Prohibited and restricted baggage items
Below are links to key information about security and baggage, including suggestions on how to deal with TSA procedures and how to pack your carry on or checked bag.
The list below has links to resources on common baggage restrictions that are on this page. The table that follows has links to resources on other pages.
- Banned items
- Items restricted to checked bags
- Items allowed in your carry-on bags
- Don't put these in checked luggage
- Restrictions on liquids and gels
- Exceptions to liquids and gel rules
- Flying with cash
- Rules for batteries
- Restrictions on duty free items
- Additional airline restrictions
- Video on banned and restricted items
Additional baggage information
Before you fly
Before you head to the airport, especially if this is your first airline flight in a while, you should take the time to get familiar with common security rules and basic baggage rules, and remember to keep valuable or critical personal items in your what to put in your carry-on baggage and not in your checked luggage.
Going through airport security without any extra delays will be a lot easier if you avoid taking banned or restricted items through the security checkpoint. While the following descriptions of banned or restricted items are based on TSA rules and guidelines, most countries have similar restrictions.
The following items are completely banned from aircraft, and should not be brought to the airport:
Explosive and incendiary materials: Gunpowder (including black powder and percussion caps), dynamite, blasting caps, fireworks, flares, plastic explosives, grenades, replicas of incendiary devices, and replicas of plastic explosives.
Flammable Items: Gasoline, gas torches, lighter fluid, cooking fuel, other types of flammable liquid fuel, flammable paints, paint thinner, turpentine, aerosols (exceptions for personal care items, toiletries, or medically related items).
Gases and pressure containers: Aerosols (with the exception of personal care items or toiletries in limited quantities in containers sized three ounces or smaller), carbon dioxide cartridges, oxygen tanks (scuba or medical), mace, tear gas, pepper spray, self-inflating rafts, and deeply refrigerated gases such as liquid nitrogen.
Matches: All matches are banned from checked baggage, and strike-anywhere matches are banned completely from aircraft, but you can have a single book of safety (non-strike anywhere) matches with you in the passenger cabin.
Oxidizers and organic peroxides: Bleach, nitric acid, fertilizers, swimming pool or spa chemicals, and fiberglass repair kits.
Poisons: Weed killers, pesticides, insecticides, rodent poisons, arsenic, and cyanides.
Infectious materials: Medical laboratory specimens, viral organisms, and bacterial cultures.
Corrosives: Drain cleaners, car batteries, wet cell batteries, acids, alkalis, lye, and mercury.
Organics: Fiberglass resins, peroxides.
Radioactive materials: There are some exceptions for implanted radioactive medical devices. Contact your airline for details on how to ship other radioactive materials.
Magnetic materials: Strong magnets such as those in some loudspeakers and laboratory equipment.
Marijuana (cannabis): Marijuana in any form is not allowed on aircraft and is not allowed in the secure part of the airport (beyond the TSA screening areas). In addition it is illegal to import marijuana or marijuana-related items into the US.
Other dangerous items: Tear gas, spay paint, swimming pool or spa chlorine, and torch lighters.
Note: If you are in any doubt about whether your item may be hazardous, you should bring it to the attention of either your airline or the security screener.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has prohibited the following items from airplane cabins and carry-on baggage but may (with some exceptions) be carried as checked baggage:
Sporting goods: Including bats (baseball, softball, cricket), hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks, bows and arrows, ski poles, spear guns, golf clubs, and pool cues.
Knives: Knives of any length, composition or description (except for plastic or round bladed butter knives).
Cutting instruments: Examples include carpet knives and box cutters (and spare blades), any device with a folding or retractable blade, linoleum flooring cutters, and metal scissors with pointed tips.
Firearms: Pistols, flare guns, BB guns, and rifles. However, rifle scopes carried separately should not be an issue.
Firearm replicas: Realistic replicas of firearms, including must be carried as checked baggage. Toy weapons that are not realistic are allowed in carry-on baggage.
Firearm parts: They should be treated like firearms and only carried in checked baggage.
Ammunition: Only properly packed ammunition is allowed/
Paintball guns: Compressed air guns, including paintball guns, may be carried in checked luggage without the compressed air cylinder attached.
Tools: Tools greater than seven inches in length and power tools such as drills are only allowed om in checked baggage.
Dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide): Up to four pounds (1.8 kg) may be carried if the package is vented.
Visit the Items allowed only in checked bags page for additional details.
How to fly with firearms
There are a number of items that could be considered hazardous or dangerous that are actually allowed in the passenger cabin, including your carry-on baggage:
Small hand tools: Most hand tools that are less than seven inches (18 cm) in length and that don't have sharp cutting edges can be taken into the passenger cabin. This would include tools like wrenches, screwdrivers, and pliers.
Matches and lighters: You can have a single book of safety (non-strike anywhere) matches or a common lighter with you on your person or in your carry-on baggage.
Electronic cigarettes:Most airlines don't allow electronic cigarettes in checked bags, and prohibit their use in the cabin.
Small scissors: Small scissors with a cutting edge less than four inches (10 cm) are allowed in the cabin.
Other household Items: Parts, especially hardware, electrical, or plumbing components are usually allowed on board as well, as are most common batteries. If you have any doubts, contact your airline for advice.
