Snap! That Won’t Work… The War On Water Has Been Won, But We Still Keep Fighting…

I’ve written that the flight I fear the most are United’s Hong Kong routes in economy. I wouldn’t much love American’s Hong Kong – Dallas in back either.

Hong Kong airport isn’t an ally in the War on Water. Since you can take water through their checkpoints, there’s an additional security check at the gate or on the jetway for all US-bound flights and all US airline flights (regardless of destination, for instance I’ve experienced it Hong Kong – Ho Chi Minh City on United).

The same applies to Australia flights.

You can buy water in the airport, but it will be confiscated from you upon boarding. So you’re reliant upon the airline’s flight attendants to stay hydrated flying super long haul.

I always wanted to freeze water and take it through a TSA checkppint on the basis that it thus became a solid and not a liquid. But the TSA won’t actually permit that.

The best story I ever read was an industry executive (and sometimes commenter on this blog) who bought a box of pasta at London’s Gatwick airport and was confronted at the security checkpoint because you have to add water to cook it and thus it counts as a liquid.

Tocqueville tells me that you can take holy water through a TSA checkpoint. Unfortunately, the TSA disagrees.

Pilgrims returning from the Hajj who wish to bring back holy water should pack it in their checked baggage, if the container is larger than three point four (3.4) ounces (100 ml), pursuant to TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids regulations.

Some years ago passengers bound for the US from Lourdes actually did have holy water confiscated.

Since you can take baby formula through a checkpoint I’ve thought about taking water and sticking it in a baby’s bottle. Or getting a note from my doctor that water is medically necessary.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. A “water medically necessary” note saves you a bundle on water at sporting events, too…

  2. My last UA flight HKG-EWR ran out of water over Alaska. This is the stupidest regulation ever, both on flights to USA and Australia. As noted, any water obtained in the terminal will have been obtained airside and should be “secured”. Why the “precaution”? Same goes with bottles of water coming off flights when transiting at international airports. One has already been through security for the inbound and anything obtained in the interim would also be “secreted”. Total and utter BS!

  3. good thing you post a warning on US-Australia flight, and im not too thrilled about it. I hope airlines stock extra water for flights from airports that declare a war on water

  4. Be creative and use the Jedi mind trick. They know checking american and cantonese businessmen for bottled water is super dumb. You’re not the droids they’re looking for.

  5. Did you know there is also a war on yogurt? We have 2 rather fussy 7 and 4 y.o. eaters (and who can blame them for not liking airline or even airport food), in addition the older one is allergic to regular milk. We always take yogurts with us, including soy yogurts, and it is ALWAYS a fight. My wife usually wins it through appeal to humanity, I have less luck when we fly without her (she is the PR front of the family). Heathrow has been the worst so far of the various airports we’ve been through. They didn’t let us take any yogurts, but they let us eat them right there. So there we are, all 4 of us, just past security check, eating yogurts while UK TSA goes through all our stuff as slowly as they possibly can, while righteously lecturing that they are doing this hard work for our own protection. We missed our connection too.

  6. One of the most customer friendly features at Changi Airport, in Singapore, are water fountains at the gate, after you clear security. For long flights, I always bring a big empty water bottle and fill it up after security.

  7. I’m surprised that no one is selling water in 100ml bottles yet. TSA makes this a big market

  8. It does indeed apply to flights to Australia. Recently flew NAN-MEL in y. Had secondary “inspection” on outdoor walkway after the gate and my water was confiscated..ahh, 5hr flight without water. BTW the inspection of our carryons consisted of opening bags, looking in and given an ok. i should have put the water bottle on the bottom of my backpack looking back. At least there was no war on shoes…………

  9. I had the same problem on our LIM-JFK flight. They inspected our bags right before boarding and took the water I brought from the SUMAC lounge. We’re flying to JFK-LIM-IGU-LIM-JFK and the LIM-JFK is already stressing me out. I plan to bring an empty Vapur folding water bottle and beg the FA’s to fill it with water right after boarding. I also plan to wear a top with a big pocket and try to “smuggle” a bottle of water from the SUMAC lounge. I will report back on Tuesday if any of these tricks work. If not, I might get an outfit from Scottevest – the one with the hidden pocket for water bottles.

  10. Gary, I’m happy to report that my plan worked! I wore a long top that has a pocket big enough to hold (and hide) a water bottle from the SUMAC lounge in LIM. I also carried a bottle on my backpack outside pocket which was automatically confiscated as soon as I approached the tables right before boarding. That sort of served as my ‘decoy’ bottle, in the hopes of them thinking they already took whatever liquid I am carrying and thus not search thoroughly for other liquids. They still searched for my bags though (backpack and purse), but didn’t search enough to rummage through the bottom of both bags, so I could have hidden another bottle in there and they wouldn’t have noticed!

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