What Can You Take In Your Hand Luggage? What Can You Not?

What Is & Is Not Allowed In Your Carry-On Luggage?

After the recent pandemic, many of us are looking to jet off again on a relaxing holiday, however, remembering what items on board you can take and can't take with you can be a little confusing to remember.

Luckily, you can take most of your everyday items on board such as hair straighteners, personal items and 100ml liquids, however, some rules and restrictions are surrounding these items are worth noting for baggage guidance. 

So to help you figure out what you can and can't take on the plane in your carry on, we have listed the common everyday items and their luggage rules and restrictions below so as you can avoid any confusion at airport security. 

How Big Can Your Hand Luggage Be? 

First of all, before we get into what baggage items you can or cannot pack, let's discuss how big your carry on luggage should be, as packing you allowed items only to find your hand luggage is not the right size can be frustrating. 

Well, typically, your hand luggage size requirements will differ slightly according to the airline to airline, but on average your hand luggage should not exceed dimensions of 22" x 14" x 9". 

For weight, however, you would need to check with the airline for specifics, may airlines often don't weigh carry on as long as it does not exceed dimensions, but some tend to have a max limit of around 10kg if yours by chance does get weighed. 

It doesn't matter the bag that you use as your carry on as long as it fits in the overhead lockers and meets the dimensions stated on the airline reservation. As well as your hand luggage, you are enabled to carry on one personal item too. 

This personal item can be anything from a small handbag to a coat as long as it can fit under your seat with ease. You may have to double-check with the airline about the size of your item as some types do have a dimension restriction. 

What You Can & Cannot Take In Your Carry On 

Now we know how big and heavy your carry on bag can be, let's get into the common items that you can and cannot pack, as we mentioned above, these are general rules for what to pack so it is always best to check with the airline in advance if you are unsure about any specific items. 

Liquids 

First off, let's address the most commonly confused item, liquids. In terms of liquids, you can indeed pack them into your carry on luggage, but each of these liquid forms has to be packed into their separate containers and should not exceed liquid restrictions of 100ml each. 

All of these liquids in containers should fit into a single transparent bag and the bag should be able to be sealed, in general, all the containers added together should not exceed a liquid content size of 1L. 

The same goes for gels here such as hand sanitiser and these liquid containers should not go over 100ml. 

For baby food and milk, you can pack liquids as required for your baby's needs during the flight, liquid for contacts is also fine under 100ml and liquid medicine may be permitted to take on over 100ml but this should be checked with the airline in advance. 

Food 

One of the second most common items people ask if they can pack into their cabin bag is food items. Typically, dried foods such as sweets, nuts and dried fruit can be taken in your cabin luggage with no issues, sandwiches may also be permitted depending on the filling. 

However liquid type food such as soups or honey is not allowed and would have to be packed in your checked luggage instead, some types of foods also can not be taken in/out of certain countries so check with your airline before travel.

We have listed a few common food types below and whether or not you can pack them to help you out. 

  • Honey - No, honey is classed as liquid so is not allowed.
  • Water for baby - Yes as needed.
  • Juices - No, as it is a liquid.
  • Soup - No due to it being a liquid type of food.
  • Fresh cheese (soft) - No, hard cheese however may be permitted.
  • Oil - No.
  • Crisps - Yes, crisps can be packed in your carry on.
  • Nuts -Yes, nuts can be packed in your carry on.

Medicine 

Medical equipment and essential medicines can be packed into your carry on for medical reasons, however, non-prescription medicines may not be allowed if they are over 100ml. 

If you have medical equipment that contains liquids of over 100ml then this might be allowed on the plane as long as you have a medical certification letter and check with the airline in advance. 

We have listed some essential medical equipment and general types below and whether they are allowed or not on the plane. 

  • Hypodermic syringes - Yes these syringes can be taken on board.
  • Syrups - Yes, over 100ml might need to be checked.
  • General pill medicine - Yes. 
  • Scapel - No.
  • Inhalers - Yes.
  • Cooling gel pack - Yes.
  • Medical equipment - Yes but check with the airline for any unusual pieces.

