What’s Allowed in a Carry On Bag?

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With the ever-increasing costs of checking a bag, many travelers prefer to get by with just a carry-on. Airline restrictions, however, can be confusing. Below, we’ve compiled a detailed list of what you are and are not allowed to bring in your carry-on bag.

Personal Care

One of the most asked questions is whether you can bring deodorant on a plane. Short answer: yes. But there are specific rules regarding the type of deodorant and whether it is solid deodorant or liquid.

The rules about the personal items you are allowed to bring on an airplane have changed. For example, after 9/11, it was commonly thought that nail clippers were not allowed. They never actually made the list of prohibited items, but many were confiscated at the discretion of the TSA agent.

Don't risk it. Make sure you know what you can pack in your carry-on bag and what you will need to place in your checked luggage. Remember, purchasing items upon arrival is usually an option.

ITEM NAME ALLOWED ON CARRY-ON? LIMITATIONS

Hairspray

Yes You can take hairspray on a plane,
including powdered hair spray and aerosol spray,
but they mist be in 3.4-ounce containers or smaller

Hair Gel

Yes You can bring hair gel on a plane,
but it must be in a 3.4-ounce container or smaller

Scissors

Yes You can bring scissors on a plane
but they must be less than 4 inches long from the pivot point
Electric Toothbrush Yes None. You can take an electric toothbrush on a plane
Razors Yes You can take razors on a plane; those with disposable
cartridges are allowed;
others, like safety razors
and straight razors, are not
Curling Iron Yes You can bring a curling iron on a plane; only one per person.
It must have a safety cover, and it must
be protected from accidental activation
Makeup Yes You can bring makeup on a plane;
liquid, lotion, gel, paste,
or creams must adhere to the 3.4-ounce rule
Electric Razors

Yes

None; Electric razors are allowed on planes
Nail Clippers Yes None; you can bring nail clippers on a plane
Perfume Yes You can bring perfume on a plane,
but it must adhere to the 3.4-ounce rule
Spray Deodorant Yes You can bring spray deodorant on a plane,
but liquid deodorants must adhere to the 3.4-ounce rule
Stick Deodorant Yes None; you can take stick deodorant
on a plane without restriction
Shaving Cream Yes You can bring shaving cream
on a plane, but it must adhere
to the 3.4-ounce rule

Medical Items

Most medical items are allowed on an airplane. In fact, it is recommended to carry them on in case they’re necessary for immediate use. That means items like contact lens solution should be packed in checked luggage unless you have a bottle under 3.4 ounces. Other items, like prescription medication, are allowed on the plane.

Can you take needles on a plane? Yes, needles are allowed on the plane if they are accompanied by injectable medication.

Can you take a heating pad on a plane? Yes, air-activated or electric heating pads are allowed on planes as long as they don’t contain flammable liquids or gasses.

Can I bring pill bottles on a plane? Yes, pill bottles are allowed. TSA does not require medication to be in prescription bottles.

When you travel with medical items, many of them will need to be declared to the TSA agent and screened. Items such as needles and liquids larger than 3.4 ounces will need to be inspected.

Sporting Equipment

Sporting equipment is generally prohibited as carry-on, as items like baseball bats, ski poles, golf clubs, and pool cues could all be used as weapons.

You can, however, pack roller skates, rollerblades, and somewhat oddly, ice skates in your carry-on, according to the TSA website. Whether the airport security agent on duty will allow ice skates through depends on individual judgment.

ITEM NAME ALLOWED ON CARRY-ON? LIMITATIONS

Baseball Bat

No Any equipment that can be
used to bludgeon must be checked

Balls

Yes None

Hiking/Ski Poles

No Any equipment that
can be used to poke
or bludgeon must be checked
Golf Clubs No Any equipment that can be
used to bludgeon must be checked
Pool Cues No Any equipment that can be
used to bludgeon must be checked
Fishing Poles Yes Check with the airline to
determine if it meets the size limitations
Fishing Lures Yes Large, sharp tackle must be in checked luggage
Bows and Arrows

No

Canoe/Kayak Paddles No
Longboards/Skateboards Yes Check with the airline to determine if it meets the size limitations
Skis/Snowboards Yes Check with the airline to determine
if it meets the size limitations; most will need to be checked
Tennis Racket Yes None

Self-Defense Items

Travelers often ask whether you can fly with pepper spray. While it's understood that travelers may want to protect themselves, self-defense items are not allowed in carry-on luggage. This includes pepper sprays and mac.

By their very nature, self-defense items have the potential to cause harm and should be transported in checked luggage. Even then, you can only pack one four-ounce container of self-defense spray in checked luggage. It must have a safety mechanism that prevents accidental discharge.

ITEM NAME ALLOWED ON CARRY-ON? LIMITATIONS

Knife

No Plastic or round-bladed butter knives are allowed

Pepper Spray/Mace

No Only allowed in checked luggage and meet the requirements

Bear Spray

No
Taser No In checked luggage, they must be
inoperable and not contain lithium
batteries
Pocket Knife No
Brass Knuckles Yes

E-Cigarettes and Vaping Devices

Given the rules prohibiting smoking on planes, you might think vaping devices would have to be in checked luggage. The opposite is true. You cannot pack e-cigarettes in checked luggage; all vaping devices must be packed in a carry-on. Any liquids needed for the device must comply with carry-on liquid rules.

Please note that while you must pack vaping devices in a carry-on, you are not allowed to vape on planes. Doing so carries hefty legal fines.

