Long gone are the days where you could just pack all willy-nilly and head to the airport without much fuss over what is in your checked bags. now due to certain events, air travel is much more of a hassle. You have to put conscience thought into whether it is worth it to put a nail file or pair of nail clippers into your checked bag, then arrive at the airport two hours early to be assaulted with metal detectors, stripped of your shoes, and have people rifling through you baggage.

It is not quite the stress-free event it used to be. However, with this guide you can learn what you currently can and cannot pack in your luggage. I will also throw in a few tips so that you and your airport security guard can have a smooth time getting you through security lines.

checked bag

What Can't You Bring In A Checked Bag

Usually, as long as whatever you have is in a checked bag, you can bring it along. However, these days if it can produce fire, is explosive, or could possibly explode DO NOT bring it. Sorry Rambo, you will have to leave your grenade belt at home.

Things To Leave:[1]

  • Fireworks
  • Flares
  • Grenades
  • Gasoline
  • Aerosol (including hairspray)
  • Lighters with fuel (Lighters without fuel are acceptable in checked bags)
  • Lighter Fuel
  • Matches
  • Gun Powder
  • Food and Drink
  • and most chemicals, like paint thinner

If you have some sort of chemical that you need to transport, you can apply for a Department of Transport (DOT) approved container for it. However, anything else like the items above. Just do not bring them.

If you, for example, when to Japan and bought a hand crafted Katana, you are allowed to put that in checked bags, just place it on top of your clothing so it does not look like you were trying to hide it.

airport security funny

What Can't You Bring In Carry On Bags

Carry on bags are where things get tricky. The general rule of thumb is that if it is not flammable, you can bring it but put it in your checked bag. Really I feel that the days of the carry on bag have died because you can hardly carry anything on a plane anymore. Just bring a book or a magazine and put the rest of your stuff in your checked bag.

Things To Leave Or Put In Your Checked Bag:[1]

  • Lotion, moisturizer, ointment or the like
  • Aerosol cans (don't place in checked bags either)
  • Any sort of hair gel or gel-like substance
  • Knifes, Box Cutters, razor Blades
  • Lip Balm like carmex
  • Make up of any kind (lipstick, mascara, foundation, everything)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Nail Polish or Nail Polish Remover
  • Shampoo / Conditioner
  • Any sort of weapon or sports equipment (not bats, hockey sticks, pepper spray, or swords)

Nail clippers, tweezers, and nail files are technically allowed by DoT guidelines, but I have had some airport security get snippy about it, so it is best to just put it in your checked bag to not get hassled.

Do not attempt to bring in food or any drinks. They are not allowed.

If you do accidently end up with any of these items in your carry on bag, you can ask airport security to just put it in check for you if you do not want to lose the item in question.

airport security

Tips To Have A Happier Airport Experience

Since airport security has cracked down, those who want to do harm to airplanes have had to come up with more unique and creative ways to smuggle things aboard. When those people are caught, this gives airport security new unique and creative ways to harass us before letting us through.

  • This first tip probably does not need to be said, but avoid carrying anything on the above lists onto a plane. You will not get through.
  • For the best airport experience, less is best. Try not to wear anything with metal as if you beep off the metal detector, they will have to do the hand held one. Put your belt in your checked bag as well as your keys and any coins you may have.
  • If you really want to keep your keys in your pocket, remove all sharp objects from your key chain before approaching security.
  • Wear shoes you can easily slip on and off. Some man at one point tried to smuggle a bomb in via his shoe. So now we have to remove our shoes at many airports when we go through security. So you may want to rethink your hiking boots.
  • Do not wear shoes with gel inserts. Gel is like the most taboo thing at the airports these days. i made this mistake once, and they confiscated my insoles.
  • When packing your checked bag, if you think the item might be questionable, do not stuff it down into a crevice of your suitcase. If you think it is questionable, put it on top of your clothing. This way, when they open your bag to investigate, they will not have to dig through all your clothes to get to it. Trust me when I say airport security does not mind wreaking havoc on your stuff and never puts it back nicely.
  • Do not over stuff your bag. in the event that they need to open your luggage to look inside, you do not want all your underwear spilling out everywhere do you? Do not be afraid to use two bags if you have to.
  • NEVER EVER leave your luggage unattended. You may leave your bag to go to the bathroom and come back to see it surrounded by a bomb squad (or stolen). Airport security really hates when you leave bags unattended because they think it could be a bomb.
  • Practice loss prevention. As well as never leaving your stuff unattended, practice loss prevention by liberally labeling everything. Tape your name and contact information on your laptop, cell phones, and label bother the outside and inside of your luggage. Thieves will not care if you labeled your stuff, but it does prevent someone by picking it up by mistake. Also, if a thief gets caught trying to pilfer your luggage or lifting your laptop, security will know who to return it to.