In this day and age of travel, it can be hard to keep up with all the changes. From the flux of checked baggage weight restrictions to whether or not to remove your shoes and belt at security, it seems that guidelines are always reinvented.
A popular topic that plagues almost every traveller on almost every trip as a result of this whirlwind of constant change is what are we allowed to bring on a plane?
While it may seem rather obvious not to pack the new chefs knives you got for Christmas or the antlers you picked up as a souvenir of your hunting trip with the guys - it actually isn’t that black and white. Some of the items you would assume would be off limits are fine while some seemingly normal items might get you stalled at security longer than you like.
While most of us might give it a quick google, others have been turning to the newly launched TSA Instagram page which does its best to address individual queries on what you can and cannot bring aboard a flight. The hope is that this can minimize confusion and resources and therefore delays at the airport.
If you are preparing for a trip and are still uncertain on whether your quirky (or seemingly normal) item is allowed, the best bet is to contact your airline directly for guidance.
In the meantime, please enjoy our curious list of the 10 very weird things that are allowed on planes, and the 10 weird things that are currently banned, below!
20 1. Ice Skates (Allowed)
This one is a bit unusual considering that ice skates are composed of sharp blades which could definitely be quite dangerous if not handled with caution.
If you’re a professional ice skater or are heading out to Edmonton to actualize your dream of ice skating in a giant shopping center, the good news is that you are welcome to bring your ice skates with you on the plane. You don’t even have to bother checking them in your suitcase, you can carry them right on to your flight. You’ll be getting those triple salchows going in no time!
19 2. Screwdriver, Wrench, Pliers (Allowed)
It may seem like an odd choice to bring a screwdriver or wrench aboard a flight but it is totally kosher to do so. Basic tools are allowed aboard planes in your carry on as long as they aren’t larger than 7 inches (or contain any sharp pointy parts). For a handyman who has invested piles of dough in their tools this can come as a relief since checked baggage can get lost and they can be quite expensive to replace.
That being said, any power tools like drills or saws will have to be risked and packed into checked luggage since they are simply not allowed on board.
18 3. A Bowling Ball (Allowed)
You've always got to be prepared! Ya know, in case an impromptu bowling tournament breaks out on board. The reality is that whatever your reason is for bringing a bowling ball with you abroad, it is totally allowed on board!
You will definitely need to make sure it’s secured under the seat in front of you and NOT willy-nilly in the overhead bin as that could make for a painful head (or foot) ache should it roll out and fall below. It's especially useful if you have a proper tote bag that prevents it from moving around. It can never hurt to call and double check with your airline if you’re not totally confident.
17 4. A Birthday Cake (Allowed)
If you’re not one for plane food (because sidebar - it has gotten pretty questionable as of late), why not pack away an entire cake? It’s worth doing it even just for the sheer ridiculousness of it. Baked goods, pastries and the like are in fact, permitted on most airplanes!
I mean it makes sense if you are a master baker and have prepared a special treat for a loved one who awaits you at the arrivals gate, but in most other cases it may be a tad more convenient just to get a cake once you have landed at your destination.
16 5. Bodies Of Bugs (Allowed)
This may be a particular niche of traveller but one that exists indeed! If you are a bug collector of sorts or a biologist and wish to transport your collection and/or samples from place to place, rest assured you may do this quite comfortably by bringing it on board with you as a carry on item!
This collection may include butterflies, beetles, spiders, crickets, scorpions - you name it! If it’s gone to bug heaven and pinned to a board, it’s safe. Suffice to say if it’s not wrapped up or disguised, you will definitely get some side-eye from your fellow travellers.
15 6. A Live Lobster (Allowed)
Lobsters are amazing creatures for many reasons - they mate for life, they regenerate any lost limbs, just to name a couple, but the majority of people will choose to transport them not for their biological traits but rather for their buttery and delicious addition to supper.
Airlines flying to lobster-famous places like New England or the Maritimes of Canada have already begun forming lobster policies. JetBlue, which has routes to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket in Massachusetts, and Maine, state that you can bring live lobster in your checked or carry-on baggage, but “if the container uses ice packs, it must be sealed and in a leak-proof container with the contents clearly marked." Alrighty then!
