Airlines & Airports - 8 min read

Can You Bring Contacts on a Plane? (Everything You Need to Know!)

Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall, Updated October 24, 2022

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When it comes to air travel, it is imperative to know what items you are allowed to pack. Some items may seem straightforward regarding whether they are permissible to pack but are actually nuanced. An example of such an item would be contacts and contact solution– can you bring contacts on a plane? Novice flyers may be confused by the TSA’s many do’s and don’ts of packing items for air travel. 

The short answer is yes; you can bring contacts on a plane. The TSA allows contacts in both carry-on and checked baggage. However, it is essential to understand the regulations regarding contact solution, which has more parameters. Contact solution, like all liquids, must be equal to or less than 3.4 ounces when packed in carry-on bags. 

Finding out too late that you have inadvertently packed a forbidden item can throw a significant wrench in travel plans. Improperly packed or weird items are subject to closer screening and confiscation by the TSA. Possible repercussions of inadvertently packing banned or restricted items include being pulled aside by security and sometimes missing your flight altogether. 

A Quick Look At The TSA’s Rules For Contact Lenses

It is important to do your research when packing for a plane trip. Doing so will ensure that you adhere to the TSA’s specific rules and regulations. Like many commonly packed items, you must pack and store contacts according to the TSA’s guidelines.

The TSA’s website provides a helpful link for prospective travelers to check which items they are allowed and forbidden to pack. This is known as their “What Can I Bring?” tool. You can reach this resource by visiting the TSA’s website and selecting the “What Can I Bring?” tab.

This list is a valuable resource when packing all kinds of various items for air travel. The TSA’s current guidelines for contact lenses are as follows:

  • Carry-on luggage: The TSA states that contact lenses are allowed in carry-on bags.
  • Checked luggage: The TSA states that contact lenses are allowed in checked bags. 

The TSA’s website also notes that larger than permitted amounts of medically necessary items are allowed for air travel. However, these items must first be declared to a security officer at an airport checkpoint for inspection.

Can I Bring Contacts On A Plane In My Carry-On Bag?

Yes, the TSA allows contact lenses to be packed in carry-on baggage. Carry-on baggage is the bag – usually a small suitcase or duffel bag – that passengers bring onto the plane with them. You typically store the bag in the overhead storage compartment above your seat on the plane. 

The rules for packing items in carry-on luggage will usually differ from checked baggage. The restrictions for packing are generally more strict for carry-on bags than checked luggage. This is because carry-on bags are accessible to passengers while the plane is in motion, while checked baggage is stored below. 

How Do I Pack Contacts To Carry On A Plane?

Knowing how to properly and safely pack contact lenses for air travel is important. Not only will this ensure that you are adhering to TSA protocols, but it will protect your contacts from damage. 

It is easier to pack daily disposable contacts than reusable contacts. This will save you the hassle of packing large amounts of contact solution or keeping the contact cases clean. Some good options for daily disposable contacts are Clariti 1-Day or MyDay Daily disposable lenses. 

Can I Wear Colored Contacts At The Airport?

Wearing colored contacts to the airport is not technically forbidden. However, it may not necessarily be the best choice. When going through the security checkpoint in the airport, you can be flagged if the agent has any doubt about your identity. 

Wearing colored contacts that differ from what is on your photo identification may raise suspicion to the security officer screening you. This may lead to you needing to remove the contacts or undergo a more thorough security screening. Both of these options can be quite time-consuming and may potentially lead to you missing your flight altogether. 

Related Read: What To Wear For A Passport Photo

Can I Pack Contacts In My Checked Luggage?

The TSA permits passengers to pack contact lenses in their checked luggage. Checked bags differ from carry-on bags as they are stored underneath the cabin in-flight and are not accessible to passengers. These bags can have larger dimensions than carry-on bags as they do not need to fit in the plane’s overhead compartment.

