Published date: 10 December 2021

We don’t want to be a Christmas Grinch but every year our Aviation Security Officers remove well-intended gifts and items from people’s luggage because the items aren’t safe to take on an aircraft.

Domestic travel ramps up on 15 December when the Auckland border opens resulting in an increase of 400% in jet flights across New Zealand. We’ve made a list and checked it twice to let you know the popular items that pose an issue at security screening.

Electronic items

Gifting a phone, tablet, air pods or power bank this Christmas? All these items need to go in your carry-on luggage and not in your checked bag. We screen checked luggage and you could find these items removed. Why? Most of these items have lithium batteries which are classed as Dangerous Goods. While extremely rare there have been cases of lithium batteries exploding in cargo holds, which would be catastrophic and potentially fatal on a passenger aircraft.

Tools and power tools

Bought a power tool for that DIY person in your family? Put these gifts in your checked bag. Some tools and power tools can go in carry-on bags but there are rules around metal shaft lengths on screwdrivers, chisels, and drill bits. These items are restricted as they could be used as weapons on a flight.

Imitation weapons

Nerf guns, toy guns, toy light sabres, toy swords. There are a lot of toys that look like weapons. All these need to go into your checked bag. If you put them in your carry-on there is a chance the item will need to be voluntarily relinquished at the screening point. The same goes for gimmicky gifts that look like the “real deal” we often see plastic grenades and fake guns that hold liquid or toiletries. Keep these in your checked bag.

Celebrating with a ‘bang’

At this time of year officers always see party poppers and fireworks in people’s luggage. Both are not allowed on an aircraft at all. Party poppers contain a form of explosives that creates the pop sound and ejects the streamers/confetti. Fireworks also contain an explosive. Best to leave both items at home.


These are the number one item that cause issues for passengers at screening points. Batteries need to be packed in carry-on and each passenger is entitled to bring 20 batteries. Each spare battery needs to be individually protected either in retail packaging, a protective pouch, in an individual bag, or with tape over exposed terminals. Batteries are not allowed in checked baggage.

We have these rules around specific restricted items because they can or could pose a safety risk. Karen Urwin (Group Manager Operations – Aviation Security Service (AvSec)) says AvSec screens millions of pieces of luggage annually and many commonly removed items could be avoided if people knew which bag to pack them in.

“Tools, air pods, power banks, batteries are all often quite expensive items and the passenger often doesn’t want to relinquish those, however if people take the time to check the rules on our website they will see most items can be taken on the aircraft, it’s just a matter of whether it can go in your checked or carry-on bag.

“This season my advice to passengers would be to check what can and can’t go on an aircraft, arrive at the airport with extra time to go through security screening as there could be queues with the large numbers flying again, and make the screening easy for yourself by not wearing big boots or coats, and empty your pockets. We have to rescreen a lot of passengers who forget to take their keys or coins out of their pockets.”

You can check out all the rules on over 90 popular items on our website.