Are you confused about what is not allowed to carry on a plane? I get questions about what you can and can’t bring on a plane all the time, and I get it, it can be really confusing. So I’ve put together the most comprehensive list of what’s not allowed, and a few surprising things that are allowed.
This article will help you pack a better carry on bag so you don’t end up getting things confiscated at security.
What is not allowed on a plane in carry on bags
I’m a big advocate of traveling with only carry-on luggage. It means you have less stuff to lug around, you avoid having to pay baggage fees, and the airline can’t lose your luggage if it’s not checked.
But you should know what not to pack in your carry-on bag. If you were thinking of bringing any of these, you’ll either need to leave it at home, find an alternative, or deal with checking luggage.
Note: This post is written referencing TSA rules for travel from airports in the USA. Some countries may have different rules, so if you’re flying from an airport in another country, please look up the rules for the authority in that country.
What is not allowed on a plane in carry on baggage: the short version
There’s no way to compile a list of every single thing that is not allowed in your carry on bag. Restrictions vary from country to country, and unfortunately some things are in a gray area and up to the whims of the security agents.
If have tons of info about what you can and cannot bring on a plane in carry on bags, including info about liquids rules, things you are allowed to have that you might not realize, and much more, after this quick list.
Here’s a short list of things that are not allowed on the plane in cabin bags:
- Liquids over 3.4 ounces (100ml) or liquids that do not fit in your one permitted liquids bag
- Sharp objects
- Flammable liquids or other flammable items
- Self defense items
- Safety razors or straight razors
- Toys that look like weapons
- Sporting equipment that could be used as a weapon, such as bats
- Tools over 7 inches long or tools that could be used as a weapon, such as saws or hammers
Keep reading for more details and answers to all your questions about carry on luggage rules.
How much liquid can you take on a plane?
The liquids restriction is pretty universal nowadays, though enforcement may vary. In case you need a refresher, this is the TSA liquids rule:
If you want to bring liquids on a plane in your carry on, all of your liquids must be in containers that are no bigger than 3.4 ounces or 100ml. Plus all containers must fit in a clear, one quart sized zip top plastic bag, and each passenger is only allowed to have one liquids bag.
You are not allowed to use a bigger bag for your liquids. Containers that are bigger than 3.4 ounces (100ml) are not allowed even if they aren’t full.
Read more about How Much Liquid Can You Bring on a Plane?
TSA is currently allowing containers of hand sanitizer that are up to 12 ounces. One bottle is allowed per passenger and will most likely be screened separately.
Please note that some posts contain links that earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Buy travel sized containers and fill them with shampoo, shower gel, and any other products you want to bring on your trip.
Or try these solid toothpaste tabs so you don’t have to worry about the liquids issue.
There are special rules for medications, but these vary by country. Check with the country you will be flying out of for their rules, but in most cases you will need to let the screening agents know that you have liquid medication in addition to one quart bag you are allowed.
Take note of these items passengers often forget about which are considered liquids: peanut butter, mascara, snow globes, aerosols.
What toiletries can you take on a plane?
You can take toiletries or other liquids that are in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces (100ml), and they must all fit in a one quart (one liter) clear zip top bag.
This includes liquids, gels, and aerosols. If you must pack more toiletries than these allowances, you will have to pack them in checked luggage.
My favorite solid toiletries for travel
Solid toiletries are great for travel since they won’t count against your liquids limit. here are what I consider the best solid toiletries for travel. They’ll save you space in your quart sized liquids bag, and they work just as well – or sometimes better! – than their liquid counterparts.
- Ethique Eco-Friendly Solid Shampoo Bar: Wonderful solid shampoo that comes in lots of different variations for different hair types. I use this and the conditioner bar (next) at home as well as when I travel because I love them so much.
- Solid Conditioner Bar: I love this conditioner bar more than any liquid conditioner I’ve ever used.
- Hello toothpaste tabs: These are solid toothpaste tabs that come in an environmentally friendly tin and are made with natural peppermint.
- Neutrogena solid sunscreen: A great alternative to liquid sunscreen, and I’ve been using it for years.
- Murphy’s Naturals Mosquito Repellent Balm Stick: This solid bug repellent is a life saver, so much better than the horrible smell of the spray variety.