It is permissible to pack contact lenses in your checked bag. But many travelers prefer to bring contacts on a plane in carry-on luggage. Contact lenses are important medical items, and keeping them with you during air travel may be safer. This is due to the slight chance that the airline loses or misplaces the checked bag. 

Will Contacts Freeze On A Plane?

Many travelers note that the dry air on airplanes irritates their eyes when wearing contact lenses. If this proves to be an issue for you, consider removing your contacts for the duration of the flight. However, it is doubtful that contacts will freeze on a plane, particularly on short or moderate flights. 

If plagued by dry eye pain due to wearing contacts on a plane, there are tips to help relieve irritation. Keep rewetting drops or artificial tears with you on your flight and use them liberally. 

If a lens becomes dislodged or you remove the lenses, head to the airport bathroom and wash your hands thoroughly beforehand. It may be a good idea to keep a backup pair of contact lenses or glasses should you find yourself in this circumstance. 

Related Read: Can You Wear Jewelry Through Airport Security?

Can I Bring Contact Solution On A Plane?

Yes, you can bring contact solution with you in both checked and carry-on baggage. The TSA restricts liquids in carry-on bags to a size equal to or less than 3.4 ounces. This size restriction does not apply to liquids packed in checked baggage. 

The TSA also allows larger quantities of contact solution and other medically necessary liquids in carry-on bags. You must first declare the item to security officers at the airport’s security checkpoint. They will clear the item and allow you to bring it with you on the flight in your carry-on luggage. 

What Is The 3-1-1 Rule?

A helpful tip to remember what liquids you are allowed to pack in your carry-on bag is known as the 3-1-1 rule. The TSA’s general rule of thumb regarding liquids in carry-on baggage is that they must not exceed 3.4 ounces. 

Passengers are permitted to pack these 3.4oz bottles in a clear travel container and are allowed one container per bag. This is called the 3-1-1 rule as it allows for 3-ounce bottles inside 1 container inside 1 carry-on bag. 

Related Read: What Does 100 ml Look Like?

How Should I Pack Contact Solution In My Luggage?

You are permitted to bring contact lens solutions in both your carry-on and checked luggage. Be sure to pack the solution in TSA-approved bottles and invest in reusable TSA-friendly bottles if you fly frequently. It is important to pack the solution in leak-proof bottles as the pressure on the airplane may cause containers to leak.

You can find travel-sized containers for contact solution in most drug stores. Be sure to thoroughly sanitize the bottle before transporting contact solution or any other liquid. Remember to securely close the bottle cap and consider placing the bottle inside a Ziploc bag in case of leakage.

Still Not Sure If You Can Bring Contacts On A Plane? Ask the TSA

Information on how to pack contacts, solution, and other items is easily accessible on the TSA’s website.

With regulations frequently changing, the “What Can I Bring?” tool is an excellent resource for both novice and experienced travelers. “What Can I Bring?” will help you ensure that you properly pack your items per the TSA’s regulations. 

You can also look for guidance under the TSA website’s FAQ page for answers to common travel questions. If you have further questions, reach out to a TSA representative over the phone or through email or direct messaging. The TSA also has an active social media presence and will answer questions through its Twitter account. 

Related Read: Can You Bring A Hair Straightener On A Plane?

Summary

Contact lenses and contact solution are medically necessary items and are therefore permitted to be packed in carry-on and checked bags. You can also wear contacts on a plane. However, you should prepare for the event that dry air makes wearing lenses uncomfortable. 

It is also not recommended to wear colored contacts as this may raise questions at the airport’s security checkpoints. The TSA restricts carry-on liquids to 3.4 ounces or less. However, there is leeway for items such as contact solution. 

If you need to bring a larger quantity of contact solution, simply declare the item at the security checkpoint before your flight. Check the TSA’s website if you need further guidance on packing contacts, contact solution, or other items. Their “What Can I Bring” tool is a wonderful resource to use when packing for your next flight.

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