Lobster is a delicacy and not always easy to find so it would make sense bring a live one home to share the love. Despite it being super odd, TSA insists that it is totally okay to transport a live lobster back to your home country.
14 7. Christmas Trees (Allowed)
When it comes to being that time of year many of us may yearn for the sandy beaches of Hawaii but still want to transport some of that Christmasy spirit to which most airlines have said ‘of course, bring your tree on board!’ Airlines like Air Berlin have even encouraged it by waiving any fees for trees to travel in the month of December.
To ensure your tree makes its intended flight, it must not be longer than 6 ft, and must be properly wrapped and prepared in a burlap sack with branches tied down. Security officers in the US will check the health of the trees by looking for clusters of 5 or more needles to a branch and require that the tree comes from either Mexico or Canada as that's where they are natively grown. Seems pretty logical, right?
13 8. Fresh Eggs (Allowed)
Fresh eggs are allowed in both your carry on and your check luggage (although they probably wouldn’t last very long in the latter). If you visited your family farm and want to take a slice of that farm fresh lifestyle home with you, fear not! This is one particular item that gets the green light.
Many would assume you are planning to make breakfast when you land but a lot of travellers bringing eggs have the hopes of hatching them in incubators. One thing to be mindful of if that’s your plan, is that they will need to pass through the x-ray machine in the security line which isn't known to cause damage, but it's worth noting nonetheless.
12 9. Cheese Grater (Allowed)
Why not! A cheese grater can be a very effective tool if you need to make a pizza or a hash-brown mid-flight! I mean it could totally happen. Or you could be travelling without checked luggage and hoping for the best as you stashed your grater between your granola bars and camping gear.
Whatever the reason for having this seemingly random object in your possession is, it should be fine as long as there are not particularly sharp pokey bits. Also, you may want to prepare some extra time at security as they may flatly want to know why you are bringing a cheese grater on board. Other than a quick convo it should be smooth sailing!
11 10. Hard Cheese (Allowed)
What good would a cheese grater be on board if you didn’t have the cheese to match? When visiting countries like France or Italy, it would be madness NOT to bring home a chunk of cheese to relish and savour once you’re back to reality. It is perfectly acceptable to get any kind of hard cheese onto the flight.
However, depending on which country you call home you may run into issues at your arrival gate when you are required to declare food items. Do your research specific to your countries regulations to avoid a heartbreaking goodbye (to your cheese).
10 1. Gel Sole Insoles for Shoes (Banned)
Does airport security have something against making your favourite walking shoes more comfortable? Do they enjoy seeing you suffer with back pains on holiday? It sure seems that way as they scratch gel insoles off your permitted carry on list.
The reason they have been banned is that they are said to exceed the 3 ounce liquids allowance and can leak if punctured. Other gel items that have been banned include a child’s soother, gel candles, and gel-filled bras. These items will likely be confiscated on site, so it can be well worth your while to find flight friendly non-gel alternatives.
9 2. Snow Globes (Banned)
Snow globes tend to be a fan favourite souvenir since they are quite classically marvellous and make great gifts for children. Unfortunately, if you’re taking them aboard a plane you risk them getting taken away.
If the snow globes are smaller than a tennis ball you might get away with carrying them onboard. Anything larger will likely get snatched. It all comes down to the liquids allowance. Anything over 3.4 ounces (even something as seemingly unrelated as a snow globe) is not allowed to be taken with you onboard. However, if you’re hellbent on bringing home a big glittery snow globe, you can always (carefully) pack it away in your checked baggage.
8 3. More Than One Lighter (Banned)
Lighters are just one of those things that can creep into any and every pocket without you noticing too much. Heck, I just found a lighter in my pocket right now! It seems like a totally normal thing to have kicking around in the bottom of your bag, but when crossing security there could be issues since lighters can technically be used to harm other passengers.
