When you’re on vacation or on a work trip, you want to smell your best. First impressions matter for business and leisure and having your signature scent by your side certainly helps with that.
But what are the rules?
In this guide, I’ll cover how to keep your favorite cologne by your side for your whole trip, hassle-free.
We’ll also cover how to bring some sweet deals back with you – without upsetting the TSA.
So fasten your seatbelt, remain seated for the duration of the article – and thank you for flying 7Gents!
- Can You Bring Cologne on a Plane?
- How much cologne can I bring on a plane with a Carry-on?
- Solid Colognes
- Taking cologne on an airplane in your suitcase
- Duty- Free Cologne
- How to pack perfume in luggage to avoid spills and damage?
- So now you know how to move your cologne around the world – what about flight etiquette?
- Avoid “problematic” bottles
- FAQ- What you Need to Know About Flying with Colognes
- Thanks for Flying With Us!
Can You Bring Cologne on a Plane?
Yes, you can certainly bring your cologne on a plane. The regular rules for traveling with liquids apply to colognes.
So you’re allowed to bring as much as you like in your suitcase or a smaller amount in your carry-on.
How much cologne can I bring on a plane with a Carry-on?
By transporting your cologne in a carry-on, you reduce the chance of anything going wrong.
Baggie handlers are notoriously heavy-handed, and I’ve heard plenty of horror stories of Gents reaching their destination to find their cologne smashed in their suitcase – wasting their fragrance and running their clothes.
Worse still, it’s unsettlingly common for expensive colognes to go missing- particularly when traveling through less economically developed countries. Think about it- in some parts of the world, a Creed or Tom Ford cologne could represent a week’s wages.
The safest way to avoid these troubles is to keep your valuables close. That means carrying them with you during the flight.
By using your carry-on, you’ll also be able to avoid any import taxes at customs control.
But to do that, you’ll have to play by the TSA’s rules.
TSA’s 3-1-1 rule
For hand luggage, the TSA has the 3-1-1 rule.
Bottles of liquids in hand luggage have to be in 3.4 oz (100ml) or less
Each passenger is entitled to one transparent, zip-lock, quart-sized back to store their liquids and gels
The bag must be properly sealed. Nothing poking out the top or “mostly in”!
These rules might seem a little intense, but they’re here for everyone’s safety. The only exception is if you buy cologne duty-free (more on this later).
Fortunately for us, almost all colognes come in containers smaller than 3.4 oz. This means you could, in theory, travel with between 7 – 12 3.4 oz bottles in a single quart-sized bag.
But that’s if all you took was cologne. In reality, you’ll need space for boring stuff like toothpaste, shampoo, etc.
You’ll likely have enough space for two or three colognes. Even more, if you use travel-sized, 5ml bottles!
I’d recommend taking at least a day fragrance and a night fragrance to have you covered in all situations. It’s never fun to feel you have to wear a cologne that doesn’t fit the mood, but you feel forced to wear it just so you smell of something.
P.S You can take as much solid cologne in your carry on as you like, because they aren’t classed as liquids by the TSA! Click here for our full guide.
Taking cologne on an airplane in your suitcase
The only reason I can see to take cologne in your suitcase is if you simply can’t fit it in your quart-size liquid bag.
You can take as much cologne as you like in your suitcase. Heck, you could have a suitcase full of cologne if you wanted.
But if you’ve purchased the cologne in a foreign country, it might cost you more than you think.
Be careful with how much you bring – or pay the price
The TSA is perfectly happy for you to bring home a “personal amount” of cologne without paying import taxes.
This amount is related to the value of the cologne, rather than the volume. This amount depends on which country you’re flying from, and can vary between $200, $800, or $1600 worth of goods.
If you travel with more than the stipulated amount of merchandise, you’ll pay 20% on non-alcoholic colognes – and an eye-watering 75% customs duty for colognes containing alcohol.
This is to stop people from importing large amounts of cologne internationally with the intention of resale for profit.
So it’s WELL worth checking the customs duty criteria for your departing country before you travel home. Otherwise, you’ll find that the savings you thought you were making just end up back in the US government’s pockets.
None of these charges apply to domestic travel. You can travel anywhere in the US with as much cologne as you like with zero charges.
