If you subscribe to my daily travel tip newsletter (it’s free!), then you know that one of my tips is to always carry an empty, reusable travel water bottle that’s compact, durable, eco-friendly and lightweight. RELATED: Why You Shouldn’t Drink Coffee, Tea or Tap Water on a Plane

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The reason I’ve been advising this, besides it being a more earth-friendly option, is to save money and time. Everyone knows that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confiscates bottles of water due to the 3-1-1 rule. Next time you pass through, just take a look in the garbage or recycle bin next to the checkpoint to see all the discarded bottles.

Instead of spending around $5 for a small bottle of water at the airport, I bring my own and refill it post-security. There’s usually a water fountain or a hydration station near the entrance to the bathrooms.

As of yesterday (July 1), there’s another reason to bring your own bottle. That’s because Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) just banned single-use plastic water bottles. The airport tweeted: “Effective today, LAX will ban the sale of single-use plastic water bottles. We encourage guests to bring reusable water bottles that can be filled at various water stations throughout our terminals. Thank you for helping us reduce plastic waste as we move towards zero waste.”

Obviously not everyone is going to be happy about this and I don’t blame them. My biggest problem with this rule is that it doesn’t apply to soda bottles and those of other sugary drinks, which makes no sense. If you’re going to implement a ban of single-use plastic water bottles, then the rule should apply to all drinks. This will just lead to more people making unhealthy choices.

My other problem is that LAX and many other airports (I’m looking at you DFW and MIA) usually have really nasty tasting water. Especially if it’s from a water fountain. That’s one reason I pack those little packets of Emergen-C and LiquidIV so I can not only fend off dehydration but I can at least drink the water without making a face.

Some online commenters agree; they had this to say:

@AConcernedPare2: I guess I’m drinking soda if I’m ever unlucky enough to end up at LAX. Who would trust the water from a fountain at LAX? Gross.

@oldhollywoodbriar4554: “They banned platic bags at grocery stores too, now they made the plastic 20 times thicker and just charge the customer. Zero reduction in plastic bag use, massive increase in plastic waste to the landfill. These policies are so dumb they defy belief.”

@scottw550: “I drank the water at the Rio Airport fountain and was sick for 2 weeks.”

In response to Scottw550: My friends and colleagues Mike and Anne have been traveling the world nonstop for over a decade and have not drank bottled water since 2012; they are living proof it can be done. They don’t just travel to first world countries, either.

However, in some of the places they visit, I wouldn’t even think about drinking tap water but they’ve been promoting the importance of reducing single-use plastics and the need for reusable water bottles. They partnered with a company called Nalgene that sells bottles made from Tritan Renew, 50% certified recycled content further offsetting the use of fossil fuels and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

They also use a Steripen, which destroys over 99.9% of harmful bacteria, viruses and protozoa, like Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Its compact handheld ultraviolet light (UV) water purifier is designed specifically for outdoor/expedition use. It’s reusable for up to 8,000 liters.

I like to travel with a collapsible water bottle like this one because it folds down so small and compact. You can check out other collapsible water bottle styles here.

In 2019, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) became the first airport to implement this ban but they took it a step further as it applies not just to water. According to their website: “In August 2019, SFO became the first airport in the world to prohibit the provision or sale of single-use water bottles in plastic or aseptic paper packaging. This policy has now been expanded to prohibit the sale of any beverages, including sodas, teas, and juices in plastic or aseptic paper packaging.”

So what do you think of LAX banning single-use plastics? I’m for it as long as it’s across the board and they provide way more refilling stations than they already have. And of course, they need to make sure they have strong filters in place to make sure the water is safe and tastes good.


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8 Comments On "LAX Joins SFO in Banning These Single-Use Items"
  1. Earl B.|

    Thanks for the heads-up! My wife and I are flying out of LAX next week. Guess we have to bring water bottles now! Such a hassle, and such a waste of valuable space in our backpacks.

    As the article points out – the commitment to the environment would be a lot more meaningful if ALL plastic bottle were banned. Not excited to drink LAX tap water.

  2. Timbo|

    This explains the water in just glass (!) containers at SFO. Not sure I want a disgruntled passenger wielding one of these. Also the airlines can’t be happy the aircraft weight will go up with all the glass containers.

  3. Walter|

    Force everyone to drink tap water at all airports!

  4. Lenore|

    I am flying out of SFO to Montreal in Sept. I will bring along my FLAT reusable bottle from REI. when full it rounds out so it fits in backpack holders. Maybe the water in the bathroom faucets would be better for refilling. They are usually touchless. Bring along some lemon or vanilla flavoring if you do not like the taste of strange water.
    I took my refillable bottle to Egypt with me in the Spring and the only time I used it was on the plane. Hotels supply water in large bottles for drinking. They do not want sick guests. But watch the ice cubes, coffee and tea. Bottles of safe drinking water were available everywhere. Unfortunately all in single use bottles.

  5. Scott|

    Another reason NOT to fly out of LAX. I use ONT, SNA, LGB, Burbank, and even has used PSP before. LAX is a zoo and the animals are loose. Oh yea, I’m a regular Amtrak rider. OK with me if it takes 3 days to Seattle; retired; see the sights from ground level.

  6. bob|

    Buy a plastic bottle that has a filter in it. I can drink out of a lake if need be with mine. Just Google, “best filtered water bottle for travel” and you will see plenty. Some are metal as well, go for those.

  7. Shela|

    I have a friend that takes a bottle of frozen water and she does not have to throw it away at security check.

  8. Richard F|

    I fly out of LAX 3-6 times a month. I’m not happy about this. Do we know what’s in the water in their dispensers? Is it filtered? But soda is OK. What a joke!

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