Keep Calm and Carry-On

oliver-wendel-326842.jpg

Undoubtedly, one of the worst parts of traveling is passing through the security checkpoint in the airport.

First, there's the line. It seems like no matter what time you get to the airport the security line is always wrapped around itself and backed up and there are only two checkpoints open. 

Once you finally make it close enough then you have to deal with the tedious process of removing everything from your bag and placing your items into separate bins while a TSA agent recites the same tired spiel over and over again.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please make sure you remove all electronics from your bags: tablets, cell phones, laptops, cameras. Laptops go in a separate bin. Make sure your pockets are empty and you remove all metal objects from your body."

Once you finally pass through the scanner then you collect all of your things and desperately (read: awkwardly) try to repack your bag and get yourself together without delaying the people behind you too much before heading to your gate.

It's a long, boring, annoying, but completely necessary step in air travel that ensures everyone's safety. 

As airports across the US begin to adopt the European policy asking travelers to remove electronics larger than a cellphone from their carry on bags while passing through security checkpoints, you can expect even more delays as bags are sure to get pulled for additional screening. An already agonizing process just became a bit more unbearable. 

So this begs the question: what exactly can you bring aboard in your carry on without any major problems?

I've compiled a list of acceptable and unacceptable items. It is in no way extensive and for a full list please visit the TSA website. You can also reach out the them via Facebook messenger and Twitter


Adult toys- YES

Rest assured that your sex toys are safe and sound and completely allowed in your carry-on bag. Now, that's not to say that you're allowed to bring aboard just any and everything. Instruments that could double as a weapon may receive additional screening, but your vibrators, handcuffs, etc. are A-ok!  

Aerosols- NO...Kinda

Aerosol cans and sprays run the risk of decompression and dangerous ones such as insecticides are not allowed. Hairspray, on the other hand, is allowed on board as long as it's less than 3.4 oz/ 100mL. 

Alcoholic beverages- YES

A small amount of alcohol for personal consumption is allowed in your carry-on bag. As long as it follows the 3-1-1 rule. According to TSA, "Mini bottles of alcohol in carry-on must be able to comfortably fit into a single quart-sized bag." There are also ways of getting around this one but that’s a separate article. 

You are allowed to bring bottles of alcohol onto an airplane if you have purchased them post-screening at a Duty Free shop. However, you are not allowed to open or consume the bottles until after you have passed through immigration at your destination.

Alcoholic beverages over 140 proof- NO

Sometimes you need a drink with a major kick to it and wine and beer isn't going to cut it. Time to bring on the moonshine! Well, if you're trying to bring it onto the plane then you're S.O.L. Alcoholic beverages stronger than 70% aren't allowed onto airplanes because they're flammable. That means you have to check the 151 and the Black Absinthe.

Ammunition/ Bullets- NO

You can't bring a gun on board either.

Antlers- YES

Surprisingly, yes. Deer and other animal antlers are allowed in your carry-on bag. You might want to make sure they fit in the overhead compartment before loading them up though.

Artificial skeletal bones- YES

You are allowed to transport artificial skeletal bones, say for a biology class, museum exhibit, macabre halloween decorations, in your carry-on bag. The verdict is still out on real skeletal bones though.

Axes, Machetes, Swords- NO

...that's a weapon...like...why would you.....no....just...no.

Baby food & formula- YES, but in reasonable quantities

This one is a bit difficult. TSA agents understand that infants need to eat and therefore they must have access to their milk, water, juices, formulas and food, but they have a duty to ensure that dangerous amounts of substances aren't being brought onto airplanes. With that being said, the TSA just lists the amount allowed within a carry-on to be within reason. I'd recommend contacting TSA or the airline directly for their definition on what constitutes a reasonable amount.

Inflated balloons- NO

Especially not red ones.

Deflated/ not inflated balloons- YES

The red ones are ok.

Blenders- YES if the blade has been removed

You can bring a bread maker in your carry-on no problem, though.

Baseball bats- NO

The TSA has very specific guidelines when it comes to sporting equipment that can and cannot be brought directly onto an airplane. Baseball bats can be used as a bludgeon and is therefore considered a weapon and is not allowed in your carry-on luggage.

Blood sugar test kits- YES

TSA has strict regulations when it comes to needles (used and unused are both allowed on in protective casing) but when it comes to your insulin and medical supplies they'll give you the go ahead. 

Bowling balls- YES

Though heavy and dangerous if thrown, they are allowed in your carry-on bag. I would NOT recommend bowling down the aisles of the plane while using the people waiting in line for the bathroom as pins during your flight though. Not only is it unsafe, how would you even score it?

Cast iron skillets- NO

As with most heavy kitchen cookware, this can be used as a bludgeon or a weapon and are therefore not allowed in your carry-on.

