Published date: 25 November 2022

This year to date Aviation Security (AvSec) has removed over 130,000 items from passenger luggage that don’t meet the airlines’ conditions of carriage.

Karen Urwin, Group Manager of AvSec operations, says most of the items can actually be carried but they’re removed because passengers don’t pack them correctly. There are rules around what items go in checked bags and what items go in carry-on bags. It pays to check on the AvSec website or with the airline before you pack.

“Batteries are by far the most removed item,” says Ms Urwin. “In January 2021 new rules around batteries on aircraft came into effect and that means any type of loose batteries can’t travel in your carry-on luggage. The batteries need to be in their original packaging or ‘sealed’ in a way that prevents the two ends from connecting, such as taping over them.”

“We see lots of weird and wonderful items at our screening points, but the most commonly removed items are everyday things that people forget are in their bags.”

  1. Batteries. It’s well-documented that lithium batteries have the potential to ignite. All batteries need to be packed in carry-on luggage and be sealed or packaged appropriately. If not, they will be removed.
  2. ‘Sharps’. These are knives, blades, scissors, pocket-knives, multi-tools and box cutters. If the ‘sharp’ element of the item exceeds six centimetres it will be removed from your carry-on bag as it’s classed as a potential weapon. If in doubt, pack it in your checked bag.
  3. Lighters. Passengers are allowed ONE lighter on their person. Any additional lighters found in your carry-on bag will be removed. Blue flame lighters aren’t allowed and neither are flammable items such as lighter fluid and solvents.
  4. AirPods and hearing aid chargers. Both items use lithium batteries and can be taken only in your carry-on bag. If packed in a checked bag, they will be removed.
  5. Power banks. These are in the same category as AirPods as they, too, use lithium batteries. These can be taken only in carry-on, and not in a checked bag.
  6. The 100ml rule. If you can spread it, spray it or smear it, the 100 millilitre rule applies when flying internationally. The obvious items here are bottles of shampoo and tubes of toothpaste that exceed 100ml. However, the rule applies to food items such as peanut butter, Marmite, honey and olive oil, and to aerosols that don’t have a locking mechanism to turn them off. There are exemptions for medications and baby food.
  7. Camping equipment. Non-reusable fuel (gas liquid) cylinders are strictly forbidden anywhere on the aircraft. If you’re carrying a camp stove and/or re-usable gas cylinders, it’s likely your bag will be opened to check the airline has approved carriage and that they are clean of any liquid. If you don’t have the airline’s approval the stove and cylinder will be removed. Some camping items such as tent pegs would exceed the 6cm ‘sharps’ rule and need to be packed in checked luggage. Tree cutting wire is allowed only in your checked bag.
  8. Tools and power tools. These need to be packed in your checked bags. Most tools brought through the screening points in carry-on bags will exceed the ‘sharps’ allowance and will be removed. Important to note with power tools, the item itself needs to be in checked luggage, but the lithium battery powering it goes in your carry-on. AvSec officers remove a number of power tools from checked bags because the battery is still attached.
  9. E-cigarettes. All parts of an e-cigarette should be in your carry-on bag. If an e-cigarette is identified in checked luggage, due to the risk it contains a battery, it will be removed. It’s difficult to tell the difference between ones where the battery has been removed and those with a built-in battery.
  10. Ammunition and bullets. These items need to go in your checked bag and there are restrictions – it pays to check here before you fly.

“Our advice to passengers would be to check their bags before they pack them for anything already in there,” says Karen Urwin. “A common explanation for the offending item is that the passenger was unaware it was in their bag at all.

“We also recommend that any novelty items that look like weapons are left at home, as they’ll be picked up during screening – for example, plastic guns and grenades that can be filled with liquid.”

There’s a comprehensive list of almost 100 items on the Aviation Security Service website, with an explanation of whether the item can travel in your carry-on or in your checked bag.