Air travel has come a long way since the Wild West days where every passenger was smoking Pall Malls, packin’ heat, and engaging in full-on katana battles in the aisles. The TSA has sucked all that fun out of flying — mostly. Believe it or not, the agency still allows travelers to pack a few surprising things in their carry-on luggage.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Many travelers are surprised to learn that liquor (less than 140 proof) is fair game to pack in their carry-on luggage. The only caveat is that, like all liquids, each bottle must be three ounces or less. Technically, there’s a second caveat: the FAA doesn’t allow passengers to consume any alcohol onboard that isn’t served by the flight crew. This means you can pack a quart-sized bag full of nips, but you can’t imbibe until you land. In reality, provided you’re not making a belligerent ass of yourself en route, the flight attendants are unlikely to notice or care.
In this age of hyper-aware travel security, the TSA is surprisingly lax about passengers packing scissors in their carry-on baggage. The only catch is that the blades need to be less than four inches long from the pivot point. Still, with the right Jason Bourne-worthy melee combat skills, it’s possible to do serious damage with a four-inch blade (or even a magazine for that matter).
Provided it’s frozen solid, the TSA is cool with passengers taking ice aboard. Any errant liquid will need to be consumed before passing through security, of course. This is convenient for anyone who doesn’t want to drop $4 on a bottle of water post-security or doesn’t trust airport bathroom tap water. Fill your Nalgene at home, freeze it overnight, and stay well hydrated for your flight.
Matches of any kind are not permitted in checked baggage. Travelers are allowed one book of non-strike-anywhere safety matches in their carry-on, however. Considering that smoking has been outlawed on planes since Cheap Trick was popular, it’s difficult to imagine why anyone would need matches at 30,000 feet. But, the TSA is nothing if not quirky.
Speaking of quirks, we’ve never seen anyone crack a full-sized bottle of Shiraz mid-flight. Nevertheless, the TSA is fine with passengers packing a carry-on corkscrew. Just make sure it doesn’t have an integrated foil cutter/blade. No matter — that’s what those scissors are for.
Presumably, enough people have tried or asked if they could take antlers on a plane. If you’re one such passenger, you’ll be glad to know the answer is yes. Bring all the dead animal trophies you like, provided they fit in the overhead compartment.
It appears the TSA isn’t completely heartless. They get that most travelers don’t trust behind-the-scenes baggage workers with their socks, let alone the remains of their dear sweet Pop-Pop. So, cremated remains are allowed in carry-on baggage. The only recommendation is they be placed in a lightweight container (like plastic or wood) that can be easily scanned at airport security checkpoints. If they can’t scan it, you may not be allowed on the plane with it.
But Leave These At Home …
Booze, razor-sharp cutting implements, and fire-making equipment are just fine in your carry-on. Howwver, the TSA has to take a stand somewhere — a stand which they document regularly via their surprisingly clever Instagram account. They will simply not abide foam toy swords (they actually have a page on their official website that says so), toy guns, or replica battle axes. Basically, if it is or remotely resembles a weapon, leave it at home.
Ditto snow globes, unless they’re smaller than a tennis ball. They are allowed in checked baggage, but who is trusting a delicate, fluid-filled glass bobble to airline baggage attendants?
The Bottom Line
To further complicate things, what you can and cannot bring in your carry-on is at the whim of the TSA agent standing in front of you. Regardless of what the agency’s official guidelines dictate, any agent can deny you boarding for virtually any reason. Sure, you should be able to bring most of the above items with you, but why risk it?
If your prized antelope horns or favorite fabric shears do get confiscated, check GovDeals. With a little luck, you may be able to buy your stuff back!