- Travelon Laundry Soap Sheets: A friend bought me these non-liquid laundry detergent sheets years ago, and I’ve been traveling with them ever since.
You can also read my full post about solid toiletries for travel.
Can you bring shampoo on a plane?
Yes, shampoo is allowed on a plane in both carry on baggage and checked baggage. The difference for your carry on bag is that your shampoo must comply with the TSA carry on restrictions for liquids.
This means your bottle of shampoo must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or smaller, and it must fit in your liquids bag.
A great way to avoid the problem of too many liquids is to replace your normal liquid shampoo with solid shampoo. I switched years ago, and now I love my solid shampoo and solid conditioner so much, I use them even when I’m not traveling.
What’s the deal with the TSA powder rule?
As if the liquids rule wasn’t enough of a hassle, now we have to wrap our heads around this new TSA powder rule. The first thing to know is that powdered substances are still allowed in both carry on baggage and checked baggage.
The TSA powder rule states: “Powder-like substances greater than 12 oz. / 350 mL must be placed in a separate bin for X-ray screening. They may require additional screening and containers may need to be opened.”
If you have powders in quantities larger than 12 ounces (350 ml) you are encouraged to pack them in your checked luggage. TSA isn’t requiring you to pack them in you checked bag, only encouraging it. So that’s your call.
My experience with the TSA powder rule
I once flew with store bought salt and pepper shakers, clearly smaller than 12 ounces, and the security screener still pulled my bag aside. He took out the salt and pepper shakers, and tested the salt and pepper for whatever it is they look for with those tests.
It was all fine, and I was allowed to take my salt and pepper with me. But it’s worth knowing they could inspect your powders more closely even if they’re smaller than 12 ounces.
Also, I’ve seen quite a few airline websites that state that powders larger than 12 ounces (350 ml) are NOT permitted in carry on bags. This contradicts what is stated on the TSA website.
I tend to go by TSA rules since they are the security authority and they are the ones inspecting my bags, and there really isn’t a point at which the airline would even know if I had large amounts of powder. But this is a judgement call you’ll have to make.
Can you bring sharp objects on a plane?
This one should be self-explanatory, but sharp objects are prohibited in carry-on luggage because they could be used as a weapon. If you simply must bring a knife, box cutter, or sword on your trip, it must be packed in your checked luggage.
Scissors in cabin bags
Scissors that are less than 4 inches long, like nail scissors, are generally allowed by TSA. But since the final decision rests with the agent, just be aware that they could confiscate it.
Rules in other countries can be different from those in the US, so check it out before you fly from somewhere else. I’ve had my nail scissors confiscated in other countries, so it does happen.
For example, many countries state that scissors are only permitted if they are shorter than 6 centimeters from the pivot point. That’s only 2.36 inches, which is shorter than what TSA allows in the US.
What about knives in hand luggage?
Knives are not allowed in cabin bags, although TSA does say that plastic or round-bladed butter knives are permitted in carry-on baggage. But metal knives, pocket knives, and Swiss army knives are not allowed.
If you want to bring one of these, pack it safely in your checked baggage. It should have a sheath on it so that it can’t accidentally cut through your bag and injure a baggage handler or baggage screener.
Can you bring glass on a plane?
I get a lot of questions about bringing glass on a plane in carry on luggage, and I can see the concern. Glass can be rather sharp and potentially dangerous when it’s broken.
However, according to the TSA website, you can take glass on a plane in hand luggage.
They specifically mention that glass picture frames and glass vases are permitted in both carry on and checked baggage. So as long as the glass item fits in your bag, and your bag fits within the size and weight restrictions for your airline, you’re good to go.
Always wrap glass and other fragile items to prevent them from breaking during the journey. Whenever possible, pack glass items in your carry on bag since checked baggage can get banged around quite a lot.
Can you take knitting needles on a plane?
For those of you who like to knit, especially as a way to pass the time, the answer is yes, you can bring knitting needles on a plane in your carry on bag. TSA also allows crochet hooks in your hand baggage.
I’ve read that plastic or wooden knitting needles are preferred over metal ones, and circular knitting needles are preferred over straight ones, however the TSA website doesn’t mention this.
