What Can't You Take on a Plane? The Complete List [2020]

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.


We help you get compensation for delayed and cancelled flights in the last 3 years.

Check your flight now. Get up to € 600 per passenger.


Things you can't take on a Plane: Frequently Asked Questions

Green question mark.

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.

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.

Lighter Restrictions.

Can you bring matches on a plane?

Yes, most airlines will allow you to bring one book of safety matches with you onboard.

Matches Restrictions

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.

Laptop Restrictions

Can you bring a power bank on a plane?

Many passengers use power banks as spare batteries for their devices. If you are wondering if you can bring this portable gear to charge your mobile or your laptop during a flight or a long layover, the answer is Yes.  Note that only power banks for personal use are allowed and they must be placed in your hand luggage or carried around.

Power banks are not allowed in checked luggage, just like lithium batteries, as they are combustible.

There are also some restrictions related to the capacity of the power banks.

All power banks rated less than 100 Wh are allowed in your hand luggage. If your power bank is 100 to 160 Wh, you need to get the approval of the airline before you can pack it in your carry on. Power banks of unidentified power or power higher than 160  Wh are not allowed on board of the plane.

Power bank restrictions.

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).

Toothpaste restrictions in hand luggage

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.

Makeup restrictions in hand luggage

Can I bring deodorant on a plane?

You may bring certain types of deodorants in your carry on.

If your deodorant is liquid, i.e. spray, gel, roll on or cream, it is subject to the 100 ml (3.4 oz) restriction. The same rule applies to perfumes, which are liquids, so if you want to travel light (only carry-on luggage), make sure your perfume fits the 100 ml requirements.

Solid deodorants on the other hand are permitted both in your carry-on and your checked bag and do not follow the 100 ml rule, so if you are bringing stick deodorant, you can take one in any size.
Deodorant restrictions in hand luggage

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.
Tweezers restriction in hand luggage.

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.
Knitting needles restriction in hand luggage.

Can you bring musical instruments on a plane?

 Under FAA regulations US-based companies allow musical instruments on board if these are small enough to fit in the luggage compartment or under the seat in front of you.

If you are flying in Europe, our recommendation would be to check with your airline in advance. In some cases, smaller instruments (for example a violin) are allowed on board and considered a piece of your hand luggage. A flute can also easily fit in your carry-on, yet if you are travelling with a guitar or a cello, check before you head to the airport.
Musical instrument restriction.


Your packing checklist: Carry-on, checked luggage or leave at home?

Here is a checklist you can use when packing your carry-on and your checked luggage. Note that we have also included a section including items you should leave at home as they are banned both on board and in the cargo hold.

What can you bring in your carry-on?

Matches and lighters

One book of safety matches.

Common lighters

Electronics

Small portable electronic devices like mobile phones, tablets and standard sized laptops are allowed on planes.

Larger electronic devices, such as laptops, video game consoles, DVD players, need to be screened individually at security checkpoints.

Small tools

Tweezers, razors, nail clippers, and scissors with blades which measure less than 12 cm from the pivot point.

Liquids, gels, aerosols

All nonflammable

  • liquids, including shampoo, perfume, beverages, liquid medicine, makeup products;
  • gels, such as toothpaste, hair gel, hand sanitizer, etc; and
  • aerosols, like deodorant, insect spray, hair spray, etc.,

are allowed in your carry-on luggage but they must come in containers of 100 ml or less and all of them must fit in a single clear, zippered plastic bag no bigger than 1 liter.

Medication

All prescription and over-the counter medications can be taken on board.

Inhalers, insulin or blood-sugar testing kits, being aerosols or liquids, must be declared for individual screening.

Baby food and equipment

Breast milk, baby formula, liquid-filled teethers, processed food are permitted on board if a baby is travelling and do not need to meet the 100 ml restriction.

E-cigarettes, vaping devices

As long as they contain less than 100 ml liquid, these devices are allowed on board.

Battery-powered e-cigarettes and vape pens are only allowed in your carry-on or on your person.

Items that are NOT allowed in your carry-on:
Pack these in your checked luggage
Forbidden sign.

Self defence items

Nerf guns, BB guns, and their ammunition Firearms - packed securely in a hard-sided case Pepper spray and mace spray - allowed in checked luggage if equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge.

Sporting goods

Hockey/ lacrosse sticks, golf clubs, baseball/cricket bats, martial arts equipment

Sharp objects

Box cutters, large scissors, tent spikes, knives are allowed in your checked baggage if they are securely wrapped.

Alcohol

Bottles of wine/ alcoholic beverages (up to 70 percent alcohol) are permitted if they are in their unopened retail packaging. For the number of bottles allowed, check with your airline or confirm the country limits.

Items NOT allowed in carry-on or checked luggage:
Leave these at home
Green tick.

Flammable items

Paints, fuels, gasoline, lighter fluid, being highly flammable, are not allowed on board.

Chemicals

Chlorine, bleach, fertilizers, spray paint cannot be transported.

Explosive items

Fireworks, Christmas crackers and flares are not permitted.

Alcohol (over 70%)

Alcoholic beverages over 140 proof, such as grain alcohol, are not allowed on board or in the cargo hold.

If you’re already halfway through your packing, check our ultimate guide on what to pack to make sure you have not left behind something you may need on the road.


We help you get compensation for delayed and cancelled flights in the last 3 years.

Check your flight now. Get up to € 600 per passenger.


What can you bring on a plane: Restrictions ?

Green tick.

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.
Liquid restriction on board the airplane.

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.

Matches RestrictionsLighter Restrictions

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.
Self defense items restrictions.

Sports Equipment

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.
Ping pong racket restriction on a plane.

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.

Batteries restriction on a plane.

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 - after all eating healthy while travelling is very important. 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.
Food restriction on a plane.

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.
Medicine restriction on a plane.

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.

  1.   The liquids in the 20 x 20 cm resealable transparent bag.
  2.   The tablet, camera or any such device
  3.   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.
  4.   Show your lighter and then put it in your pocket.
  5.   Take-off your jacket and/or coat for a separate screening.
  6.   Put all metal items such as keys, coins, watches, belts, jewelry and mobile phones into a tray for separate screening.
  7.   Take your laptop from your carry on baggage and put it into a tray for separate screening.
  8.   Pass through the security control point when instructed to do so.

We help you get compensation for delayed and cancelled flights in the last 3 years.

Check your flight now. Get up to € 600 per passenger.