Electric Items 

There is typically no issue with taking electrical items in your cabin bag, however, you should ensure that all electrical items are charged beforehand in case security guards ask you to switch them on when screening, this stops explosive devices from being disguised and prevents delays at airport security. 

Make sure you take into account the weight of your electronic devices too when packing so as you cannot exceed the limit. 

We have listed some common electronic devices below you might want to pack. 

  • Laptop - Yes.
  • Hairdryer and straightener - Yes.
  • Camera - Yes. 
  • Electric razor - Yes.
  • Tablet - Yes.
  • Lithium-ion batteries - You can take batteries on board with you but check with your airline in case you are carrying externals or spare batteries as some have a limit on how many you can pack.

Everyday Items 

As well as the common items above, you might also be wondering about your everyday items such as knives, scissors, lighters and even a wheelchair. We have bullet pointed some of your common everyday items you might want to pack below and whether or not they are allowed. 

  • Knives - No, knives of any shape or form are not permitted to pack in your carry-on. 
  • Scissors - Scissors with round points or types that do not exceed 6cm are allowed to be packed.
  • Razor blades - Yes can be taken on board. 
  • Knitting needles - Yes sewing needles are permitted.
  • Umbrellas - Yes.
  • Wheelchairs - Yes.
  • Lighter - No, lighters should not be packed in your carry on as they are considered flammable liquids. 
  • Tweezers - Yes can be taken on board.

What To Avoid Packing In Your Checked Luggage 

After knowing what you can and cannot take in your carry-on luggage, you might be wondering about your checked luggage and if anything is restricted.

It is true you can pack more items into your checked luggage, but there are a few restrictions to be aware of and items you should avoid packing your checked luggage if you can. 

Alcohol 

Don't get us wrong, you can carry alcohol back in your checked luggage, but you just need to be careful about how much of it you bring back as some airlines have restrictions about how much you are allowed to carry. 

Fragile Items 

Anything you are scared of that might break during transit, do not pack it in your checked luggage to avoid disappointment unless you make special arrangements for your checked luggage to be classed as fragile.  

Electronic Devices 

It is best to always pack electronic devices into your carry on so as you can avoid security guards double-checking your bag. Electronics tend to be a little expensive too so it is best to keep them close and charged when taking your baggage through security.

Important Documents 

Very important docs such as your passport and other files should be packed into your carry on, you never know if luggage can get lost or stolen, so it's best not to take the risk in this case, always keep them close in your cabin luggage.

E-cigarettes & Spare Lithium's

Both of these items are not permitted to be packed into your checked luggage at all, e-cigarettes can be carried in your carry-on bag but not your checked, they should never be used onboard the plane, however. 

Spare loose lithium-ion batteries are not allowed to be packed in your checked but are permitted in your carry on bag with 100 watt-hours or less, if you want to pack loose lithium over 100 hours in your carry on then you will need to check with the air travel company.

Valuables 

As we mentioned above with important documents, you should also never risk packing valuables in your checked luggage in case it gets lost or stolen.

Miscellaneous Items  

We have covered the general items you can and cannot pack into your checked luggage above, but there are also some miscellaneous items to consider which are restricted. 

  • Engine power equipment with fuel left - Any power equipment such as trimmers or chainsaws should not be taken in your carry-on, even equipment that has had residual fuel should avoid being taken on board.
  • Christmas crackers - No, not allowed, even in the festive spirit!
  • Explosives - Fireworks and even party poppers are a big no-no in your hold luggage.
  • Co2 cartridge - This can be carried when empty, but if you want to carry full cylinder equipment through security you need permission beforehand.
  • Samsung galaxy note 7 - We know this is a random one, but yes, your Samsung galaxy note 7 is not permitted to be taken aboard in the US!

Banned Items From Carry On & Check-In Luggage 

After covering what you can and cannot take in your luggage and the general restrictions, some items are big no no's for planes and should be left at home at all costs to avoid an alternative security check. 

We have listed these prohibited items out below. 

