One of the most frequently asked questions from infrequent flyers is whether you can take aerosol cans on a plane, and in particular whether they can be packed in checked luggage.
Aerosol cans are allowed on a plane in both carry on and in checked bags. If packing them in your carry on bag then the size you can take is restricted by the TSA to no larger than 3.4oz/100ml. No aerosols containing flammable liquids can be taken on board though.
There are restrictions on the type of liquids contained in the aerosol that can be taken on a plane, which I will go into below, as well as what types you can take in either your checked or carry on bags.
Can you take aerosols in hand luggage?
The size restriction only applies to aerosols you are taking through airport security in your hand luggage. Regular size aerosols can be carried in your checked bags, provided the liquid in it are not prohibited.
Due to the TSA 3-1-1 liquids rule you are only allowed to take aerosol cans through airport security if they contain less than 3.4oz/100ml of liquid. That restriction applies to the size when full not, for example, if the can contains 150ml when new but it is now less than half full.
The security agents go by the wording on the can and will confiscate any which do not fit within the rules.
A good idea is to buy a travel sized version of the aerosol you want to take in your carry on, such as the deodorant on the right of the picture which is only 75ml so is allowed.
Aerosols that are permitted must be taken through airport security in a resealable clear plastic bag that is no larger than 1 quart.
You can take larger, regular sized liquids contained in an aerosol on a plane in your hand luggage but only if you buy them in any of the stores located at the airport after going through the airport security checkpoint.
Can you take aerosols in checked baggage?
The restriction with regard to the allowed size of aerosols in hold luggage is much less strict.
You can pack most size aerosols in your suitcase and as many as you want but within the following limits. The TSA website states that “toiletry-type aerosols” which are carried in checked baggage must not exceed 70oz (2070ml) in total and no container should be larger than 18oz (532ml).
Many people seem to believe, due to the reduced air pressure at altitude, that aerosol cans explode in checked baggage but that is not true. They are perfectly safe in the aircraft’s hold.
Rules for aerosol cans on a plane
Remember the carry on size rules above when referring to this table
|Type||Carry on||Checked bags|
|shaving foam or gel||Yes||Yes|
|fly spray/insecticides||No||Yes (see note 1)|
|personal protection sprays||No||Yes (see note 2)|
|spray oils and penetration spays||No||No|
Note 1: Allowed in checked bags as long as they are not labeled as hazardous material (HAZMAT)
Note 2: You are only allowed one container of self defense spray in your hold luggage and it cannot be larger than 4 oz/118ml. It must be fitted with a safety catch to ensure it does not go off by accident. They are not allowed if the they contain greater than 2 percent of tear gas in them
Also not allowed on a plane
Although these items are not always contained in aerosols (but can be) they are not allowed either:
- Tear gas
- Fire extinguishers
- CO2 Cartridges
- Recreational Oxygen
Can you take flammable aerosol cans on a plane?
Aerosol cans that contain flammable liquids are not allowed in checked luggage or in your carry on bag. These include such items in aerosol cans as oil (WD40 type and even cooking oils), spray paint, starch (used in laundry)
You may take aerosol cans on a plane containing some liquids that are potentially flammable which includes hair or skin products such as deodorant, dry shampoo, hairspray, shaving cream or even insect repellents in either your carry-on or check-in bag. You have to remember though that if you are taking it in your carry on then it must not be larger than 100ml/3.4oz.
So if you are flying somewhere to do some street art you will have to buy your spray paint when you arrive.
Can you take pepper spray in checked bags?
You are permitted to take pepper spray and other self defense sprays (including mace and CS gas (tear gas) but they are subject to some restrictions:
- You are only allowed one container of self defense spray in your hold luggage and it cannot be larger than 4 oz/118ml
- It must be fitted with a safety catch to ensure it does not go off by accident
- they are not allowed if the they contain greater than 2 percent of tear gas in them
You cannot take pepper sprays or any other kind of self defense sprays in your carry on at all.
Where to get advice if unsure
If you are at all confused as to whether you can take a particular aerosol on a plane (or any other item) with you then I suggest you use the excellent service that the Transport Security Administration provides on Twitter – https://twitter.com/AskTSA
You can ask a question and get a reply back very quickly. Two examples of questions are:
How to take larger aerosol cans in carry on
In practice, the liquids rule only applies to items taken through airport security in your carry on bags. It doesn’t apply to what can actually be taken into the cabin of the plane.
What I mean by that is that, assuming there are stores in the departure area of the airport you are flying from (after going through airport security), then you may buy larger aerosol cans in those stores to take with you on board. That way you could take your favorite aerosol deodorant, antiperspirant or whatever with you, assuming the stores at the airport sell it rather than trying to find travel size versions.