TSA Levies $2,000 Fine Over Alleged Liquid Violation

According to several news reports, a Michigan woman ran into some trouble at airport security over TSA rules regarding liquids. The culprit? Apple butter.

TSA: No Liquids, Gels or Apple Butter

Sounds funny but the TSA isn’t laughing. Here’s how the incident reportedly went down:

Back in 2013, 63 year old Mary Hostein was carrying a pint-size jar of apple butter in her bag at the Charlotte, N.C. airport, a souvenir she planned to take home with her. A TSA officer told her no because it violated liquid regulations. Instead of throwing the jar away, though, Hostein simply joined another security line where she was also told no and this time She was told ‘no’ ditched the apple butter and thought that was the end of it.

It wasn’t. The TSA eventually fined her $2,000 and she’s been going back and forth with the government security agency ever since. We’ve contacted the TSA to see if they have a comment and will update as warranted.

Specific TSA Regulations on Liquids

This is what the TSA allows:

“A quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes through the checkpoint. These are limited to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.” There are exemptions for things like baby food and you can learn more about that here.

Don’t Mess Up During the Holidays

A lot of people attempt to bring ‘goopy’ home-made items through security at Thanksgiving and Christmas so please note that  banned liquids (again, in containers larger than 3.4 ounces) include delicacies such as peanut butter, gravies, home-made cranberry sauce and more. If in doubt, the TSA has a tool called, “Can I Bring My [item]” and you can find it here.

Two final points:

  • TSA regulations have been in effect for years and it’s up to flyers to know them.
  • If a TSA officer (or a pilot or a flight attendant) tells you to do something, you are required to obey or you may find yourself traveling no further than the airport. You may also, it seems, be fined.


Updated: October 8, 2015