Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Conclusion of Flying with Paints

Hi All,

I just wanted to report back to you all how my experiment in travelling with my paints worked out. Long time readers may be familiar with my previous travelling paint kits.

To Recap:

A fine line between clever and stupid
Have Paint, Will Travel
My 2nd Regular Entry - The Mother Crushers

And I'm sure a few others that I didn't put in the right keywords or tags for. In these posts I traveled with all the figures and paints in checked luggage.

For this trip I wanted to try  bringing everything in carry on luggage. As you may, or may not have found yourself , there is a dearth of useful information on the subject on the old interwebs.

I thought I had posted expressly about the trip I just made, but there is only a brief paragraph mentioning it here.

So let me tell you the steps I took to successfully put paints in my carry on luggage.

Small Sterlite container with foam and Quart size (0.94L) Ziploc bag
As many of you know, traveling in the US, you are allowed liquids in your carry on luggage as long as they are individually 3oz or less and can fit in a 1qt size plastic bag. Ziploc is preferable in case of leakage. This is known as TSA's (Transportation Security Administration) 3-1-1 rule. This rule can be read and copies downloaded here.

My interpretation of this rule is apparent in the photo above. I decanted craft paints into dropper bottles, approximately 5mL of a 15mL bottle, and crammed a bag full with the paints and washes I thought I would need. Remember that 1oz is roughly 28mL and that some of the bottles may look full as the paint spreads around to coat the insides during travel.

I sought advice on TMP and the Oldhammer FB Group, with almost all of the info and advice being don't do it. On TMP the Paints on a Plane thread is from 2012 and the last comment was from 2013. In that thread there are, in my opinion, some erroneous interpretations of the liquids rule as well as some complaint about the TSA that is not helpful. People need to get over the state of airport security post 9/11.

The key ideas that were mentioned though is to have some documentation. So I contacted TSA via their blog (here) contact link (here) and got a response in less than 48 hours confirming my interpretation of the 3-1-1 rule. The key caveats were that individual airlines and TSA officers have final say on what can go on the plane, period.

With that in mind I printed out my email response, and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for two brands of Craft Paint and carried those with me. I also got to the airport with enough time to do something about it should I have problems making it through security. I was prepared to have to explain myself but never was questioned. This was at Phoenix Sky Harbor and Sacramento Metro Airports. In the past I have found Sacramento to be slightly stricter in enforcement, perhaps because they are generally not as busy an airport as Phoenix.

So the upshot is it can be done, just prepare for the worst (ie having to toss your paint). I feel that if you have all your documentation, are cordial and non combative, the worst that should happen is you are forced to get out of the security checkpoint and check in your bag. That's when you need to do the math and see whether the $25 fee is worth thee lost paint $ and lost painting time.

I didn't actually paint that much, but it was nice to be able to get something done instead of absolutely nothing. I hope this post helped inform your decision as to whether or not to pack your paints in your carry on luggage.

Welcome to Kat Weazeal of Kat's Painting and Conversions. Kat has been posting on facebook and helped snapped everybody out of bickering about what the cut off date for "Oldhammer" was and just enjoy pictures of painted figures. So check Kat's blog out and hopefully there will be some more updates soon.

Off to paint so I''ll have something resembling an army for Oldhammer USA weekend.


  1. I have worked airport security in Sweden, and I can confirm that with preparation and a non-hostile attitude you can get your hobby material in without any problems.

    The strangest thing I have had to let through was a bucket of frozen dog sperm. With all paper work in order and a phone call in advance to the Airport Duty Officer all we had to do was to call the ADO and confirm (and swipe the bucket for explosives of course).

    The worst passenger was a 25-year old girl who didn't understand what liquids meant at all and suddenly exclaimed "But there could be a bomb inside my apple!". No, she didn't get to bring all her shampoo and perfume bottles onboard, and yes, she could bring her apple.

    1. Hi Leif, very interesting. It occurred to me to contact someone directly at the airport, but I'm not sure how one would go about that. Seems like it would be worth investigating further. I don't understand why people seem to think arguing is the best course of action. Seems to me to be the quickest way to get in a lot of trouble.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...