The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) follows rules that most of us think are arbitrary or unreasonable when it comes to objects or things we can carry on planes, or have to place in our checked bags, or are entirely prohibited and risk being confiscated. Part of the problem is that the TSA constantly changes what we can and cannot bring on the plane due to the constant tightening of security. And the last thing you want is having to go through multiple screenings because there's content in your bags that no one knew were prohibited.
We know the gist. Don't bring liquids above 3-4 ounces in your carry-on and don't bring things that are sharp and can be used in ways that are not for what they are intended, for example. But there are also many things that aren't allowed on a plane that's surprising, Like did you know that the TSA bans bowling pins from the plane, but when it come to bowling balls you can actually bring them on board?
Confused? Well, we are, because a bowling ball is solid to the core and heavy, and can be used in a menacing way. That's just one item that surprises us that we can bring on the plane but in reality shouldn't. Another head scratcher is that the TSA allows us to carry scissors on board provided that the blades measure four inches or shorter. But no matter how small that blade is, it still has a point.
We're here to help you out. We've scoured the TSA ban list and have come up with 15 surprising things that aren't allowed on a plane, as well as 10 surprising things that are allowed but shouldn't be. So the next time you fly, you'll know if you can bring with you your lightsaber. And yes, we are not your father. Not after you ate that last piece of red velvet cake.
25 Not Allowed: The Magic 8 Ball
We love the Magic 8 ball, so much so that we want to use it on the plane. Then, when we go through security, TSA takes our Magic 8 ball away! Seriously. We're like, it's harmless! But it turns out it isn't! There's liquid inside, and we're pretty sure that it contains a lot less than the allowed 3.4 ounces of liquid! Well, here's what those funny people at the TSA said: “For carry-on bags: We asked the Magic 8 ball, and it told us, ‘Outlook not so good!’ For checked bags: We asked the Magic 8 ball, and it told us, ‘It is certain!'” The TSA should do stand up!
24 Allowed: Knitting Needles
Craft lovers should know that knitting needles and crochet hooks are allowed on the plane. That means you can knit to pass the time on the plane. But these tools shouldn't be. Their long length and pointed ends can pose a threat to other passengers, even if the pointed end is not sharp to the touch. And if you carry a less-threatening set of needles, like a pair of circular needles made from wood or plastic, according to The Huffington Post, there's no reason to worry that your craft tools will be confiscated.
23 Not Allowed: An Offensive T-shirt
It's not just the TSA who abide by strict rules. Flight attendants also do, and they actually make the call on what you wear, according to Destination Trips. Men who wear jeans and a blazer and women who wear covered-up pieces in neutral colors are good to go. Keep in mind that passengers who dress with manners in mind get the most attention from flight attendants. So, for attendants, wearing a T-shirt that screams profanities is banned. For example, a T emblazoned with the phrase "Parental Advisory: Explicit Content" that's splayed all over a woman's shirt will probably have to change into something that's more acceptable.
22 Not Allowed: Soup
The TSA is pretty lax about what kinds of food we can bring on a plane. We can bring that sandwich you just bought from the airport Starbucks, or your favorite dish your mom cooked just for you or even a snack bag full of sweet and sours you got from Dylan's Candy Bar while touring New York City. But you can't bring soup with you, according to Insider. It's primarily liquid and has to follow the 3-4 ounce packaging rule. And besides, if you were allowed to bring it on the plane, who likes cold soup?
21 Allowed: Small Scissors only
It's common sense that we can't bring sharp objects on the plane. But here's a thing that is allowed on a plane but shouldn't be. That's small scissors. According to Travel Made Simple, the scissors must have blades measuring 4 inches or shorter or resemble nail scissors. That's a surprising thing since every other sharp object has to be checked. We mean, small blades, despite their size, have sharp points like other scissors. Ugh!
20 Not Allowed: Bowling Pins
Okay, so who's taking their bowling balls or pins on the plane? Yes, to pass the time, it would be fun to set up an impromptu bowling alley in the aisle of the cabin, especially if you're very bored. But, alas, sports equipment like bowling balls and pins can be used as a bludgeon. That means bowling pins are prohibited in the cabin of the plane and must be checked. Surprisingly, though, you don't have to check your bowling ball. You can bring that on the plane, according to Business Insider. That doesn't even make sense. Bowling balls are solid to the core.
19 Allowed: Fresh Eggs
So suppose you went on vacation and brought back a whole basket load of fresh organic eggs found at a local market. Do you think TSA will let you bring them on the plane? They actually will, although the reason is a mystery, according to Insider. We think TSA should put a ban on eggs on board because what are eggs known for? Yep, they break easily. They can break in your carry-on and the yolk may spill on those passengers beside you. It's not fair! That nice dress you're wearing is now ruined.
