travel tips along with great choices for travel luggage and handbags, check out: