It’s true, carry-on luggage used to be less restricted. But ever since the 9/11 terrorist attacks the rules for what’s allowed in your hand luggage and what not became more rigorous.
Especially people that do not travel that much might often ask themselves: what am I allowed to pack in my hand luggage and what should stay at home or at least go into the checked suitcase?
All these regulations can be found at the airport, on the airline’s website or by checking with your country’s federal police. But this might be an annoying task or – if you wait to get the information at the airport – too late to be useful. So, here’s an attempt to provide you with all the necessary information regarding carry-on luggage:
General safety rules and regulations
The regulations for hand luggage cover several categories into which specific items are classified. The two main groups distinguish between things that are potentially dangerous and therefore are not allowed to be packed into your hand luggage. And those items, that are safe to bring into the main cabin of a plane.
In addition to those two categories, there are also some items that require permission if they are brought on board. And in some cases, the captain even needs to know the exact loading position of these goods or products.
Permitted and forbidden items
- Permitted: ✅
- Forbidden: ❌
- With restrictions: ⚠️
Please note that rules and regulations in aviation can change by the day and we can’t guarantee for the correctness of the following information.
Razor and shavers⚠️
The regulations on carrying a razor in your hand luggage slightly differ from one EU country to another. If you don’t shave wet, you’ll most likely have less trouble bringing the right tool with you.
It is permitted to bring electric shavers ✅ onto an airplane and therefore they can be packed in your hand luggage. You should try to charge your shaver or bring fresh batteries since you might be asked to demonstrate that they are in fact functioning and not some dummy that contains dangerous materials.
The rules for carrying razors ⚠️ in your hand luggage are not as generous. In some EU countries, you might be asked to dispose of your razor once going through security. Often it will be okay to bring your razor, provided it is a commercially available one and not some mini-machete 🙂
In any case, it is prohibited to brings these so-called open or cut-throat razors ❌ on board of a plane. The same applies to razor blades ❌. Obviously, all these products can easily be used as weapons.
Food and drinks ✅/⚠️
If you want to save some money or you’re just not too keen on the food that’s served on board, you might think about bringing some food with you. This usually isn’t a problem at all.
Although allaying your hunger is fine, some rules prevent you from bringing any liquids in your hand luggage. Generally, this applies to drinks. But also jellylike products, such as peanut butter or your mum’s potato salad could cause trouble, and you might be forced to throw them away if you want to get past security. As a rule of thumb, it’s wise to check, if something is labeled in Grams or milliliters. The later might be prohibited if the repository contains more than 100 ml.
Most cosmetics that you’d bring in your hand luggage are affected by the regulations regarding liquids that we already covered in the previous point. You can bring whatever you might need for your daily `lick and a promise´, such as deodorant, shower gel, shampoo or moisturizer. This said you have to be sure to keep each item under 100 ml per tube or bottle. And this rule applies for what was in the container when it was new! Meaning that you won’t be able to pass security with a 200 ml tube of face creme, even if it’s already half empty. Overall you shouldn’t bring more than 1 liter.
Careful when bringing spray cans! Even though you can pack hairspray or deodorant into your hand luggage, it is mandatory to have to cap on it. Since the gases in those sprays are highly flammable, a missing protective cap can cause the can to inflame or explode.
Drugs and medication ⚠️
Bringing drugs – and we’re talking about the legal kind here – with you in your hand luggage is generally no problem. Liquid drugs might be an exemption, though. As soon as something is fluid, it has to be in a container and must not exceed the quantity of 100 ml.
If you are someone that needs their medication during the flight and your particular medicine is not available in quantities less than 100 ml you should definitely bring some medical certificate or a letter from your doctor stating your personal need for this medication. Ideally, you’ll also contact the airline you’re traveling with upfront.
Lighter and matches ⚠️
Lighters are actually on the list of prohibited items and are not allowed in your hand luggage. However, it is permitted to bring one lighter for personal use ✅. This lighter has to be carried with you and not in your hand luggage. So, good news for all smokers;) That being said, it’s not against any rules to bring the corresponding cigarettes with you, as long as you’re not exceeding the maximum amount of cigarettes permitted by customs in your country.
