Make Sure Your Bag is Packed Properly Before You Get to the Airport for Your Next Flight
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Make Sure Your Bag is Packed Properly Before You Get to the Airport for Your Next Flight

Many common, everyday items are considered hazardous when brought onto a commercial airplane and that can cause problems at the airport

April 28, 2021

Are you packing for an upcoming trip? Do your plans involve air travel? If so, you need to take some time to check each of the items in your bags. Air travelers mistakenly believe that many common items we use on a daily basis are safe to pack. But some items are hazardous materials on a commercial airplane. These items come with specific packing requirements that every air traveler must follow.

To ensure that your bags are packed properly, take a moment to check out the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Pack Safe website.

Dangerous Goods

Some of the common toiletry and electronics items you may have packed in your baggage may be considered dangerous goods, also known as hazardous material. Most dangerous goods are forbidden in carry-on or checked baggage. There are a few exceptions for some personal items such as toiletries, medicines, battery powered electronics and assistive devices. Vibrations, static electricity, and temperature and pressure variations can cause items to leak, generate toxic fumes, start a fire, or even explode if these products are not handled properly.

Dangerous goods discovered that are improperly packaged, not permitted in baggage, leaking, or hidden/artfully concealed are subject to civil and criminal penalties.

Product Recalls

If a product that is dangerous goods or that contains a dangerous goods component (e.g., battery) is subject to a safety recall related to the dangerous goods, it must not be carried aboard an aircraft or in baggage unless the recalled product/component has been replaced or repaired or otherwise made safe per manufacturer/vendor instructions. The FAA and your airline may offer further public guidance on individual recalled products.

Keep Devices Close

The FAA recommends that passengers keep cell phones and other electronic devices nearby in the cabin. Flyers should know that e-cigarettes, vaping devices, and spare lithium batteries can only travel on board a plane in your carry-on baggage. Electronic devices powered by lithium ion batteries can catch fire if they are damaged or have exposed electrical terminals. Devices that smoke or catch fire are much easier to extinguish in the cabin than they are in the cargo area.

Protect Battery Terminals

Even in carry-on baggage, spare lithium ion batteries should be protected to prevent damage or short circuiting. It is the responsibility of passengers to ensure that these batteries are packed properly and are not touching or bumping something that could potentially cause them to spark. If batteries are not sealed in manufacturer packaging, the battery terminals should be covered with tape and each battery should be placed into a separate bag.

Special Considerations for Liquids

Remember that liquids, gels and aerosols must be packed in carry on luggage and must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule:

  • Each item must be 3.4 ounces or less per container.
  • All liquids must fit in a clear one quart plastic zip top bag.
  • One bag is allowed per passenger.

When Packing

Remember that liquids, gels and aerosols must be packed in carry on luggage and must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule:

  • You should review the prohibited list of items for both carry on and checked baggage.
  • Make sure that a card with you name and contact information is on your electronics.
  • If using a baggage lock, make sure it is TSA approved.
  • Pack items in layers (shoes one layer, clothes one layer, electronics one layer, etc.)
  • Pack large electronics on the top layer in your carry on luggage for screening accessibility.
  • Firearms are only allowed in checked baggage and must be unloaded, placed in a locked, hard-sided container and declared to your airline.
  • Place your 3-1-1 bag with liquids, gels and aerosols in the front pocket of your carry-on for accessibility.
  • If traveling with a pet, be sure to bring a leash so that pet carriers can be screened properly.