There are many other kinds of items that you should only have in your carry-on bag, or on your person, especially if it is hard to replace, very expensive, or necessary for your health and well being. Examples include:
Money related items: Especially cash, credit cards, and travelers checks.
Jewelry: Including gold, silver, other precious metals, and expensive watches.
Electronic devices: Laptops, mobile phones, and other personal electronic devices.
Medically related items: Prescription medication, other medications, and medical devices.
Other items: Difficult to replace items like passports and other identification, keys; eyeglasses; mail, and devices with electronic data.
For a more detailed list, visit the Things you should never put in a checked bag page.
Most countries have restricted what liquids and gels a passenger may have in the passenger cabin: In the US, the general TSA restrictions are as follows:
- Passengers may bring into the secure area of the airport liquid and gel products, so long as each individual container has a capacity of no greater than 3.4 fluid ounces (100 ml).
- Snow globes and similar liquid-filled decorations, no matter what size, can only be carried in checked luggage.
- Passengers may not pass through the security screening with gel or beverage containers of greater capacity unless they fall under one of the exemptions described below.
There are a number of exceptions to these restrictions, and other steps that you should take if you have duty free items. For additional details and advice, review the rules and exceptions for liquids.
There are a number of exceptions to the restrictions on liquids, gels and aerosols. Most of those revolve around medical items and food items intended for small children.
- All prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications including insulin and other diabetes medical supplies.
- Items intended for passengers with a disability or medical condition.
- Items used to augment the body for medical or cosmetic reasons such as mastectomy products, prosthetic breasts, bras or shells containing gels, saline solution, or other liquids.
- Food items like baby formula, breast milk, juice or water for a traveling infant small child.
Visit the Rules and exceptions for liquids for additional advice on liquids, gels, creams, and aerosols.
There are two things you should consider when flying with cash or other financial instruments, loss of your cash and dealing with legal issues. There are some basic things that you can do minimize these two kinds of risks.
Protecting your cash from loss
- Never put cash or financial instruments in a checked bag.
- Keep your cash out of sight as much as possible
- When passing through security, keep your eyes on the bag with the cash.
Legal issues with cash
- There are no limits on flying with cash on a US domestic flight.
- When traveling to or from the US, you must declare cash or cash equivalents valued at more than $10,000.
- Rules in other countries may be very different, so check before you fly
Visit the How to fly with large amounts of cash page for more detailed information on flying with large amounts of cash or financial instruments, especially when flying to or from the US.
The FAA allows passengers to have in their carry-on bags most batteries commonly used in personal electronic devices. Batteries in checked luggage may have additional restrictions. Below is a brief overview of battery rules.
Batteries allowed in carry on baggage
- Common batteries such as AA, AAA, C, D, 9-volt, and button sized cells used in consumer electronic items including handheld games and hearing aids.
- Spare batteries for personal electronic devices.
- Small lithium metal batteries commonly used in cell phones, handheld electronic games, and laptop computers.
Batteries allowed in checked baggage
- Most batteries allowed in carry on baggage are also allowed in checked baggage.
- Exceptions include spare (uninstalled) lithium batteries
- Battery-powered devices should be protected from accidental activation.
Any type of battery used to power a scooter or wheelchair is allowed. If you are packing a spare battery for a scooter or wheelchair, contact your airline to make sure that the battery is properly packed for travel.
Visit the Detailed advice on flying with batteries page for more detailed information on flying with batteries.
If your duty-free purchase of liquor, perfume, cosmetics, or any other item contains liquids, gels, or aerosols; and the container is larger than 100 ml (3.4 fluid ounces), you have to follow specific procedures to ensure that your items will not be confiscated.
Rules vary by country, but in general, one of the following will apply to you:
- If you can put it in a checked bag before passing through airport security, you don't have to take any precautions.
- If you purchased the item after passing through security, and you are on the last leg of your trip, you can put the item in your carry-on bag.
- If you purchased the item after passing through security, you are not on the last leg of your trip, and you have to pass through airport security before getting on your next flight (standard procedure if you are entering the US), you may have to place it into a checked bag prior to your next flight.
For additional details on dealing with the last situation, visit the duty free shopping advice page for details on how to fly with duty free liquids, aerosols, and gels.
In addition to the restrictions of the TSA, your airline may also have restrictions on what is allowed on the airplane. If you are carrying an unusual item, or if you thing that an airline may have a restriction, be sure to contact your airline ahead of time, or to contact a representative in the airport. Also, in the event that an airline loses your bags and finds them later, they may have limited luggage shipping options for getting your bags back to you, especially if you are traveling overseas.
In this video from the Conversation at AirSafe.com, you will get an overview of what is allowed and not allowed either in carry on or checked baggage. You'll also get advice on how to avoid the most common airport security hassles.
Fear of flying and how to control it
Licensed therapist and former airline captain Tom Bunn of the SOAR fear of flying program explains the basic causes of fear of flying and how the SOAR program teaches people how to control their fear.
Additional suggestions: Remember to deal with any passport renewal issues well in advance of your flight, especially if it involves getting a visa prior to travel, for example from a service like US Holiday - https://www.esta-registration.co.uk.
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http://www.airsafe.com/danger.htm -- Revised: 22 June 2015