Surprising Items You Should Never Bring Through Airport Security

Packing for an airplane can get complicated, especially if you want to carry on your luggage. The Transportation Security Administration has strict rules about what can come on-board with you and what can’t. Some of those airport security rules seem totally bizarre.

“When it comes to what you can and can’t bring in a carry-on, the biggest source of confusion is that some of the banned items seem arbitrary or unreasonable,” John Bernasconi, a representative for Stratos Jets, told Refinery29. We combed through the TSA’s list for what you can’t bring. Most of us probably travel with the most surprising item every time (Page 15).

1. Leave your cast iron skillets at home

Cast-iron frying pan
Cast iron has to ride in cargo. | Canadapanda/iStock/Getty Images

You can bring aluminum or ceramic pots and pans with you on the plane. Cast iron skillets, however, have to ride in the cargo hold. That may have to do with their serious heft. Do you really want to carry that one on with you, anyway?

Next: You can’t make the following snack past airport security. 

2. Sorry, smoothie fans: Blenders have to stay below

The blades don’t meet TSA regulations. | AlexLMX/iStock/Getty Images

If you really crave a milkshake during your next long-haul flight, have we got bad news for you. Because of their sharp blades, blenders cannot come onto the airplane. If you remove the blades, you can carry it on. But who wants to go through the hassle?

Next: If you pick up this souvenir, it must go in your checked bag.

3. Pack your snow globes in your suitcase

Snow globe
It’s considered a liquid. | rakchai/iStock/Getty Images

In the event that you purchase a snow globe as a souvenir, don’t try to carry it on. Even though all of the liquid is sealed tightly inside, the TSA still considers it in violation of their rules. If you have a really tiny one that contains less than 3 ounces, go ahead and stick it in your plastic liquids bag.

Next: The following soothsayer also can’t join you on the plane.

4. Magic 8 Ball says you can’t pack it

Eight Ball
It also has liquid. | stevezmina1/iStock/Getty Images

Fortune-tellers might have to think twice about their luggage, when flying. Because they contain liquid — and the keys to your future — Magic 8 Balls make the list of prohibited materials. So if you need to carry yours, wrap it well in your checked luggage, unless you also want a negative report later.

Next: If you buy the following souvenir on vacation, pack it under the plane.

5. Toy guns, swords, and weapons can’t come aboard

Toy Dart Gun
TSA restricts all weapons, even the fake ones. | Michael Burrell/iStock/Getty Images

When it comes to safety, the TSA does not play games. That means your toy guns, swords, or weapons of any kind can’t, either. The TSA requires that all fake weapons must also travel below the plane, to prevent criminals from turning models into the real thing.

Next: This common cooking tool also shouldn’t go in your carry-on.

6. Chefs will want to leave cooking spray at home

spray aerosol
Aerosols can’t fly. | Picsfive/iStock/Getty Images

Sorry, Julia Child. If you want to bring aerosol cooking spray to your destination, you just ran out of luck. Aerosols generally can’t go underneath the plane and the standard-sized cooking spray also doesn’t fit in the liquids bag. Purchase this kitchen item when you arrive, if you need it.

Next: Stiff muscles will also have to find another relief, when traveling.

7. Your gel heating pad won’t make it past airport security

elderly man with backache
It’s also considered a liquid. |

While we love the idea of cozying up with a heating pad in-flight, airport security does not. No gel heating pads will make it through security, so leave yours at home. If you really need it at your destination, you can pack it in your checked baggage, instead.

Next: Smokers, you can’t carry the following onto an airplane.

8. You won’t strike a match on your flight

Matches might cause sparks. | Freer Law/iStock/Getty Images

Smokers, you can still bring your Bic with you. But the TSA forbids matches of any kind in checked baggage, in case of sparks. Strike-anywhere matches also can’t come on-board, but you may carry one book of safety matches. If you do bring a lighter or matches, keep them in your bag. You also can’t use either for any reason on an aircraft.

Next: If you work in construction, you might already know this next rule.

9. Power tools also can’t come with you

Power drill
You can’t bring tools longer than 7 inches. | _LeS_/iStock/Getty Images

Tools of any kind longer than 7 inches, as well as power tools like drills, can’t come on-board. You can pack certain tools in your checked luggage, however. Many cities also have tool rental services, if you need to access these items at your destination.

Next: Sports stars, check the airport security rules for the following.

10. Don’t plan to play sports in the air

Golf clubs
Golf clubs can’t come onto the plane with you. | petrenkod/iStock/Getty Images

Most athletic equipment, including bats, hockey sticks, golf clubs, pool cues, or other similar items can’t come onto the plane. If you travel with a sports team, you probably already know to check your equipment. But if you just want to hit the links at your destination, consider renting at your destination, instead.

Next: You might want to take this next item out of your pocket before you hit the airport security line.

11. Leave your Swiss Army Knife at home

old Swiss knife
Knives must be in checked baggage. | spaxiax/iStock/Getty Images

The rules about multi-tools, like the Swiss Army Knife, get complicated. If yours has knives of any length, bring it in your checked baggage or leave it at home. If, however, yours does not have any knives, it probably can come on the plane. When in doubt, check it or ask the airport security agents for clarification.

Next: Adventure outings might require some planning for the following.

12. Tents can go in your carry-on, with one catch

The interior of a tent with multiple sleeping bags
The poles and spikes must be checked. | stockstudioX/iStock/Getty Images

Campers, you can carry on your tent, with a few provisions. Provided it can fit in a carry on-sized bag, the tent itself passes muster. However, the poles and spikes you need to actually erect it must go underneath the plane. Separating the pieces out might create too much of a hassle, but use your best judgement.

Next: Duty-free shoppers, take note of the next airport security rule.

13. Overproof alcohol cannot get on the airplane

Rum selection
Alcohol has to follow several rules. | joshuaraineyphotography/iStock/Getty Images

You can bring some alcohol on your flight, if you purchase it past the checkpoint or it fits in your 3-1-1 bag. However, the TSA does prohibit alcoholic beverages with more than 70% alcohol (up to 140 proof). That includes grain alcohol and 151 proof rum. Once on the plane, you also can’t consume any alcohol not served by the flight attendant.

Next: If you love to drink wine, the following tool might already live in your bag.

14. No corkscrews can board the plane with you 

Red wine bottle and corkscrew
Corkscrews might have a tiny blade. | iStock/Getty Images

Many corkscrews come with a tiny blade for cutting the plastic that caps the cork. For that reason, airport security prohibits carrying them on. If you want to bring one to your destination, you can pack it in your checked bag. However, you can also pick up a cheap corkscrew at most destinations.

Next: The final item can come with you, but the airport security agent might check it out.

15. Bookworms, get ready to get searched

woman holding pile books
TSA might ask you to remove books to see what’s in your carry-on. | seb_ra/iStock/Getty Images

According to passengers at 10 U.S. airports, the TSA has asked them to remove books and magazines from their carry-ons. Because so many of us stuff our carry-on luggage to the brim, agents often have a hard time seeing everything inside. But fear not, readers: You can still bring your reading material on the plane. Just prepare to take it out and let the airport security agent flip through.

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