Just when you thought you had the TSA liquids rule under control—nothing more than 3.4 ounces in a quart-sized bag—they go ahead and throw a new regulation at you. As of June 30, the TSA has asked foreign airports to place new scrutiny upon fliers traveling into the United States with more than 12 ounces of powder in their carry-on bags.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new regulations before you fly.
Why Are Powders Restricted Now?
A foiled plot to blow up an Etihad Airways plane in Australia last July with an improvised explosive device “contributed to the current focus on powders,” a TSA official told CNN. However, they reiterated that improvised explosive devices containing powder explosives have always been a concern of the security organization. The new regulations nearly took a year to put into place because the TSA wanted to “assess the threat” and test what needed to be done, CNN reports.
According to the TSA, most international airlines have already been placing heavier scrutiny on powders since last year, before the new regulations were announced.
What Qualifies as a Powder?
According to an American Airlines statement on the new restrictions, “Powder-like substances are described as fine dry particles produced by the grinding, crushing or disintegration of a solid substance.”
This means that everything from cosmetics and baby powder to protein mixes, dried spices, and ground coffee will be placed under heavier scrutiny. Certain powders, including baby formula, medically necessary powders, and human remains will be exempt from secondary screenings, American Airlines says.
Are Powders Completely Banned?
Not exactly. The TSA is asking for people to remove powder substances from their carry-ons for extra screenings (just as you would with your liquids), and if TSA officers can’t figure out what they are, travelers will be forced to discard them or check their luggage.
To avoid having your belongings thrown out, the TSA is encouraging travelers to place powder substances of more than 12 ounces in their checked luggage.
Does This Affect Flights in the United States?
Since the TSA has already implemented “enhanced screening procedures” at security checkpoints at U.S. airports, these new rules do not apply to flights departing from the United States or any of its territories. To verify whether your nearly-powder-free carry-on will fit in the overhead bin on your flight, check AFAR’s guide to size restrictions.