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Liquid or not? Can you take nail polish, liquid medication or baby food through airport security?

Article published
19.8.2019 at 09:00
Liquid products and electronics on a security control tray.
Anything that can be regarded as a liquid is not allowed to be taken through airport security in a container of more than 100 ml. But what is really counted as a liquid? We go through a few of the most frequently asked questions about items.

Restrictions on liquids are familiar to frequent flyers: water bottles must be emptied at the security gate and Champagne must be packed in a checked suitcase unless it is purchased at the airport after security check.

Restrictions on liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) in passengers’ cabin baggage came into force across EU countries in 2006 to ensure air safety.

However, the definition of fluids in this context is not self-evident. Joni Pekkanen, Finavia’s service manager, talks about the rules on carrying liquids in hand luggage.

Food – if you can spread it, it’s a liquid

All drinks are of course liquids, but so are many foods. For example, more than a hundred millilitres of yoghurt cannot be taken into the cabin, and the same restriction applies to soups. On the other hand, a sandwich containing mayonnaise may be brought on the plane.

It is also good to remember that honey, jams and other products that you can spread are virtually always classified as liquids.

Baby food – allowed for children under 2

Children's foods are the exception to the rule: they may be carried freely in one’s hand luggage if the child is under two years of age. Foods that a child may need for the journey, regardless of the packaging size, are allowed on board.

Nail polish and many cosmetics are liquids

Nail polish and makeup that is applied are considered liquid, as well as face creams and hair wax. These products must be packed in a transparent one litre plastic bag. Each passenger can carry only one.

Liquid medicines are allowed

Drugs, including liquid ones, can be transported freely. Liquid medicines, solutions, syrups and mixtures should be packed in a transparent bag, but they do not need to fit into one bag.

Liquid prescription medicines may be declared to security separately, though they can also be placed on the security tray alongside other items. It is also possible to request for your medicines to be checked in private.

Even for liquid drugs, no prescription is required for screening. Although medications are exempt from normal liquid rules and are allowed in reasonable quantities, security officers may request to see a copy of your doctor’s prescription or letter at security check.

New technology being tested

At the moment, technology to analyse liquids during security screening is developing rapidly. Such technology, for example, is used at Helsinki Airport to help ensure that the liquid is really what the passenger says it is. In addition, random checks are carried out on children's foods, among other things.

Check our packing instructions before travel.

Read more about airport security checks.