18 Allowed: Disposable Razors
According to Carry On Guy, safety razors "with interchangeable blades are not okay for carry-on bags because. . . they are not safe since the blades are so easy to take out." Similarly, the straight razor is prohibited because it falls under the TSA rule of not being able to carry sharp objects onto an airplane. What's surprising, though, is that you can bring disposable razors on the plane. Even ones with detachable disposable heads can pass through security. They're not that sharp, but they can be taken apart and can then be used for a purpose that's not intended.
17 Allowed: Sports Balls
Sports balls--like basketballs, footballs, and soccer balls--don't have to be deflated if you want to bring them on the plane. You can just carry them on, according to The Daily Meal. But remember we told you that you can also bring heavy balls like bowling balls and bocce balls on the plane even if they're solid to the core? We still have problems with solid balls, and now we find it confusing that sports balls can be allowed on the plane. So maybe you can have an impromptu touch football game in the aisles?
16 Not Allowed: Heating Pads
Heating pads sound cozy when flying on a plane. If you can get away with it, just plug the pad into the electrical outlet at the bottom of your chair. Especially when you're sitting in economy, your cramped seats will get all your knots twisted. A heating pad can relieve your aching neck, shoulders and upper back. But, alas, since the gel in heating pads is essentially liquid, as Business Insider pointed out, you can't bring it on a plane. Stick with an electric heating pad, or stow it in your checked luggage.
15 Not Allowed: Gravy
When Thanksgiving is around the corner and you're traveling on a plane, The TSA once again goes bah humbug. This time, the best thing to put on turkey, which is gravy, can't be brought on a plane. Even if your grandma made it or you made it using her traditional recipe. But this shouldn't surprise us, as gravy, no matter how thick it is, is made in most part of liquid and therefore can only be checked if it's under 3.4 ounces. But you can store it in your checked baggage. Yet no matter how secure you pack it, we all know that somehow it will spill and get on all your clothing.
14 Not Allowed: Gel Insoles
One of the weirdest items that won't make it pass the TSA is gel insoles. For a long time the TSA banned both gel insoles and gel shoe inserts, which alleviate back and foot pain. But now, according to the TSA website, these things are allowed, despite the fact that they exceed the 3.4-ounce limit on carry-on liquids, according to The Huffington Post. However, it's really touch and go. While some have had their gel insoles pass the security checkpoint, others have not. Well, this is the TSA, so you never actually know if your stuff will fly or be disposed of.
13 Not Allowed: Snow Globes
So here's something that travelers will need to know to not bring on the plane the next time they fly: the innocuous snow globe, usually a gift during the holiday season. Don't bother buying it for your aunt if you don't want TSA to confiscate it. Snow globes can only contain up to 3.4 ounces of liquid. So if the globe is larger than a tennis ball, you have to put it in a checked bag. If it's smaller than a tennis ball, you can put it in your carry-on. But, according to The Washington Post, the globe (and its base) must fit into the quart-sized bag with the rest of your liquid.
12 Not Allowed: Fertilizer
So you can't bring fertilizer on the plane. Seriously! Like who does that anyway? Green thumbs? What, are you going to fertilize your ficus plant while flying? Well, as you may have seen on TV or in the movies, fertilizers with ammonium nitrate can be an ingredient in making something dangerous. And here's the need to know, according to Reader's Digest. Fertilizer can't be checked and can't be stuffed in your carry-on. You just can't bring it at all.
11 Not Allowed: Chemicals and Toxic Substances
Some items are considered very dangerous to have on a plane or in your checked luggage. Things like pool chlorine, liquid bleach, fire extinguishers, torch lighters, tear gas and peroxide are banned entirely. We don't get peroxide or liquid bleach. Why would anyone bother bringing those on the plane? Like do you need to run home and do your whites after getting off the plane? Okay, fine. Well, all these are banned because they present a danger of imploding in the body of the plane, according to USA Today.
10 Allowed: Tools
You know, it seems like the TSA is toying with us. First, we can bring scissors, but only if they are small. Now we can bring tools on a flight, and we don't have to check them. This means we can bring on the plane a wrench or a screwdriver or whatever that's found in a toolbox except for a hammer. Like the scissors, there's only one rule to follow: the tools must be seven inches or shorter, according to The Insider. But all of these things can be used as a weapon, which means these are surprising things that are allowed on a plane but shouldn't be.
