Liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) - Frequently Asked Questions

Travelling with Liquids, Aerosols & Gels (LAGs)

Exceptions for medicines, baby products and dietary requirements

Airport shopping

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Travelling with Liquids, Aerosols & Gels (LAGs)

Why are there rules about liquids, aerosols and gels?

In August 2006, UK authorities arrested a number of people they believed were planning to board aircraft with liquid explosives disguised as water bottles.  These liquid explosives could have been used to construct an explosive device onboard the aircraft, which could have destroyed the aircraft in-flight.

Since these events many countries have introduced restrictions on the amounts of liquids, aerosols and gels that can be carried into aircraft cabins on international flights.

What are the measures?

The measures only apply to international flights.

The measures are:

  • Any liquids, aerosols and gels that passengers want to take in their carry-on baggage must be in containers of 100ml volume or less
  • Containers larger than 100ml will not be permitted in carry-on baggage, even if there is only 100ml of liquid/gel in the larger container
  • Passengers may carry as many 100ml containers as will fit comfortably in a single re-sealable transparent plastic bag of 1 litre volume (approximately 20cm by 20cm, or 8 inches by 8 inches)
  • Each passenger, including children, is allowed one transparent re-sealable plastic bag
  • The plastic bag must be presented separately from all other carry-on baggage at the security screening points at ainternational airports
  • Exceptions are in place for medicines, baby products, and dietary supplements in liquid or gel form.  However, only reasonable amounts will be permitted in the cabin of the aircraft (ie enough for the journey as well as possible delays and flight diversions.

What about on domestic flights?

The measures only apply to international flights.

However, if your international flight begins with a domestic flight, then you will still need to be prepared ahead of time.  Because your bags will be checked through to your final international destination when you check in for your domestic flight, you should ensure that the only liquids, aerosols and gels in your carry-on baggage are in 100ml containers and in a one litre re-sealable plastic bag.

Once you have checked in for your domestic flight, you will not have access to your bags until you reach your final destination, and you won’t be able to repack any items from your carry-on baggage before going through security screening at the international airport.

Why 100ml or smaller containers?

The measures require passengers to pack any liquids, aerosols and gels that they wish to take in their carry-on baggage in a transparent and re-sealable plastic bag. 

There are several reasons for this:

  • the bag needs to be re-sealable for practical purposes 
  • a re-sealable transparent bag allows Aviation Security Officers at the security screening point to easily inspect and open bags to check the contents and
  • to assist Aviation Security Officers to process passengers efficiently and to minimise delays.

You can minimise the time it will take you to clear security screening by presenting at the screening point the correctly packed liquids, gels and aerosols that you wish to take in your carry-on baggage.

Can I choose my own plastic bag?

Passengers can choose the type of plastic bag that they wish to use as long as it meets the requirements of the additional screening measures.  The bag must be transparent, re-sealable, and of a capacity not exceeding 1 litre (20cm x 20 cm or 15cm x 25cm) in volume.

Bags of this type, such as re-sealable sandwich bags, are readily available at most local supermarkets.

What will happen if I don't comply with the measures?

You may not be able to board your flight if you have any liquids, gels and aerosols in your carry-on baggage (unless these items are in containers of no more than 100ml and are in a transparent, re-sealable plastic bag).

You will be referred to your airline if you have any concerns.

Can I bring food from home to eat on the plane?

You can still bring food from home as long as it is solid in form. This includes breads, fruit, vegetables, hard cheeses, biscuits, cakes or muffins (without a cream, jam or liquid filling), or similar dry, firm or hard items.

You cannot bring food that is a liquid, jelly or a sauce, such as a casserole, stew, soup, curry, gravy, jams and preserves, pickled foods, honey, or yoghurt. 

If you are going to take your food items off the aircraft with you at your destination, make sure you are aware of the customs and biosecurity requirements in your destination country. 

For New Zealand’s customs requirements, please contact the New Zealand Customs Service at www.customs.govt.nz 

For New Zealand’s biosecurity requirements, please contact Biosecurity New Zealand, at www.biosecurity.govt.nz

There are exemptions in place for people with special dietary requirements, and for baby foods.  See below for details of these exemptions.  

Can I still take liquids, aerosols and gels in my hold baggage?