The same applies to matches. A normal sized boy of matches can be taken through security and onto the plane. But be aware of the fact that only one lighter OR a pack of matches is allowed.
Contrary to standard lighters, gasoline lighters are always prohibited items and may not be brought onto the aircraft in your hand luggage. If the lighter is empty, you can bring it. But proving, that there is no gasoline left in the lighter might cause troubles, and it’s better not to take the risk.
Electronic cigarettes that are becoming more and more popular may only be transported in your hand luggage and never in your checked baggage. They can pose a fire hazard in the belly space! No need to mention that the use of electronic cigarettes is prohibited in most aircraft. And also the liquids used for e-cigarettes are affected by the standard rules for fluids in plans – so o more than 100 ml.
Laptop, Tablet, Smartphone ✅
Neither of these products is prohibited in your hand luggage, and it’s okay t bring your phone or your iPad with you.
You should charge your device before bringing it, though, since you might be asked to prove that it is functioning.
Most of us probably won’t feel the need to dry their hair at the airport. But in case you want to look sharp before getting on the plane, or you’re worried about spilling your trousers and not being able to get them dry: no need to worry. Hairdryers are conventional portable electronic devices and can be stowed in your hand luggage.
Again, you should be able to prove that the device is working, when asked by the security guys.
Tweezers, pocket knife and nail file ⚠️
The easiest way to avoid trouble when taking one of the items mentioned above is to store them in your checked luggage.
You are, under certain conditions, allowed to bring sharp objects onto an aircraft. A nail file, for example, is okay if its blade is no longer than 6 cm. Same applies for a pocket knife. But that’s only theory. De facto a knife will always draw attention to you, and it might cause you to spend way more time at the security checkpoint than necessary. So we recommend avoiding sharp tools in your hand luggage if they’re essential.
Bringing tweezers is not an issue, by the way. They are not categorized as a sharp object nor do they have a blade.
You’d think that bringing an umbrella on the plane is a pretty standard thing especially if you’re used to the weather in central and northern Europe in fall. But surprisingly it’s not all that easy. You may be forced to dispose of your umbrella at the security control, for example, if it has sharp edges.
Of course, you should be able to stow the umbrella into your hand luggage. If that’s not the case, some airlines might consider it to be an additional piece of luggage.
Not all batteries are the same, and that’s why it can be tricky to give a general recommendation for packing them into your hand luggage. Some cells, such as the ones used in your laptop, can be stowed in your carry-on. Same goes for batteries that you are planning on using as a replacement for your noise-canceling headphones or similar devices. You should secure them against a short circuit, of course.
There are unambiguous regulations for Lithium-ion batteries ✅ that are used in electronic devices (tablets, laptops, cameras or even power banks): You’re allowed to bring these batteries in your hand luggage, provided they do not exceed 100 Wh (Wh). And you can obtain a permit from the airline for up to 160 Wh beforehand.
All the information provided in this article is all based on our personal experience and/or the regulations of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Basically, there are two significant differences compared to the regulations for checked bags: 1. You’re not allowed to bring liquids and gels in containers that exceed 100 ml. The overall amount has to be 1 liter or less. 2. No sharp or pointed objects with blades longer than 6 cm. Flammable liquids or materials are not permitted in hand- or checked luggage.
Yes, it is no problem to bring electric shavers on board of a plane.
Razor blades or so-called cut-throat razors are prohibited, and you are not allowed to pack those into your hand luggage.
Regular razors usually won’t cause problems. But the regulations differ from one country to another. In Europe, it is always worth a try. Worst case: you have to dispose of your razor at the security checkpoint.
Your umbrella shouldn’t have any pointy or sharp edges, that could make someone think you might be able to use it as a weapon. You should be good to go with most normal umbrellas. But keep an eye on the regulations for carry-on luggage since your umbrella could be too long. Also, carrying it in your hand can be a bad idea. The airline might view it as an extra piece of luggage.
You shouldn’t have any problems when bringing a hair straightener on board. If it runs on batteries, you are actually obligated to have it in your carry-on bag.
Since an electric toothbrush runs on batteries, you are not allowed to pack it into your checked bag. You have to bring it as a carry-on.