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Liquid allowance in hand luggage: How much can you take on board your flight?

Image of a toy plane next to carry on liquid containers

Prevent the confiscation of your favourite cologne or expensive booze by following these simple rules

If you’re an infrequent flyer, you may not be crystal clear on the regulations covering liquid allowance in hand luggage. There are strict rules regarding liquids and, specifically, how much you can carry aboard. If you’re not aware of them, you could find yourself in a stressful, but easily preventable, situation at airport security.

The rules in the UK are set to be relaxed in June 2024 but, for now, the liquid allowance for hand luggage on commercial flights is still relatively small. That said, there are some exceptions, such as for medications or items purchased after security from the airport’s duty-free shop.

To demystify the rules governing flying with liquids, we’ve answered some of the most common questions and laid out the key information below. Keep reading to brush up on the dos and don’ts before your next flight.

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What counts as a ‘liquid’?

You can probably take a pretty good guess as to which things are classed as liquids, but there are a few inclusions that might catch you out. For the avoidance of doubt, here are the main substances that are subject to restrictions on commercial flights to and from the UK.


Whether it’s a can of Coke or a simple bottle of tap water, all drinks come under the category of liquids.

Liquid/semi-liquid foods

Whatever you’re planning to snack on mid-flight – yoghurt, soup or syrup – if it’s not a solid, there will be restrictions.

That said, if you are travelling with a baby, you can take enough baby food, baby milk and sterilised water as you’ll need for the journey – there is no legal limit to how much you can take. You can carry breast milk in hand luggage even if you’re not travelling with a baby, however the individual containers are not permitted to be larger than 2,000ml. Be advised that security staff may need to open the containers to check their contents.


Things like toothpaste, creams, shampoos, body wash and aerosols, including hairspray and deodorant, are all classed as liquids as far as airport security is concerned.


Antibacterial hand sanitiser has become extremely popular since the COVID-19 pandemic but, as useful as it may be for travelling, it is classed as a liquid. The same also goes for your Brylcreem.

Contact lens solution

If you’re usually a contact lens wearer, it’s always best to wear your glasses when you fly as the dry air in the cabin can wreak havoc on your eyes. But if you must bring your contact lenses aboard, ensure that any accompanying bottles of solution meet the specified liquid allowance.

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What are the rules for liquids in hand luggage?

  • Any liquids carried onto the plane in hand luggage must be 100ml or under.
  • All liquids being transported must fit into a single, clear plastic bag that does not exceed 20 x 20cm.
  • Only one plastic bag is permitted per passenger, and you must be able to completely close it.
  • The maximum amount of all liquids combined must not exceed one litre per passenger.
  • The plastic bag containing your liquids must be removed from your hand luggage and put through security separately.

June 2024 changes

Keep in mind that the rules concerning taking liquids through UK airport security are due to change. The points laid out above still apply for now but it’s expected that, from June 2024 onwards, passengers won’t be required to remove liquids from their hand luggage to pass through airport security, and the 100ml limit for liquids will be increased to 2 litres.

Unfortunately, it appears this lifting of restrictions is unlikely to be implemented UK-wide by the June 2024 deadline. Some major airports, including Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester, have been granted an extension until June 2025 to install the new scanners that will allow the lifting of the restrictions. We advise you to check whether the restrictions are still in place at whichever airport you intend to fly from before you set off.

It’s important to remember that the airport you fly home from might not have these new scanners, so while you may be able to take 2-litre containers out of the country in your hand luggage, you might not be able to bring them back. Check before you travel, and if need be, put your over-capacity liquids in your checked luggage for the return trip.

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Can I take duty-free liquids onto the plane?

Yes. Feel free to do all the duty-free shopping you want – and that you’re allowed – once you’ve cleared the security gate. The 100ml limit doesn’t apply to liquids purchased here, so big bottles of perfume, spirits and wine are all fair game, no matter the size. Just be sure not to open your duty-free until you’ve arrived at your destination.

Can I bring my medication onto the plane?

Yes. If you have liquid medications – including liquid dietary foodstuffs and inhalers – that exceed 100ml, you are permitted to bring them aboard in your hand luggage as long as you have a doctor’s note or a copy of your prescription.


To summarise, it’s fine to bring liquids in your hand luggage as long as the individual containers don’t exceed 100ml and the total volume doesn’t exceed 1 litre.

That being said, rules are supposed to be relaxing from June 2024 for travel in and out of the UK, so you’ll soon be able to travel with larger amounts.

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