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Thread: Metal water bottles and airport security

  1. #1
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    Metal water bottles and airport security

    I'd like to carry an empty bottle for refilling after security and then each morning of my upcoming trip to Europe. My preference right now might be to take a stainless Klean Kanteen, although a Sigg or Matterhorn aluminum bottle is a similar option as well. Do any of you frequent (or infrequent) travelers have experience taking an empty metal (please specify stainless, alumium, or other) bottle through security? Inside bag? Attached to outside of bag? Loose in a bin with shoes, 3-1-1, etc? If so, were you asked about it? Was your bag identified for a hand inspection? Did it otherwise cause any sort of hassle for you?

    I'm worried that a not-insubstantial metal cylinder would lead to further inspection and delays getting through security. Are my worries unfounded? I want to know generally, but for this trip specifically, I'll be going through some form of security at ATL, AMS, and MUC.

    EDITED TO ADD: I do know that TSA, at least, explicitly allows empty metal water bottles. I'm more wondering whether having one is going to trigger a hand inspection or otherwise slow my screening process.
    Last edited by autolycus; 04-04-2012 at 11:31 AM.

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    i regularly travel with an empty metal water bottle (hydro flask -- highly recommended, btw!) and haven't had any more hand searches than when i didn't have one. i travel mostly domestically but screeners in madrid didn't really bat an eye at it on the last business trip i made abroad.

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    I travel with one through ATL and have never had anyone say anything. *knocks on wood* Mine is usually in the water bottle pocket on the side of whatever bag I'm carrying (briefcase, gear bag, backpack). I switch back and forth between a metal one and my Nalgene (which is bigger). I can't speak for any of those other airports you mentioned though.
    kmcg likes this.

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    Registered User WhiteStar's Avatar
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    And if you're at all worried, why not get one of the fabulous Lifefactory bottles that Tom Bihn sells. I was skeptical about the whole "glass bottle" thing but I adore mine.
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    I regularly travel with a metal Zojirushi Thermos like this one Amazon.com: Zojirushi SM-DB35TA Stainless Steel Mug, 11.75 Ounce, Brown: Kitchen & Dining and it occasionally gets test swiped. I put tea with a tea bag in mine, usually drinking the tea before the security checkpoint and leaving the wet tea bag in the thermos, and 98% of the time it is fine. Occasionally it goes back through if I have a wet tea bag inside. Once screeners at SIN had to hand check (cautiously) after screening and then sent it back through the X-Ray machine. Tea is lethal stuff.

    The only other time it was an issue was with Royal Caribbean cruise line security. They prohibit all open liquid containers in case you try to bring aboard alcohol for consumption during the cruise, especially in Caribbean ports. The agent in the port didn't believe me when I said I finished it and asked if I was willing to hold it upside down over my head. I was and did without getting an unexpected shower. From her surprised expression, I don't think she gets a lot of takers. You can check sealed duty free bottles to pick up after the cruise. Didn't have this problem with Celebrity cruises in similar ports but they have a more lenient alcohol policy and a smaller passenger load.

  6. #6
    Volunteer Moderator Badger's Avatar
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    Sometimes TSA wants to see the bottle if it's inside a bag, just to make sure it's empty. Like some of the others here, I generally have mine clipped to the outside or in an outside pocket to avoid that, or I'll toss it in the bin with my 311 bag and shoes. My iPad stand causes more hand searches than anything else, so I'd say avoid metal things that look like giant protractors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by darbs View Post
    I travel with one through ATL and have never had anyone say anything. . . . I can't speak for any of those other airports you mentioned though.
    Yes you can; I mentioned ATL!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Badger View Post
    Sometimes TSA wants to see the bottle if it's inside a bag, just to make sure it's empty. Like some of the others here, I generally have mine clipped to the outside or in an outside pocket to avoid that, or I'll toss it in the bin with my 311 bag and shoes. My iPad stand causes more hand searches than anything else, so I'd say avoid metal things that look like giant protractors.
    Yeah, since I'm planning on carrying only Tom Bihn bags with internal bottle pockets, I was hoping to have the bottle stay in the bag, but I was figuring it wasn't going to happen without a high risk of having them ask me to pull it out. The disadvantage of the neatly-designed bag...

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    Volunteer Moderator Badger's Avatar
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    Never fear! Badger is here, with the help of amazon.com, to save the day with this clip cap! I have one and it's quite handy!

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    Registered User lonestar6's Avatar
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    I don't have problems with bottles but I did spend 20+ minutes while TSA tracked down my suspicious Fisher space pen and I had to talk them through how to open and use it. Another time my Common Access Card reader caused TSA some concern
    I guess my point is (about time right :-) ) you probably won't have a problem, but it can not be ruled out.n

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonestar6 View Post
    I don't have problems with bottles but I did spend 20+ minutes while TSA tracked down my suspicious Fisher space pen and I had to talk them through how to open and use it. Another time my Common Access Card reader caused TSA some concern
    I guess my point is (about time right :-) ) you probably won't have a problem, but it can not be ruled out.n
    LOL... a fisher space pen?! The "bullet" style, I assume? That's funny.

    And thanks for the reminder that I need to pick up a standard style space pen for my next trip. It's always frustrating having a pen stop working when you need it, and I find the space pens to be pretty reliable, even if they're not my preferred pens for daily use.
    Last edited by autolycus; 04-05-2012 at 08:00 AM.

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    I have flown several times with a Klean Kanteen (stainless steel) and, figuring TSA would have an issue with a metal oblong round object showing up on the x-ray, I have taken the bottle out of my bag, removed the cap (putting that back in the bag) and putting the bottle, uncapped, in the tray with the 311 bag. That way they can see it's a bottle and that it's empty. Never had a problem.

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    Always have an empty Klean kanteen or Sigg water bottle in my bag and never had any problems. I fill it after I get through security and I have water for the whole flight.

    I had more trouble with a metal Spork a friend made me. TSA actually said it might be used as a "shiv". Sometimes I wonder about people!
    Last edited by joiedwards; 04-05-2012 at 12:29 PM.
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  14. #14
    Registered User Lani's Avatar
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    ...in fact, if you ever fly Virgin out of San Francisco (SFO), they actually have water bottle refill stations by the boarding area past security, specifically for you to refill your empty bottle.

    I've never traveled with a metal bottle before. They made the news last year because the TSA made some fuss about not being able to see the contents to verify whether they were empty.

    When I travel with a water bottle, I make sure it's visible, and not zipped up and out of view. Typically, I'll actually unload it from my pack and lay it in the plastic bin, along with my electronics.

    If you're worried that they might ask about whether it's empty, you might consider doing likewise, but removing the cap so it's obvious.
    Lani Teshima: A Dyneema diva with a closetful of Tom Bihn products!
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    I frequently travel out of a security-obsessed regional airport. Here is a list of items I regularly take out of my bag and place in a bin before going through security. (Not all of these accompany me on all trips.)
    umbrella
    small Nalgene water bottle
    small Sigg water bottle
    thermal coffee mug
    ipad in a Cache
    tooth powder (now regularly placed in 3-1-1 bag)
    small packages of salt (now put in 3-1-1 bag)
    fake lemon (I only traveled with one, but if I get another, it will go out of the bag for security)

    Each of the above items has caused my bag to be searched at my local airport.

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