Yes, liquids, aerosols and gels in containers too large to be taken into the cabin as part of your carry-on baggage should be carefully packed in your hold baggage.

The usual restrictions to carrying dangerous goods still apply. Check www.caa.govt.nz or contact your airline for further information on dangerous goods.

If in doubt the best advice to follow is to pack all non-essential items, that is, items that you will not require for the duration of your flight, in your hold baggage (the baggage you ‘check in’ and do not have access to during the flight).

Why do I have to put my liquids, aerosols and gels in a re-sealable plastic bag?

The measures require passengers to pack any permitted liquids, aerosols and gels that they wish to take in their carry-on baggage in a transparent re-sealable 1 litre plastic bag. 

There are several reasons for this:

  • the bag needs to be re-sealable for practical purposes
  • a re-sealable transparent bag allows Aviation Security Officers at the security screening point to easily inspect and open bags to check the contents and
  • to assist Aviation Security Officers to process passengers efficiently and to minimise delays

You can minimise the time it will take you to clear security screening by presenting at the screening point the correctly packed liquids, aerosols and gels that you wish to take in your carry-on baggage.

What if my bag has a logo or design on it?

Your plastic bag must be free of large logos or motifs (where a bag does have a logo the reverse side must be clear).  This is because they have the potential to obscure items in the bag. 

If Aviation Security Officers cannot quickly check the contents of the plastic bag, you and other passengers will be delayed while your bag is opened and checked.

The white strip across the centre of many zip-lock plastic bags is acceptable.

What size is allowed for creams, ointments, waxes, etc, that are measured in grams?

For the purposes of the liquids, aerosols and gels measures, 100 grams is considered the equivalent of 100ml. 

You can take any creams, ointments, waxes, etc, in containers up to 100g.

Am I able to put my liquids, aerosols and gels into other containers, ie, not the containers that I purchased them in?

Yes, you can transfer or decant liquids, aerosols and gels into other containers. However, the container that you use must have a volume no greater than 100ml. For example, you may not transfer or decant 100ml of a product, such as shampoo, into a container that holds 200ml. If you do this then you will not be permitted to take this item on board the aircraft with you.

It is important to remember that the normal restrictions for dangerous goods will still apply. More detailed information on the restrictions for dangerous goods is available on the CAA website at www.caa.govt.nz or you can also ask your airline.

What type of liquids, aerosols and gels do these measures cover?

These measures apply to any items that can be poured, sprayed or smeared or melt at room temperature. This includes, but is not limited, to:

  • water and other drinks, soups, syrups, jams, stews, sauces and pastes
  • foods in sauces or containing a high liquid content
  • creams or ointments - including face creams, foundation, sunblock, insect repellent
  • perfumes
  • roll-on deodorants
  • sprays - including antiperspirant and hair sprays
  • gels - including hair, shaving and shower gels
  • contents of pressurised containers - including shaving foam
  • pastes - including toothpastes
  • waxy substances - including hair wax
  • liquid solid mixtures - including lipsticks, face compacts and blushers
  • mascara and liquid eyeliner and
  • lip gloss and lip balm
  • liquid soaps 
  • fluid-filled cigarette lighters.

These or similar items can only be taken in carry-on baggage on board aircraft in containers of 100ml or less, with all containers fitting into the resealable transparent 1 litre plastic bag.  This bag must then be presented separately at the security screening point.

Passengers can still pack these items, regardless of the quantities contained, in their hold baggage. The usual restrictions relating to dangerous goods still apply. See http://www.caa.govt.nz/ for further information or contact your airline.

If you are only travelling with carry-on baggage, you must still comply with these measures.

Can I take an empty water bottle and fill it up at the airport?

Yes, you can take an empty bottle, and fill it up once you have been through security screening. 

Please note that you will not be able fill your bottle prior to the security screening point.  You will still be able to purchase ready filled containers of water after passing through the security screening process.

Can I take my wedding cake on my flight?

You can take a wedding cake as long as it is solid, and does not have a liquid, cream or jam filling.

Why do the additional measures apply to all of these items?

The measures apply to a wide variety of items as there are many different types of liquids, aerosols and gels that could be used as explosives.

Existing technology for testing for liquid explosives is not developed enough to enable every liquid, aerosol and gel carried by passengers to be quickly analysed at the airport.  Because it would be too slow to test every item, the new measures apply to all liquids, aerosols and gels except for those in quantities too small to make dangerous explosive devices.