  • Flammables - Aerosol items (apart from personal types) are not allowed on a plane, other flammables such as paint thinner and lighter fluid should be avoided at all costs as they are dangerous. 
  • Over 140% alcohol - Large quantities of alcohol should not be taken on a plane and the same goes for alcohol which has a proof content of over 70%.
  • Chemicals - Chlorine, bleach and fire extinguishers should all be left at home and brought on to a plane.
  • Outdoor safety products - It is unlikely you will need to pack any outdoor safety products such as bear bangers, but if you want to, they are not allowed. 

What Are The Weight Restrictions For Checked Luggage?

Similarly to carry-on luggage, there are also weight and size restrictions for your checked luggage which are worth checking out before you fly. 

This differs from airline to airline, but on average, your checked luggage should not exceed 62-inches, some airlines might allow you to carry either one or two pieces according to the class you are flying in, weight range differs but is generally between 20-35kg per piece. 

Tips For Packing Your Carry On Luggage 

Now we know everything you can and cannot pack for your flight, you should also make sure that you take everything you need for your flight with you, especially if you are going on a long-haul flight. 

We have listed out our best tips for packing your carry on bag below to help you out. 

  • Hand sanitiser - Sanitiser is essential for a long-haul flight, just make sure it is within the container limit of 100ml so as you can have a smooth journey through security.
  • A pen - Having a pen while your travel is very useful, you will likely have to fill in landing cards or immigration forms when travelling so not having to borrow one will save you time.
  • Snacks - Let's be honest, inflight meals are not great, especially with the pandemic meaning meals are getting more basic, so be sure to pack a couple of healthy snacks to keep you going just in case.
  • Spare change of clothes - It's not ideal being sat in the same pair of clothes for a long time, so having a fresh pair for when you arrive at your new destination can make you feel 100x better as is more sanitary too.
  • Reusable bottle - Staying hydrated is so important on a flight, having a water bottle allows you to be with more water and stops you from using too many single-use plastic cups.
  • Toiletries - Moisturiser, toothpaste and deodorant can make you feel like your normal self, make sure you pack the right baggage size containers however under 100ml.
  • Jacket - Flights get chilly, so having a jacket or jumper to keep you warm can make your flight more comfortable.
  • Medicines in original pack - We recommend keeping your medicine in their containers to avoid additional security screening, make sure to bring the prescriptions along with you too.

Frequently Asked Questions About What You Can Take In Hand Luggage 

Can you bring baby food and baby milk on a plane? 

Yes, baby food and baby milk are permitted on a plane according to your baby's needs on the duration of the flight you are taking. The baby milk has to be in the right size containers, however. 

Are you allowed to bring musical instruments on a plane? 

Musical instruments are typically allowed to be brought on a plane, however, you should ensure that the dimensions of them are okay for the airline, also consider if the instrument is fragile, some airlines might even require you to buy a whole seat for your instrument. 

Can you bring liquid for contact lenses on a plane? 

Yes, liquid for contact lenses can be brought on a plane with no issues, just make sure for security control it is under the limit of 100ml.

Are spare batteries okay to pack in carry on? 

Spare batteries are permitted to be packed in your carry-on bag but must be packed in a plastic bag for each one with the terminals covered. For lithium-ion batteries make sure they are within the suitable watt-hours for each type and that you bring the allowed amount with you.

Never pack spare lithium-ion batteries in your main checked luggage.

Can you take a box of safety matches on the plane? 

Safety matches are permitted onboard a plane but this might vary from airline to airline, so it's a good idea to check beforehand.

Is it possible to take guns on a plane? 

It is possible to take guns on a plane but you have to declare them to the security officers and they will need to be packed in a safety box by security.

Can I take self-defence items such as pepper spray in my carry-on bag?

No, self-defence items such as pepper spray and other martial arts weapons are not okay to take in your carry-on. Pepper spray can however be packed in your checked bag, but only under 118ml and the design has to have a safety trigger to prevent accidental leakage.

Final Words 

Overall, you can take a large variety of items in your carry on, just make sure they are within the limits and restrictions for your airline so as you can avoid being held up by the airport security staff. We recommend packing all valuables in your carry on and checking beforehand with the airline about special items such as medication. 

About this Guide

Written By Alex
Last Updated On July 31, 2021
Reading Time 
14 minutes
Guide Views 
146 Views

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Alex

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