If you’re traveling with a significant amount of expensive cologne, bought in the US, you should always bring your receipts. Otherwise, customs agents could presume you brought them abroad and ask you to pay customs duty on US products (!). They’ll figure you bought them during your vacation, so you need a way to prove otherwise.
The last thing you want is to have to throw your cologne in the trash. I’ve heard of people who have had to toss their cologne because it would have cost more to “import” than to simply buy a new bottle when they got home.
Duty- Free Cologne
Duty-free airport stores are allowed to sell their products without national and local taxes, on the condition that those products will be taken out of the country. This means they can offer some products at lower prices than regular stores.
While highly-taxed products like alcohol and tobacco are usually way cheaper to buy at the airport, duty-free cologne isn’t always cheaper.
If you’re looking for the best deals, it’s a good idea to use your smartphone to compare duty-free prices with online retailers. You might find there’s not much difference- or that a special promotion from a regular retailer beats the duty-free price.
You won’t be able to use your phone to check prices during a flight, so if you’re planning on making an inflight purchase, it’s worth getting an idea of a fair price before you take off.
You’re allowed to carry any duty-free products in addition to your TSA carry-on allowance. This is because the product is verified as safe, so the additional fluid is not considered a security risk.
Just be sure to keep hold of your receipt so you can explain why you’re entitled to carry the cologne if questioned.
This duty-free exemption only applies to departures from the purchasing country.
For example, if you made a purchase, flew, and then made a connecting flight, your new cologne would have to be stored under the regular 3 – 1 – 1 rules for the second flight.
So if you’ve got a long journey home, you should always wait until your final flight before making any duty-free purchases.
How to pack perfume in luggage to avoid spills and damage?
This is where small, 5ml travel vials come in. They’re usually made. Out of plastic, they are far less likely to break and spill than a full-sized glass bottle. You can either buy travel vials directly or carefully refill an old one with your favorite cologne.
Here’s a link to the refillable perfume containers I use. They’re easy to refill, reliable, and have never caused me any trouble. The atomizer projects well with an even distribution.
A couple of these vials should cover you for a week or two – but if you’re set on bringing a full-sized bottle of cologne in your suitcase, make sure you pack it properly.
It’s well worth packing it in a zip lock bag to prevent the fragrance from leaking onto your clothes and electronics if the bottle becomes smashed.
Then, I’d wrap the bottle in something padded to prevent the likelihood of impact damage. Bubble wrap, packaging paper, or even an old jumper are all good options to give your bottle that bit of extra cushioning that could make all the difference.
You’ll also want to avoid placing your cologne package near hard objects or the walls of the suitcase. The more shock-absorption you can manage, the better!!
If your bottle smashes, the fragrance is going to be almost impossible to get rid of. Luggage handlers can be heavy-handed at the best of times, so act accordingly!
So now you know how to move your cologne around the world – what about flight etiquette?
Keep other passengers in mind
Everyone wants to feel comfortable on a flight, and if anyone understands that a good fragrance is part of that overall “comfort”, it’s me. You’re perfectly within your rights to want to smell pleasant wherever you are.
That said, you should extend that same courtesy of comfort to your fellow passengers. For goodness sake, stay away from bold or abrasive colognes when you’re flying.
Your neighbors don’t have any choice in dealing with your fragrance. They can’t simply move – they’re stuck with you, sometimes for a long time.
With that in mind, here are a few tips for picking a subtle cologne that’s unlikely to offend anyone sitting near you:
- Avoid chemical-based fragrances with overly synthetic notes. These have the potential to cause headaches or respiratory issues for some people.
- Avoid aggressively masculine notes like leather, smoke, or alcohol. You’re in an airplane, not a nightclub.
- Keep things simple. Choose a cologne with as few ingredients as possible to avoid bombarding and overwhelming your neighbor.
- Neutral and light accords like citruses, coconut, or aquatics are all considerate choices.
Don’t spray cologne on the plane
Technically, you’re allowed to spray cologne during a flight. But just because something is legal, it doesn’t make it the gentlemanly thing to do.
Imagine somebody sitting next to you just started spraying themselves 30,000 feet in the air. It’s obnoxious at best, and downright offensive at worst.