Exceptions for medicines, baby products and dietary requirements

Will baby products be allowed in carry-on baggage?

Exceptions from the liquids, aerosols and gels restrictions have been made for baby food, formula and other essential baby products.

Baby products include:

  • baby milk/formula, in powder form, or made-up
  • sterilised water
  • juice
  • baby food in liquid or paste form
  • Vaseline and creams
  • wet wipes. 

Will I need to bring documentation from my doctor with me?

Aviation Security Officers may ask to see some proof that the medications you are carrying are yours and are necessary for your condition. For example, Aviation Security Officers may ask to check that the label on your prescription medication corresponds with the name on your boarding pass or passport.

It is a good idea to keep any proof relating to your medication in an easily accessible place in your carry-on baggage in case it is requested by Aviation Security Officers.  Following this advice will help to ease your transition through the screening point. 

What sorts of medications are exempt from the measures?

Exempt medicines may include the following:

  • essential prescribed medicines - including angina spray
  • essential non-prescribed medicines - such as cough syrup and throat and nasal spray
  • children’s medicines
  • insulin
  • clotting factor (for haemophiliacs)
  • contact lens solution and
  • inhaler (with spare canisters to be packed in checked baggage)

As above, the quantities must be reasonable for the duration of your flight(s).

Other medical items, such as blood products, gel-filled external breast prostheses, colostomy bags, and personal supplemental oxygen are also exempt.

What about non-prescription medicine?

Where the medication is non-prescription, a determination on reasonable quantities will also be made by Aviation Security Officers.

As with prescription medications, a reasonable quantity will be defined as what is required for the duration of the flight, while taking into account of any unexpected delays, missed connections, and lost baggage.

What about personal medications?

If you require prescription or non-prescription medicine in the form of a liquid, aerosol or gel, you can take these items on board with you in quantities over 100ml so long as they are in reasonable quantities for the duration of your flight(s), as well as possible delays and flight diversions. 

Aviation Security Officers will use their discretion to assess what is a reasonable quantity of medication. 

Any essential medications taken on board aircraft in carry-on baggage will be subject to additional checks at the security screening point.

Can I bring pills or capsules?

Solid items such as pills or capsules are not restricted under these measures. 

Will there be restrictions on the quantity of baby products I can take on board in my carry-on baby baggage?

Yes. Aviation Security Officers will use their discretion when assessing what volumes of certain products are reasonably considered necessary for use in flight.

The age of the child and the duration of the flight will be taken into account when determining this.

If I have special dietary requirements, how will the restrictions affect what foods/drinks I can bring on board the plane?

You can take on board any essential dietary supplements/foods that you may require in a liquid or gel form. However, if items are not essential for the duration of your flight then you should pack these items into your checked in baggage.

As with medicines and baby foods you should expect that any items you do bring on board in your carry-on baggage will be subject to additional security checks. Aviation Security Officers may ask for proof that the dietary supplements you are carrying are yours and necessary for your condition and in appropriate quantities for the duration of the flight(s). 

As a safeguard, you may be required to demonstrate that the product is real medicine or special food, and not something less innocent.

What types of documentation should I carry with me if I am travelling with essential medicines or dietary supplements in my carry-on baggage?

We recognise that some passengers will have to carry essential medicines/medical items on board with them, and that these may need to be in quantities greater than 100ml. If you are carrying any of these items you should ensure that they are:

  • clearly labelled – the label should include the name of the medicine, your full name (as on your passport) and the name of the pharmacy, so it can be easily identified
  • packaged in reasonable quantities – a ‘reasonable’ quantity is defined as the amount of medication required for you to safely arrive at your destination while taking account of any unexpected delays, missed connections, lost baggage or any other circumstances that may cause you difficulty in accessing medication.

We also recommend that you carry a doctor’s letter supporting your need to take any essential medical items on board with you in your carry-on baggage. This letter should include the following information:

  • your full name (as on your passport)
  • your medication needs and the quantities of medication required
  • your doctor’s full name and contact details, so that he/she can be contacted if any information needs to be verified.

If you have any questions about travelling with essential medicines/medical items then you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist in the first instance.

They will be able to assist you with any supporting documentation you may need. 

