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Airline Security - New Regulations for Carryon Luggage

Pauline Kenny

Because of a foiled terrorist plot in England the morning of August 10, airline travel was disrupted and new regulations regarding carryon luggage were put in place.

NOTE: As of September 26 TSA has changed the carryon on restrictions in the US.  From the TSA website: Travelers may now carry through security checkpoints travel-size toiletries (3 ounces or less) that fit comfortably in ONE, QUART-SIZE, clear plastic, zip-top bag. After clearing security, travelers can now bring beverages and other items purchased in the secure boarding area on-board aircraft. Read more.

Summary of What You Can Bring On Board

This is my summary of the current regulations for what you can bring onboard a plane in your carryon luggage, for flights leaving from the US and Europe. Check the websites below for more details and to be sure the regulations have not changed.

  • NO You cannot bring liquids or gels on board. This includes bottles of water, drinks, shampoo, toothpaste. BUT, you can put the toiletries in your checked luggage. NOTE: As of September 26, the TSA has changed these restrictions. Read more.
  • YES You can bring lip balm on board, also solid deodorant, soaps, eye drops (up to 4 oz.).
  • YES You can bring sandwiches and some food items on board. NO Yogurt, pudding, soft cheese, etc.
  • YES Electronics can be brought on board (computers, cell phones, iPods, noise canceling headphones, etc.)
  • Flights from the UK allow only one carryon bag. Flights on US Airlines from the US allow a purse/computer bag and one carryon bag.

Read the complete list from the TSA (US).
Read the complete list from British Airways (UK). This PDF file tells you exactly which items can be brought on board if flying from a United Kingdom airport.

NOTE: You must remove your shoes when going through security in the US. Read more.

What To Do

Before your flight check with your airline and on the government websites to see what the current restrictions are. This is very important; these restrictions are changing every day. See our Everything About Travel forum on the Message Board for the latest information (there are several threads about this).

Read More on the Government Websites

These government websites will give you the most current information.

  • US and UK airports are restricting liquids and gels in carryon (except baby food/formula/milk/juice, prescription drugs, essential non-prescription drugs). Read more.
  • UK airports are allowing one carryon bag. Your purse must go inside this bag. You can bring electronics, such as computers, cameras, etc. in your carryon. Read more.
  • If you are flying British Airways from North America to the UK, they are following the same no carryon restrictions as if you were flying from the UK. British Airways Carryon Restrictions.

Check the government websites below before you leave for your flight. These restrictions will probably change in the coming days/weeks.

North America

United States - www.tsa.gov: Transportation Security Administration (TSA), link for current security measures on the home page.

United Kingdom - www.dft.gov.uk: Department for Transport, airline security.

Canada - www.catsa-acsta.gc.ca: Canadian Air Transport, airline security. Current regulations are on the home page.


France - france.usembassy.gov: US Embassy in Paris, France with information for travelers.

Italy - www.enac-italia.it: ENAC, Italian Civil Aviation Authority.


Australia - www.smartraveller.gov.au: Australian Government Travel Advisory.

Other Sites for Information

United States - www.faa.gov: Federal Aviation Administration. Information on current restrictions. Check current airport status and flight delays.

United Kingdom - www.homeoffice.gov.uk: British Home Office.

United Kingdom - www.fco.gov.uk: Foreign & Commonwealth Office, travel advice.

Current Concerns

If I pack my digital camera media, will it be harmed by the x-ray machines?

DPReview says no. "Recent tests found no evidence of X-ray scanner damage to digital camera media cards or to the images they hold." Read more.

Can I put liquids in my checked bags?

One member reports flying from Italy to the US and not being allowed to have olive oil and wine in her checked baggage! She had to throw it away at the airport. But, from everything I read, you are allowed to have liquids in your checked baggage. For now, if planning on buying wine or olive oil in Europe, have it shipped back separately.

Airline Websites

Check your airline website for more security information and information on delayed flights. I have listed the biggest carriers for US to Europe travel.

North America

Aero Mexico - www.aeromexico.com

Air Canada - www.aircanada.com

American Airlines - www.aa.com

Delta Airlines - www.delta.com

United Airlines - www.united.com


Air France - www.airfrance.us

UK - Heathrow Airport - www.heathrowairport.com: main UK airport, near London

British Airways - www.britishairways.com

EasyJet - www.easyjet.com


Australia - Sydney Airport - www.sydneyairport.com.au

Quantas - www.qantas.com.au

Should I Travel?

There are many threads on the message board about whether or not one should travel internationally right now. This is a very personal decision and not necessarily an easy one.

You may decide that things are too risky now. You may decide that the risk to your life is minimal, but you do not want to deal with the airports right now. You may decide that it will only be a few more hours and is worth it to take your holiday.

Whatever you decide, it is your decision. Don't let other travelers make you feel guilty for canceling or postponing your trip and don't let people make you feel guilty for traveling now.

Whatever you decide, other Slow Travelers are on the message board to help you deal with the situation and give you their latest personal experiences. Many Slow Travelers were overseas when this happened, or about to leave on a vacation.

History of This Event

In the early morning of Thursday August 10, a group of people believed to be plotting to bring bombs onto airplanes headed from London airports to the US were arrested. The UK immediately went to their highest security alert level; so did US airports. They think these suspects were planning to bring explosives on the plane as carryon liquid, then mix them on the plane and set them off with an electronic trigger. This was planned to happen on several planes at the same time when they were in mid flight to the US.

The immediate reaction at US and UK airports was to ban all liquids in carryon - water bottles, toiletries, etc. In the UK they banned all carryon luggage, you could only bring onboard a few personal things: wallets, travel documents, prescription drugs, glasses (without their case), some baby things, some personal hygiene things, keys. You had to put these in a clear plastic bag. This restriction was lifted on Monday August 14, when they lowered the threat level and now allow one carryon.

On the day that this happened, Thursday August 10, people arrived at airports not knowing of the change and had to throw away all liquids before they got to security. There were long lines at security as people were searched more thoroughly, both in the UK and the US. Many flights from the UK to North America were delayed. Many flights to and from the UK to Europe were cancelled.

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