One in four travelers smuggle liquids through TSA checkpoints

A new survey from Skyscanner suggests that as many as one in four travelers smuggle liquids past security – both accidentally and on purpose.

Of the 1,000 poll respondents, 42% agree that current rulings are too restrictive and one in five complaining that airports tend to enforce rules differently. Only 2% believed the legislation did not go far enough.

About 4% of respondents admitted that they have purposely smuggled liquids through security – and got away with it.

We’ve certainly noticed airport security becoming more lax with the 3-1-1 rulings, particularly when the creams and liquids are within travel-sized containers in carry-on or gate checked luggage. Still, it probably isn’t a good idea to try to smuggle in liquids that are in flagrant disregard of the rules. Anything that makes travel more difficult for you and your fellow patrons likely isn’t a great idea.

Travel sizes and the 3-1-1 rule: new study suggests shift in consumer behavior

The TSA‘s 3-1-1 rule has been in place for only five years, but it may have forever changed travel behavior.

The rule limits passengers to one quart sized zippered bag and liquid or gel items of no more than 3.4 ounces in all carry-on luggage.

Prior to the 3-1-1 rule’s implementation, 18% of the respondents considered themselves to “not at all” purchase travel sizes prior to the 3-1-1 rule, 59% did “sometimes,” and 23% considered themselves regular users.

Slightly over 40% of the survey respondents currently use travel-sized products 41% one to four times per year, 34% use them five to eight times, 14% use them nine to 12 times and 11% use them more than once per month.

As might be expected, the “regular” users of travel-sized items reported little shift in behavior and the regular and occasional users reported upticks in usage.

What was of particular interest was that their usage was fairly evenly split amongst purchasing branded travel sized items, and transferring their existing large sizes into empty travel sized containers. One could surmise that there were different factors that went into the choice to convert existing large sizes into empty bottles:
* Expense of purchasing a new item when the larger bottle already existed.
* Environment concerns about the additional waste in packaging.
* Reaction to being “told what to do” by someone (e.g. the government).
* Favorite brand or product not existing in a travel size.
* Or any number of other factors.

Looking into the future, the respondents forecasted their future usage of travel sizes if and when the 3-1-1 rule is lifted.

The most interesting group was the group that did not use travel sizes at all prior to the 3-1-1 rule being put into place. Within this group, while only 50% said that they would no longer purchase travel sizes, a significant 29% said they would purchase fewer than what they were doing, and 15% said they would use the same amount or more of the travel sizes due to their convenience. Additionally, 7% said that they would use them for travel and for regular use as they are now “part of my life.”

Combined, this represents a change in habit for half of these prior “non-users.”

For the group that only sometimes used travel sizes prior to the 3-1-1 rule, the results showed that only 3% would no longer purchase travel sizes, 49% would purchase fewer, but 30% would use the same or more, and an additional 18% would use the same or more including both travel and non travel usage.

It was interesting to note that compared to airplane travel, nearly all of the other modes of transportation showed a more significant future usage of travel sizes, including every other method scoring stronger than airplane travel when it came to determining that travel sizes had become “part of my life.”

One of the most common complaint was that the respondents’ favorite brand did not come in a travel size.

Need to purchase a travel-sized item yourself? Our favorite retailers include (the organization that conducted the survey) and