Airport security treats any scented perfume identically, whether it’s a perfume, cologne, or “eau de toilette”. All of them count as liquids in the eyes of the TSA (Transport Security Administration) and FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). That’s why they’re restricted to small quantities when packed in hand luggage.
However, perfume is also flammable, so additional restrictions apply. It falls within the category of lightly hazardous materials, which also includes, toiletry aerosols, nail polish, rubbing alcohol, shaving cream, inhalers, and medicine. That’s why additional quantity restrictions apply when perfume is packed in checked luggage.
And lastly, because perfume is a hazardous material, the bottle must always have a protective cap fitted to it when packed in hand or checked luggage to keep it from spiling. So if you’ve lost the cap of your perfume bottle, you should transfer it to another perfume bottle with a cap before setting off, otherwise it might be confiscated.
- Hand luggage: Cologne and perfume bottles are allowed but only in 3.4 oz (100 ml) containers or smaller. This applies to all liquids in your hand luggage, and all together, they must fit inside a single, 1 quart-sized (1 liter), transparent, resealable bag.
- Checked luggage: Cologne and perfume is allowed in 18 oz (500 ml) bottles or smaller. Each person can have up to 70 oz (2 kg) of hazardous materials (perfume, toiletry aerosols, nail polish, and other flammable toiletry articles).
Traveling With Perfume And Cologne Internationally
On some domestic UK, Australian, and New Zealand flights, perfume and cologne aren’t limited to 3.4 oz (100 ml) bottles in hand luggage. That’s because some airports in these countries have started including new types of scanners, which can safely pass through liquids in larger quantities. However, this only applies to very few airports, and to domestic flights only.
Other than that, the rules for perfume and cologne are identical to the TSA – they’re limited to 3.4 oz (100 ml) bottles in hand luggage, and up to 70 oz (2 kg) in total in checked baggage.
Can You Use Perfume (And Other Fragrances) During The Flight?
If you have cologne or perfume in the cabin during your flight, there are no rules saying you can’t use it. However, if you use it, only use it in small amounts to be respectful to the people around you. It’s better to use it before or after the flight so the scent doesn’t linger in the aircraft. Just because the smell is appealing to you doesn’t mean everyone will appreciate it.
If you use a fragrance on a flight that’s too intense for other passengers, the flight attendant may ask you to stop using it. Most of the time, the scent won’t seem overpowering to the person using it because they’re used to it, but even a little bit could bother other people. Keep that in mind before you spray cologne or perfume on an airplane.
How To Pack Cologne And Perfume In Luggage
I’ve found that the best way of packing perfume in your luggage, is to get refillable travel perfume bottles, which each hold 5-10 ml of perfume. They are spill-proof, and by using them, you don’t need to bring the whole perfume bottle, saving some weight and space in your bag.
When packing perfume in your hand luggage (carry-on or personal item), regardless of what bottle it’s packed in, you need to put it into one quart-sized (1 liter, 20×20 cm) bag. The bag should be transparent and resealable. You’ll have to remove this bag when passing through security, so pack it in a spot that’s easy to access. Since there’s a much lower chance of damaging items inside your hand luggage, you don’t really need to worry about where and how you pack your perfume.
There aren’t any specific restrictions for packing fragrances in a checked bag. However, since any liquids could leak during the flight, putting them in some type of plastic bag is recommended. If the fragrance container is made from glass, it means that any damage to the bag could cause it to break, so always pack it inside a leak-proof plastic bag and avoid placing it near the edges of your bag. Keep it somewhere in the middle in between cushioned clothing.
Also, if your fragrance has a spray nozzle, you should make sure the cap is on it to prevent it from leaking.
Are There Any Exceptions For Duty-Free Perfume?
Duty-free fragrances purchased at the airport can be over 3.4 oz (100 ml), and they’ll be allowed on the flight in addition to your hand luggage because goods sold at airport stores have already been confirmed to be safe. The only thing to remember is to keep the receipt because you might need to show it at the gate when boarding the flight to prove that you purchased it at the airport.
However, you’ll have to remember that this duty-free perfume exception applies only to the current flight. If you have another connection later on or a return flight, your duty-free perfume will have to follow the 3-1-1 rule for liquids in hand luggage. Pretty much once you exit the airport, the exception stops.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Perfume Do I Need For My Vacation?
Depending on the nozzle, a typical perfume bottle will produce 8-12 sprays per ml of fragrance. This means that a 3.4 oz (100 ml) perfume bottle usually lasts 800-1200 sprays.
To determine how much perfume you’ll need, multiply 0.1 by how many times you spray each day and the number of days (0.1 x sprays per day x total days). So if you spray 5 times per day on average and you’ll be on the vacation for two weeks, you’ll use roughly 7 ml of perfume (0.1 x 5 sprays per day x 14 days = 7 ml).
Are There Any Fragrances That Don’t Count As Liquids?
