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Essential Oils and Airplanes

Post by Sandy Powell on January 5, 2015

If you plan to travel by airplane and take some essential oils or other natural remedies, there are a few things you need to know. In the past few years I have noticed much more enforcement and closer to zero tolerance for opposition to the rules. I don’t see as much of a problem with domestic flights but international is a different story.

First of all, there are restrictions on fluids (max 100 ml per bottle) and other items taken in carry-on luggage which has been in enforcement for quite a few years now. On my most recent trip out of the country, they limited these liquids to one large zip lock bag, maximum six bottles and it had to be out on top of the luggage for inspection by agents and then go through the scanner. Trying to explain that these are sensitive herbal remedies or natural medicines that should not go through the x-ray machine does not generally work like it did in the past and may open a proverbial can of worms with security agents.  They also seem to be more concerned with dark bottle which are unlabelled and can’t see through.  You may be able to plead your case if it is a bottle with prescription from a pharmacy.

Some essential oils are on the dangerous goods shipping list while others have import/ export restrictions. The relatively small amounts should not matter, but some sharp eyed officer may see it differently. They have technology at their disposal to look up these items on the spot. A few small amber glass bottles with only a handwritten label will get their attention as well. If they can’t see inside the bottle as with clear bottles of shampoo or conditioner, there could be a problem. I import all the time so I know this for a fact. If you show any opposition, you could be met with unwanted searches, delays and items can be confiscated without explanation. I also suggest that you put a professional label on these bottles.

Some of you may have slipped through on previous occasions and think there is no problem, but it is a roll of the dice these days. I avoid most of the hassle now by packing most of these items in my checked luggage. I don’t like it but it seems to be the best way to travel with oils. If you are only taking carry-on bags, my advice would be to limit what you take to absolute necessities. I do not mention this as a complaint. These people are doing their jobs and following procedures to ensure safety for everyone even if it does seem a bit excessive.

Happy Trails…

Sandy Powell
Nascent Naturals Inc.
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Midland ON
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