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What can I put in my carry-on?

I am sooo confused about what I can and cannot put in my carry-on luggage. We are making our 5th trip overseas in 12 years, but this is the first time we are going to try to fit everything in carry-on bags.Our bags have always been carry-on size, but did not pass weight restrictions. Our airline this trip (KLM) said the weight restriction was lifted - but that's not what their website says. I look at the list - spcifically from the airline(s) we are flying, and they pretty much all say "no scissors or knives over 6 cm" (see below). But then, they talk about nail clippers? This makes no sense to me. I'm assuming a Swiss Army knife that's only about 1" would still be considered a "jack knife"? What about a tiny knife (less than 6 cm) for cutting fruit, etc? What about RXs? One place says "in original bottle", another says clearly marked with RX - but makes no mention of original bottle. Unfortunately, we both take presriptions and carrying the original bottles would take up more room. Can someone give me some direction? I think I understand the liquid. I've read everything I can on this and it's just not sinking in. Thanks. •Knives, including ceremonial knives, with a blade of more than 6 cm (2.5 inches), made of metal or other material strong enough to be used as a weapon

Posted by
1437 posts

Here is what my experience flying in the last year has taught me: 1. it doesn't matter what anyone here says 2. it doesn't matter that you have flown with a regulation-size "whatever" before 3. it doesn't matter that you have already double-checked the TSA website and whatever other airline or government website regarding your "whatever" 4. it really doesn't matter if you politely ask that "whatever" be checked by a supervisor 5. and, it really, really doesn't matter that you know what the rule is regarding the "whatever"
6. it may, or may not, matter that you have brought the TSA rules printed directly from the government's authority's website (where the airport is), regarding your interpretation of the rules governing your "whatever" All you need is one person with attitude, at the moment you go through security, to make all that not matter.

Posted by
1437 posts

I (have)/HAD a very good small pair scissors that I bought specifically for traveling and it fit all the adjusted TSA rules. I've had it in my carry-on for at least a dozen of flights all over N.A. and Europe. I had the choice of leaving it or missing my flight in Toronto this September. Last Spring (MOS), it was my nail clippers. Although they now allow the ones that have the small file attached, the security person still insisted "no good! no good!" and conveniently spoke no other English. He missed seeing the scissors. In June (LAS), I saw a woman ahead of me be told that her regulation-size ziplock bag with her regulation-size bottles of "liquids", make-up perfume and lipstick, was "too full"; this by a woman agent (maybe hoping to snag a goodie for herself?... who knows). I observed carefully and watched the woman choose to abandon two lipsticks. As for the prescription, I'd print out the TSA rules and have the original bottle. Also find out what the name of the equivalent drug is called where you are going. The rules may have been relaxed, but the application of the rules, or not, has worsened IMO.

Posted by
1829 posts

The first thing you should do is look on internet for "TSA Guidelines". You will be able to find a list of prohibited items here as well as how to pack your liquids bag. Your liquids 1 quart bag should only have things that pour or squeeze. You should put your prescription medicines in a separate plastic bag. Both these bags should go in your shoulder/underseat bag. We take Slip-N-Snip scissors and have not ever had any trouble with them. I don't take knives of any kind. The security requirements vary somewhat in different countries. You can take a plastic blunt end knife if you need to cut fruit. We always leave our prescriptions in their original bottles and take as much as we need for the trip. You can talk to your pharmicist if you need to load up a prescription. Some travelers use other containers for meds, but I think this is simplest.

Posted by
1549 posts

I've had many experiences since liquid restrictions went into effect. As the previous poster said it varies greatly and just be prepared to let it go. I travel a fair amount, so everytime one of these happens, I change my rules, and pack different next time. 1. US TSA regulation says 3oz max/ Europe regulations say 100ml(3.4oz). Most travel size toiletries tend to be 3.4 oz. I routinely travel with a couple 3.4 oz containers, but have had them confiscated by TSA. 2. Have traveled with Corkscrews (no knife) with no problems, but London security confiscated. 3. Have seen others have "too" much in the quart bag where they had to choose a couple items to dispose of. 4. Have used "travel size" generic containers from Target. Had them confiscated once since the amount of liquid was not stated on the container. 5. had a 4.0 oz container with very little left in the container. Confiscated since the container held 4.0 ounce 6. Had Yogurt confiscated (maybe the TSA guy was hungry),
7. I routinely have a small tube of toothpaste and eyeglass cleaner in my purse that I don't bother to put the the plastic bag (mostly because I forget) and have yet to have my purse searched by the TSA.

