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Banned on board: 10 surprising items not allowed in your hand baggage

We all know about the liquid ban, but after security staff at Derry airport stopped a student from flying with a Green Lantern mask in his carry-on bag, we investigate what other surprising items are restricted by the authorities.

1. Tent pegs

Flying to a music festival? Camping? Don’t carry your tent pegs in your hand luggage as they’ll get confiscated. Which will leave you a bit stuck: you’ll either have to sleep under the stars, which carries the risk of a fellow festival goer falling, or peeing, on you in the night; or stay awake for three days, which you may do anyway, so no biggie. Tent poles are ok though.

What to take in your carry on

2. (Multiple) cigarette lighters

Oddly, considering the official line, ‘you can’t take any objects in your hand baggage that could cause injury to yourself and other passengers,’ you can take a lighter on the plane. But no more than one. Confusingly, ‘you must keep the lighter on your person throughout the flight. It is very important that you do not return it to your hand baggage after screening’. If you do plan on going hand luggage only, check out the full guide on how to pack without checking in a bag.

3. Soup

The rules are the rules. While you might argue that a one-person portion of chicken and mushroom bears less threat to the safety of your fellow passengers than a lighter, liquid is liquid. Well, 101ml or more of liquid. The same goes for mascara, clotted cream and of course, water. Still keen to carry your snacks? Buy dry Cup a Soup sachets and ask for hot water on the plane. Problem solved!

4. 10 litres of Curious by Britney Spears

You may think that you can get around the liquids rule by decanting big bottles into lots of little containers, but NO: ‘containers must be carried in a single, transparent, re-sealable plastic bag, which holds no more than a litre and measures approximately 20cm x 20cm’. Read the full guide to carrying liquids in your hand luggage here.

Restrictions for carry-on luggage


5. Medicine

While we’re on the subject of liquids, if you need a keep a big bottle of ‘essential’ medicine on you, well, tough. You can’t take more than 100ml of the stuff. Actually, you can, as long as you notify the airport in advance. Not sure that they’ll accept sauvignon blanc as essential medicine, but it’s worth a try. With pills, try a 7 day pill box to keep everything organised and easily visible to airport security official. You can find the full guide to what you can and cannot take on board here.

6. Badminton racquets

The authorities take a dim view of sporting equipment. Cricket bats: fair enough – the trusty willow is the weapon of choice for many a well-spoken, white-haired, real ale-enjoying assailant, but the ban extends to badminton racquets. As for ‘martial arts equipment’, that’s fine as long it’s checked in, so you can stuff your case with an arsenal of ‘knuckledusters, clubs, coshes, rice flails and nunchucks’.

7. Fishing rods

Why you’d want to take a harpoon away with you is your business, but if you’re off on a whaling holiday, it’ll have to go in the hold (check out our 10 favourite places for fishing holidays in the mean time). The same goes for fishing rods, presumably so you’re not tempted to get your own back on that annoying child in seat 11A by hooking them with a Woolly Worm.

8. Drills

If you are a jet-setting joiner or plumber, check-in bag fees will eat into your income, for you are not permitted to carry on essential toolbag items such as screwdrivers, spanners, pliers, saws, drills or drill bits on the plane. We’ve put together a guide of what tools you can take on board here.

9. Peroxide

From tear gas to infected blood and fire extinguishers, ‘Chemicals and Toxic Substances’ are a complete NO. This includes peroxide. So if you’re off to Malia with the lads and you’re all planning to amusingly bleach your hair, do it before you leave.

10. Flares

No, not the kind your dad probably rocked in the 70’s, though if it was up to us those would be banned too! No, signal flares “IN ANY FORM” are banned, just in case you were unsure.


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If this doesn’t clear things up, see the official travel guidelines here. Don’t get caught short on your next weekend away!

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