Hand luggage

Hand luggage restrictions at UK airports

There are Hand luggage restrictions on what items you can take in both your hand luggage and hold luggage when boarding a plane in the UK.

There are different rules if you’re taking goods to sell or temporarily abroad for business reasons, for example sales samples, professional equipment or musical instruments for a performance.

Airport security staff won’t let anything through that they consider dangerous - even if it’s normally allowed in hand luggage.

Hand luggage allowances

Check with your airline how many and what size bags you can take on the plane with you.

UK Airport security U-turn on liquids.
The Government has implemented a restriction on liquids carried by passengers in their hand luggage, effective from midnight on Saturday 8th June.
The six UK airports with "next generation" scanners which were meant to end the 100ml limit have been told to revert to the old rules:
London City Airport
Newcastle International Airport
Leeds Bradford Airport
Aberdeen International Airport
London Southend Airport
Teesside International Airport
Passengers are advised to pack all non-essential liquids in their hold baggage.
Any liquids, gels or creams being carried in hand luggage MUST be in containers of up to 100ml and placed in a bag.
Airports are working with their airline partners to keep disruption to a minimum.
The Department for Transport say “This temporary move is to enable further improvements to be made to the new checkpoint systems and will only affect a small number of passengers.“
“Passengers should continue to check security requirements with their departure airport before travelling.”

February 26th 2023 - Travel News - Dates have been announced for the installation of the new 3D scanners at Spanish airports. These scanners will mean the end of the restrictions on liquids, and also the need to get laptops etc out of your bags.

The first airports will be those of Madrid Barajas, and Barcelona at the end of 2023 or beginning of 2024...This will be followed by Palma Mallorca, then the other airports of the AENA network. The new scanners will see an investment of almost 1,200 million euros.

Taking liquids through security

There are restrictions on the amount of liquids you can take in your hand luggage. If possible, pack liquids in your hold baggage (luggage that you check in).

Liquids include:

  • all drinks, including water
  • liquid or semi-liquid foods, for example soup, jam, honey and syrups
  • cosmetics and toiletries, including creams, lotions, oils, perfumes, mascara and lip gloss
  • sprays, including shaving foam, hairspray and spray deodorants
  • pastes, including toothpaste
  • gels, including hair and shower gel
  • contact lens solution
  • any other solutions and items of similar consistency

If you do take liquids in your hand luggage:

  • containers must hold no more than 100ml
  • containers must be in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag, which holds no more than a litre and measures approximately 20cm x 20cm
  • contents must fit comfortably inside the bag so it can be sealed
  • the bag must not be knotted or tied at the top
  • you’re limited to 1 plastic bag per person
  • you must show the bag at the airport security point

Liquids in containers larger than 100ml generally cannot go through security even if the container is only part full. There are some exemptions.

Hand luggage restrictions

Exemptions

You can take liquid containers larger than 100ml through security if they:

You can also take liquids bought at an airport or on a plane (such as duty free) through security if:

  • the items are sealed inside a security bag when you buy them
  • the receipt for the items is sealed in the security bag and visible

You must not open the security bag until you reach your final destination. Airport staff may need to open the items to screen the liquid at the security point.

Liquid restrictions outside the EU

Countries outside the EU might have different rules on carrying liquids as a transit or transfer passenger. You should check these rules with the relevant airlines and airports before travelling.

Bringing food items - When entering the EU from the UK, you're not allowed to bring any food known as POAO – products of animal origin – and most fruit. The ban applies to both your cabin and hold baggage and extends to items such as cakes that contain fresh cream. 

Hand luggage restrictions

Lighters

You can only carry 1 lighter on board. You should put it inside a resealable plastic bag (like the ones used for liquids), which you must keep on you throughout the flight. You cannot:

  • put it in your hold luggage
  • put it in your hand luggage after screening

Vape devices and e-cigarettes should be packed in carry-on luggage only, with a maximum of 20 batteries. Refills and e-liquids must also be kept in hand luggage with a maximum bottle size of 100ml. You can take up to 20 batteries on board. These can be packed in your hand luggage but not in your checked baggage.

  • Make sure your vape device is completely switched off, not just in sleep mode.
  • Any spare batteries must be individually wrapped to prevent a short-circuit and packed in carry-on luggage only.
  • E-Liquids can be stored in your hand luggage in clear plastic bags in bottles not exceeding 100ml.
  • We recommend that you empty your tanks and store them in a clear plastic bag in your hand luggage as the pressurisation in the cargo area may cause your tank to leak or crack.

Food and powders

Food items and powders in your hand luggage can obstruct images on x-ray machines. Your bags may need to be checked again manually by security. You can put these items in your hold luggage to minimise delays.

Baby food or baby milk 

When travelling with a baby you’re allowed to take enough baby food, baby milk and sterilised water for the journey. There is no legal limit to how much you can take however check with your airport before you travel.

You can carry breast milk in hand luggage even if you’re not travelling with a baby. You cannot carry frozen breast milk in hand luggage.

Individual containers of breast milk must hold no more than 2,000ml. Each container will need to be screened at the security point. Airport staff might need to open the containers to screen the liquids.

  Allowed in hand luggage Allowed in hold luggage
Breast milk Yes, in containers up to 2,000ml Yes
Frozen breast milk No Yes
Formula milk, cow’s milk Yes (baby must be present) Yes
Sterilised water for the baby Yes (baby must be present) Yes
Soya milk for babies Yes (baby must be present) Yes
Baby food Yes (baby must be present) Yes
Cooling gel packs Yes Yes

Personal items

Musical instruments

Contact your airline before you book if you want to travel with a large musical instrument. You may need to make special arrangements, such as buying an extra seat.

Musical instruments will be screened separately.