Posted by
1888 posts

UnfortunatelY, Diane is right. A lot depends on who is working that day and their attitude. Going to Europe,my sister had to dump her matches but could take a lighter. Coming back from Edinburgh, had to dump the lighter but was allowed matches. Coming back from Hawaii, had to remove the metal brace on my arm which had just broken the day before but did not have to remove shoes,go figure.

Posted by
9363 posts

1. If you must have a knife, just buy a cheap one once you arrive or take a plastic one.
2. Rxs do not have to be in original bottles. The TSA does not care about your medicines. Labeling is for your safety, not to fulfill a regulation. The only exception to that is controlled substances. 3. Your 3-1-1 bag must be able to fully zip closed. That might be why the woman that the previous poster mentioned had to jettison some things. Lipsticks do not need to be included in the 3-1-1 bag.

Posted by
403 posts

We travel often and the TSA is truly capricious when it comes to interpreting and enforcing the rules. Definitely check the TSA site for current regulations. Generally speaking, anything you can squeeze out, pour or smear is considered a liquid and must go in your quart-sized ziploc bag. Each container in that bag must be 3 oz. or less. Note that the size of the container is the important point, not how much is in it. 1 oz. of shampoo in a 4 oz. tube will be confiscated. It's easiest just to take a few necessary things and buy more as you need it on your trip. Note that exceptions to the 3 oz rule can be made for medicines. For prescriptions, you can ask your pharmacist to stick Rx labels on little ziploc bags of meds--much smaller to pack! Just make sure they always stay with you. If your roll-aboard gets gate-checked, be sure to remove your meds and keep them with you.
I wouldn't carry knives or scissors of any sort. TSA might allow scissors, or might toss them. Easiest to avoid the hassle and just buy a cheap knife on arrival if you feel you need one. Nail clipper "should" be ok, but the agent may decide to pull it anyway.

Posted by
11613 posts

I've successfully carried on manicure scissors but had my RS Picnic Set wine corkscrew confiscated. If your original prescription container is large, perhaps your pharmacist will give you small ones with enough meds for your trip (plus a couple of extra doses). I've also put meds into a plastic bag for easier packing and put a copy of the prescription taped to the bag - I didn't think to ask the pharmacist for a label. I always take an extra set of prescriptions with me in case I need to replace something (no 5-second rule for pills dropped on a hotel carpet).

Posted by
2262 posts

It also matters where you are and who is searching. our sons flew to Europe on BA, connecting in London. Their large bottle (not in the 3-1-1) of saline solution for their contact lenses was fine here with TSA, who condisiders it a medicine a medicine. But BA made them throw it away before they were allowed on their connector. Same thing happened when they flew back, BA made them lose it, this was on flight out of Europe before they got to LHR. There are more than 1 set of rules.

Posted by
1437 posts

"There are more than 1 set of rules."
That is why you must check for the country where the airport is located as well. And yes, the ziplock bag was closed. I started paying attention when I realized that the woman's liquids bag was "regulation" all the way... I think that the woman ahead of me privately suspected the same as I did, that the agent was angling to see the perfume abandoned.

Posted by
1525 posts

Aside from ordinary clothing, there is practically nothing that you are 100% guaranteed to be able to carry-on. So don't bring anything expensive or precious that is questionable. We have always been able to bring small blunted scissors (like children's scissors) and find them very useful to have. You cannot take a metal knife OF ANY KIND! It doesn't matter how small it is. Try to carry this on and you are not only going to lose the knife, but you are going to get pulled aside and lose your modesty, too. Get a knife made of heavy plastic (and a couple of spoons and forks, too). Good rule of thumb with liquids bags is that they actually hold quite a bit and if yours is so bulging that it's difficult to close, you have way too much in there. We've taken 6-week trips with only the liquids we had in that 1-quart bag, without buying (or getting for free at hotels) anything. So it's hard for me to imagine how a shorter trip would be difficult to do with the current liquids rule. Remember, they sell most of the same stuff in Europe. As a bonus, it's kind of interesting to buy there.

Posted by
3899 posts

We had a lady from California come stay with us who had a small bottle of liquid stain remover in her purse that she said 'Whoops - guess they didn't catch that' and on our last trip from Halifax to London, they didn't even make us take our liquid bag out of our carry-on or even open up our luggage - tho last trip 2 years ago they did (they were being pretty slack - but I did have to remove my boots - which I didn't have to do at all at Heathrow or Gatwick!). I think much depends on who is manning the xray machines and if they are having a pissy day or not...