Oddly enough you are allowed to have one lighter on the plane but it must remain in your pocket (not your bag) for the duration of the flight. As in, you cannot take it out of your pocket or put it in your bag under any circumstance (which is sort of the opposite of what you would expect). Any novelty lighters that are shaped like weapons or those considered to be more of a torch are definitely not permitted.
7 4. Fireworks (Banned)
Many before you have tried, and many have failed to bring fireworks on board a flight. This includes flares as well. However well-meaning your intentions are for bringing these luminous party favours with you, if they are anywhere near the plane it is a big fat no no. You may be tempted to try and pack a couple of small fireworks in with some other items in your checked baggage but trust us they will find them!
The main reason fireworks are banned totally is largely due to their instability. The friction from the plane can actually ignite the fireworks which would cause a potentially hazardous threat to other passengers, crew, and the plane itself. It is simply not worth it.
6 5. Flip Corkscrews (Banned)
If you’re a wine enthusiast it could be downright upsetting to have your corkscrew confiscated at security. Most of us would not consider a corkscrew a harmful weapon but because of the teeny tiny knife that is sometimes hidden in the handle for uncorking, this could be interpreted as a regular old knife.
However, if you are dead-set on bringing a corkscrew, you can bring the silver kind that has the two arms on either side that flap up and down since this variety does not contain any sharp knife-life objects. The safest bet, of course, would be to tuck it away in your checked baggage to avoid any hassle at security.
5 6. Pretty Much Anything Grenade Shaped (Banned)
This can be anything from a lighter to a perfume bottle to a child's toy - do not risk bringing anything grenade shaped aboard an aircraft. Simply put, it is not tolerated!
In 2012 a grenade shaped bottle of Viktor and Rolf aftershave triggered a massive scare in Edinburgh airport. The passenger was held for 45 minutes after an alarming ordeal where he was thought to be carrying a real hand grenade. Not only was his fragrance confiscated but he was quite understandably mortified. Don’t let this happen to you, avoid anything that even slightly resembles a grenade when you fly.
4 7. Tent Pegs (Banned)
Trying to hit a festival and also pack lightly all at once? It may be nearly impossible as airport security will almost absolutely confiscate your tent pegs. Tent pegs are quite crucial to your enjoyment of said festival since a strong gust of wind could blow all your belongings to smithereens.
So instead, suck it up and check your bag with the tent pegs inside it. Sure you may have to wait in line at the baggage claim a little longer to get your bag but it is a necessary evil due to this strict no-pegs policy.
3 8. Peroxide (Banned)
Were you planning to treat your hair to a throwback Eminem style treatment a la peroxide while on holiday? Do you value its antiseptic qualities for cuts and burns or perhaps use it as a stain remover treatment on your clothes? Sadly for the savvy traveller it does not matter how dearly you hold peroxide in your day to day life, there’s just no room for peroxide on the airplane.
Perhaps it could be best to find alternative, less chemically-reliant products or simply pick up a bottle once you’ve landed. Luckily, peroxide is one of those things you can get cheaply in almost any country.
2 9. Brie (Banned)
On the way home from France? Fancy a cheeky wedge of brie for the plane ride or to enjoy it back home once you’ve landed. Sadly, Brie cheese, unlike regular hard cheese, is classified as a liquid. Any amount that you want to bring is going to have to be under 3 ounces and, trust us when we say, that just is NOT enough!
You would be better off making an arrangement with a supplier or farmer who can send you the cheese via post than to risk having fine french cheese confiscated by security.
For some reason it can feel more painful to have it taken away then to have never had it at all.
1 10. Protein Powder (Banned)
As of June 2018, the Transport Security Administration simply will not tolerate your protein powder on board. Don't try to reason with them as TSA isn’t interested in your workout abroad or your beach bod plans. In fact, all powdered substances including instant coffee, spices, and powdered milk have been limited to a receptacle that is no larger than 12 ounces. That’s 350 grams of powdered products total.
What can be helpful is stocking up on individual use protein powder sachets (30 grams each) from companies like Whey Box and slipping them into a bag. That should be enough to get you through a week of workouts with no questions asked.
References: independent.uk.co, skyscanner, tsa.gov