The days of packing whatever you’d like in your carry-on luggage are long gone. Each year, TSA and foreign travel safety agencies add more items on the don’t-pack list. And when you factor in airlines with different carry-on luggage sizes, packing can be pretty stressful.
In this guide, we’ll go through the main domestic and international flight rules for carry-on luggage, including policies on liquids, answer your frequent questions, and help you prepare your luggage in a safe and pleasant way.
It’s time to get going, and here’s how to pack your carry-on luggage in 2019:
1) TSA 3-1-1 liquids rule
The most common air travel question in the last decade has been: can I bring liquids on a plane?
The answer is: Yes, but…
According to TSA’s official page, you’re allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids on a plane. Each liquid container should be equal or less than 3.4 ounces (100 ml) per item.
The TSA liquids rule is also called the 3-1-1 rule, since you’re allowed to bring:
- 3.4-ounce container
- 1 quart-sized Ziploc bag
- 1 bag per passenger
TSA considers the following substances to be liquids: liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes, so be careful about packing smart and putting the rest in your checked baggage.
Additionally, any powder-like substances have to be kept to 12 ounces if you want to bring them on a plane.
If they exceed this limit, TSA officers will screen them, and if deemed dangerous or unidentifiable, they’ll be thrown away or you’ll have to move them to your checked baggage.
2) Traveling with children or a medical condition
According to TSA carry-on rules, medications, baby formula and food, and breast milk are allowed in reasonable quantities that can be bigger than three ounces. They don’t have to be in the Ziploc bag.
However, you have to declare them during the security screening, and they may be subject to additional screening.
3) Bringing food on a plane
If your food isn’t in a liquid state, you’re allowed to bring it on a plane according to TSA carry-on rules.
The only ones who can impose detailed rules on food are airlines, so check the airline’s rules if you comply with TSA’s.
Keep in mind that you’re prohibited from bringing the following food items on the plane (due to them being liquids): ketchup, yogurt, oil, jelly candy.
4) Makeup carry-on luggage restrictions
It’s good to freshen up after a long flight, but be careful about packing your makeup.
TSA’s standard 3-1-1 rule applies to cosmetics, as well. This includes moisturizers, liquid foundation, nail polish, mouthwash, toothpaste, and others. Fortunately, most of these products already come travel-sized.
Lipstick, blushes and solid makeup items are not subject to TSA carry-on luggage restrictions, so bring as many as you want!
5) Packing batteries in your carry-on luggage
Batteries power pretty much everything we have, but not all types are suitable for packing into your carry-on.
For example, laptop batteries are allowed, but car batteries (which contain liquid) aren’t.
Chargers for solid batteries are also allowed, but most airlines prohibit you from charging them during the flight.
If you’re not sure about which batteries you’re allowed to pack, check TSA’s list of allowed and prohibited batteries.
6) Bringing sharp objects on a plane
When it comes to sharp objects, tread carefully. Not only does TSA prohibit them, but so do most airlines and foreign security agencies.
You absolutely can’t bring knives, cleavers, box cutters, and other sharp objects.
However, if your scissors are shorter than 4 inches, you’re fine bringing them according to TSA carry-on rules, even though you may be subject to a more thorough security inspection.
You can also bring an electric razor, and a disposable razor on a plane. Other types of razors are not permitted.
7) Guns, weapons, pepper spray… Can you bring them on a plane?
The answer is: no. You’re prohibited from bringing any kind of weapons on a plane, and the same goes for self-defense items such as pepper spray and tasers.
However, you can put pepper spray and tasers in your checked baggage.
8) Traveling with pets
Bigger pets have to go into the cargo hold, but you are usually fine traveling with pets if they fit into the TSA-approved carrier which can be safely stowed away under your seat.
During the security screening, pets should be carried or on a leash, and they’ll go through a very quick and straightforward TSA check.
If you have a Service and Emotional Animal, they can travel with you in the cabin. However, be sure to check each airline’s policy on air travel with pets as they can vary.
9) TSA rules for other items
If you’re unsure about the items you can bring on a plane, you can use TSA’s app to check and pass your security screening easily and safely.
If you want to bring an unusual item in your carry-on luggage, you should check with both TSA and your airline to ensure safe transportation.
10) Carry-on luggage size rules
In addition to TSA and airline personal item rules, you should also pay attention to carry-on luggage size restrictions.
There is no TSA carry-on size. Instead, each airline has their own rules about carry-on baggage size. They’re usually defined by their aircraft fleet’s luggage-holding capacity. If an airline has smaller planes, then your carry-on luggage will have to be smaller, as well.
Each carry-on bag should either fit into the overhead compartment or into the space beneath your seat, and you can consult different policies on international carry-on size in this handy list that includes over 170 international airlines.
Make sure you double-check both the policies of security agencies in the countries of your departure and arrival, and relevant airlines’ rules.
After all, you want to get to your destination.
Do it with as little stress as possible, so you can enjoy every step of your journey.