What Can I Take On A Plane In Checked Luggage?

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It’s no secret that airports in The States have one of the strictest regulations in the world. If you want to have a smooth experience traveling, you should be aware of their rules and regulations.

It wasn’t always like this though. Before 9/11, air travel was fairly straightforward. You don’t even have to arrive at the airport 2-3 hours before your flight. You can just walk into the airport minutes prior to your flight and be on your way.

Those days have long passed though, with scanners and security in every corner. It can take an hour or more just to get to your preboarding terminal from the long lines of the TSA checkpoints.

It also depends on the season. Come holiday time, you should expect even longer wait times. They say that this is the price to pay for safety, but whether or not it works remains a hot debate.

What we can only do is to adjust. As travelers, we should at least have an understanding of the things we can do at the airport, and what items are we allowed to bring. We want our travel to be as smooth as possible after all.

The only way you can you can do that is by following all these little security requirements that the TSA has put into every flight coming in and out of the USA.

Most countries have followed the same stringent guideline so this list sort of applies even to international travel. This article can serve as a handy guide for when you are traveling via plane from anywhere around the world.

In this article, we are going to focus on what items you can bring on a plane inside your checked luggage. Do not assume that items that aren’t allowed in carry ons can just be dumped into your checked bags and pass security. Carry-ons and checked luggage have two very unique requirements which can sometimes be confusing.

To make this article a bit more streamlined, I am only going to talk about the things you can’t take with you in checked luggage. The different requirements for the carry-on and checked in luggage is for another article.

Let’s begin.

Never Pack These Items In Your Checked Baggage

If you go to the TSA website, you will see a list of all the things that you can’t bring inside your checked luggage. But reading through all of it will be pretty exhausting. A lot of the items on their list don’t usually make sense, too. Many of the items in there seems arbitrary. It is what it is though.

In this list, we’re going to focus on the most common items that you bring with you at the airport. For the more specific items, you may need to check in with the TSA because they have a lot of rules when it comes to special items.

It’s not that these rules aren’t made public. It’s just that, these special rules are pretty extensive and would make this article probably 10x as long. Their rules on medicinal items alone is enough for 2 articles. But even then, they can bend the rules if they want to.

Here’s a Short Video on TSA Guides

Liquids over 100ml

This restriction has become the standard today even on international flight so this guideline should apply to most of your travels. For liquids under the 100ml limit, they must fit into a clear one quart sized plastic bag. If your liquid container is bigger than 100ml and it isn’t full, that is still not allowed.

There are special cases which liquids over 100ml are allowed but these aren’t guaranteed. For instance, you can bring baby food larger than 100ml but it probably depends on the mood of the TSA officer. Their stance is you can bring a “reasonable amount” of baby food which puts the actual amount allowed within their discretion.

Sharp objects

This one’s a bit tricky though because it depends on the type of sharp object you want to bring. For instance, you can’t bring a straight razor but a disposable one is allowed. As for knives, you aren’t allowed to bring any kind whatsoever.

Oddly enough, they allow knitting tools as long as it is dull. Even though it’s permitted, I don’t really recommend bringing on items that have sharp ends. Sure, the TSA may let you pass but the hassle it poses may not be worth it.

Medications

This is more of a suggestion. While you are allowed to carry your medicine inside your checked luggage, you really shouldn’t unless it’s not essential. But if the medicine you want to bring with you isn’t really essential, I advise just buying them as soon as you land.

The main reason for this is if in case your checked in luggage gets lost in transit, your essential medicine will be lost, too. You don’t want that to happen.

As for the some medicines which requires syringe like insulin, yes, you can bring them inside the plane. For other types of medicine, you have to check with the TSA website to get proper advice.

Batteries

There have been many reports of lithium batteries exploding mid-flight. It shouldn’t come as a shock that batteries, especially lithium ones, aren’t allowed inside of checked in luggages. You can bring it inside your carry-ons though.

For luggage bags that have a built-in charging feature, that battery must be removed prior to boarding. This is for the safety of the whole flight so this is a justified restriction.

Food And Alcohol

Certain types of food aren’t allowed inside the checked baggage. It depends mostly on the country and airline but this rule isn’t exactly followed to the letter but it’s always nice to learn of the restrictions before your flight.

Different states and countries have their own restrictions, too, so keep that in mind. Items that are allowed in one place may not be permitted in the other, and it may also depend on the TSA officer.

Some airports don’t allow smelly food even inside their checked in luggage. Some are more lenient with it as long as the food is sealed inside an airtight container. Once again, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule for everything.

My recommendation is just to avoid bringing food and alcohol unless it’s essential.

Powder

As if the liquid rule isn’t already enough of a hassle, you also have to pay attention to the TSA powder rule. This one’s a bit tricky though.

You can still bring powder inside the plane but it should be placed inside a separate bin for X-ray screening if it’s more than 350 ml. If the powder volume is less than 350ml, then you can put it inside the carry-on.

Some TSA agents may even ask you to open the container and have you taste the powder to ensure it is safe. It’s one of those rules that depends on the TSA agent you will be assigned to.

Sporting Equipment

Baseball bats, hockey sticks, golf clubs and other sporting equipment aren’t permitted in your carry on because they could be used as weapons. You can bring them inside the checked in luggage but you have to make sure that they can fit in.

Oddly enough, according to the TSA guideline, you can bring your rollerblades and ski blades inside your carry on bag, but I won’t really recommend testing this one though.

Guns

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. You can check your gun in special cases though. If you want to really bring your gun, you can only do so in your checked in baggage.

Additionally, it should be locked in a hard-sided container and must be empty. The same goes for the ammunition. You can’t place both of these items on your carry on for reasons I don’t need to explain.

As for high caliber guns, it depends as well. You have to check in with the TSA to learn if the type of gun you want to bring is permitted or not. While you’re at it, you should also research the gun laws in the state you’re traveling to.

Different states throughout the US have different gun laws. You need to take this into account when bringing a gun to the airport, as if the rules aren’t confusing enough.

To avoid the hassle, just avoid bringing a gun to the airport unless you really really need to.

Flammable Items

Any item that can start a fire is a big no-no. Even if the item doesn’t look like it could start a fire, it is under the discretion of the TSA whether the said items would be allowed inside the plane or not.

To avoid the hassle, just buy a lighter once you arrive at your destination, if it’s a lighter that you want to carry with you. Being able to bring your favorite lighter isn’t worth all that hassle.

Are There Any More Banned Items?

Yes. There are plenty more items that I haven’t talked about yet.

Unfortunately, I can’t really put all the restricted items in this article because there’s just too many, plus there are special exceptions, too. The best way to go about it is to go to the TSA website and search for the items you aren’t sure it’s permitted inside the plane.

One issue is that TSA website literally has 48-page long list of restricted items so finding your particular item can be a hassle. You really have to comb through everything because there are a lot of exceptions in place for several items, especially for medicinal ones.

But for the average traveler, the list above would be enough of a guide to help you on your travel arrangement. If you aren’t sure if the item is allowed or not, the best move is to just call the hotline and ask them yourself. You likely won’t get a straight answer but it’s worth than nothing.