What Can I take on a Plane in Checked Luggage?
Even though the Transportation Security Administration has stringent requirements for carry-on luggage, the rules for checked bags are a lot more lax. While there are still restrictions for checked luggage, they allow for a lot more than your carry-on. But before you pack for your next flight or when you purchase souvenirs abroad, you may want to think twice about transporting perishables and breakable items, even if they are allowed by the TSA.
What Can I Put in my Luggage Under the Plane?
Food and Beverages
The TSA allows a veritable smorgasbord of foods and drinks in checked luggage, with only a few exceptions. Non-perishable items such as canned and boxed foods are part of items allowed in checked-in baggage, as are items that may go bad, such as fresh fruit, cheese and even meat products.
Alcoholic beverages are allowed, as long as the alcohol content is 70 percent (140 proof) or less. The TSA allows up to 5 liters of alcohol per person in checked bags, if the bottles are still sealed. Any miniature bottles must fit within a quart-sized zippered plastic bag.
Even though bottled beverages are permissible, packing these or other breakable items in checked bags isn't a great idea. Bags may get crushed, thrown or otherwise handled roughly, which could cause items inside to break. If traveling with liquids in any type of packaging, including tubes or plastic bottles, seal them in plastic bags in case they break or leak. Wrap all the glass items individually in bubble wrap, towels or clothing to help prevent damage while they're in the checked bag.
Items consisting of compressed gas are also forbidden by the Transportation Security Administration and Federal Aviation Administration. Personal aerosol containers such as spray-on deodorant are allowed, but fire extinguishers, spray paint and tear gas -- including self-defense sprays -- are forbidden.
Even items that require refrigeration or freezing can be packed in a checked bag. Pack such items along with ice packs, then again in another bag to prevent leakage. Flight delays or misrouted luggage could cause the ice packs to melt before reaching your destination, so it's best not to travel with perishables.
The TSA allows many types of tools in checked bags, including power tools such as saws and drills. Axes, knives and even household appliances such as blenders are perfectly allowable in checked bags. Pack the item so it doesn't break or cause damage to other items in the bag, keeping in mind that the TSA may open your bag to inspect its contents. Virtually the only tool items that aren't allowed are those that require a type of fuel, such as gas-powered garden equipment or even lighters. No flammable chemicals or liquids are allowed in checked or carry-on baggage. Matches are also banned from checked bags, even though they're allowed in carry-ons.
All forms of medication are allowed in checked bags, although checking medicine is not recommended in case your luggage doesn't arrive at your destination when expected. Medications are allowed in carry-on bags, even in liquids greater than 3.4 ounces if the amount brought on board is considered a "reasonable amount" for the flight, at the TSA's discretion. In this case, notify the TSA screener that you're carrying medically necessary liquids as you go through the security checkpoint.
Many countries have their own regulations as to what's allowed in, so check the U.S. Department of State's information page about your destination before traveling if you plan to import items, especially agricultural products such as food, seeds or plants. Sometimes, these items are banned to prevent spread of plant-based diseases or potential insect infestations.