As always, the TSA agent on duty has the final say, and other countries may have different rules.
Can you bring a razor on a plane?
Taking razors on an airplane can be a little confusing. Straight razors and blades for safety razors are not allowed in your carry-on luggage.
However, you can take a razor through security if it’s a disposable razor. That means the actual blade is attached to a handle, like the kind most of us use to shave. Electric razors are also allowed in your carry-on.
Read more about taking a razor on a plane.
Baseball bats, ski poles, pool cues, bows and arrows, hockey sticks, golf clubs, and pretty much any other sporting equipment containing the words stick, pole, bat or club cannot be brought on the plane as carry-on. That’s because they could be used as a weapon.
If playing sports will be part of your travels, consider renting equipment at your destination.
For those of you who are quite attached to using your own sports equipment, you’ll probably need to check it.
Roller skates and roller blades are allowed in carry on baggage. Oddly enough, the TSA website states that it’s ok to bring ice skates in your carry-on. I’m not sure I want to test this one though.
Guns on planes
Obviously a gun is a weapon, and they don’t want you bringing it on an airplane in your carry-on bag. Most guns are permitted in checked luggage as long as they are empty, and they must be in a locked, hard-sided container.
Check with your airline about other restrictions and/or fees they might have. Some items, such as flares and gun powder, are not even permitted in checked luggage.
Before you travel, research the gun laws in the state or country you’re going to. Different states throughout the US have different laws, and many other countries heavily restrict or prohibit personal gun use and ownership.
Anything else that is considered to be a weapon is not allowed on a plane in carry on luggage.
Can you take self-defense items on a plane?
Self-defense items, like pepper spray or mace, are not allowed in carry-on luggage. These could be considered a weapon by TSA, so leave them at home.
If you really want to bring it along for your trip, the TSA website says you are allowed to have one 4 ounce container of mace or pepper spray in your checked luggage “provided it is equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge.”
But always check with your airline since they might have stricter regulations on this.
Are tools allowed on a plane in carry on bags?
Most, but not all, tools are prohibited in carry-on luggage. If you’re planning on bringing your tools with you, you will most likely need to put them in checked luggage.
You might not think of a hammer or drill bits as weapons, but TSA’s opinion differs.
Tools that are 7 inches or less in length are permitted, but not sharp tools. I think you’ll find that most tools are unfortunately longer than 7 inches, sharp, or something that could be considered useful as a weapon.
It’s best to pack tools in checked baggage or simply leave them at home.
What about bringing flammable items on a plane?
I think we can all agree that starting a fire on the airplane is not a good idea.
Please leave all flammable chemicals and items at home. If you feel you must have fireworks, bleach, chlorine, or paint thinner on your vacation, buy them when you arrive.
These and other flammable and explosive items are prohibited in both carry-on and checked luggage.
Camping gear used for fires and cooking, such as a camping stove, is considered flammable as well.
TSA does say camp stoves “are allowed in carry-on or checked bags only if they are empty of all fuel and cleaned so that no fuel vapors or residue remain.”
Remember that their standards for “cleaned” might be stricter than yours, so if they detect even the tiniest amount, your camp stove could be confiscated.
Check with TSA and the airline for rules and restrictions. If possible, get the equipment you need once you arrive to avoid the hassle. TSA does allow one book of safety matches in your carry-on, but matches are not allowed in your checked luggage.
Are lighters or matches allowed on airplanes?
You can bring a lighter on a plane in your carry-on, though usually only one is allowed. Lighters can only be checked if they have no fuel in them, but they have to be seriously 100% empty.
Read more about taking matches and lighters on a plane including certain types of lighters that are not permitted.
Can you bring e-cigarettes or vaping devices on a plane?
Yes, you can take e-cigarettes or a vape on a plane. In fact, TSA requires you to pack your e-cigarette/vaping device in carry-on, not checked luggage.
The liquid you need for it must also fit within the liquid allowances. Read more about bringing a vape on a plane.
And of course remember that you are not allowed to smoke cigarettes or use a vaping device at all while on an airplane.
