TSA Will Start Scrutinizing Powders In Carry-On Baggage En Route To The US

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For the past couple of months we’ve been hearing rumors about possible increased scrutiny on what travelers are packing in their carry-on luggage when flying back to the US. Now looks as if some of those rumors are coming true.

Will this add to the already long TSA lines?

There are a number of sources discussing the extra scrutiny that certain items will be coming under when packed in carry-on baggage (ironically none of the sources appear to be the TSA or Homeland Security themselves) and this release by American Airlines seems to sum things up best:

On June 30, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will implement new requirements regarding powders in carry-on bags for international flights to the United States.

Here are five things you need to know regarding this new policy:

  • Because of new TSA requirements, American Airlines encourages customers to place powder-like substances over 12 oz./350 mL — approximately the size of a standard U.S. can of soda — in their checked bags. Powders in carry-on bags may require secondary screening, and if the powder cannot be cleared by security officials, it will be prohibited from the cabin of the aircraft.
  • Powder-like substances are described as fine dry particles produced by the grinding, crushing or disintegration of a solid substance (i.e. flour, sugar, ground coffee, spices, powdered milk and cosmetics). Aviation security authorities outside the United States will use their discretion and training to determine what is considered a powder-like substance.
  • To reduce the chance that aviation security authorities will require the disposal of powder-like substances over 12 oz./350 mL at the checkpoint and/or gate, American recommends that customers place these items in their checked bags.
  • Certain powders will be exempt from secondary screening, including baby formula, medically necessary powders and human remains.
  • This policy does not apply to flights departing from the United States or United States territories, as the TSA has already implemented enhanced procedures at their security checkpoints.

According to CBS, TSA officers will ask passengers in standard security lines to submit all containers holding 350ml or more of powder for secondary screening. Items the TSA will be concentrating on will be cosmetics, baby powders and drink mixes (like protein powders).

Unlike with the liquid ban passengers will not be asked to surrender any items larger than the 350ml cut-off but they will be encouraged to pace such items in the hold if they don’t want them subjected to secondary screening.

We’re told that this new scrutiny will not apply to passengers passing through the TSA PreCheck lanes although I’m no sure how that’s relevant. The new scrutiny does not apply to flights within the US or departing the US and I don’t remember seeing TSA PreCheck lines anywhere outside the US.


Right now I can’t think of many ways this is going to inconvenience passengers as I can’t imagine too many people carrying a soda can sized container full of powder in their carry-on.

While the 100ml restriction on liquids is definitely an inconvenience, asking people to restrict their powder carriers to under 350ml doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request (although I’m sure some will find a reason to be outraged).

Anyone else have any thoughts on this news? Have I missed any obvious ways in which the new scrutiny on powders will cause issues?