Packing your carry-on bag is among the most important preparations before a flight. You have to figure out what is too important to put in your checked luggage and what you would need during the flight itself. But, unfortunately, you also have to restrict the volume of your wishes to about the size of a school backpack.
It’s equally important to know what items you can't take on a plane in your hand luggage. In most cases, restricted items would either endanger the passengers’ safety or security if taken in-flight.
It will be enough to stow away some of these items in the cargo hold. But others you’d have to leave at home because of hand luggage restrictions.
What items can you bring on a plane?
We know how unpleasant it could be to find yourself at the airport and learn that you cannot take something with you. So, to help you reduce the stress that may sometimes come with flying, we have compiled this guide, which will walk you through the items that you can put in your hand luggage and the ones you cannot take on a plane.
Things you can't take on a Plane: Frequently Asked Questions
Can you bring a lighter on a plane?
Nearly all types of conventional cigarette lighters would be allowed in your checked luggage or on you during a flight. This includes BIC lighters and other disposable lighters as well as Zippo lighters.
However, In most countries, electronic, arc, and plasma lighters would be forbidden to bring in.
Can you bring matches on a plane?
Yes, most airlines will allow you to bring one book of safety matches with you onboard.
Can you bring a laptop on a plane?
Sure, no problem. In fact, even if you are not planning on doing any work or watching a movie on board, we would still recommend that you take your laptop with you. Checking it with the rest of your luggage may lead to damage and in some cases, it could be lost.
Remember that you would be asked to take your laptop out of your cabin luggage at the security checkpoint. Your laptop (and any other electronic items) will have to go through the x-ray scanners separately.
Tip: If you own a MacBook, place your name somewhere on it. Macs are very common these days and you wouldn’t want to end up with someone else’s. If this is not enough motivation, remember that someone else could inadvertently end up with yours.
Can you bring toothpaste with you onboard?
While you can take toothpaste in your hand luggage, any toothpaste you bring would count towards your liquid and gels limit. In addition, your toothpaste needs to be under 100 ml (3.4 oz).
Can I bring makeup on a plane?
You are allowed to bring lipstick, lip balms, and powders. However, if you’d like to bring any makeup in liquid form (e.g. liquid mascara or lip gels), you would have to make sure that they meet the restrictions on liquids and gels. Simply put, their containers should not exceed 100 ml and you’d have to be able to fit all of it within a plastic bag, no bigger than 1 liter.
Can I bring tweezers on a plane? Razors? Scissors?
Tweezers, razors and scissors are, on the whole, allowed on planes.
Straight razors are the only item that you cannot bring in your hand luggage, as they could be potentially weaponized. In addition, your scissors' edges should be less than 12 cm long.
Can you bring knitting needles in your hand luggage on a plane?
Most airlines would allow knitting needles in your hand luggage and the airport security personnel would be aware of this. However, security officers have the right to exercise discretion and if they decide to confiscate them as “sharp objects”, they could.
That’s why we’d recommend that you leave your favorite knitting needles at home before you pack your carry on, just in case.
Now that we have gone over the most frequently asked questions about hand luggage, let’s take a closer look at some of the restrictions.
How much liquids can you take on a plane (Including gels and aerosols)
You are allowed to bring liquids and gels, but they need to meet a few restrictions. All of your liquids need to be in containers, smaller than 100 ml (3.4 oz) and all of them together should fit inside a bag, no bigger than 1 liter (34 oz).
Fortunately, some companies offer travel-sized toiletries: shower gels, shampoos, toothpaste and more
If your favorite product is not offered in smaller containers, you could always transfer some of it in a bottle, smaller than 100 ml. Even spray or gel deodorants need to be under 100 ml in size.
Duty-free alcohol that you buy from the airport is on the list of products allowed on airplanes. Remember to leave the receipt inside the security bag with the red border provided upon purchase.
If security staff want to screen the content and you have a connecting flight at another airport, you would have to ask for a new bag.
But all in all, how much liquid you take in your plane hand luggage will depend on how well much you want it and how well you can pack it into that 1-liter plastic bag for toiletries.
Lighters and Safety Matches in Hand Luggage
Under airline rules, passengers are allowed to take a lighter or a pack of safety matches with them onboard. In fact, these items are not allowed in your checked luggage.