Bringing meat, fruit, vegetables, and other agricultural products in carry on bags
When traveling internationally, most countries prohibit you from bringing in meats, fruit, vegetables, plants, and other agricultural products.
If you want to bring an apple as a snack, just make sure you eat it on the plane. Otherwise it will be confiscated on arrival, and you could find yourself facing an angry border agent.
Certain countries, like Australia and New Zealand, are even more strict and won’t allow things like wooden souvenirs you may have picked up somewhere else.
What can you carry on a plane but maybe shouldn’t?
These are some items that are allowed on an airplane in carry on luggage, but out of respect for other passengers, you probably shouldn’t pack these in your carry-on. Or simply refrain from using some of these items while in flight.
I know airline food is notoriously bad, or often not even offered, so it makes sense to bring your own occasionally. But please be respectful of your neighbors and leave the fish and other stinky food at home.
But in general, can you bring food on a plane? Yes, normally it is allowed, but some airlines might be more strict than others.
Also remember that any food that can be considered a liquid is not allowed if it is more than 3.4 ounces (100ml). So leave your peanut butter at home, it counts as a liquid.
Can you bring nail polish on a plane?
Ok, bring the nail polish (in your liquids bag) if you want, it is allowed in your carry on bag.
But please don’t paint your nails in flight. This falls under the disrespectful smell category. Plus can you just imagine what happens if you hit unexpected turbulence while painting your nails? Yikes!
>>Learn more about traveling with makeup in your carry on.
Perfume on a plane
We’re all glad you care about how you smell, but perfume can be unpleasant and bothersome to many people. Some are even allergic.
So even though perfume and cologne are allowed in carry-on baggage, as long as they comply with the liquids rules, please wait until you reach your destination to spray on the perfume. That way your seatmates can breathe easy during the flight.
Guidebooks can be really helpful, but chances are you don’t need to bring that heavy book with you on the trip. Either rip out the pages you think you’ll need, photocopy them, or take pictures with your phone of the pages you need.
Better yet, buy digital copies for your Kindle or other e-reader.
FAQs about carry on luggage rules
Some topics about what is not allowed on a plane in carry on luggage are quite detailed. Here are some frequently asked questions about which items are allowed on a plane, including links to full articles I’ve written with more details to help you avoid problems at the airport.
How much liquid can you bring on a plane?
In general, you can take one clear quart sized (liter sized) zip top bag as your liquids bag. Each container in that bag must be 3.4 ounces or smaller.
What counts as liquid on a plane? What other rules are there about flying with liquids? Learn more here: How Much Liquid Can You Bring on a Plane?
Can you bring food on a plane?
Understandably, many people want to bring snacks or even a full meal on the plane with them. Learn which kinds of foods are allowed and which ones aren’t. Read more here: Can you bring food on a plane?
Can you take alcohol on a plane?
There are rules about flying with alcohol in both carry on and checked baggage, so make sure you know what’s allowed. No one wants an expensive bottle of wine confiscated!
Plus you’ll find tips for packing these bottles to minimize the risk of breakage. Learn more here: Can you bring alcohol on a plane?
Can you take makeup on a plane?
Some makeup is liquid, some isn’t. Then there’s that weird new powder rule to figure out.
Read my tips for taking make up on a plane here: Can you bring makeup on a plane?
Can you bring disinfectant wipes on a plane?
Understandably there is some confusion about whether wipes count as liquids and whether or not you can take them on a plane in your carry on. Disinfectant wipes, makeup wipes, any kind of wipes you’re thinking of, it’s all in here.
Plus I’ve included some important tips to help you rid your airplane seat from germs. Learn all about it here: Can you take disinfectant wipes on a plane? Plus how to disinfect your airplane seat!
Can you take hand sanitizer on a plane?
The world is a dirty place, and you might not always have access to soap and water to wash your hands. Learn the rules about flying with hand sanitizer and how much is allowed: Can you bring hand sanitizer on a plane?
Can you take aerosols on a plane?
Aerosols are considered liquid, but there’s a little more to it than that, especially if you’re putting them in checked luggage. Learn the rules for bringing aerosols on a plane in this post: Can you take aerosols on a plane?
Can you bring hairspray on a plane in carry on bags?
