What Is Allowed in a Carry-on Bag?

Yurii Moskalenko

When it comes to air travel, one of the most frequent questions passengers have is, “What is allowed in a carry-on bag?” If you break the rules and take something you weren’t supposed to on the plane, they’ll take it away from you at the security checkpoint. We don’t want that!

To keep you from having a horrible experience at the airport, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about what you’re allowed to bring on an airplane. The Transportation Security Administration, also known as TSA, has lots of rules about what you’re allowed to take with you on an airplane. By familiarizing yourself with these details, you can pack your bags confidently, knowing exactly what is allowed to make your trip enjoyable and worry-free.

TSA Rules and Regulations

It’s essential to understand and follow TSA’s regulations and guidelines for ensuring the smooth functioning of airport security procedures. These etiquette and associated norms have been set up to enhance and ensure that travelers are safe and secure. These regulations apply to all carry-on luggage, such as suitcases, bags, and laptop cases, that you are planning to take through security at the airport.

Essential to comprehending these guidelines is the 3-1-1 rule, which serves as a foundational tenet of the TSA’s strategy for overseeing the conveyance of fluids, sprays, wax, lotions, and pastes in carry-on baggage. Here’s how the rule breaks down:

  • 3: Each traveler is permitted to carry travel-sized containers that do not exceed 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) of liquid. This restriction is pivotal to the TSA policy, ensuring that only small amounts of liquids are brought on board. Duty free liquids purchased after clearing security are allowed in reasonable quantities.
  • 1: All such containers must be placed in a single, quart-sized, sealable bag, streamlining the screening process.
  • 1: Only one quart-sized bag is allowed per passenger, regardless of the number of carry-on items.

Don’t forget that one more carry-on doesn’t mean more prohibited items. Containers beyond 3.4 ounces remain a no-go, even if partially filled. Nonetheless, exceptions are made for liquids required for medical reasons and liquid baby food, underlining the importance of informing a TSA security officer if you’re carrying these items.

What Is Allowed in Your Carry-On Bag?

Personal Care

When packing personal care items for your flight, navigating what you can bring on a plane carry-on becomes a task that requires careful attention to detail. The TSA’s 3-1-1 rule plays a significant role here, especially for liquids, gels, and aerosols. Knowing the specifics not only ensures that you comply with airport security requirements but also helps you maintain your personal care routine while traveling. Let’s explore some common personal care items and their travel regulations to help you pack with confidence.

HairsprayYesMust be in 3.4-ounce containers or smaller, including powdered and aerosol spray
Hair GelYesMust be in a 3.4-ounce container or smaller
ScissorsYesMust be less than 4 inches long from the pivot point
Electric ToothbrushYesNone. Allowed on planes
RazorsYesDisposable cartridges allowed; safety razors and straight razors are not
Curling IronYesOne per person, with a safety cover and protection from accidental activation
MakeupYesLiquid, lotion, gel, paste, or creams must adhere to the 3.4-ounce rule
Electric RazorsYesNone; allowed on planes
Nail ClippersYesNone; allowed on planes
PerfumeYesMust adhere to the 3.4-ounce rule
Spray DeodorantYesLiquid deodorants must adhere to the 3.4-ounce rule
Stick DeodorantYesNone; allowed on planes without restriction
Shaving CreamYesMust adhere to the 3.4-ounce rule

Food and Drink

Packing food and drinks for your flight is a great way to ensure you have your favorite snacks and beverages handy, especially on long journeys. However, what can you bring on a plane in terms of edibles? The TSA’s guidelines, including the 3-1-1 rule, provide clear instructions for liquids but are more lenient with solid food items. Let’s delve into what food and drink items you can bring in your carry-on, ensuring you stay refreshed and satiated throughout your flight.

SandwichesYesNone; you can bring sandwiches on a plane
Fresh FruitYesNone; however, be mindful of agriculture restrictions for international flights
CheeseYesSolid cheese is allowed without restriction; creamy cheese must adhere to the 3.4-ounce rule
Bottled WaterYesMust be purchased after security or in 3.4-ounce containers if brought from home
Soda/Canned DrinksYesMust be purchased after security
Baby Formula/Breast MilkYesExempt from the 3.4-ounce rule but subject to screening
AlcoholYesMust be in 3.4-ounce containers if brought from home; larger quantities can be purchased after security

Sporting Equipment

Whether you’re heading to a competition or simply planning to enjoy your favorite sports during a vacation, it’s crucial to know the TSA regulations concerning sporting goods. Not all items are allowed in your carry-on due to their size and potential as safety hazards. Below is a guide to help you pack wisely and ensure your sporting equipment makes it to your destination without issue.

Baseball BatNoMust be checked as it can be used to bludgeon
Hiking/Ski PolesNoMust be checked due to potential use as a weapon
Golf ClubsNoMust be checked due to size and potential use as a weapon
Pool CuesNoMust be checked as it can be used to bludgeon
Fishing PolesYesCheck with the airline for size limitations
Fishing LuresYesLarge, sharp tackle must be in checked luggage
Bows and ArrowsNo
Canoe/Kayak PaddlesNo
Longboards/SkateboardsYesCheck with the airline to determine if it meets the size limitations
Skis/SnowboardsYesIf it meets the size limitations; most will need to be checked
Tennis RacketYes

Self-Defense Items

When packing for a trip, it’s natural to consider your safety and ponder what can you bring on a plane carry-on for self-defense. While security is a top priority for all travelers, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has strict rules regarding self-defense items in carry-on luggage. These regulations are in place to ensure the safety and security of all passengers aboard the aircraft. Here’s a concise guide to understanding what is not allowed on a plane carry-on when it comes to self-defense items, and how to properly pack them if necessary.

