Can I Bring This Through Security?

Most of us know the basics of U.S. airport security regulations: Only very small amounts of liquid are allowed through checkpoints (less than 3.4 ounces) while guns are never allowed in carry-ons (though that doesn’t stop travelers from ‘forgetting’).

But the rules are complicated and there are surprises.

Can I Bring This?

Use this key to help figure out what is banned and what’s allowed:

  • YES – These items can be packed in carry-ons.
  • NO – These items must be packed in checked-bags.
  • NO-NO – Leave these items at home.

NOTE: What follows are TSA regulations for U.S. cities. Many are identical to those of other countries, but not all. For more information on international security procedures, check with a government website or visit the airport site and here are links to some of the world’s busiest hubs: London, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo and Dubai.

Special tools

  • Cattle prods, axes, hammers, saws: NO
  • Wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers: YES (but they must be no bigger than 7 inches long)

Self defense items

  • Nunchucks, Throwing Stars, Stun Guns: NO
  • Pepper spray: NO

Flammable, explosive material

  • Fireworks: NO-NO (but people try to bring fireworks on planes all the time)
  • Sterno, gasoline, lighter fluid: NO-NO
  • Real hand grenades: NO-NO
  • Fake hand grenades: NO-NO
  • Common lighter: YES (but must be placed in an approved case)


  • Musical instruments, stringed: YES
  • Musical instruments, brass: NO
  • Knitting needles: YES
  • Fishing rods: YES
  • Spear guns: NO (Think this is obvious? Try telling that to the Salt Lake City man who had his spear gun confiscated)

Sports gear

  • Baseball bats, bows and arrows, ski poles: NO
  • Ice skates and rollerblades: YES

Other items

  • Wrapped gifts: YES and NO (they can be brought through security but may have to be unwrapped for closer inspection)
  • Pets*: YES (they will have to walk through a metal detector and undergo visual inspection)
  • Snow Globes: YES (as long as they appear to contain 3.4 ounces of liquid or less, about the size of a tennis ball. Note: The globe must fit in the zip bag holding your toiletries)

*Pets must be booked in advance with the airline and yes, there is a fee for that.


All the following edible items are on the NO list unless in containers of 3.4 ounces or less; otherwise, place in checked-luggage:

  • Cranberry sauce
  • Salsa
  • Peanut butter
  • Cheese dips and spreads
  • Jams and jellies
  • Maple syrup


Updated: November 13, 2014