what not to pack in your carry on bag

Carry-on luggage is such a life-saver. My carry-on bag is my world, on long-haul flights, and hence packing it smartly makes a lot of sense. I try to fit in everything that I might need, on my flight, into my carry-on luggage, whenever I fly out to India. 

It is important to know what to pack in your carry-on luggage, but it is equally important to know items that you should not pack in the luggage. Find more about what not to pack in your carry-on luggage on flights to India.

Restriction on liquids over 100ml/3.4ozs

There is a restriction on how much liquid you can carry on international flights, it is fairly universal these days. Liquids restrictions are generally the same, no matter which sector you are flying.

The capacity of your liquid containers must not be larger than 100ml/3.4ozs. You won’t be allowed to carry a larger sized container, with 100ml/3.4ozs. of liquid in it. The bottle/jar/container size should be of the size that fits the liquid exactly.

All the liquids in your carry-on baggage must fit into a one-quart/ one-liter sized, transparent, zip-lock bag. Anything that does not fit into that bag will not be permitted in your carry-on luggage. You’ll end up throwing it in the bin, at the security checkpoint.

Purchase travel-sized containers and fill them with the liquids you need to carry, for instance, moisturizer, hand and body lotion, shampoo, sunscreen, shower gel, hair conditioner etc.

Buy a small tube of toothpaste, because that too constitutes as a liquid. Keep in mind that cosmetics, such as lipsticks, mascara, lip balm, perfume and eyeliner also fall in the liquid category. Edible items like peanut butter are liquid too. E-cigarette or vaping fluid can be packed in the carry-on luggage, under the liquid limit.

Restrict the liquids to the barest minimum. I carry things that I know I will need on the flight. The rest goes into the checked in baggage.

tour package

Toiletries in carry-on luggage

The liquid restriction has already been explained. Any toiletry item that you carry must fit into the one-quart/ one-liter zip-lock bag. This includes not just liquids, but also gels, creams, lotions and aerosols.

A ban on sharp items

Sharp items are banned on all flights and you shouldn’t carry them in your cabin baggage. Sharp items include knives, metal nail files, swords, box cutters and blades. This is not a conclusive list. The security agents will confiscate anything that looks dangerous, which can be used as a weapon.

Prohibition on firearms

If you own a gun and want to travel with it to India, you will need to pack it in the checked-in baggage. You cannot carry any kind of ammunition or firearm, in the cabin baggage.

Gunpowder and flares also qualify as prohibited items and should not be placed in the cabin baggage.

Prohibited sports equipment

Sports equipment cannot be carried along as cabin baggage. Anything that can be described as a bat, club, stick or pole should not travel with you in the airline’s cabin. Basically, archery equipment, hockey stick, ski poles, golf clubs, baseball and cricket bats, and pretty much every other sporting equipment that has the potential to double up as a weapon.

No self-defense paraphernalia

Items like mace or pepper spray, which are essentially self-defense items will not be permitted in the carry-on luggage.

No tools either

By now you must know that anything that can be used to attack co-passengers is prohibited in the carry-on luggage. Tools are hard and heavy and can serve as dangerous weapons. No hammer, spanners, drill bits, pliers, screwdrivers and files etc. in your cabin baggage.

Inflammable items

Inflammable items like matchboxes, lighters and inflammable fuels and combustible chemicals are not allowed as carry-on baggage. Even your camping stove would be considered flammable, so that is a big no too. If your lighter, is without lighter fuel, you can pack it in the baggage.

Flying with fruits & vegetables

Meats, vegetables, fruits & other agricultural produce and perishables

Avoid carrying perishable food items in your carry-on baggage, unless you intend to eat them on the flight. Many countries do not allow fresh produce from other countries to enter their border, and you might face a problem if your baggage is checked. It’s best to play it safe and avoid bringing these items in the cabin luggage.

Foods with an offensive odor    

Most airlines allow passengers to bring pre-packed meals on international flights. You can carry your own meals, but make sure that they are not stinky. Long-haul flights and confined space are notorious for trapping odors that linger on. You don’t want to make co-passengers nauseous with the over-powering smell of your food. Please, be mindful of that.

And any liquid or viscous and creamy food would be considered as a liquid and will have to be within the 100ml/3.4oz limit.

Though this isn’t related to food, painting your nails on the flight could also cause the strong fumes to disturb other passengers. So, show some courtesy and don’t do that.

Sane advice

When you pack your carry-on baggage, consider things that you might need on the flight, or immediately on arrival, especially if your baggage somehow gets delayed or lost.

Include basic toiletries, men can carry an electric shaver. Toothpaste and toothbrush, a hairbrush, some hair gel, moisturizer, lip balm & lipstick and a few makeup essentials can go into your cabin bag.

Additionally, carry a change of undergarments, socks and ties. Women can carry personal hygiene items that they might need. Also, pack clothes, a couple of shirts and trousers, shorts and tees, dresses or whatever it is that you wear. Keep a tab on the weather on arrival – you might need a pullover if the temperature at your destination is cold.

Chargers and adaptors are essential items that need to be easily accessible. Think of all the gadgets you are carrying and pack their corresponding chargers in the carry-on luggage.

I’d also recommend a mouth freshener or chewing gum, to keep your breath fresh when you land. Paper and pen, a book or magazine to read or anything else that will help you pass your time, in case the in-flight entertainment does not interest you.

Lastly, pack earplugs and eye pads, especially if you are traveling economy class – for there won’t be any complimentary pack waiting for you.

This list of what not to pack in your carry-on luggage is not comprehensive. Rules and regulations can change anytime, and you would want to check the airline website, a few days prior to your flight, and pack accordingly.


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