9 Allowed: Ice Skates And Rollerblades
Ice skates and rollerblades are both sports equipment that has been approved by the TSA. These again are surprising things that's allowed on a plane but shouldn't. Skates and rollerblades have blades and can be dangerous to other passengers, according to The Huffington Post, especially if they have toe-picks. All you have to do is stow your skates in a bag that can fit in your carry-on tote, bag or luggage and wrap the blades in some cover. And the only reason that skates may be banned and be forced into your checked bag is for space limitations on the plane.
8 Not Allowed: Butane Curling Irons
So here's a beauty item you may want to bring with you when traveling. A cordless curling iron. But unfortunately, the cordless iron uses butane, so this is one of the few items allowed in a carry-on but not in a checked bag. The iron could catch fire if it turns on by accident. If you decide to carry the curling iron onto the plane, it must have a safety cover over the curler just in case. According to the TSA, gas refills (or spare cartridges) are not allowed in either checked or carry-on bags.
7 Not Allowed: Cast Iron Pots and Pans
Sure you can carry all kinds of pots and pans on a plane, but TSA forbids those made of cast iron. You have to keep cast-iron cookware in checked baggage. That's because they're made of pure metal, according to Reader's Digest, an alloy of iron containing manganese, silicon and carbon. They're like Captain America's Vibranium shield and will not be able to easily dent if you smash them on something, unlike regular pots and pans. This is the exact reason why cast irons are not allowed in carry-on baggage. It's potentially dangerous.
6 Allowed: Antlers
So your souvenir from your vacay are antlers and you want to hang them up in your home. TSA actually allows the antlers to go through security and you can keep them with you as long as they fit overhead or under the seat. While the antler tips must be properly protected, as bizjournal pointed out, this is another surprising thing allowed on a plane but shouldn't be. No matter how much bubble wrap you put around the tips, some curious child may go under your seat and start to play with it, thus exposing him to unnecessary danger.
5 Not Allowed: English Christmas Crackers
English Christmas crackers seem like a real holiday treat. But then we realized that there are no crackers in the beautiful holiday package. The crackers are actually small cardboard and paper contraptions with a prize hidden inside made up of jokes, candy and toy crowns. You pull on each end with someone and the cracker splits and makes a snapping noise and someone gets the prize, according to The Cheat Sheet. This bang is why the TSAs won't let you on the plane with the crackers.
4 Allowed: Syringes
As long as you place them in a Sharps disposable container or another similar container, you can bring used syringes in your carry along, according to the Trip. You can also bring new, unused syringes on board but only if they are accompanied by injectable medication, as Trip Savvy pointed out, and a letter from your doctor explaining why you need the meds (like for diabetes) to help you pass security. But if passengers are allowed to have needles with them and don't need them for medical purposes, these are clearly very sharp objects like cake knives that can easily cut through a pecan pie.
3 Not Allowed: Foam Sword Toys
Like we'd ever mistake a foam sword as a real one. Foam swords are toys, and they look it. They also look entirely harmless. But safety is always TSA's main concern, and they will only allow you to carry it in your checked bag. The TSA is so bah humbug when it comes to toys resembling weapons, which is why you also can't bring toy guns with you. To prevent someone on the plane who has some ideas about turning kids' toys from the innocuous to something more sinister is the reason why most fake kids' weapons must travel below the plane, according to the TSA site.
2 Allowed: Lightsabers
If you're traveling to Comic Con or another nerdy fan-friendly event, you may want to bring your lightsaber. You're in luck, as the TSA permits this object, as it's essentially a toy, and is often called a "fictional weapon" or "fantasy technology," as Business Insider put it, and can't harm anyone. But we argue that the saber can frighten people and, because of that, it shouldn't be allowed on a plane. But the TSA is firm with its decision and, the jokesters that they are, said, "Sadly, the technology doesn't currently exist to create a real lightsaber. However, you can pack a toy lightsaber in your carry-on or checked bag. May the force be with you." Ha ha! May the force be with you too!
1 Not Allowed: Bear Spray
Usually, passengers on the plane who plan on hiking, camping or shooting in the woods carry with them bear spray (pepper spray for bear attacks) or bear bangers (which is a device that makes a loud noise that scares bears). But both are not allowed either in your carry-on or your checked bag. If the noise goes off on the plane, you'll scare the passengers. If some passenger gets hold of your spray to use it for its non-intended purpose, you probably might be banned from the airline. We're serious!
Sources: The TSA website, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, The Daily Mail, The Daily Meal, The Insider, Trip, Trip Savvy, bizjournal, The Cheat Sheet, Reader's Digest, USA Today, Carry On Guy, Travel Made Simple, The Washington Post, Destination Trips