The Flier's Conundrum: What Can I Carry?

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A week after the aborted terror plot to smuggle liquid explosives aboard planes flying from London to the U.S., the air travel system is still trying to adapt. Some of the most draconian restrictions have been eased, but there's still a lot of confusion over what the rules are. With the end-of-summer travel peak approaching, sorts through the latest rules on what you can and can't bring onboard your flight.

What liquids exactly can I carry on my flight?

If it splashes, bubbles or squeezes out of a tube, you can't take it on board. There are a few exceptions outlined on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website ( Those traveling with a baby or a toddler can carry small amounts of baby formula and breast milk — only as much as you need for your trip. Gel- and liquid-filled teethers are also allowed as well as canned, jarred and processed baby food.

Liquid medicines are also allowed. Liquid prescription medicine, if the name on the bottle matches the name on the traveler's ticket, and up to 5 oz. liquid or gel low-blood-sugar medications can be carried onto the plane. In an adjustment to the earlier restrictions, TSA also allows up to 4 oz. of "essential" non-prescription liquid medications.

Ewww! Do I really have to taste the breast milk?

No. Despite media reports to the contrary, no one has to taste breast milk. "You or your baby or toddler will not be asked to test or taste breast milk or formula," says TSA's website. "Our security officers will not test or taste formula or breast milk."

What about my lipstick and compact? Are they considered liquid?

Deciding if your Juicy Tube is a gel or a solid is up to whoever is tending the screening line when you walk through. The TSA website says "some solid or powdered cosmetics are permitted past the checkpoint; however, this is left to the discretion of the security officer." But if you don't want to risk losing it, put it in your checked luggage.

What do the security people do with all the liquids they confiscate?

They chuck them. "TSA-confiscated items are discarded in the same way we discard other prohibited items," says TSA spokeswoman Ellen Howe. If you get to the airport and suddenly realize you forgot to take your favorite face cream out of your purse, look around the screening area; some airports have a U.S. Mail drop box that allows you to send prohibited items to your destination and pay with a credit card or cash.

What about all that perfume I bought at the duty-free shop?

The days of walking onto an airplane with duty-free bags sloshing with Champagne and cologne are over. You can travel with liquids bought in the airport duty-free shops only if the items are delivered directly onto the aircraft. You can't carry them on yourself. But there's a catch. If you're changing planes after your international flight, those items have to be put into your checked baggage for the remaining U.S legs of your trip. So, on flights to the U.S. from Canada and the Bahamas where your checked luggage is often sent directly to your connecting flight, you run the risk of having those duty-free purchases confiscated before boarding your next flight.

What kind of carry-on luggage are you allowed to have?

Two. Same as before. On domestic flights in the U.S. you're allowed two carry-ons of the appropriate size. But clean out your purse. TSA is asking passengers to pack better and reduce clutter. This speeds up the screening process and allows security agents to more easily identify suspicious anomalies.

Can you bring a laptop onboard?

Yes. You still have to take your laptop out of your bag to go through the X-ray machine, but you can still take it on the plane. Same goes for iPods, cell phones and Game Boys.