Air travel hand baggage and hold luggage rules

There are strict rules on what you can and can't carry in your hand baggage and hold luggage on an aircraft. This includes dangerous and restricted items. Other restrictions may be in place, so contact your airline directly if you have any questions.

Airport security

All baggage items, including hand luggage and hold luggage, must be screened by airport security.

It's important to pack with this in mind to avoid unnecessary delays at airport security. 

Airport security staff won’t let anything through if they consider it dangerous - even if it’s normally allowed.

Size and type of hand baggage 

You should always check size limits of baggage with your airline and airport before you travel.

Airlines may also have their own rules about the number of bags you are allowed to take on the aircraft. It's best to contact them if you have any questions.

Electronic devices and electrical items

The electronic devices and electrical items you’re allowed to take on a flight depend on the country and airport you’re travelling to the UK from. There are specific restrictions for flights to the UK from Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

Some airlines might also have different restrictions. Check with your airline before you travel if you’re not sure about what you can take as hand luggage.

Make sure your electronic devices are charged before you travel. If your device does not switch on when asked, you will not be allowed to take it onto the aircraft.

Except for flights to the UK from Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, the following restrictions apply to what you can take on a plane.

Item Allowed in hand baggage? Allowed in hold baggage?
Mobile phone yes yes
Laptop yes yes
Tablet devices yes yes
MP3 player yes yes
Hairdryer or hair straighteners yes yes
Travel iron yes yes
Electric razor/shaver yes yes
E-cigarettes yes no

Cameras

You can usually take camera equipment in your hand and hold luggage. There might be restrictions on specialist equipment, for example professional video cameras.

Batteries 

Check the restrictions on certain types of batteries or contact your airline if you’re not sure what you can carry aboard.

Gas-powered hair curlers

You can take hair curlers containing a gas cartridge in checked or hand luggage as long as the safety cover is fitted at all times. You must not take separate gas cartridges on board.

Essential medicines and medical equipment

You’re allowed to carry essential medicines of more than 100ml in your hand luggage, including liquid dietary foodstuffs and inhalers. You'll need supporting documents from a relevant medical professional (for example, a letter from your doctor or a copy of your prescription). The same applies for gel packs.

Airport staff might need to open the containers to screen the liquids at the security point.

You can take medical equipment with you if it’s essential for your journey.

The equipment is screened separately and you must show documents from a qualified medical professional, such as a letter from your doctor.

Item Allowed in hand baggage? Allowed in hold baggage?
Cooling gel packs yes  yes
Medical equipment (for example, CPAP and TENS machines) yes yes
Tablets and capsules yes yes
Essential liquid medicines yes  yes
Hypodermic syringes yes yes
Inhalers yes yes
Oxygen cylinders

check with airline before you travel

check with airline before you travel

Liquids 

There are restrictions on the amount of liquids you can take in your hand luggage. If possible, pack liquids in your hold baggage (luggage that you check in).

Liquids include:

  • all drinks, including water
  • liquid or semi-liquid foods, for example soup, jam, honey and syrups
  • cosmetics and toiletries, including creams, lotions, oils, perfumes, mascara and lip gloss
  • sprays, including shaving foam, hairspray and spray deodorants
  • pastes, including toothpaste
  • gels, including hair and shower gel
  • contact lens solution
  • any other solutions and items of similar consistency

If you do take liquids in your hand luggage:

  • containers must hold no more than 100ml
  • containers should be in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag, which holds no more than a litre and measures around 20cm by 20cm
  • contents must fit comfortably inside the bag so it can be sealed
  • the bag must not be knotted or tied at the top
  • you’re limited to one plastic bag per person
  • you must show the bag at the airport security point

Liquids in containers larger than 100ml generally can’t go through security even if the container is only part full. There are some exemptions.

Exemptions

You can take liquid containers larger than 100ml through security if they are for essential medical purposes, for special dietary requirements, or contain baby food or baby milk.

You can also take liquids bought at an airport or on a plane (for example duty free) through security if:

  • the items are sealed inside a security bag when you buy them
  • the receipt for the items is sealed in the security bag and visible

You must not open the security bag until you reach your final destination. Airport staff may need to open the items to screen the liquid at the security point.

Liquid restrictions outside the EU

Countries outside the EU might have different rules on carrying liquids as a transit or transfer passenger. You should check these rules with the airline(s) and airports before travelling.

Baby food and baby milk

When travelling with a baby you’re allowed to take enough baby food, baby milk and sterilised water for the journey. There is no legal limit to how much you can take, however check with the airport before you travel.

You can carry breast milk in hand luggage even if you’re not travelling with a baby. You can’t carry frozen breast milk in hand luggage.

