Airport Security - What Can You Take Through?

Despite media attention, travellers are still confused about what they can take through airport security. Sharron Livingston answers some of the most pressing questions passengers are asking.

By Sharron Livingston on 28 December 2009 in Travel Articles

The EU's airport security rules regarding hand baggage and liquids have been in force for more than a year but with tens of thousands litres of liquids and gels being confiscated at airports each day, this is not only stressful for passengers, but just adds to the delays.

Danny Van Goethem, Head of Security at Brussels Airport says: "This is a pity on more than one level. Firstly, no passenger likes to be deprived of their drinks or toilet articles. Secondly, processing the many hundreds of bottles and containers is an immense task for our security services. Finally this leads to longer waiting queues at the security screening points, which again is bad news for the travellers".

So, in order to clarify what you can and can't take through, we have answered here, some of the many questions travellers are asking:

Q: How many of items of hand luggage can I take through airport security?

A: From 7 January 2008 the one item restriction was abandoned at certain airports. However, some airlines such as easyJet, regardless of airport rules, still apply the one bag rule diligently and may even refuse boarding even if your other bag is your handbag. 

Make sure you find out in advance the rules of the airport you are travelling from and also the airline that will be carrying you.

However in the aftermath of the attempted detonation of an explosive device on a Northwest jet on route from Amsterdam to Detroit in the US, more security measures are being implement on US bound routes.

British Airways has advised that "only one item of hand luggage is allowed for all passengers traveling to the U.S. from Heathrow, Gatwick or London City. This applies to passengers whose journey originates in London, as well as those who are transferring flights."

It adds that holiday presents in hand luggage will need to be unwrapped -- but only for U.S.-bound flights.

Our Advice: Make life easy, just plan for one piece of hand luggage per person.

Q: Can I take a drink through Security?

A: No

Q: Liquids are not allowed in, but can I carry through a bottle of water I am drinking at the time?

A: No you cannot. This will be confiscated whether you are still drinking it, or unopened and regardless if this is a bottle or can. This includes coffee other hot drinks, and any other cold drink you are supping.

Our Advice: Finish your drink before you get to security

Q: I'm still not entirely sure about what liquids I can take through?

A: You can take through various liquids in different containers, but the container itself should not be able to hold more than 100ml.

These should be carried through the airport in a single transparent re-sealable plastic bag - like a freezer bag. The bag itself should not be carry more than 1 litre (20cm x 20cm).

All the containers should fit comfortably and the bag should be sealed. Inside there should be no more than 10 containers of 100ml bringing the combined volume to no more than 1 litre. Plus, only one bag per person and should be carried separately for easy examination.

Our Advice: Do you really need to carry all those toiletries in hand-luggage? Anything more than 100ml will be confiscated anyway. So, if you have checked-in luggage, pack it. Alternatively, buy them at the airport once you have gone through security.

Q: Okay, but what is a liquid? Is my mascara a liquid?

A: Yes, your masacara and other make-up items like foundation, are considered liquids. So are your creams, lotions, oils and perfumes. Toiletries such as sprays and pressurized containers including shaving foam and spray deodorants, all types of pastes, including toothpaste, gels, including hair and shower gel and any other solution of similar consistency are all to be treated as liquids.

Our Advice: If in doubt, treat it as a liquid. If its more than 100ml, pack it. Or buy it once you have passed through security.

Q: What about my medicines?

A: You can take this, but only as much as you need for the duration of the trip, even if this exceeds the 100ml limit. But you will be required to prove the need. You will need prior agreement from the airline you are travelling with and bring a doctor's note.

Q: I need to feed my baby, surely I can carry baby food?

A: You can take as much liquid baby food or sterilised water required for the journey itself. You will be asked to taste it. You can top up by buying more from the shops on the other side of security or at your destination.

Q: Can I take nail scissors and tweezers in my hand luggage?

A: No, these items will be confiscated. But you can pack these items into your checked-in luggage.

Can I take hair straighteners through airport security in my hand luggage.

A: Yes, you can.

Q: Can I take my phone and ipod through security?

A. Yes you can. You will be asked to remove these from your pocket or bag and place it in a separate container along with any change and keys so that it can be scanned.

Q: Can I take my camera in my had luggage?

A. Yes you can.

A Word About Prohibited Products

It is a sad fact that today's travellers do face security threats and it makes sense that security measures are taken at the airport. Apply a generous dollop of common sense to decide what you think can be reasonably taken through security and on board.

There are some items which cannot be carried in hand luggage or onto the plane and some that can be packed into check-in luggage. Here is a round up of those items:

Items NOT allowed in hand luggage but CAN be packed into check-in luggage:

  • Scissors (except where both blades are round-ended)
  • Toy guns
  • Razor blades
  • Liquids 

Items NOT allowed in hand or check-in luggage:

  • Explosives: e.g. Fireworks, flares, ammunition, party poppers
  • Gases: e.g. Propane camping gas, compressed gas cylinders
  • Flammable Liquids: e.g. Lighter fluid, thinners, petrol
  • Flammable Solids: e.g. Fire lighters, Magnesium
  • Oxidisers: e.g. Bleaches, car body repair kits
  • Toxic/Infectious Substances: e.g. Weed killer, infected blood samples, insecticides
  • Radioactive Materials: e.g. Medical or industrial sources
  • Corrosives: e.g. Dry ice, magnetised material, Mercury


Mikarina, london

Please. Can I take my camera If its not charged. Does it have to be on? Because it said on the news about the checking for bombs. Thank you

21 July, 2014


can i take box plants cuttings through customs with ryanair from stansted airport to derry airport

15 July, 2014

yana fenech, Malta

Can i take a glass framed painting with me through airport security in my hand luggage.

14 July, 2014

Siew, Canada

Is Goji stem cuttings without roots or leaves permitted to carry from Canada to Hong Kong, Singapore.

11 July, 2014

XYZ, Pakistan

I m flying from Karachi to Singapore, can any body guide me shaving razor is allowed in hand carry or in luggage?

7 July, 2014

Betty Nicholsonh, san Diego,CA

Iam flying tomorrow to Boston on Jet Blue can I bring sandwichs through security?

29 June, 2014

Louise van den Berg, South Africa

I am visiting my children in London in July . Am I allowed to bring flower seeds home to South Africa?

29 June, 2014

Julie, Bristol

Can I take a bouquet of flowers from uk to Spain withryanair?

28 June, 2014

Wayne Claridge, Redditch

You can now add air gun pellets. 10 grains in weight. Dangerous as a grain of rice and not much larger. Tried to put a hand luggage bag with pellets in the hold of Ryan air who demanded £50.00. Pellets ended up in n a waste bin. Wayne Claridge Retired Police (Firearms).

24 June, 2014

Isabel, Glasgow

Can you take home made sandwiches in your hand luggage through customs in uk eg Glasgow, Luton, stanstead, when travelling to Europe, India, Turkey etc?

14 June, 2014

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