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Banned on board: 17 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 various authorities.

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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.  

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’

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. Here are 7 other foods you might want to avoid on your next flight.

4. 22 samples of perfume from duty free

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’. All containers must be under 100ml, too. Read the full guide to carrying liquids in your hand luggage here.

5. Medicine

While we’re on the subject of liquids, if you need to 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. 

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 . 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 ’70s, though if it were up to us those would be banned too! No, signal flares “IN ANY FORM” are banned, just in case you were unsure.

11. Protein Powder

Whilst you may be into bulking on your hols, the TSA isn’t as keen. As of June 2018, if you’re flying in or out of the USA, you’ll need to keep powdered substances like coffee, spices, powdered milk, protein powder or cosmetics in a receptacle no larger than 12 ounces. That’s 350 grams – Whey Box have some nifty little sachets you could be packing instead!

12. Nut Butter

Whilst we’re talking about health nuts, it’s worth noting your nut butter usually counts as a liquid. This means you’ll need to make sure any nut butter you’re packing is under 100ml.

13. Faux Explosives

It seems pretty obvious, right? It’s the same rules for toy guns, explosives or ammunition. When travelling in and out of the States, the TSA is obliged to treat it as a threat – which means bringing in the Bomb Squad, even if your little’un has just carried on the wrong toy. Definitely worth checking. Check the TSA Instagram for more outrageous carry-on tales.

14. Brie

You’d be a little cheesed off if someone took your brie off you, on your way back from France – right? Unfortunately, soft cheese counts as a liquid, so try not to pack the whole cheese wheel into your carry-on. A small portion in your liquids bag should be fine (think Babybel size). Pop that gorgonzola into a tightly sealed bag in check. 

15. Viking Helmets

Does that attractive viking costume of yours have a spike over 6cm? Unfortunately, it’s got to go in the hold. The rule for blades/pointed objects applies here too. Make sure to check the rules on hand luggage before you take anything a little suspicious looking, such as a viking helmet, on your next flight.

16. Drones

Drones are a tricky one, especially as the technology evolves. When carrying a drone on a flight, the most important thing to note is the type of batteries you’re using – most use lithium batteries, which you have to carry in carry-on luggage. If your propellors are over 6cm, they’re worth checking, as they may count as blades. And lastly, check the local drone laws where you are travelling – Nicaragua has a complete ban on flying drones, unless you have a permit. 

17. Batteries

Whilst lithium batteries are actually permitted in your hand luggage, they are not permitted in the hold. This is so that if your battery does malfunction, the airline is able to intervene and prevent it causing further issues. If you remember when the batteries inside phones and laptops kept catching fire in the air, this is where the rule stems from. This applies to the batteries inside your laptop, phones or electronic devices – check out the full CAA guidelines here.

If this doesn’t clear things up, see the official hand luggage restrictions at UK airports here. Don’t get caught short on your next weekend away!

Read more about what to take on your travels this year 🌴

Skyscanner’s essential packing list

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Cabin Luggage: Guide to hand baggage sizes and weight restrictions

We’ve got all Europe’s major airlines cabin allowances in one place to save you a whole lot of cabin baggage stress.

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Information correct as of 10th July 2018, obtained from Please always check the latest guidance at before booking a trip