When I first considered the question of whether you can bring glass on a plane in carry on my first thought was why would you want to? But then, when I started to think about it, and did some research on the questions that the TSA get asked, it soon became apparent that it is not such an unusual request after all.
With surprisingly few exceptions you can take many different types of glass in carry on bags on a plane, that is assuming your airline allows it as separate items.
It turns out there are many reasons why you might ask can you take glass on a plane in hand luggage. For example:
- You might be taking a gift for a friend or family member perhaps.
- You may have bought yourself a lovely glass souvenir on your trip away as a keepsake to remind you in the years to come.
- If it is a particularly fragile glass item you probably wouldn’t want to chance putting it in your checked bag, even if you have booked one, particularly when you see the way bags are sometimes handled. Keeping it with you in your hand luggage will probably ensure it arrives at the other end of the journey without getting broken.
As well as glass items the same rules generally also apply to any ceramic items that you may wish to bring in your carry on bags on a plane.
What types of glass can you bring in carry on
- Glass vases
Glass vases can be carried in your carry on or even packed in a separate box or container, provided your airline will allow this in addition to your carry on bag.
- Glass vials
The most likely thing you may want to bring in your carry on in a glass vial is medication. These are generally quite small so are probably within the TSA liquids rule size of 3.oz/100ml. They would have to be placed in your liquids bag or shown separately to the security officer. Ideally have the prescription to show too. More information on carrying medication in hand luggage.
- Glass jars
These are permitted but they cannot contain liquid or other restricted items unless they are smaller than 3.4oz/100ml.
- Glass goblets, cups, shot glasses and other drinking vessels
These are all allowed provided they fit within your cabin bag allowance.
- Glass picture frame
Perhaps surprisingly even quite large picture frames with a glass covering are permitted but might be subject to your airlines cabin baggage rules in they will not fit in a carry on bag.
- Glass mirror
The same applies to glass fronted mirrors as to picture frames above.
- Christmas ornaments
Glass Christmas ornaments, the sort that you hang on a Christmas tree etc can be taken on board in your carry on bag.
- Glass paperweights
Thee TSA states “These are generally allowed but if our officers determine that it poses a security concern based on size or weight”
- Glass nail files
I didn’t even know such things existed but they do and yes they are allowed in carry-on bags.
- Solid wax candles in glass containers
Glass jars etc containing solid wax candles are permitted to be taken through airport security and onto the aircraft. Note that gel candles will not be allowed as they fall within the TSA liquids rule
- Baby food, in glass jars
Glass jars containing baby food are allowed in carry-on bags and can as carrying baby supplies carries an exemption they exceed 3.4 oz in size (you must be traveling with a baby though).
- Live fish in a tank
This seems a very bizarre thing to want to take on a plane with you but is it surprisingly a very frequently asked question to the TSA. The TSA replies: Live fish are allowed through security. The fish must be swimming in water that’s in a clear, spill-proof glass or plastic container. The container may be larger than 3.4 ounces and will be visually inspected at the checkpoint.
- Empty champagne bottle
It seems strange to want to carry such an item but one person asked the TSA this via their #asktsa twitter feed as she had just got engaged while away on vacation and this was the bottle of champagne that she and her fiancé drank to celebrate their engagement. It therefore had sentimental value. The answer was, yes, you can take an empty champagne (or wine) bottle with you in your carry on.
- Glass water pipes
Well I had to look these up to see what they are and it appears they are smoking related. They are allowed in carry-on and checked bags, provided they do not contain a liquid.
- Eye glasses
The fact that you can carry these on board and aircraft with you should be no real surprise to anyone.
- Magnifying glass
Taking a magnifying glass with you in your carry on is perfectly acceptable.
- Wine or spirits in glass bottles
Although you won’t be able to take these through airport security you can buy them in the duty free shop after airport security and carry them in your hand luggage. Many airlines allow duty free bags in addition to your carry on bag.
What types of glass can’t you bring in your carry on
As you can probably deduce from the large list above of glass items that you can take with you in carry on, there is little that you cannot take with you. These items fall into the forbidden category:
- Glass snow globe
You can only carry very small snow globes in your carry on and any that are larger than 3.4oz/100ml will fall within the maximum liquids rules. If small then this they will have to be placed in your quart-sized resealable liquids bag.
- Glass bottles containing liquid
These are not permitted if larger than 3.4oz/100ml.
- And lastly a bizarre one
Someone asked the TSA “Can I bring this glass pistol jar as a carry-on, assuming I do not fill it with liquid?” He included a picture which showed it to be a glass bottle, in the shape of a gun, and with all of the details of a gun printed on it. Unsurprisingly the response was “Replica items of weapons are not allowed in carry-on. We advise packing this item in your checked bag.”
Where to get advice if you are unsure
If you are flying within, to or from the USA then if you are unsure about whether you can bring a particular piece of glass on a plane in carry on then I suggest you use the very efficient #asktsa service on Twitter. They will be able to answer you fully.
Contact your airline
Although you may be ok to bring the things identified above through airport security I would strongly urge you to contact the airline or airlines you are flying with if you have any particularly large glass items you wish to take on board the aircraft with you, particularly if they won’t fit in your carry on bag. Examples of these could be larger picture frames, large glass vases etc.
How do you pack glass for air travel?
Obviously you do not want whatever glass item you may be taking with you on board to get broken. So ideally they should either be wrapped in bubble wrap or some other cushioning item and perhaps even stored in a cardboard box or other container which will help to protect it.
Be mindful though that you may well have to show it to a security officer at the security checkpoint so if you wrap it too well then this may prove difficult.