31 things that are not allowed in carry on

Airlines seem to be charging more and more for checked bags so these days many people are choosing to travel by air with just a carry on bag.

It is quite surprising what you can get in a small bag but it is obviously important to know what items are not allowed in carry on so you don’t run into problems at airport security.

Generally the restrictions on what can be carried in carry on are more rigorous than checked bags. Much of what you cannot take in your hand luggage is pretty much common sense, at least for most people. But there are a few surprises so you need to ensure you don’t have these in your bag.

The most common things you cannot take in carry on bags

common things you cannot take in carry on bags


Liquids over 3.2 ounces (100ml) is an important one to remember. You cannot take any individual liquids, or to be more accurate, any liquids container larger than 3.2 ounces in carry on, even if the container has less liquid in it than 3.2 ounces. All liquids must be carried in a one quart-sized see-through resealable bag with only one allowed per passenger.

So just traveling with carry on means that any toiletries you may want to take with you have to meet these size restrictions so beware.

Some things which you might not consider to be a liquid are also treated as liquids under these rules so I have written a detailed article on this which I suggest you read – Maximum liquid permitted in carry on on a plane. TSA 3-1-1 liquids rule.

Extra lighters and matches

If you smoke then you cannot take more than one lighter or one box of safety matches on board, whether in your carry on or in your pocket.

You cannot take “strike anywhere” matches in carry on (or in checked baggage).

You cannot take torch lighters which pipe smokers sometimes use on board either.

Strong alcohol

Any alcoholic beverage with more than 70% ABV (alcohol by volume) also known as 140 proof cannot be carried either in carry on or checked bags.

The obvious things you cannot take in carry on bags

What items are not allowed in hand luggage

Guns and ammunition

These are not allowed in carry on bags under any circumstances and include things such as BB guns, paintball guns, replicas of guns and even children’s toy guns. They may be allowed in checked bags subject to the laws in the State/Country you are traveling to and from. For full up to date information I suggest you read the TSA article – Transporting Firearms and Ammunition

Hand grenades

Now that one was a surprise wasn’t it! The mind boggles that anyone in their right mind would want to travel with one of these or would believe that you could carry one. But every year it happens incredibly.

Knives/axes/box cutters

This applies to all bladed items of all kinds.

Batons, night sticks, billy clubs, martial arts weapons, brass knuckles


Fireworks and fire crackers are not allowed in hand luggage. This includes sparklers.

Blasting caps, Bear caps

Dynamite and gun powder

Flare guns and flares

Any flammable liquids

This includes paint, cooking fuel, gasoline, thinners, lighter fuel etc

Pepper spray and CS gas

The not so obvious things you cannot take in carry on bags

things you cannot take in carry on bags

Christmas crackers and party poppers

Cast iron cookware

This is perhaps an odd one. I cannot imagine anyone saying “Take me to Cuba otherwise I will hit you with this stew pot” but who knows.

Chlorine for pools and spas

Chlorine is not allowed in carry on or carried in checked bags.

Drills and drill bits

These are obviously sharp items.


Fertilizers of any kind are not allowed in hand luggage or in checked bags.

Fire extinguishers

Foam toy sword

Hiking sticks

Liquid bleach

Medical marijuana

Most razor blades

Read our full article here which explains what razors you can take in carry on – Are shaving razors allowed in carry on bags?

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

This is because of an issue with the lithium batteries. See full notice for details.

Spare butane and propane gas canisters

This includes those used in hair straighteners.

Spillable batteries

No batteries containing a liquid are allowed apart from those that form part of a motorized wheelchair.

Sporting goods

Sporting items such as baseball bats, bows and arrows, paddles, golf clubs, darts or anything that can be used as a bludgeon are not allowed in the cabin of the aircraft and must be transported in checked baggage.


Tools such as hammers, saws, screwdrivers longer than 7 inches cannot be carried in carry on bags.

Vehicle airbags

These contain a compressed air canister which is why you cannot take them.

Other airport security posts:

Can you take e cigarettes on a plane?

What is not allowed in checked baggage?

Can you take lithium batteries on a plane?

Will aerosol cans explode in checked luggage?


I have been traveling around the world since the early 70s. and also living overseas too. Also a private pilot for many years.

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