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Complete guide to cabin luggage: what you can and can’t take on a plane

Times are tough for travellers. But with the world preparing to reopen in 2021, we're here to keep you dreaming and planning for your next adventure - whether that's a staycation or flying off to parts unknown. Until then, we've got the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates to keep you up to date and ready to go.

You’re finally headed off on holiday and you’ve got your head around cabin bag sizes – but what are you actually allowed to pack in that perfectly sized carry-on? From sharp objects and electronics to fresh food and everyday items, find all the answers you need in this complete guide to what you can take on a plane in your hand luggage – and what’s not allowed.

There are still travel restrictions in place to and from many destinations. We recommend always checking the latest government guidelines, the FCDO website, and our site for up-to-date travel advice before planning your trip.

Can I take scissors, umbrellas, and other everyday items in hand luggage?

If you’re planning on doing some arts and crafts on board, you’d do well to note that scissors with rounded edges, or with blades less than 6cm are fine for the cabin. Anything else simply won’t fly. Other everyday objects such as umbrellas, canes and even knitting needles are allowed, too. Knives and open razor blades on the other hand are big no-nos.

Wondering what you can take on a plane? A sunhat and sunglasses as well as various other items like a camera and jewellery next to a packed suitcase on a table.

Everyday items

ItemPermitted on board?
CorkscrewNo
SpoonYes
Knife (with sharp or fixed blade more than 6 cm)No
Folding blade knifeNo
Knife and open razor bladesNo
Scissors whose blades do not exceed 6 cmYes
Scissors with blades greater than 6 cmNo
Scissors with round points (of any length)Yes
Fixed (disposable) razor bladesYes
CutterNo
Nail clipperYes
TweezersYes
Knitting needlesYes
Sewing needlesYes
LighterNo*
Safety matchesNo*
UmbrellaYes
CaneYes
WheelchairYes
Children’s pushchairYes
Liquid for contact lensesYes
Printer cartridgeNo
*One lighter and a box of safety matches may be taken on board but they need to be on your person and not in your hand luggage. This can differ from airline to airline so please check beforehand.

Can I take laptops, hairdryers and other electrical items on board?

You can take your laptop in your cabin baggage

Wondering what you can take on a plane when it comes to electrical items? Your laptop, hair straighteners and travel razor are, generally speaking, allowed on board in the cabin. Most airlines simply request that your electrical item has enough battery for the duration of the flight. Add this onto your pre-flight checklist: charge all devices if you plan on taking them in your hand luggage.

Electronics

ItemPermitted on board?
LaptopYes
TabletYes
MP3 PlayerYes
Hairdryer or straightenerYes
Camera and camera equipmentYes
Travel ironYes
Electronic razorYes

Can I take medicine on a plane in a cabin bag?

Most medicines can go in your cabin baggage

Generally, medicines and pills are among the items you can take on a plane in your hand luggage, including syrups and medicines in liquid form as long as they do not make more than 100ml. If you need more, you must notify your airline in advance. For oxygen or air for medical use, this will depend on your airline. easyJet permits it so long as the weight of the bottle does not exceed 5kg. Ryanair also allows different types of respiratory equipment (masks, respirators ventilators continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP) so long as they comply with cabin baggage dimensions.

Medicine

ItemPermitted on board?
Cooling gel packYes
Medical equipmentYes
Medicines and pillsYes
Syrups and other medicines in liquid formYes
Hypodermic syringesYes
InhalersYes
Bottles of oxygenContact the airline directly
ScalpelsNo

Can I bring food (sandwiches, snacks, nuts) on a flight?

Wondering what you can take on a plane when it comes to foodie souvenirs? If you’re intending on carrying a delicious pot of brined olives from Spain or a selection of homemade jams on the flight, you’ll have to check in a bag to carry it with you. Unfortunately, soft cheese is also not permitted on the flight, whereas hard cheese usually is. Any sort of caramel or truffle-filled chocolate is allowed but must fit inside your 100ml liquids bag (alongside your mascara, lip balm, and deodorant). When it comes to carrying any sort of solid or dried food product (fruit, nuts, seeds), they’re generally permitted on board, as long as no other passenger has severe allergies.

Liquids over 100ml are generally unauthorised in the cabin, but there are some exceptions, notably if you’re travelling with babies or small children.