Airport shopping

Am I still able to buy liquids (including duty-free) at the airport when I travel?

Yes. You can still buy liquids, aerosols and gels (including duty-free) at New Zealand airports, once you have passed through the security screening point. There are no security restrictions on buying or collecting duty free goods on arrival in New Zealand. 

If you are travelling directly to another country, you can still take duty free liquids, aerosols and gels on the aircraft with you. 

If you are taking more than one flight before you reach your destination, you may be screened when you change flights in another country. If you have liquids, aerosols and gels greater than 100ml or not in the 1 litre plastic bag (including duty free purchases), you may lose them at the screening point in that country.

We recommend that you only purchase duty free just prior to or at the end of the last flight of your journey, or that you collect it on your return to New Zealand. 

Are there different requirements if I am flying to the United States?

No. If you are flying to the United States you will be subject to the same liquids, aerosols and gels security measures that apply when arriving in, or transiting through, any other country with these measures in place.  For more information see www.tsa.gov/311/

What if I buy my duty-free items at a downtown retail store?

If you purchase your duty free at a downtown retailer, you need to ask the retailer to deliver it to the security area of the airport (ie past the security screening point).  It is important to remember that these items will be treated the same as all other duty-free items purchased at the airport.  They will be subject to the same security measures if you change flights in another country.

Does this affect the overall duty-free limits?

No. There is no change to the Customs limits on how much alcohol or other items you can bring into New Zealand.

What if I am stopping over?

A stop-over passenger is a passenger who has a number of destinations scheduled as part of their trip, for example two nights are spent in one country and four in another.

If you are a stop-over passenger, you can pack duty-free items in your hold baggage before leaving for the next sector of your journey.

Can I take a bottle of wine from home?

A bottle of wine from home will be greater than 100ml, so you cannot take it through the screening point.  You need to pack such items in your checked-in baggage.  You should talk to your airline about its requirements for checked-in baggage.

Plan your trip! 

How can I avoid any delays and ensure a smooth transition through security screening?

The best way to ensure that you are not delayed is to be prepared.  Know the requirements of the additional measures and pack your items accordingly.

Before you leave home, work out exactly what liquids, aerosols and gels you require for your flight, and pack these in the transparent re-sealable 1 litre plastic bag, and place it in your carry-on baggage.

By making these simple plans you can save time at the airport, and lessen the chance of any delays at the screening point.

If you are unsure about any item then pack it in your hold baggage before you leave for the airport.

Where can I get more information on these measures?

If you would like to get more information about international changes to carry-on baggage requirements then you can follow the links below:

www.infrastructure.gov.au

www.tsa.gov/311/

https://www.gov.uk/hand-luggage-restrictions

If I forget to pack my liquids, aerosols and gels in my hold baggage, will I get another chance?

No. If passengers reach the screening point with liquids, aerosols and gels in their carry-on baggage that exceed the maximum quantities allowed, they will have to place them in a disposal bin if they want to board their flight. These items cannot be returned to you. Similarly, passengers face the same risk if they do not pack their items in a re-sealable transparent 1 litre plastic bag.

What will I be expected to do when I reach the screening point?

  • have your transparent plastic bag with your essential liquids, aerosols and gels ready for visual inspection 
  • have any essential personal medications ready for inspection, including any supporting documentation (ID cards, letters from doctors) regarding your medication 
  • ensure that any baby products are accessible and ready for inspection 
  • ensure that any essential dietary supplements, in liquid or gel form, are ready for inspection, including any supporting documentation regarding your special dietary needs 
  • remove laptop computers and other large electronic devices, so that they can be security screened separately and 
  • remember that you will be required to remove any bulky outer garments, such as jackets or coats, so that they can be security screened separately.

By following these steps you will ensure that you, and other passengers, have a stress-free and quick transition through security screening.

Travel tips to make your screening experience hassle-fee

  • The secret to getting through security smoothly is to de-clutter your carry-on baggage and separate out your liquids, aerosols and gels. This lets Aviation Security Officers get a clear, uncomplicated X-ray image of your carry-on baggage
  • When possible, keep packing liquids, aerosols and gels in checked baggage.  You will get through security screening faster
  • Present laptops and other large electronic devices separately for screening at the security screening point
  • Limit quantities to what is needed for the duration of the flight.