February 7, 2013

Idea: Purposely Mislabeled Bottles for Air Travel

[This post is part of an idea dump.]

In the years since the TSA started imposing liquid restrictions, I’ve gotten pretty good about making sure I don’t run afoul of the rules. But I sometimes hear other people complain that TSA officers are still not empowered to use their judgment and let you bring an obviously small amount of liquid in a bottle past security if the bottle’s label says it once held more than 3.4 ounces.

For example, if a 12 ounce bottle of water is clearly 75% empty, it doesn’t matter that there’s probably about 3 ounces left. The label trumps all.

So then I got thinking: someone should sell bottles that hold more than 3.4 ounces of liquid but are labeled as 3.4 ounce bottles. Then when you really need to bring 5 ounces of some liquid on board, you can probably get away with it. I mean, the bottle says 3.4 ounces, so that must be all it holds, right? I wonder how big a bottle could be before it got ridiculously obvious that it contains more than 3.4 ounces.

Note: These bottle would, of course, only be sold for novelty purposes, like those fisherman’s rulers. I wouldn’t seriously suggest that anyone try to sneak any extra liquid onto an airplane.


There’s a much easier solution; just use 16 oz saline eye solution bottles. Those are considered medical supplies, so they’re not required to be under 3.4 oz. Oh, you thought the TSA was actually about making people safer rather than security theatre?

I bet if you make the bottles unusual shapes people would find it harder to guess their true volume.

OR, get a 3.4oz bottle of helium gas, empty it out, and fill it with water. It will hold 19,000oz of water.

My wife packed a cooler of food for our trip. In place of a freezer pack to keep the food cold, she chilled a water bottle. We got to TSA and they were fine with the food but they didn’t know how to handle our water bottle. It was 16 ounces, so it was obviously over the limit, but it was completely frozen, so it was not a liquid. They tested it somehow and then let us take it.