Yes, there are products known as solid perfumes, which are in the consistency of a lip balm, rather than a liquid. They’re usually counted as a solid item, but it depends on the consistency of the balm. If it resembles a thick paste, it will be considered a liquid. But if it’s closer to the consistency of a solid bar of soap, it won’t be counted as a liquid, so it won’t have to follow the 3-1-1 for liquids in hand luggage. In the end, though, the security officer at the airport always has the final say on what’s counted as a liquid and what isn’t.
Are other types of fragrances also allowed in luggage (body spray, eau de toilette, scented lotions, etc.)?
In hand luggage, the restrictions are identical to any liquid, paste, and gel, whether it’s perfume, cologne, body spray, eau de toilette, scented lotions, or anything else. They all must be in 3.4 oz (100 ml) bottles or smaller and packed in a single quart-sized bag of toiletries.
In checked baggage, non-flammable, non-acidic, and non-corrosive perfumes theoretically don’t have any restrictions at all, while typical perfume is limited to 18 oz (500 ml) bottles or smaller and less than 70 oz (2 kg) in total. However, in reality, security officers don’t really bother distinguishing between different types of perfumes, and all of them have to follow the rules for hazardous toiletry items.
Will Perfume Bottles Explode On A Plane?
There is no reason why perfume bottles should explode on a plane. Even when packed in checked baggage, modern aerosols pretty much never explode because the cargo holds of airplanes are pressurized and under controlled temperatures. Furthermore, modern spray nozzles are built differently to not cause them to explode.
Can I Carry Glass Perfume Bottles On A Plane?
It doesn’t matter what material your perfume bottles are made from – glass bottles are also allowed. However, when packed in hand luggage, it’s important that the bottle itself or the packaging states how much perfume is inside – 50 ml, 100 ml, or more. That’s because perfume is limited to 3.4 oz (100 ml) quantities or less. Also, because they can break more easily, you should pack them in a leak-proof Ziploc bag and put some soft clothing around them.
Can TSA Confiscate My Perfume?
When going through security, if your perfume doesn’t follow the restrictions, the TSA won’t confiscate it, but they won’t allow it on the flight. In that case, you’ll have to throw it out in the bin. Valid reasons for this could be:
- Your perfume is in a bottle larger than 3.4 oz (100 ml)
- The bottle doesn’t state how much perfume is inside
- It doesn’t have a cap over the spray nozzle
- It isn’t packed in a 1-quart resealable plastic bag
In checked baggage, if the perfume bottle is over 500 ml (18 oz) in size, it doesn’t have a cap over the spray nozzle, or if the total amount of your hazardous toiletries exceeds 70 oz (2 kg), then the TSA can indeed confiscate your perfume. They’ll usually leave a note that the bag was inspected and something was confiscated from your bag due to not following the rules.
How Many Bottles Of Perfume I Can Carry On A Plane?
Duty-free perfume isn’t restricted to any quantity restrictions. So if you’ve purchased perfume at the airport, you can bring as much perfume as you want.
In hand luggage, non-duty-free perfume is restricted to 100 ml bottles, and all of your toiletries have to fit inside a 1-liter/1-quart resealable bag. Inside your bag of toiletries, you can usually fit 2-5 100 ml perfume bottles or 4-10 50 ml bottles, depending on how big the bottles are.
In checked luggage, you can carry up to 70 oz (2 kg/liters) of perfume in total, regardless of each bottle’s size. This limit is enforced per passenger, not per checked bag.
It’s worth remembering that if you’re flying internationally, you might have to pay a customs duty tax when returning back home, depending on where your flight is coming from and the total combined value of the perfume bottles.
Should I Pack Perfume In Hand Or Checked Luggage?
It’s advised to pack perfume in hand luggage, especially if it’s an expensive brand. That’s because perfume sometimes gets stolen from checked baggage during baggage handling, especially when flying internationally. Checked luggage also is more susceptible to damage, which could cause a spill. In hand luggage, you control where your perfume is at all times.
Is Flammable Perfume Containing Alcohol Also Allowed On Planes?
The FAA allows flammable toiletry articles, including flammable perfumes, but in limited quantities. In hand luggage, it must fit inside a 1-quart bag, and in checked baggage, the total allowed quantity of flammable toiletries is 70 oz (2 kg). This is pretty much the only exception to flammable liquids – only toiletry articles meant for personal use are allowed. Everything else is strictly banned.
Summing Up: Traveling With Fragrances
Traveling with perfume is fairly easy because most perfumes are sold in 50 ml or 100 ml bottles, which are allowed both in hand on checked luggage. You just have to remember to pack them in your toiletry bag if packed in hand luggage and to pack something soft around your perfume if it’s in a glass bottle. Also, don’t throw out the caps of your bottles, because they’re required by airport security to avoid accidental spills.
For a 2-week trip, your typical 5-10 ml sample bottle of fragrance should be enough, so you don’t even need to bring large perfume bottles. I personally save up perfume samples to use them specifically when traveling.