What Can You Take on a Plane: A Pilots Packing Guide

What Can You Take on a Plane: A Pilots Packing Guide

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Many travelers ask “what can you take on a plane?” as they prepare to travel, and our complete guide will help you pack like a pro and avoid carrying on items that aren’t allowed or safe. The TSA website has a list of specific items, but our list includes everyday items that you may not think about traveling with.

Many travelers will ask “what can you take on a plane?” as they prepare to embark on their vacations, and the answer can be found by following the TSA guidelines set on their website. The TSA website is an excellent resource for looking up specific items, but the general idea of packing for your next plane trip doesn’t need to be complicated.

Packing Basics

When traveling you’ll want to follow the 3-1-1 rule set forth by the TSA for carry-on items. The 3-1-1 rule refers to liquids, gels, and aerosols that are allowed to be in your carry on when you board the plane.

The 3-1-1 rule means that you can have items that meet the following criteria:

  • 3.4-ounce (100ml) bottles or smaller
  • All items must fit in the one-quart sized zip lock bag
  • Passengers are limited to one-quart bag per person

When you get to the TSA checkpoint, you’ll likely need to remove this bag and place it in a bin for further screening. It’s a good idea to have this bag of items easily accessible within your traveling bag so that it can be removed and replaced in a timely manner.

If you choose not to follow the 3-1-1 rule set by TSA you risk slowing down the line as a TSA agent will likely have to individually inspect your bag of items to ensure that it is safe for carry-on luggage. If you have any doubts about the safety or size of a liquid item for carrying on, it’s a good idea to put it in your checked luggage.

If you are carrying larger items on the plane with you, it’s a good idea to declare them when you get to the TSA checkpoint so that your items can be separated and cleared in a more timely manner.

Items like breast milk, baby formula, and medications are allowed in carry on provided they are in reasonable quantities. These items can exceed the limit of three ounces and do not need to be contained within the quart size Ziplock bag.

When you declare these items at the TSA checkpoint, they will likely be removed and undergo additional screening to ensure they are safe. These items may also need to be opened by TSA officers during the screening process.


When packing your bags for travel, it’s crucial that you also pack identification for use when boarding the plane. There are several different kinds of identification accepted when boarding a plane and going through a TSA checkout, but the most common ones are a U.S. Passport, a U.S. Passport card, or a state ID.

There are also other Department of Homeland Security programs such as TSA Precheck, NEXUS, FAST, Global Entry, and SENTRI that all work as expedited forms of passing a TSA checkpoint.

However, it’s worth noting that many of these programs include an annual fee, and the need to pass other requirements in order to be eligible for the program. Starting in 2020, state-issued ID cards must also be REAL ID-compliant which is a new set of regulations set in place to prevent fraud and maintain security.

Items You Can Bring

To some extent, asking “what can you take on a plane” will depend on the TSA officers on duty at the time, and the airline that you are traveling with. It’s always a good idea to double check with TSA if you have questions, and for larger items, you’ll want to also confirm with your airline.

Airbrush Makeup Machine

Airbrush makeup machines are allowed in both carry-on and checked luggage provided they are clean, and their cords are secured. It’s a good idea to secure these to avoid damaging them, but remember to still make it easy for a TSA officer to inspect.


Alcohol is one of the most common items asked about when travelers ask “what can you take on a plane?” Alcohol that is less than 140 proof is allowed in carry-on bags as long as it is 3.4 ounces or less. More substantial amounts of up to 5 liters can be put into checked luggage, but all containers must be in unopened retail packaging.

Alcohol with 24% alcohol or less are not limited in checked luggage, and mini bottles must comfortably fit into a quart sized bag.


Antlers are ok to be in both checked and carry-on baggage, but it’s a good idea to verify with the airline first to ensure that they will fit in the overhead bins on your plane.


Clean blenders with the blade part removed can be carried on the plane, but otherwise must be put into checked luggage. All blenders should be securely wrapped so as not to injure TSA staff and all cords must be secured.

Body Armor

Body armor can go in both your carry on and checked luggage, but ultimately the TSA officers at the checkpoint will get to decide if it can pass through. For items like this, you may want to confirm with TSA in advance.

Bread Machines

You can put a bread machine in both your carry on and checked bags, but you may want to call your airline ahead of time to confirm that they have space for them in the overhead bins. When transporting these items, they should be clean, cords should be secured, and they should be placed in a bag.

Camp Stoves

Camp stoves are allowed in both checked and carry-on luggage, but they must be completely empty of fuel and cleaned so that no fuel or residue can escape. Cords for these must be secured entirely, and the items should be placed in bags so that TSA officers can easily inspect them.

Cap Guns

Cap guns cannot be placed in carry-on bags, but they are allowed in checked bags. It’s a good idea to store these guns unloaded with the caps and gun both securely wrapped.

Coffee Maker

Coffee makers and espresso makers can be put in both carry-on and checked baggage provided that they are adequately cleaned, and the power cords are secured. These electronics should also be packaged so that they can be inspected if needed.

Packaging for coffee and espresso makers should protect the item from breaking while also making it easy for TSA to inspect. If they are fragile, it is recommended that they be placed in your carry-on bag.

Crow Bar

Crow bars are not allowed in carry-on bags but they can be put in checked luggage without issue. Travelers are reminded that checked bags are subject to additional fees based on weight and crowbars are not exempt from this rule.


Hookahs are allowed in both carry-on and checked luggage, but they should be wrapped in such a way that they can be inspected if need be at the TSA checkpoint. Larger hookahs may need to be placed in a checked bag due to size restrictions.

Laser Hair Remover

In general, all kinds of laser hair removers that are for non-commercial use can be transported in both checked and carry-on luggage. For larger professional units you’ll need to contact your airline and TSA in advance.


Multi-tools are a tricky one as they can contain knives that aren’t allowed to be in carry-on bags and must be put in checked luggage. If the multi-tool doesn’t include a knife, it can be stored in your carry-on bag.

Multi-tools can also be put in a carry on if they have scissors that are under 4 inches long. All multi-tools must be securely wrapped to prevent injuries to staff during an inspection.

Pots and Pans

Pots and pans are allowed in both carry-on and checked luggage, but cast-iron cookware must be put in a checked bag.

Safety Matches

Safety matches are allowing in your carry-on bag, but not in your checked bag. You are permitted one book of matches that are not “strike anywhere.”

Sewing Needles

Sewing needles are allowed in both carry-on and checked bags regardless of the airline. You may also bring knitting needles and other needlework tools in your carry on or checked luggage as well.

Tools or notions that have a blade as part of their construction are limited to checked baggage, and scissors must be under 4 inches to be stored in your carry-on bag.

Tent Spikes and Poles

If you’re looking to do some camping at your destination, it is best that you call the airline you are using in advance to see what their policy is on camping equipment. While the transportation of tents is solely up to the airline and their space requirements, the poles and spikes fall under the watchful eye of TSA.

Tent spikes and poles cannot be transported in carry-on luggage and must be put into checked baggage. This rule exists because they are sharp objects and they must be sheathed or otherwise wrapped to prevent any injuries to airport staff.

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