You’re so close to your neighbor that you’ll likely overwhelm them. Plus, if you accidentally spritz them, they’re forced to smell like you all day – whether they like it or not!
It’s not like you can open a window to air the space out, after all.
If you absolutely have to use cologne on a flight, consider taking it to the bathroom. Only use a little, otherwise, you may risk setting off the sensors designed to detect cigarette smokers and electronic cigarettes.
Which perfumes aren’t offensive
Here is a few light, inoffensive colognes ideal for a long-haul flight:
Calvin Klein Eternity for Men Aqua
Eternity for Men Aqua is a subtle, casual cologne inspired by the ocean.
Watery notes of cucumber combine with light woods for a masculine fragrance that doesn’t demand the center of attention.
Click here to check out our guide to the best Calvin Klein colognes.
|Top Notes:||Cucumber, citrus, watery notes and green leaves|
|Middle Notes:||Pepper, lavender and cedarwod|
|Base Notes||Sandalwood, patchouli and musk|
Jimmy Choo Man
Jimmy Choo Man is a minimalist cologne that combines light fruits with patchouli for sophisticated confidence.
It’s great for traveling business class and projecting a professional, clean-cut image. You’ll emit a bit of personality, without knocking anyone’s head off.
I’ve included a link to a roll on impression, which will offer a very similar, smooth fragrance – but is less like to overly project and disrupt other passengers.
For more Jimmy Choo fragrances, click here.
|Top Notes:||Melon, pineapple and pink pepper|
|Middle Notes:||Lavender and suede|
Cool Water by Davidoff
This classic fragrance is best for a mature gent on the go. Cool Water is a refreshing and soothing blend that smells clean and bright but is still fundamentally masculine.
A mature sandalwood cologne with an aquatic, clean and fresh feeling.
Touches of lavender and rosemary help round out the bitter, dry sandalwood for a well-balanced fragrance.
The sandalwood here is fresh and natural-smelling – exactly what you’d want from a neighbor on a claustrophobic flight.
You can learn more about the best sandalwood colognes in our full guide.
|Top Notes:||Seawater, mint, lavender and rosemary|
|Middle Notes:||Jasmine, sandalwood and neroli|
|Base Notes:||Oakmoss, musk, tobacco and amber|
Avoid “problematic” bottles
Hopefully, this should go without saying, but use your common sense when traveling with novelty bottles.
We all want as little hassle as possible when traveling, and the last thing you want to do is alarm security and cause a scene.
Victor and Rolf’s Spicebomb and Azzaro Wanted are equally terrible travel colognes…
FAQ- What you Need to Know About Flying with Colognes
Is duty-free perfume cheaper?
Duty-free colognes can be cheaper than buying them in a regular store, but it’s best to check online.
The best duty-free savings are on heavily taxed products like alcohol and tobacco, and you might find better cologne deals with discounts and promotions outside of the airport.
How much perfume do you need for a two-week vacation?
Let’s say you use 3 sprays per application, one to the neck and one for each wrist. That would mean 42 sprays for one application per day. At that rate, you’d use about 4ml of cologne- so you’d survive with a refillable 5ml travel container.
That’s provided you have a cologne that’s strong enough to last all day. If you use a lighter cologne, you’d probably be better off bringing a full-size bottle to make sure you always smell your best.
What size cologne can I bring on a plane?
The maximum size container for any fluid in hand luggage is 3.4 oz – or 100ml.
You can bring larger sizes in your suitcase (or “checked luggage”), but make sure you remain under the value limit for customs charges.
Can you buy cologne on the plane?
It’s very common for airlines to sell colognes inflight for a duty-free price. It’s a great way for them to make some extra revenue, and you can occasionally catch a pretty sweet deal.
Thanks for Flying With Us!
Borders and customs can often feel like a headache – but if you travel prepared, they don’t have to be.
Hopefully you’ve got a good idea of the rules and regulations by now, but if any thing is unclear it’s always a good idea to check in with your airline.
This article is more concerned with legality than the company policy of your specific airline. Rules can vary across ticket types, so it’s a good idea to call ahead and confirm what you’re entitled to travel with.
Wherever you’re headed, I hope you have a pleasant trip with your favorite cologne by your side!