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What can I take in my carry on? Your questions answered

The rules for what you can take in your carry on luggage seem to get stricter and stricter, but many of the restrictions are focused on two areas: liquids and gels; and items that can be used as weapons. Skyscanner Australia has done some digging to see what the current rules are regarding items that can be taken in cabin luggage. Here's a bit more detail about what's allowed, and what's best left at home. 

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There’s nothing worse than being that guy holding up the security line because you’ve mistakenly packed prohibited items in your carry on. If you want to avoid surrendering your giant bottle of hairspray, your favourite pair of nail scissors or your prized piece of sporting equipment at the airport, take a look at this guide to what you can and can’t take in your carry on luggage. 

Liquid, aerosol or gel restrictions

On international flights, all passengers travelling in and out of Australia must adhere to strict liquid measurement rules.

Firstly, containers of liquids and gels (such as perfume or toothpaste) must be in a container no more than 100ml. Even if a large container is only partially filled with 100ml or less of liquid, it will be refused.

All products of this type must be inside a clear, resealable plastic bag, such as a sandwich bag. The four sides of this bag must be no more than 80cm in total, meaning a 20x20cm or a 15x25cm are most suitable. The items must fit inside this bag comfortably, with the seal able to close.

Liquids prepared for airport security

Exempt items

There are a few exceptions to this rule, where you’re allowed more than 100ml of a product. These are generally restricted to medicines and medical items, baby products and special dietary products.

Products for a baby – such as expressed breast milk, baby wipes and jars of food – can be taken on board the plane so long as you are travelling with a baby or infant.

Medical products are also allowed on board in larger quantities. These must still be presented for checks and must have a doctor’s note to verify the need for them. For prescription medicines, the name on the boarding pass much match the name on the bottle.

Non-prescription items like contact lens solution, celiac foods and fish oil tablets may also be included in your carry on luggage.

A more complete list of exempt items can be found on this government website.

Frequently asked questions

Can I bring fish oil in my carry on? 

As long as your fish oil is within the 100ml rule you are free to bring this in your carry on. If you need more than this for medical reasons, you will need a doctor’s note. This will enable you to bring a “reasonable quantity” on the plane with you. This is considered enough medication to last you through the flight, as well as any delays. Consult your airline if you have doubts.

How much makeup can I bring in my carry on?

Makeup items like pressed powder, powder eye shadow, eyeliner and compacts can all be brought in your carry on without restrictions. 

For liquid items like foundation, you will need to stick to the 100ml rule. 

Sharp items

Any object that has a sharp edge that could be used to hurt someone is not permitted on board an aircraft. This can include sporting equipment (such as crampons or ice skates), tools (like screwdrivers or knives) and other items (including straight razors, nail scissors and metal cutlery).

Nail scissors are not allowed a plane

Potential weapons

As well as sharp items that could be used as weapons, any items that could feasibly be used in an attack is not allowed on board. The most common items that fall into this group are pieces of sporting equipment such as cricket bats, hockey sticks and golf clubs.

Items that can be used to restrain people – such as handcuffs or cable ties – are also banned.

No handcuffs or restraints on the plane

Frequently asked questions 

Can I bring scissors in my carry on? 

As with many rules with carry on baggage, this really just depends on the type. If you have pointed metal scissors, manicure scissors and scissors that have a blade more than 6cm long, you shouldn’t pack these in your carry on. 

Scissors with a blunt end or round ed that have blades less than 6cm long are permitted. 

Can I bring cutlery in my carry on?

Metal cutlery is not permitted, as it could be used as a weapon. If you really want to bring your own cutlery to use on the plane, you can bring a plastic knife and a fork that has square or round ended prongs, with a handle that is also round ended and non-detachable. 

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Flammable items

Anything that can easily burst into flames or be used to start a fire are also banned from an aircraft. This can include aerosols, spray paint, cap gun pellets and petrol.

Oddities

There are always some items that you wouldn’t expect on the list but are banned without special dispensation. Barometers and thermometers with mercury may only be taken on flights by representatives of official agencies (such as a government weather bureau).

Airline specifics

As well as government requirements, each airline has its own rules about items that may not be taken onboard their aircraft. If you have any doubts about some of your items, contact your carrier to see if it’s allowed.

Government app

Still confused? To help avoid situations where you have to discard items at the airport, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority has created an app and website called Can I Pack That? to help give clarification before you travel.

Now that you know what you can and can’t pack in your carry on luggage, it’s time to decide where you’re going to fly to. Use Skyscanner’s search function to find the cheapest flight deals, hotels and car hire.

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