Every year airlines seem to charge more and more for checked bags so these days many people are choosing to travel by air with just a carry on bag. This saves money but, as well as being restricted on the amount you can take, it also means you have to be more careful about what you take with you as there are many restrictions on what is not allowed in 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 on a plane in hand luggage under the carry on luggage rules so you don’t run into problems at airport security and end up having items confiscated.
Generally the restrictions on what is not allowed on a plane in a carry-on bag are more rigorous than those regarding what you can take in your checked bags.
Much of what is not allowed in a carry-on bag is common sense. But there are a few surprises to what are deemed restricted items.
Make sure you don’t have these 31 things in your carry on baggage.
- 1 The most common things not allowed in a carry on bag
- 2 The obvious things you cannot take in a carry on bag
- 2.1 Guns and ammunition
- 2.2 Hand grenades
- 2.3 Knives/axes/box cutters/scissors
- 2.4 Batons, night sticks, billy clubs and other martial arts weapons, brass knuckles
- 2.5 Fireworks
- 2.6 Blasting caps, Bear caps
- 2.7 Dynamite and gun powder
- 2.8 Flare guns and flares
- 2.9 Any flammable liquids
- 2.10 Pepper spray, mace and CS gas
- 3 The not so obvious things you cannot take in carry on
- 3.1 Christmas crackers and party poppers
- 3.2 Cast iron cookware
- 3.3 Chlorine for pools and spas
- 3.4 Drills and drill bits
- 3.5 Fertilizer
- 3.6 Fire extinguishers
- 3.7 Foam toy sword
- 3.8 Hiking sticks
- 3.9 Liquid bleach
- 3.10 Medical marijuana
- 3.11 Most razor blades
- 3.12 Samsung Galaxy Note 7
- 3.13 Spare butane and propane gas canisters
- 3.14 Spillable batteries
- 3.15 Sports equipment
- 3.16 Tools
- 3.17 Vehicle airbags
- 4 Other airport security posts:
The most common things not allowed in a carry on bag
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules regarding carrying liquids are probably the most important things to remember and the one that catches passengers out the most.
You cannot take any individual liquids, or to be more accurate, any liquid in a container larger than 3.4 ounces in carry on luggage, even if the container has less liquid in it than 3.4 ounces. And it is to just obvious liquids but also things like gel, cream or lotion which are also treated as liquids.
All of your liquids must be placed in a one quart-sized see-through resealable bag to pass through the airport security screening process and this plastic bag must go in a separate bin. Only a single quart sized bag is allowed per passenger.
So just traveling with carry on luggage means that any toiletries you may want to take with you, including aerosols, 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.
There are exceptions for baby food, breast milk and medically necessary liquids.
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 hand luggage or in your pocket.
You cannot take strike anywhere matches in hand luggage (or in checked baggage).
You cannot take torch lighters which pipe smokers sometimes use onboard either.
Any alcoholic beverage including grain alcohol with more than 70% ABV (alcohol by volume) also known as 140 proof cannot be carried either in carry on or checked bags irrespective of how large the bottle the alcoholic beverages are in. This is because there is the potential of it catching fire.
The obvious things you cannot take in a carry on bag
Generally what items are not allowed on a plane in hand luggage are pretty obvious. At least most are but still passengers try to take them on board through security.
Guns and ammunition
Although this is very obvious, every week TSA security agents at airports across the USA discover firearms carried in passengers’ carry on luggage. Guns and ammunition are not allowed in cabin bags or on your person under any circumstances and include things such as BB guns, compressed air guns, paintball guns, replicas of guns and even children’s toy guns.
Guns may be allowed in checked luggage subject to the laws in the State/Country you are traveling to and from. Check with the airline to find out their policy.
For full up to date information, I suggest you read the TSA article – Transporting Firearms and Ammunition
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 actually carry one. But every year it happens incredibly.
The sharp objects rules apply to all bladed items of all kinds so if you need them at your destination then place them in your checked baggage. Only plastic or round-bladed butter knives are permitted in a carry on bag so no Swiss army knives or other knives.
Scissors cannot be taken through the security checkpoint if the blades are longer than 4″ from the pivot point. The final decision rests with the security officer as to whether the scissors are permitted on a plane.
Read also: Can you take a pocket knife on a plane?
Batons, night sticks, billy clubs and other martial arts weapons, brass knuckles
Another no-brainer really. With the exception of a martial arts expert going to a competition, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to carry any of these with them. If you do want to then put them in your checked bag.
Fireworks and fire crackers are not allowed in hand baggage or in checked bags. This includes sparklers.
Blasting caps, Bear caps
The mind boggles but some do try to take these with them in their carry on and checked baggage.
Dynamite and gun powder
If you need to search to find out if you can take these in your hand luggage then you are in need of some serious help!
Flare guns and flares
No, not allowed, not even if you are off on an offshore sailing trip.
Any flammable liquids
Pepper spray, mace and CS gas
I can see that some people, women especially feel the need to carry a self defense spray around with them in their purse but if you do then make sure that you remove it and put it in your checked bags. If you forget, it will be found and confiscated by a security agent when you pass through airport security.
Some airlines will not allow self defense sprays even in checked baggage so check with your airline before you fly. Also, if flying internationally, you should ensure that these sprays are permitted – they are not in the UK for example.
The not so obvious things you cannot take in carry on
Christmas crackers and party poppers
Making a trip for Christmas? Well either put these in your checked luggage or leave them at home.
Not that they are dangerous but if they were set off during a flight it may scare passengers who may think they are being hijacked.
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 and neither can it be carried in checked luggage.
Drills and drill bits
These are obviously sharp items so should be carried in your checked luggage.
Fertilizers of any kind are not allowed in hand luggage or in checked luggage.
I guess these could explode, or at least go off during the flight so could cause a problem.
Foam toy sword
Hmmmm – well it may look like a weapon I suppose.
These aren’t allowed although someone with a disability can take a walking stick.
I can’t imagine wanting to take this, unless you were an OCD cleaning fanatic or suffered from germophobia. You can take antiseptic wipes though.
Or any other form of marijuana or other illegal drugs come to that.
Most razor blades
Read our full article here which explains which types of razors you can take in carry on – Are shaving razors allowed in carry on bags?
Samsung Galaxy Note 7
Spare butane and propane gas canisters
This includes those used in hair straighteners.
No batteries containing a liquid are allowed apart from those that form part of a motorized wheelchair.
Sporting equipment such as baseball bats, bows and arrows, paddles, golf clubs, ski poles, hockey sticks, 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, and screwdrivers longer than 7 inches cannot be carried in carry on baggage.
These contain a compressed air canister which is why you cannot take them.
Other airport security posts:
The complete guide to passing through airport security quickly
What is not allowed in checked bags?
9 things considered a liquid that are not
Can you take glass on a plane?
Can you take e cigarettes on a plane?
Can you take lithium batteries on a plane?
Will aerosol cans explode in checked luggage?
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.