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How to Know What You Can & Can't Carry on Board an Aircraft

Increasing airport security is making it more and more difficult to know what you can and can't carry on board an aircraft. You may leave a country with your gel pack, only to try and return with it and have it tossed away by airport security. This article provides you with a means for quickly working out what you can take on board. By necessity this article is more about where to find the information than providing a detailed list of what you can and can't take.


  1. Keep a list of relevant websites in your bookmarks folder to check before you travel. The best sites to check are:
    • your country's transport or aviation department or ministry (or maybe foreign/external affairs); and
    • the airline(s) you are travelling with.
  2. You will also need to check the relevant government sites of countries you will be travelling within and from.
  3. Another way to check is to call your airline or local airport and ask; or even visit your airport before leaving to view any lists that they may have on display.
  4. Write down or copy your internet list so that when you are actually travelling, you can check at an internet terminal just before returning by aircraft whether or not the status of carry-on goods has been updated and changed.
  5. In general, be aware that as at August 2006, the following items are no longer allowed to be carried on board: weapons, sticks, sporting goods, musical instruments, gels & gel-based products, liquids, non-essential medical supplies, makeup, guns, razor blades, knives, pen knives, certain sharp objects, toy weapons, flammable items, aerosols etc.
  6. Be aware that the list of prohibited items will be constantly updated every time there is a security scare. It is best to refer to the relevant websites to find out immediately before travelling what restrictions are in place.


  • Think laterally. People are currently unable to transport live lobsters, for instance, because these require cooling gel packs to keep them at the right temperature. Some shoes contain gel - check yours! You may lose such items if you don't pack them in your baggage or leave them at home; you need to check the rules first.
  • Don't expect to be compensated for lost items. You may be lucky - then again, you may not be. If the item is valuable, make sure it is insured in case of loss. You should have insurance for valuable items anyway when travelling.
  • If in doubt, don't take it or pack it in your cargo baggage. It might be possible also to take along a friend or relative who can take things home for you at the last moment if it is rejected but this will only be possible if airport security allows the other person near you at the time of security checking. As this is more unlikely than likely, don't rely on it!
  • On the positive side, the extent of the restrictions might be eased as time passes & technology for detection improves; so be aware of changes by checking the relevant websites. For example, some restrictions on sewing implements and knitting needles were eased even though they were originally banned, although conditions apply as to the make of the needles etc.
  • While travelling, another source of helpful information will be your embassy or consulate in the particular country.
  • Always take prescriptions with your medication. This will not only enable you to carry the item on the aircraft with you, it will also assist with any questions a customs officer might raise in your country of arrival.


  • Don't argue, make a fuss, throw a temper tantrum. The airports are taking a very serious view of these issues and will not tolerate people behaving badly. Yes it is a pain but be patient and try to be understanding.
  • Never make a joke out of airport security, such as "Ooh, I might have a bomb in here, ha, ha." The security may not get the joke and you could be in serious trouble. It's simply not worth ruining your trip for a tired old joke.
  • If you feel faint or ill during the bustle of the screening process, let somebody know immediately. Deep breathing is a big asset in times of stress and long waits.
  • Keep an eye on children's packing and make sure you know what they have packed. You don't want big tears and upsets when something they treasure is removed from them permanently.


Travellers Tips - Travel to Zante Help Topics
...Travel by Air
... Know What You Can & Can't Carry on Board an Aircraft
...have Fun on Holiday
..pack Without Overpacking
..plan a family vacation to Zakynthos with children

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