The reason why you can have a lighter onboard is that passengers are not allowed to take any flammable items with them. This makes any lighters and matches effectively harmless.
This is why the following items are prohibited in your carry-on baggage, as well as in your hold luggage: lighter fluid (all Zippo users would have to buy extra fluid at their destinations), flammable paint, fuel, gasoline and aerosol cans. You do not have to empty the fuel of your Zippo or conventional lighter beforehand, however.
If you are going camping, you would have to empty your portable stove in advance and purchase fuel when you arrive.
And while we are on the subject of camping, make sure you leave out any sharp tent parts (such as tent pegs) as they will not be allowed in your hand luggage.
Traveling with Self Defense Items in Your Carry-on
According to airplane carry-on luggage rules, any object that could be used as a weapon or imitates a weapon would not be permitted in your cabin luggage.
This includes firearms, rifles, BB guns, nerf guns or their ammunition, among others.
You could have these in your checked luggage, however. If you are taking real firearms, you will have to secure and declare them at check-in. You will have to pack the weapon and its ammo in separate, hard-sided packages.
To be safe, make sure you review the gun laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries’ laws would be a lot more restrictive about guns.
But if you’d like to bring a nerf gun or any other toy gun, you can check it into the hold luggage without having to go through any additional procedures.
Other self-defense items such as pepper spray, mace, and tear gas are subject to similar restrictions and are on the list of items not allowed in hand luggage.
Many sports items including baseball bats, cricket bats, golf clubs, archery equipment, martial arts items, and others can be as dangerous as the other weapons we listed above. This is why they are also on most airlines’ list of prohibited hand luggage items.
If you would like to bring any sporting equipment with you, please check it before departing. Alternatively, you could rent any equipment you need after you arrive.
In our experience, this will sometimes even be the cheapest option.
Can you take Batteries on a plane in Hand Luggage
Most batteries are allowed only in your carry-on luggage. You can take any commonly found batteries (AAA, AA, C, D batteries, for example) with you. You are also allowed to bring any spare batteries for your portable electronic devices, including lithium batteries (used in cell phones, laptops, and ebooks).
In fact, you cannot check any lithium batteries in your hold luggage. In addition, car batteries, jump starters, and power banks cannot be checked in, and are prohibited in your hand baggage. They can potentially be very dangerous and are therefore restricted by most commercial airlines.
What Foods can I take on a plane?
On most domestic flights, you would likely be able to take your favorite snack to the plane. Prepackaged snacks, as well as fruits and vegetables, will also be allowed in your hand luggage.
If the food you want to bring is in liquid or gel form (yogurt or jelly), the restrictions on liquids and gels we mentioned above would apply.
In addition, if you purchased any drinks from the restaurants and cafes around the gate (i.e. beyond the security checkpoint at the airport), you can bring them with you on the flight.
On international flights, the restrictions on foods tend to be much stricter.
Most countries will not allow you to bring in any food or agricultural products. In some rare cases, wooden items would also not be allowed in your luggage.
Fortunately, these restrictions do not apply to baby food, including baby milk.
Medicine in your cabin baggage
Ideally, most of your medicine would go into your checked luggage. However, there is always a risk that your bags may get lost, so make sure you take any essential medicine with you onboard.
Due to the restrictions on liquids we mentioned earlier, it would be prohibited to take more than 100 ml of liquid medicine on board.
If you are carrying medicine with you, we would recommend that you call your airline before flying. They might have special instructions for the shipping and handling of the medicine.
On the topic of medicines-- did you know that you are allowed to take syringes with you? If you are carrying an unused one, it would have to have its medicine inside it and would have to be stored separately in a hard-surface container.
At the Security Checkpoint
Put all items that have to be displayed at the top of your luggage to be easily placed in the tray.
- The liquids in the 20 x 20 cm resealable transparent bag.
- The tablet, camera or any such device
- The baby food and liquid medication over 100 ml, the latter accompanied with the medical documentation. You may need to prove the authenticity of the liquid.
- Show your lighter and then put it in your pocket.
- Take-off your jacket and/or coat for a separate screening.
- Put all metal items such as keys, coins, watches, belts, jewelry and mobile phones into a tray for separate screening.
- Take your laptop from your carry on baggage and put it into a tray for separate screening.
- Pass through the security control point when instructed to do so.