What about bringing hairspray on a plane in checked bags? Is hairspray considered a liquid?
Find answers here about flying with hairspray: Can you bring hairspray on a plane?
Can you bring deodorant on a plane?
Is deodorant a liquid? Can you pack it in your carry on bag? Get all the answers to your questions about flying with deodorant: Can you take deodorant on a plane?
Can you bring sports equipment on a plane?
If you like to do sports when you travel, you might want to bring your own equipment. But some items are not allowed in carry on luggage, so read up on the rules and tips before your flight: Can You Pack Sports Equipment in Your Carry-On?
Can you take batteries on a plane?
With so many different types of batteries, it’s no wonder there are lots of different rules about bringing them on a plane. Learn which ones are allowed and the differences between packing batteries in hand luggage and checked baggage: Can you take batteries and power banks on a plane?
Can you take a mobility scooter or wheelchair on a plane?
If you have a physical disability and require a mobility device, you might have some questions about traveling with your device. Check out these expert tips for flying with a mobility scooter or wheelchair: Can You Bring a Mobility Scooter on a Plane? Plus Flying With a Wheelchair
Can you bring a lighter on a plane?
Lighters and matches can start fires, so obviously there are restrictions about bringing them on a plane. Surprisingly it’s not a flat out no, make sure you know the rules ahead of time: Can you bring matches or a lighter on a plane?
Can you take your vape on a plane?
Vaping has gotten more popular in recent years, so if you use one, it’s important to pack it properly to avoid getting it confiscated: Can you take a vape on a plane?
Should you pack a hair dryer?
I understand the temptation, but should you even bring your hair dryer on your trip? Read this post before your trip to decide if you really need to pack that hair dryer: Should You Pack a Hair Dryer?
Can you bring a hair straightener/hair dryer/curling iron on a plane?
If you’ve decided to bring your hair dryer, hair straightener, or curling iron on your trip, you need to know the rules about packing them and tips for how to pack them. And if you use a cordless hair appliance, you’ll definitely want to read this: Can you take hair straighteners in hand luggage? Plus hair dryers and curling irons.
Can you take a razor on a plane?
Razors can be tricky since they’re sharp, but certain types are allowed in carry on luggage. Read the rules here to avoid packing the wrong kind: Can you bring a razor on a plane?
Can you bring toothpaste on a plane?
Toothpaste stumps a lot of people when packing for a trip. Is toothpaste a liquid? Can you pack it in your carry on? Get the answers to your toothpaste travel questions in this post: Can you bring toothpaste on a plane?
How many ounces can you take on a plane?
To answer the question, how many oz can you fly with, you have to understand that each container of liquid, cream, gel, or aerosol must be 3.4 oz (100ml) or smaller, and each container must fit into a clear 1 quart (1 liter) zip top bag for the airport.
You’re only allowed one liquids bag per passenger, so whatever you can fit in that bag is as much as you can take on the plane in hand luggage.
Can I bring lotion on a plane?
Yes, you sure can. Lotion is allowed on a plane in either carry on or checked luggage, but if you’re packing it in your carry on bag, make sure it complies with the TSA rules for liquids.
How many carry on bags are allowed?
The number of carry on bags allowed for each passenger is controlled by each airline individually. Most allow one carry on item that goes in the overhead bin and one personal item that must fit underneath the seat in front of you.
However, not all airlines are the same. Some strictly permit only one bag. Others, especially some low cost airlines, allow one personal item and make you pay to add a carry on item.
Check out our comprehensive carry on luggage size chart for size and weight restrictions by airline, including how many items each airline allows.
This list of what not to pack in your carry-on bag is not all inclusive. Regulations change often, so please check the TSA (or other countries) and the airline websites before you fly.
Despite the long list above, it’s still pretty easy to travel carry-on only. Be realistic about what you need to take on your vacation, buy restricted items you need once you arrive, and enjoy your trip!
Read more about packing:
- Carry-On Luggage Size Chart
- What to Pack in Your Carry-On Bag
- How to Pick the Best Carry-On Luggage
- What to Pack for a Day Trip
- Packing Light With Liquids
- Or check out all of our luggage and packing tips posts here