ITEM NAME ALLOWED ON CARRY-ON? LIMITATIONS

Cigarettes

Yes You may not smoke cigarettes on the plane

Disposable Vape/Pen

Yes You may not use the vape on the plane.
Lithium batteries must not exceed 100 Wh.

Cartridge Vape

Yes You may not use the vape on the plane.
Lithium batteries must not exceed 100 Wh
Loose Tobacco Yes If flying internationally, there are import rules to follow
Cigars Yes You may not smoke cigars on the plane
E-Cigarettes Yes It may not be used on the plane
Pipes Yes They are for tobacco use only; traces of
other drugs can lead to confiscation,
fines, and more

Food and Drink

Airport food is expensive. Instead of paying a premium for snacks at the airport or onboard, greatly lower those costs by bringing food from home on the plane.

For the budget-minded traveler, most food items won’t have any issues getting through security. The one limitation you have to pay attention to is that 3.4-ounce rule; any liquids, gels, or creams will need to be under that amount or purchased once you’re inside.

ITEM NAME ALLOWED ON CARRY-ON? LIMITATIONS

Hairspray

Yes You can take hairspray on a plane,
including powdered hair spray and aerosol spray,
but they mist be in 3.4-ounce containers or smaller

Hair Gel

Yes You can bring hair gel on a plane,
but i
t must be in a 3.4-ounce container or smaller

Scissors

Yes You can bring scissors on a plane but
they must be less than 4 inches long from the pivot point
Electric Toothbrush Yes None. You can take an electric toothbrush on a plane
Razors Yes You can take razors on a plane;
those with disposable cartridges are allowed; others,
like safety razors and straight razors, are not
Curling Iron Yes You can bring a curling iron on a plane;
only one per person.
It must have a safety cover, and it must be
protected from accidental activation
Makeup Yes You can bring makeup on a plane; liquid, lotion, gel, paste,
or creams must adhere to the 3.4-ounce rule
Electric Razors

Yes

None; Electric razors are allowed on planes
Nail Clippers Yes None; you can bring nail clippers on a plane
Perfume Yes You can bring perfume on a plane, but it
must adhere to the 3.4-ounce rule
Spray Deodorant Yes You can bring spray deodorant on a plane,
but liquid deodorants must adhere to the 3.4-ounce rule
Stick Deodorant Yes None; you can take stick deodorant on a
plane without restriction
Shaving Cream Yes You can bring shaving cream on a plane, but
it must adhere to the 3.4-ounce rule

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a lot of items that we rarely bring on a plane. But there are exceptions. For example, you can bring a fishing pole on the plane as long as it meets the size limits for travel.

Other items are much more common. We lay out a few of those rules below.

Carry-on Liquid Rules

Let’s start with the TSA carry-on liquid rules, the regulations that affect the most people. All liquids must be in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces, and all liquid containers must fit into a one clear quart size bag. This includes any liquid, including carry-on toiletries and over-the-counter cold medication. Gels are considered liquids for purposes of travel.

Medically necessary liquids are exempt from this rule, as are liquid foods for infants. If you are packing such items in your carry-on, be sure to let the TSA security officer know.

For carry-on toiletries, the fewer liquids, the better. Pack solid soaps, deodorants, and shampoo instead of liquids if possible. You can buy liquid shampoo and toothpaste in travel size.

For most carry-on bags, follow the carry-on liquid rules and pack your ziplock of liquids at the top of your bag for easy access. Some carry-on luggage include removable TSA-compliant clear toiletry bags which can be easily taken out and repacked during security checks, making them perfect for traveling with liquids. Examples of such bags include the Travelpro® Platinum® Elite 21” Expandable Carry-On Spinner and the Crew™ VersaPack™ Max Carry-on Expandable Spinner.

Can you Bring Glass Items on a Plane?

Glass items, including glass picture frames, are among the items you can surprisingly pack in your carry-on. Essentially, if the glass item can be wrapped safely and fits into your carry-on, you’re allowed to take it on a plane.

Carry-on luggage is the safer option for glass and other delicate items, as checked baggage can be roughly handled. Be sure to wrap glass items securely to ensure nothing breaks during travel. You can wrap glass items in clothing to provide some protection. Bubble wrap offers more protection, but does have the disadvantage that it takes up more space in your carry-on. For glasses and bottles, fill the glassware with paper or small, soft items of clothing and wrap them in two or three layers of paper before wrapping them in clothing.

Snow globes are subject to carry-on liquid rules and must be small enough to fit into your quart-sized bag along with other liquid containers. Larger snowglobes should be packed in checked luggage, as they would otherwise be confiscated under TSA’s liquid regulations.

What Can't You Bring on a Plane?

Carry-on luggage rules determine everything from how much liquid you can take on a plane to what type of toiletries and sports equipment are permissible.

Knowing what is allowed in a carry-on bag can mean the difference between breezing through TSA security and having items confiscated. But, the list of items you cannot bring on a plane is too long to cover in its entirety here.

Firearms, ammunition, and fireworks are prohibited, as are all knives and safety razors (including pocket knives and Swiss Army knives). Straight razors and replacement blades for straight razors are also not allowed. Most tools also cannot be packed in carry-on luggage, as they have the potential to cause harm.

Certain foods are prohibited if you’re traveling internationally or from Hawaii to the US mainland, including meats, vegetables, and plants. You may be able to take such food onto the plane to eat during the journey, but if you try to take it off the plane at your destination, it will be confiscated, and you may face fines or legal repercussions.

Check out the TSA website before packing your carry-on for a full list of what you can and cannot pack in carry-on and checked luggage. And if you’re looking for a new piece of carry-on luggage, be sure to join us as we put carry-on luggage to the test.

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