Individual containers of breast milk must hold no more than 2,000ml. Each container will need to be screened at the security point. 

Airport staff might need to open the containers to screen the liquids at the security point.

Item Allowed in hand baggage? Allowed in hold baggage?
Breast milk yes, in containers up to 2,000ml yes
Frozen breast milk no yes
Formula milk, cow's milk yes (baby must be present) yes
Sterilised water for the baby yes (baby must be present) yes
Soya milk for babies yes (baby must be present) yes
Baby food yes (baby must be present) yes
Cooling gel packs yes yes

Food and powders

Food items and powders in your hand luggage can block images on x-ray machines. Your bags may need to be checked again by security (by hand).

You can put these items in your hold luggage to reduce delays.

Lighters

You can only carry one lighter on board. You should put it inside a resealable plastic bag (like the ones used for liquids), which you must keep on you throughout the flight. You can’t:

  • put it in your hold luggage
  • put it in your hand luggage after screening

Mobility aids

Pushchairs, walking aids and wheelchairs are usually allowed in the cabin, but they will need to be security screened first.

For battery-powered wheelchairs or mobility aids, check with your airline first.

Musical instruments

Contact your airline before you book if you want to travel with a large musical instrument. You may need to make special arrangements, such as buying an extra seat.

Musical instruments will be screened separately.

Personal items

Items Allowed in hand baggage? Allowed in hold baggage?
Corkscrew no yes
Spoon yes yes
Knife (with a sharp or pointed blade and/or a blade longer than 6cm) no yes (check with airline)
Small scissors (with blades no longer than 6cm) yes yes
Large scissors (with blades longer than 6cm) no yes (check with airline)
Round-ended/ blunt scissors (of any length) yes yes
Fixed-cartridge razor blades (disposable razor) yes yes
Nail clippers/ nail file yes yes
Tweezers yes yes
Knitting needles yes yes
Sewing needle yes yes
Umbrella yes yes
Walking stick/ cane, walking aid yes yes
Pushchair yes yes
Wheelchair yes yes
Safety matches yes no
Non-safety matches no no
Fireworks, flares and other pyrotechnics, including party poppers and toy caps no no
Cigarette lighter no (but you can put a lighter in a plastic liquids bag and keep it on your person) no
Contact lens solution yes (up to 100ml) yes

Sporting equipment

Item Allowed in hand baggage? Allowed in hold baggage?
Sports parachute yes yes
Bat, racquet or sports stick no yes
Tennis racquet yes yes
Snooker, pool or billiard cue yes yes
Golf clubs no yes
Darts no yes
Walking/hiking poles no yes
Fishing rod yes yes
Catapult no yes
Firearms (including replica firearms) no check with airline before you travel
Harpoon or spear gun no yes
Crossbow no yes
Martial arts equipment (including knuckledusters, clubs, coshes, rice flails and nunchuks) no yes
Diving equipment check with airline before you travel check with airline before you travel

Work tools

Item Allowed in hand baggage? Allowed in hold baggage?
Tool with a blade or shaft longer than 6cm (screwdriver, chisel and so on) no yes
Drill and drill bits no yes
Stanley knife no yes
Saw (includes portable power saw) no yes
Screwdriver no yes
Hammer no yes
Pliers no yes
Wrench or spanner no yes
Bolt gun or nail gun no yes
Crowbar no yes
Blowtorch no yes

Chemicals and toxic substances

Item Allowed in hand baggage? Allowed in hold baggage?
Oxidisers and organic peroxides, including bleach and car body repair kits no no
Acids and alkalis (for example, spillable 'wet' batteries) no no
Corrosives or bleaching agents, including mercury and chlorine no no
Vehicle batteries and vehicle fuel systems no no

Self defence/ disabling sprays (for example, mace or pepper spray)

no no
Radioactive materials, including medicinal or commercial isotopes no no
Poisons and toxic substances (for example, rat poison) no no
Infectious substances or biological hazards (for example, infected blood, bacteria, viruses) no no
Materials that could spontaneously ignite or combust (burst into flames) no no
Fire extinguishers no no

Ammunition

Item Allowed in hand baggage? Allowed in hold baggage?
Guns or firearms of any kind (includes air rifles, starting pistols and so on) no check with airline before you travel
Blasting caps no no
Detonators and fuses no no
Imitation explosive devices (including replica and model guns) no no
Mines, grenades and other explosive military stores no no
Fireworks and other pyrotechnics no no
Smoke canisters no no
Smoke cartridges no no
Dynamite no no
Gunpowder no no
Plastic explosive (including black powder and percussion caps) no no
Flares  no no
Hand grenades no no
Gun cigarette lighters no no

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