Posted by
403 posts

Yes, the rules can be wildly different! Going thru security in Bejing, my husband forgot to remove the tiny bottle of lens cleaner from his bag. The Chinese agent poured a small amount of it onto a metal table and lit it with a lighter! Of course the alcohol in the cleaner flared up a bit, but the guy decided it wasn't going to blow up the plane and gave it back. Wonder what he would have done if it had been explosive...
In Africa we were told you could not "carry on" a water bottle in your hand, but in your bag was perfectly ok. I think that was a translation problem.

Posted by
21243 posts

We have a solid deodorant that was clearly marked 2.7 oz taken because it "looked too big." When we protested the TSA agent said that 3 oz was only a guideline and not a hard rule. They were required to take anything that they viewed as a potential threat or danger. "Only doing it to protect traveling public safety." Ya, sure !!!! I know better than to ask how a nearly empty solid deodorant was a threat.

Posted by
1767 posts

The TSA bully's must love you folks... When they play "I am making up rules" I ask for their supervisor. In the past I used to carry the print outs of their rules with me The rule is 100ml or 3.4 oz. It all fits in 1 quart ziplock baggie. You can have a separate baggie for meds (which includes saline solution for contacts) In the US tiny scissors, nail files and corkscrews (the type without a knife foil cutter) are allowed. This is not universal and I have given up a couple of corkscrews at CDG. (I don't fight in foreign countries, I leave that to their citizens) The TSA has NO business looking at non liquid meds. Don't take them out for display. I have read lots of advice on meds. I take my giant size meds, peel off the labels and stick the pills in a baggie with the lable attached to it. No one has ever even looked Under no circumstances should meds you need to function go in checked bags

Posted by
18 posts

Wow - looks like I hit a nerve. Thanks for all your comments. Buying stuff overseas is fine - except if you're in the Cinque Terra - finding deodorant is a fun experience. No criticism of the Italians as I am a Milano. I'll go through all this "stress" and then maybe my bags won't fit in the overhead anyway. They are the right size, but in the past have been too heavy. Thanks, again, I think I got the picture.

Posted by
31303 posts

Sandi, "except if you're in the Cinque Terra - finding deodorant is a fun experience" I've never bought Deodorant in the Cinque Terre, but haven't had any problems finding similar items there such as Toothpaste. I typically stay in Monterosso which has a greater selektion of stores, so that may make a difference? I've found that sort of thing is usually available in a Farmacia or one of the other stores. Smaller towns such as those in the C.T. may not offer the same number of products that we have to choose from here, so some "product compromises" are sometimes necessary. Cheers!

Posted by
2788 posts

I have gone to Europe every summer for more than 10 years in a row now, flying from Seattle non-stop to a European destination. I carry four prescription medication, one a narcotic, in their original bottles with labels in my carry-on and do not put them into the plastic bag. I have had my carry-on emptied a time or two and nothing has ever been said about my prescription drugs. I also carry a letter from my prescribing doctor (HMO) describing what I am taking and for what just in case I get them confiscated by some TSA folk playing with less than 52 cards. I also commute between Seattle and Hawaii and use the same methods with the same results.

Posted by
11798 posts

The way Charlie does meds is what I'd recommend too (maybe put the whole collection in one dedicated zip-lock to keep it together). I only take some aspirin (and a couple of PM tablets), so they go in my regualar shaving kit. My shave kit is essentially two quart-size ziplocks, one dry and one wet. The wet one contains everything that is liquid. I pull it out to put it through the x-ray separately and leave the dry one in my bag. Anything that's sharp - scissors, cork-screw, etc. - may get taken. Lately, it seems a tiny pair of sewing scissors is okay. As others have said, it seems a little random. I used to fly with a Swiss-Army knife in my carry-on prior to 9/11 (now I pick one up when I land in Europe and give it away before I fly home). I was in Germany that day and flew home at the end of September. When I got home, I realized I still had my knife in my bag and no one said anything to me.

Posted by
1976 posts

As another poster said, check with the country you are flying into/out of with regard to carry-on luggage rules. A few years ago I flew to Brussels with a change at London Heathrow. I was tagged in security because of my nail scissors. The scissors were allowed in carryon on my airline (British Airways). After a few minutes' waiting in security at LHR, I got my scissors back and was told that sometimes the airport allows those on departing flights and sometimes they don't. The policy changes often and the security agent wasn't sure what it was that day! Since then, I bring stuff that I wouldn't mind losing. I have an extra set of nail scissors and clippers which I don't really care about, so I bring those on trips in case they're confiscated.