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What Can You Carry on a Plane?

Packing for a plane trip can be tricky, especially with the number of rules present for air travel luggage. To learn which luggage items are allowed on a plane, and which aren't, scroll below.
Vacayholics Staff
Last Updated: Aug 12, 2017
While packing for a plane journey, what items one can take on the plane, is a real puzzler. With airplane luggage rules changing like the winds, we often end up repacking and throwing stuff out at the security checkup. And because of one small item, like a water bottle, you have to repack, all the while, bearing the angry looks and mutterings of the long line of fellow passengers behind you. Add kids or teenagers, and 2 or 3 handbags, and your trip has a pretty disastrous beginning. So the best practice, prior and during packing itself, is to find out, what things are allowed on airplanes.
What Can You Carry on a Plane?
There are different categories of items, that can be taken on a plane, but these are too many to list over here. So the 2 major item groups are discussed, liquids and electronics, and which items can be carried in checked baggage.
Liquids and Foods
Liquid items are allowed on flights, but under certain conditions. The amount and way, they are carried is where the rules apply. The "3-1-1" rule is followed, where most liquids, aerosols and gels can be carried, as long as they are in containers of size 3.4 ounces or less. All such containers should be placed in a clear, 1 quart, plastic, zip-top bag. And each traveler is allowed only ONE such liquid container bag. This is for carry-ons and hand baggage. For checked luggage, there is no such limit. Here's a small list of food and liquid items that have to be packed according to the 3-1-1 list, or checked in, if above 3.4 ounces in size.
Creamy dips and spreads (jam, butter, cheese)
Facial creams and lotions
Hair gels and shampoos
Cranberry sauce
Food gift baskets
Maple syrup
Oils and vinegars
Salad dressings
Wine, liquor or beer
Do not wrap gifts, as airport security will unwrap them to take a closer look. Certain essential liquid items are permitted in reasonable quantities, and need not be enclosed in a zip-top bag. Please declare such items prior to baggage screening. These items are:
Baby formula
Breast milk or juice for a traveling small child
All prescribed and over-the-counter medications (eye drops, saline solution)
Liquid nutrition for disabled or ill passengers
Life-support and life-sustaining liquids (blood products)
Medical or cosmetic items (prosthetic breasts, bras, shells with gels)
Frozen items, which are solid at the time of screening, are allowed.
As per airline luggage rules, the following liquid items are not permitted in carry on and checked luggage:
Flammable liquid, gel, or aerosol paint
Gel-type candles (allowed in checked luggage)
Spray paint
Spillable batteries (wheelchair batteries are allowed)
Liquid bleach
Fire extinguishers and other compressed gas cylinders
Chlorine for pools and spas
Turpentine and paint thinner
Lighter fluid
Self defense sprays (1 four-ounce can is allowed in checked luggage, if safety mechanism is equipped)
Laptops can be carried in the plane cabin or checked in. Due to the risk of theft or damage, do not check in electronic items like laptops, iPods, tablet PC's, mobile phones, unless securely packed and locked. Your laptop must be removed from its bag and placed in a tray at the security gate, so don't fasten or lock it up, to allow for quick access. The same applies for video cameras. For quicker baggage screening, get a checkpoint friendly laptop bag. It should have a separate laptop-only section and only the laptop should be packed in, no other items.
Pack small electronic devices like, MP3 players, hand-held game consoles, at or near the top of your bag, for quick access. So when it's time to get your baggage checked, you can easily take them out. As long as the electronic item fits in your carry bag, it can be a part of your cabin luggage. Please inquire about usage of electronic devices on board the flight, to the cabin crew. A word about batteries: loose, lithium batteries should be packed in carry-on luggage, NOT in checked bags. If they are present in a device, like a camera, then they can be packed in either checked-in or carry-on luggage. Quantity limits apply.
Checked Luggage
Here is a list of things allowed to take on a plane, as long as they are placed in checked luggage. They are banned from carry-on and hand baggage.
Cutting tools: box cutters, ice picks, meat cleavers, razor blades, sabers, swords
Sporting equipment: baseball gloves, weights, clubs and sticks, ski poles, bats and cues
Firearms: ammunition, Air guns, guns, flare guns, starter guns, replicas, pellet guns, gun parts
Heavy tools: axes, cattle prods, hammers, drill bits, saws, tools greater than 7 inches in length
Self defense items: billy clubs, black jacks, brass knuckles, throwing stars, night sticks, weapons.
Miscellaneous Banned Items
Here are some varied, completely prohibited items:
Plastic explosives
Realistic replicas of explosives
Gas torches
Torch lighters
Strike-anywhere matches
Chlorine for pools and spas
Vehicle airbags
Radioactive materials
Magnetic materials
Infectious materials
It is important to follow the airline's rules and regulations, with respect to baggage restrictions. Make sure you follow the size and shape guidelines for the baggage, both hand-held and checked. These rules are in place to ensure a safe and secure flight for all.