Carry-on Or Check: What You Can (and Can’t) Bring on a Plane

Traveling is exciting, but getting through airport security isn’t. Many travelers have found themselves stopped by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and watched agents confiscate items that the authorities viewed as potential security threats. Find out which items security personnel are looking for in checked bags or carry-on luggage and what you can and can’t bring onto an airplane.

Image via Flickr by Hunter-Desportes 

Allowed: Breast Pump and Breast Milk

Your breast pump does not count as a piece of carry-on luggage because it is a medical device. However, a cooler for breast milk does count as a carry-on item, so make sure you account for this item with your luggage.

Many women have horror stories about trying to get their breast pump, milk, and bottles through TSA checkpoints. These situations range from the frustrations of having to dispose of the milk to the humiliations of having to prove the use of the liquid. According to TSA regulations, breast milk is exempt from the 3-ounce travel rule, and you can bring as much as breast milk as you need. Make sure you let the TSA screeners know what you are carrying, and ask them to change their gloves to clean ones before they inspect the contents of any coolers.
Allowed: E-Cigarettes

In the spring of 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) updated its regulations for traveling with e-cigarettes. Smoking e-cigarettes or any cigarettes on a plane is strictly prohibited for the comfort and safety of other passengers. Further, charging your e-cigarette device on a plane is also not allowed.

However, make sure you pack your e-cigarette device in your carry-on luggage. Due to several instances of e-cigarettes catching fire in checked luggage, passengers must bring these devices in their carry-on bags. One Hawaiian Airlines flight had to make an emergency landing after an illegally packed e-cigarette activated the airplane’s fire-suppression system.
Not Allowed: Samsung Galaxy Note7 Smartphone

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced a complete recall of the Samsung Galaxy Note7, and the U.S. Department of Transportation has banned the device from all airlines — even in checked bags — due to safety concerns. If you are using this device, consider handling this Galaxy Note 7 Recall with T-Mobile before you travel by plane. When customers bring their Galaxy Note 7 phones back to T-Mobile stores, they will receive a full refund. They can apply the refund toward purchasing another device from among T-Mobile’s inventory of Samsung smartphones that will operate on the T-Mobile nationwide network.

Airlines aren’t taking the ban against the Galaxy Note7 lightly. One passenger on a Virgin America flight from San Francisco to Boston changed the name of the portable Wi-Fi hotspot to “Galaxy Note 7_1097,” which almost lead to the plane getting diverted to Wyoming. The pilot made several announcements requesting the owner of the Note 7 to come forward with the device and warned travelers that bags would be searched if the culprit didn’t come forward.

Carefully Pack: Knitting Supplies

Many travelers get nervous when packing knitting needles or crochet hooks. Rest assured, you can pack these items in your carry-on luggage. Naturally, travelers who hope to knit a scarf between takeoff and landing will welcome this news. But don’t grab your full sewing bag to take on the plane, as the TSA prohibits some items. For example, scissors with blades shorter than 4 inches are acceptable, but those with blades longer than 4 inches are not permitted. Circular thread cutters will also be confiscated if you try to pack them in your carry-on bags.

These knitting guidelines apply mostly to domestic flights, but the rules might differ for international airlines. Additionally, TSA agents are able to remove any items they consider unsafe, so agents might take your knitting needles if they think they’re too long or sharp.

Good news for travelers does exist: The TSA is active on Twitter, so you can tweet the agency with a question or picture of an item if you’re unsure whether you’re able to bring the item onto a plane. The agency has received more than 52,000 inquiries so far, answering questions on everything from peanut butter to baby wipes. Before you enter a terminal, make sure you know the rules for what you can and can’t pack in your carry-on and checked luggage.

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