Mobility aids

Pushchairs, walking aids and wheelchairs are usually allowed in the cabin, but will need to be security screened first.

For battery-powered wheelchairs or mobility aids check with your airline first.

Hand luggage restrictions

Other personal items

  Allowed in hand luggage Allowed in hold luggage
Corkscrew No Yes
Spoon Yes Yes
Knife (with a sharp or pointed blade and/or blade longer than 6cm) No Yes (check with your airline)
Small scissors (with blades no longer than 6cm) Yes Yes
Large scissors (with blades longer than 6cm) No Yes (check with your airline)
Round-ended/blunt scissors Yes Yes
Fixed-cartridge razor blades (disposable razor) Yes Yes
Nail clippers/nail file Yes Yes
Tweezers Yes Yes
Knitting needles Yes Yes
Sewing needle Yes Yes
Umbrella Yes Yes
Walking stick/cane, walking aid Yes Yes
Pushchair Yes Yes
Wheelchair Yes Yes
Safety matches Yes No
Non-safety matches No No
Fireworks, flares and other pyrotechnics, including party poppers and toy caps No No
Cigarette lighter No, but you can put a lighter in a plastic liquids bag and keep it on your person No
Contact lens solution Yes (up to 100ml) Yes

 

Medicines, medical equipment and dietary requirements

You’re allowed to carry the following in your hand luggage:

  • essential medicines of more than 100ml, including liquid dietary foodstuffs and inhalers
  • medical equipment, if it’s essential for your journey

You’ll need to carry proof that the medication is prescribed to you (for example a letter from your doctor or a copy of your prescription) if it’s both:

  • in liquid form
  • in a container larger than 100ml

You do not need to show proof if the medication is either:

  • in tablet form
  • liquid in a container that’s 100ml or smaller

There are different rules if you are travelling with medicine that contains a controlled drug.

Airport staff might need to open the containers to screen the liquids at the security point. Medical equipment is screened separately.

  Allowed in hand luggage Allowed in hold luggage
Tablets and capsules Yes Yes
Essential liquid medicines Yes Yes
Hypodermic syringes Yes Yes
Inhalers Yes Yes
Cooling gel packs Yes Yes
Medical equipment (for example CPAP and TENS machines) Yes Yes
Special food and liquids needed for medical reasons Yes Yes
Oxygen cylinders Contact your airline Contact your airline

 Electronic devices and electrical items

You can only take certain electronic devices and electrical items on flights to the UK.

  Allowed in hand luggage Allowed in hold luggage
Mobile phone Yes Yes
Laptop Yes Yes
Tablet devices Yes Yes
MP3 player Yes Yes
Hairdryer or straighteners Yes Yes
Travel iron Yes Yes
Electric shaver Yes Yes
E-cigarettes Yes No

Some airlines might also have different restrictions. Check with your airline before you travel if you’re not sure about what you can take as hand luggage.

Cameras

You can usually take camera equipment in your hand and hold luggage.

There might be restrictions on specialist equipment, for example professional video cameras.

Make sure your devices are charged

Make sure your electronic devices are charged before you travel. If your device does not switch on when requested, you will not be allowed to take it onto the aircraft.

Batteries for your device

Check the restrictions on certain types of batteries or contact your airline if you’re not sure what you can carry.

Gas-powered hair curlers

You can take hair curlers containing a gas cartridge in hand or hold luggage as long as the safety cover is fitted at all times. You must not take separate gas cartridges on board.

Sports equipment

  Allowed in hand luggage Allowed in hold luggage
Sports parachute Yes Yes
Heavy bats and sticks (including baseball, softball and cricket bats) No Yes
Tennis racquets Yes Yes
Snooker, pool or billiard cue Yes Yes
Golf clubs No Yes
Darts No Yes
Walking/hiking poles No Yes
Fishing rod Yes Yes
Catapult No Yes
Firearms (including replica firearms) No Check with your airline before you travel
Harpoon or spear gun No Check with your airline before you travel
Crossbow No Yes
Martial arts equipment (including knuckledusters, clubs, coshes, rice flails and nunchuks) No Yes
Diving equipment Check with your airline before you travel Check with your airline before you travel

Work tools

  Allowed in hand luggage Allowed in hold luggage
Tool with a blade or shaft longer than 6cm (for example chisel) No Yes
Drill and drill bits No Yes
Stanley knife No Yes
Saw (including portable power saw) No Yes
Screwdriver No Yes
Hammer No Yes
Pliers No Yes
Wrench or spanner No Yes
Bolt gun or nail gun No Yes
Crowbar No Yes
Blowtorch No Yes

Chemicals and toxic substances

You cannot take any of these items as hand luggage or in the hold:

  • oxidisers and organic peroxides, including bleach and car body repair kits
  • acids and alkalis (for example spillable ‘wet’ batteries)
  • corrosives or bleaching agents (including mercury and chlorine)
  • vehicle batteries and fuel systems
  • self defence or disabling sprays (for example mace, pepper spray)
  • radioactive materials (including medicinal or commercial isotopes)
  • poisons or toxic substances (for example rat poison)
  • biological hazards (for example infected blood, bacteria, viruses)
  • materials that could spontaneously combust (burst into flames)
  • fire extinguishers
Ammunition

You cannot take any guns or firearms (including air rifles and starting pistols) as hand luggage. You may be able to take them as hold luggage - check with your airline before you travel.

You cannot take any of these items as hand luggage or in the hold:

  • blasting caps
  • detonators and fuses
  • imitation explosive devices (including replica or model guns)
  • mines, grenades, and other explosive military stores
  • fireworks and pyrotechnics
  • smoke canisters
  • smoke cartridges
  • dynamite
  • gunpowder
  • plastic explosives (including black powder and percussion caps)
  • flares
  • hand grenades
  • gun cigarette lighters

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