Disposable and Zippo lighters- YES

As long as there's no fuel in it, you're good....but if you have a disposable without any fuel then why not just throw it away? 

Butane lighters- NO

Absolutely not.

Flashlights- Yes...kinda

As long as your flashlight is under 7 inches then you are allowed to bring it aboard via your carry-on luggage. 

Foam toy sword- NO

The x-ray machine cannot discern what is real from what is fake.

Gravy- YES

As long as it is less than 3.4oz or 100mL then it is allowed in your carry-on. But, I mean seriously, who only uses that much gravy? 

Harry Potter Wand- YES

I mean, how else is the airplane supposed to stay up in the air?

Leatherman tools/Multitools/Swiss Army Knife- NO

As most of these have blades longer than 4 inches they are not allowed onto airplanes. If your multitool does not have a blade it may be allowed in your carry-on, but it's best to ask before attempting to bring it and risk losing it.

Light saber- YES

According to TSA, "Sadly, the technology doesn't currently exist to create a real lightsaber. However, you can pack a toy lightsaber in your carry-on or checked bag. May the force be with you."

Live Coral and Live Fish- YES

Live corals and fish in water and a clear transparent container are allowed after inspection by the TSA officer.  They are NOT allowed in your checked bag.

Live Lobsters- Maybe

Generally speaking, TSA doesn't appear to have a problem with you bringing a live lobster in your carry-on bag, but the airline might so it's best to check with them. It's totally allowed in your checked bag though.

Skateboards and Longboards- YES

Thanks Casey.

Magic 8-ball- NO

To be completely honest, i'm not entirely sure why this one is on here. I'm pretty sure the liquid inside of an 8 ball is less than the 3.4ozm but i'm guessing it's because you can use it as a weapon to throw at someone? I'm not sure. TSA makes these rules. Not me.

Medical Marijuana- No

Federal U.S. law classifies marijuana as an illegal substance and it is therefore not allowed to be brought onto airplanes.

Recreational Marijuana- No

Same as before.

Nerf Guns- NO

While a nerf gun is relatively harmless they, along with actual handguns, rifles, muskets, compressed airguns, BB guns, pellet guns, sniper rifles, assault weapons, semi-automatic assault weapons and any other kind of gun that I failed to mention, are still guns. Nerf guns are banned mainly because of how they look on x-ray and will definitely require extra screening. 

Pizza- YES

No word on if this is a frozen pizza or a fully cooked one, but I will be testing this soon enough to confirm it for you all.

Propane- No

I'm also going to say it's probably a no for propane accessories as well.

Realistic replicas of guns- NO

This goes for realistic replicas of explosive, incendiary devices, and other dangerous looking stuff

Recreational oxygen- NO

What is recreational oxygen you ask? It's compressed oxygen in a tank that is usually flavored and is not required for continued living. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 7- NO

You know...the whole blowing up thing and airplanes doesn't go together well. 

Tampons- YES

The TSA website included it twice in a row so i thought it was important.

Tortilla press- YES

For when you absolutely must have a tortilla.

Drones- YES

If you have smaller ones like the Mavic Pro or Spark you can fit it in your bag with no problem but you’ll have to remove it when passing it through the x-ray. You may still need to check with the airline though as some of them may not allow it. As drones become more popular, I imagine that fewer and fewer airlines will take issue with this. I have yet to have any issues. Just don't fly it on the plane, duh.

Tripods- YES...NO

The TSA website lists tripods as acceptable, however I've run into issues with this in the past and have had a tripod confiscated.

What I was told is that as long as they aren't telescopic then they are allowed. So, for all you photographers and videographers your best best is to check the tripod in another bag and opt for something smaller like the gorilla pod or a similar flexible tripod that connects right to your camera instead 

Knives- YES...Kinda

Plastic and rounded edge butter knives are ok to include in your carry-on bags. Anything with a serrated edge or something that is extremely sharp is not allowed and needs to be tightly wrapped and padded and placed in your checked bag. My personal recommendation? Leave any and all knives in your checked bag if you don't want to draw any extra attention to yourself and your bag. Even though you might be able to get away with it, why even try? 


This list is in no way indicative of every airport or every airline’s policies. While these things are generally allowed to be brought in your carry-on bag, in my years of travel I've found that two things will serve you really well while getting through security. 

1) Common sense. There are some things that you absolutely know that you are not allowed to bring. Weapons. Things that can start a fire. Wild animals. Try your best to be smart about what you're bringing and generally you won't have any problems. As a rule of thumb, if you have to question whether or not you can bring something aboard a plane then you need to also ask yourself is it worth the risk of losing it?

2) Ask. When in doubt ask. TSA has an online chat and they encourage people to send them photos and questions to avoid these problems. Don't end up on the TSA IG account because you thought you could bring grenade shaped water balloons onto an airplane.

Patrick SpringerComment