Food items

ItemPermitted on board?
Any drink (eg water, fruit juice, tea, coffee)No
Milk, powder, cow or soyaYes
Sterile water for babyYes – in a bottle
Baby foodYes
JamsNo
SyrupNo
HoneyNo
Fresh cheese in liquid or malleable form (cheese, spreadable)No
YogurtNo
SoupNo
SauceNo
Fresh cheese in liquid or malleable form (cheese, spreadable)No
OilNo
VinegarNo
Dried fruitYes
NutsYes

Can I bring sports equipment into the cabin?

Most sports equipment is not allowed in your cabin luggage

If you have a match or a competition abroad and you need to fly to get there, be careful. As a general rule, you will most certainly have to put your equipment in the hold. When it comes to what you can take on a plane, this is the case for most sports equipment, including tennis rackets, walking sticks or crampons. All these objects are not allowed to come in the cabin with you. The only exception is a sports parachute, which is allowed on board.

Sports equipment

ItemPermitted on board?
Sports parachuteYes
Bats and racketsNo
Golf clubsNo
Darts gameNo
Hiking stickNo
Ice skatesNo
Fishing rod, harpoon or rifleNo
Firearms (including reproductions)No
Martial arts equipmentNo
Diving equipmentNo
Crossbows, arrows and arrowsNo
Fronds and catapultsNo
CramponsNo
JavelinsNo
Ice axes and ice picksNo
SwordsNo
Canoes and paddlesNo

Can I take work tools and equipment in hand luggage?

As with sports equipment, most work tools and equipment are not allowed in the cabin. So if you happen to be a designer, painter or carpenter travelling, the hammer, nails and paint spray will have to go in the hold.

Equipment

ItemPermitted on board?
Blade or cutting tools larger than 6cm (e.g. screwdriver)No
Drill and accessoriesNo
Professional knivesNo
Cutting matsNo
Saws (including portable electric saws)No
HammerNo
MacheteNo
Aerosol paintNo
Turpentine and paint thinnerNo

What other items aren’t allowed in cabin luggage?

Can you take camping gear on board? How about tinned fish?

Planning on bringing a few cans of tuna on your camping trip? Don’t put them in your hand luggage unless they fit into your liquids bag and are less than 100ml. You will also need to put your tent in the hold (those tent poles can be dangerous).

Are candles allowed on planes in hand luggage?

Candles are also counted as a liquid, so don’t try to take your Jo Malone three-wick candle across the country. All hazardous materials, pointed or sharp objects, and weapons (revolvers, firearms, pistols, rifles) are also prohibited. It is also the case for tear gas, compressed gas, cleaning products, fire extinguishers and other ‘chemicals and toxic substances. And that includes peroxide, so don’t bring your hair dye with you, either. Rockets and fireworks are also banned in the cabin, in all forms. This seems obvious for real rockets, but much less for bang snaps (the little, snapping gunpowder bags kids usually play with). And that also includes traditional Christmas crackers – that sliver of gunpowder inside the festive wrapping makes them a no-no on board.

Before you pack and set off for the airport. we’d recommend always checking the latest information on hand luggage with your airline, as well as making sure you’ve checked out the most up-to-date government guidance, as restrictions concerning what you can take on a plane change frequently. Don’t forget to check out the latest coronavirus travel advice before your trip, too.

What you can take on a plane FAQs

What happens if I arrive at the airport with a prohibited item in my hand baggage?

If you arrive at check-in with an item that you can’t take on the plane, you can normally put it in your hold baggage (assuming it’s allowed in the hold). If it’s an item that is not allowed on the aircraft at all, it will normally be confiscated at check-in before you board. This is why it’s best to always check your airline’s regulations for what is and what isn’t allowed on board, before you pack.

I need to take liquid medicine in a bottle larger than 100ml on board. Can I do this?

This is likely to be fine, but you need to notify your airline in advance to avoid any issues.

If I pack a prohibited item, can I leave it behind at check-in to collect on my return?

Unfortunately not. If every passenger did this then the airport would be filled with items waiting to be collected. It’s best to double check what you can and can’t take on board before you pack. You’ll usually be able to switch anything not allowed in hand baggage into your hold luggage, if necessary.

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Information correct as of 14 July 2021, obtained from https://www.gov.uk/hand-luggage-restrictions. Please always check the latest guidance at https://www.gov.uk/hand-luggage-restrictions before booking a trip.