KnifeNoPlastic or round-bladed butter knives are allowed
Pepper Spray/MaceNoOnly allowed in checked luggage and must meet the airline’s requirements
Bear SprayNo
TaserNoMust be in checked luggage, inoperable, and not contain lithium batteries
Pocket KnifeNo
Brass KnucklesNoPreviously noted as allowed, but corrected for accuracy; must be checked

E-Cigarettes and Vaping Devices

E-cigarettes and vape pens have become increasingly popular with travel enthusiasts, but the specific hazards associated with their batteries have prompted the TSA to establish clear guidelines for individuals who use the devices. Here’s a quick reference for those wondering what can I bring on a plane regarding e-cigarettes and vaping devices.

CigarettesYesSmoking on the plane is prohibited
Disposable Vape/PenYesUsage on the plane is prohibited. Lithium batteries must not exceed 100 Wh
Cartridge VapeYesUsage on the plane is prohibited. Lithium batteries must not exceed 100 Wh
Loose TobaccoYesBe mindful of international import rules when flying internationally
CigarsYesSmoking on the plane is prohibited
E-CigarettesYesUsage on the plane is prohibited
PipesYesIntended for tobacco use only; presence of other substances can lead to serious penalties

Medical Items

If you require medically necessary liquids or other essential health-related items, it’s crucial to pack them appropriately. The following chart presents detailed guidelines on how to carry specific medical aids, showing what may be taken in carry-on luggage and what is allowed in checked bags.

Blood Sugar Test KitYesAllowed in both carry-on and checked bags
CanesYesAllowed in both carry-on and checked bags
CastsYesAllowed in both carry-on and checked bags
Contact Lens SolutionYesAllowed in both carry-on and checked bags; 3.4oz/100ml limit applies in carry-on
Contact LensesYesAllowed in both carry-on and checked bags
External Medical DevicesYesSpecial instructions apply; consult airline before travel
Eye DropsYesLess than or equal to 3.4oz/100 ml allowed in carry-on; allowed in checked bags
InhalersYesSpecial instructions apply; allowed in checked bags

What Is Not Allowed on a Plane Carry-On

When packing for a flight, it’s just as important to know what is not allowed on a plane carry-on as it is to know what you can bring. The TSA enforces strict guidelines to ensure the safety and security of all passengers. This means certain items are strictly prohibited in your carry-on luggage. Here’s an overview of items you’ll need to leave out of your carry-on bags or prepare to check:

  • Alcoholic Beverages: Any alcoholic beverage over 140 proof (70% alcohol) is not allowed.
  • Weapons: This category is broad, including knives of any kind (pocket, Swiss army, utility, kirpans, razor-type blades), guns (BB, cap, pellet, compressed air), ammunition, gun powder, axes, hatchets, bows and arrows, firearms, rifles, martial arts weapons, and realistic replicas of weapons.
  • Self-Defense Weapons: Items intended for personal protection such as kubatons, pepper spray, brass knuckles, blackjacks, night sticks, stun guns, shocking devices, and tactical pens are prohibited in carry-on luggage.
  • Explosives: Any item capable of creating or simulating an explosion is banned, including bang snaps, dynamite, English Christmas crackers, firecrackers, fireworks, flare guns, flares, hand grenades, party poppers, sparklers, and vehicle airbags.
  • Sporting and Exercise Equipment: Objects that could be used as a bludgeon, such as clubs, bats, hockey and walking sticks, canoe and kayak paddles, bowling pins, darts, hiking and ski poles, ice axes, ice picks, shoe and snow spikes, snow cleats, and starter pistols, must be checked.
  • Medical Items and Equipment: Certain items, including battery-powered wheelchairs and mobility devices (with specific regulations), gel heating pads, and mercury medical-clinical thermometers, have restrictions or are not permitted in carry-on luggage.
  • Tools: Tools such as box cutters, crowbars, drills and drill bits, hammers, nail guns, saws, and screwdrivers longer than 7 inches must be transported in checked luggage.
  • Flammable Gases and Liquids: Packing engines and engine-powered equipment, fire extinguishers, compressed gas cylinders, fuels, spillable batteries, strike anywhere matches, flammable paints, turpentine, and paint thinner in carry-on luggage is forbidden.
  • Miscellaneous: Safety razors (including blades) and gel-type candles are also not permitted in carry-on bags.

Always check the latest TSA guidelines and consider things allowed in hand carry baggage to ensure you are fully compliant with all travel regulations.

Final Thoughts

As we wrap up our guide on what you can bring on a plane carry-on, it’s crucial to remember that the TSA’s rules and the 3-1-1 rule for liquids are just the starting point for packing your carry-on luggage. Airlines themselves may have additional restrictions or allowances, including carry on luggage size limits and weight restrictions on carry-on bags, that could affect how you pack. Moreover, international travel introduces another layer of complexity, as what is allowed in a carry-on bag can vary significantly from one country to another.

Prior to departure, it is important to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the TSA regulations, any specific requirements set by your airline, as well as the entry regulations of the destination country. This preparation will not only save you from unnecessary inconvenience but will also allow you to focus on the more enjoyable aspects of your trip, ensuring a much smoother and far less stressful journey.

Keep in mind that though constraints may feel like a bit of a drag, they keep us all safe in the air. Awareness of and attention to what you can take on board is another way you contribute to a safer journey. Bon voyage!

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