The holiday season is all about wrapped presents and travel. You probably have your gifts and gift-wrapping paper ready, and you’re thinking of bringing the presents all wrapped up on your trip to save you time and energy later.
But then, you begin wondering, ‘Can you bring wrapped gifts on a plane?’
The Quick Answer: While you can bring wrapped gifts in your carry-on and checked bags, keeping in mind TSA regulations about permissible items, you probably shouldn’t. If your luggage is flagged for safety inspections, the gifts might get unwrapped by the TSA agents.
Read on to learn more about can you bring wrapped presents on a plane.
- 1 Can you bring wrapped gifts through airport security?
- 2 Are wrapped presents allowed in checked baggage?
- 3 Can you take wrapped gifts on an international flight?
- 4 Can you bring wrapped gifts on an international flight to the USA?
- 5 Summary
- 6 FAQs
Can you bring wrapped gifts through airport security?
There’s a very fine line between can you take wrapped gifts through airport security and should you?
You can take wrapped gifts in your carry-on. However, if your bag gets flagged in the screening process, the wrapped presents are the first thing TSA agents will want to inspect.
Unfortunately, this will lead to the gifts getting unwrapped for further inspection as part of the security check.
Tips to fly with gifts
Helpful Tip #1: Use a gift bag or box instead if you must take presents with you as carry-ons. TSA officers can easily open these for further inspection at the security checkpoint.
Helpful Tip #2: You can take as much gift-wrapping paper as needed through airport security to wrap the presents later.
Food and drinks
Concerning consumable gifts (cookies, chocolates, cakes, pies, etc.), solid food can be brought along in your carry-on.
At the same time, liquid (including alcohol below 140 proof) over 3.4 ounces (100 ml) must go in your checked bag.
All your liquid items, in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces each, must be placed in a single quart-sized ziplock bag in your carry-on.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) permits perishables with 5.5 pounds of properly packed dry ice if you have frozen food you’d like to take with you.
A common gifting item – snow globes can be packed in your carry-on only if they’re smaller than a tennis ball. Anything larger than that is bound to have more than 3.4 ounces of liquid in it, and the 3-1-1 liquids rule applies to it. Larger snow globes must be packed in your checked luggage.
And then, some items mustn’t be taken through airport security – gift-wrapped or not. Sharp objects like knives, toys that look like weapons, light sabers, and sporting accessories like lacrosse sticks, bats, etc., must be packed in checked luggage instead.
If you’re into taking some holiday decor along, you’ll be glad to know that Christmas lights are permitted on a plane.
This is the advice from the TSA on Twitter given to a passenger asking about taking wrapped gifts:
Are wrapped presents allowed in checked baggage?
Just as you can take wrapped gifts through airport security, you can also take these in checked bags. With both options, the risk of your bag getting flagged and the wrapped gifts getting unwrapped mercilessly for further inspection stays the same.
If you have any liquids over 3.4 ounces, think no more, and pack them in your checked bags.
A lovely, expensive bottle of wine, whiskey, or beer cans can all go in checked luggage. But don’t forget to pack them well with plastic or bubble wrap and between layers of clothing to avoid accidental spills.
Any alcohol over 140 proof isn’t permitted in carry-on or checked bags.
As for solid food, snow globes, toys, and most other gifting items, the better option is to keep them unwrapped in your checked bags. Leave the wrapping for after you arrive at your destination.
Any other item – toys, gadgets, etc. can be safely packed in your checked luggage, preferably without wrapping.
Helpful Tip: Opt for hard-shell suitcases if you carry any well-packed fragile items in your checked luggage.
Can you take wrapped gifts on an international flight?
Each country has rules and regulations about what you can or cannot bring in your luggage – carry-on and checked bags.
You can never be too sure about these rules. While you can take wrapped gifts on an international flight, keeping them unwrapped in gift boxes or bags is best. It will facilitate easier screening at the destination airport’s customs.
The last thing you’d want is to have your gifts unwrapped by the customs at your destination after getting them intact through the TSA.
Helpful Tip: Opt for online shopping and shipping to your destination address if you’re flying to an international destination. You can even choose the gift wrap option for the items while shopping online.
Can you bring wrapped gifts on an international flight to the USA?
If you’re flying from an international destination to the US, it would be best not to wrap any gifts you bring in your carry-on or checked luggage.
Keeping with the regulations of permissible items in your luggage, getting through the customs check is easier if gifts aren’t wrapped.
If you’re bringing any food items into the United States, it would be best to check the Customs and Border Protection regulations. Some CBP regulations govern flowers, plants, vegetables, fruits, meat, and animal products you can bring into the US. These are meant to prevent the entry of certain pests and diseases within the country.
No TSA or FAA restrictions state that you can’t bring wrapped gifts on a plane. However, it’s probably not always a good idea to do so.
There is always the chance they might need to be unwrapped at any security checkpoints for further inspection. It could be very disappointing if this happened – all your wrapping efforts could go to waste.
The smart choice is to choose gift boxes or bags or carry wrapping paper to wrap all the presents neatly later. That way, the festive spirits aren’t dampened.
Does TSA check wrapped gifts?
The TSA will check any wrapped gifts that are pulled aside for additional screening after passing through the xray machine. They will probably then need to be unwrapped to be checked properly.
Do foil wrappers trigger TSA?
Wrapping gifts in foil wrapping paper in your carry on will probably mean it is more likely to be pulled aside for additional screening by TSA officers at the security checkpoint.
How do you travel with Christmas presents?
The most sensible place to travel with Christmas presents when flying is in your checked bags. The exception would be if the gift contained expensive jewelry, or some other expensive item, in which case it makes sense to keep it close to you in your carry on.
I have been traveling around the world by air since the early 70s and living overseas too. I worked for British Airways for a number of years and I am also a private pilot.