From pies to bowling balls and yes, exploding cellphones, a handy guide to odds and ends that can – and can definitely not – fly with you
Authorities in Canada and the United States have banned the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 mobile phone from all flights, as you may have read. It should have been obvious that this was coming – everyone knows explosive devices are not allowed on airplanes.
Har har. But seriously, the phone that’s threatening to take down Samsung – see graphic below for a timeline of the carnage – has not caused any accidents in flight, which is lucky.
According to reports, battery manufacturing problems have led to around 100 reports of spontaneous fires involving the Galaxy Note 7, which runs on the Android operating system. The model has now been recalled. Meanwhile, because other devices from laptops to car batteries have caught fire, airlines are reportedly exploring and investing in more sophisticated in-flight fire suppression measures.
While Galaxy Note 7 owners continue to pursue Samsung for compensation for damage that the devices have allegedly wrought, the rest of us may be left wondering: What other objects have been deemed too dangerous to bring aboard an airplane?
To come up with a list of other lesser-known do-not-fly items, we consulted the government of Canada’s list of prohibited items, plus that of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, and other sources. Here they are, roughly in order of least surprising bans to most. (Note that virtually anything that explodes, is under pressure, or could be used as a weapon is banned from carry-on luggage. Note as well that the the final decision on whether or not your stuff gets on the plane rests with the officers at security.)
Explosive devices (including grenades)
Before you say, “Well, obviously,” the TSA specifically points out that hand grenades can’t be brought onto an airplane. Wait, are Americans allowed to own hand grenades in the first place? For readers suddenly panicked and/or bemused at the implication, apparently it’s a difficult legal question.
Swords, sabres and foils
You can’t take the blade on board, Zorro. Sheath it in your checked luggage.
You can’t bring flares in carry-on or checked luggage, but you can bring your personal flair! And there’s your spelling lesson for the day.
Realistic replicas of explosives
The TSA goes out of its way to note this one – a no-no for your checked luggage, and for carrying on to the plane as well. You’ll have to mail or courier your prop bombs to your destination. … No, wait, don’t do that, either. Terrible idea. Hey, why do you have a fake bomb anyway?
The TSA and Canada both allow these in your carry-on but not your checked luggage. Those souvenir matches must travel with you. Strike-anywhere matches are not allowed at all.
Not permitted in carry-on or checked luggage. Wrong vehicle anyway.
In the U.S., night sticks, nunchuks, throwing stars and other Bruce Lee action movie props are not allowed in your carry-on, but they’re generally allowed in checked luggage. In Canada, many martial arts weapons are illegal to begin with, and you definitely shouldn’t show up at an airport with them, even in your checked luggage.
Disposable razors are allowed in your carry-on, and empty safety razors, too, but not safety razor blades. Shaving geeks, you’ll have to make do with disposable razors when travelling – or put them in checked luggage.
Most sporting goods
You can check almost any sporting equipment of reasonable size, but the TSA bans pretty much everything as carry-on. A notable exception is skates – they have big blades on them, yet are allowed in the cabin, in both the United States and Canada. Curious. Canada also allows racquets in carry-on luggage, which the TSA reportedly has a problem with.
Bullet key chains, spiked collars and other (ahem) killer accessories are prohibited from the cabin in Canada, though they can ride in checked luggage.
Canada, despite its many bears, does not allow bear spray in either carry-on or checked luggage.
Banned in carry-on and checked luggage in Canada, which must be inconvenient for anyone who’s flying somewhere to conduct a siege.
Banned in Canada, even in checked luggage. Americans are probably wondering why. (Hint: They’re a totally different kind of “cracker” – one that contains gunpowder.)
“It says, ‘Only your Canadian readers will get this joke.’ ”
… which may come as a surprise in some cases:
But some privileges are not meant to be exercised, OK?
Can fly as carry-on or in your luggage in Canada.
Can fly in carry-on or checked-luggage Canada – presumably to keep perishable food cold – under certain conditions. Check with your airline first.
Allowed in your carry-on in Canada. However, putting ol’ sparkly in the overhead bin could lead to slapstick hilarity and/or serious injuries. Put it under the seat in front of you and resist the temptation to use the aisle for practice.
Pies and cakes and cookies
The TSA specifically lists pies and cakes as permitted items in carry-on bags, while Transport Canada puts a checkmark beside cookies. What they don’t say is that you should bring enough to share with the whole row. It’s the polite thing to do.