We’ve all seen that guy or girl in the TSA security line that gets items they thought they could take on a plane thrown out or confiscated. I can’t imagine how devastated they must feel when that happens. Surprisingly enough, there are items the TSA will permit in aircraft cabins that are unusual. You might be surprised to discover what they are.
In this article, we’re going to show you 20 unusual items you can take on a plane in your checked luggage. I can’t personally figure out why someone would want to bring some of these items on a plane. But at least it’s good to know if you have to bring it onto an aircraft cabin, you can.
- 1 1. Air Mattress with Built-in Pump
- 2 2. Alcoholic Beverages
- 3 3. Artificial Skeleton Bones
- 4 4. Bicycles
- 5 5. Brass Instruments
- 6 6. Blender
- 7 7. Breast Milk
- 8 8. Butane Curling Irons (cordless)
- 9 9. Camp Stoves
- 10 10. Cramptons
- 11 11. Cremated Remains
- 12 12. Cymbals
- 13 13. Desktop Computers
- 14 14. Drones
- 15 15. Emergency Position-Indicating Radiobeacons (EPIRB)
- 16 16. Dry Ice
- 17 17. Fresh Meat and Seafood
- 18 18. Lightsaber
- 19 19. Live Fish
- 20 20. Live Lobster
1. Air Mattress with Built-in Pump
Most people traveling on vacation are probably going to stay at a hotel, resort or with family and friends. There’s a really good possibility that they will have a mattress for you to sleep on. But in the off-chance that isn’t true, TSA security will allow passengers to bring an air mattress. The great thing about this is that they’ll even let you bring the built-in pump. As I think about it, I guess there are places someone might need an air mattress. Perhaps you want to tour areas off the beaten path. An air mattress could come in handy. And of course, we can’t forget the built-in pump. Who wants to blow up a mattress by hand, right?
2. Alcoholic Beverages
This one surprised me. I wouldn’t have believed TSA would allow alcoholic beverages on a plane. But they do. Now, there are exceptions. Don’t think you can bring a 40oz through security with no one batting an eye.
The bottle has to be less than 3.4oz/100 ml. Because anything more than that – even if it’s just a bottle of water – will be confiscated. If you choose to bring mini bottles of alcohol in your carry-on, they have to fit into a single quart-sized bag. I should clarify. They need to fit “comfortably” into that bag. If not, those drinks won’t be making the flight.
One more thing. None of the beverages can be more than 140 proof. That’s pretty strong. But at that proof, you should be able to get your vacation liquor back home with you.
3. Artificial Skeleton Bones
If you just have to get those artificial skeleton bones with you to that next seminar, don’t worry. You can bring them. That is if the TSA screening officer thinks it’s OK. Even though TSA will approve it, they give final authority to the person screening. So be nice.
Just like public transportation in major cities, you can bring a bicycle with you on a plane. I know, it sounds crazy. Where would you put it? But it’s true. As of the time of this writing, TSA will allow you to bring a bike with you on a plane ride. Whether the airline will allow you to bring it on their flight is another story. Check with your airline first before showing up with your BMX to make sure they’re ok with it.
5. Brass Instruments
If you play a brass instrument like a saxophone, trumpet, etc., TSA will allow it on the plane. However, this is another one you will need to check first with the airline. Make sure they’re ok with your brass instrument being in the cabin. Telling the airline you have a saxophone is the right thing to do. Not telling them it’s a contrabass saxophone is another thing entirely!
We know not everyone boarding a plane is traveling for vacation. If that’s you and you have to have your own cooking tools with you when you travel, there’s good news. You can bring your own blender with you on the plane in your carry-on. The blade will have to be removed in order to pass the security checkpoint. But if making the perfect margarita depends on using your special blender, have no fear.
7. Breast Milk
It’s understandable that a mother wouldn’t want to feed her baby the chemical concoctions designed to fuel a growing human. But breast-feeding mothers have the challenge of nourishing their newborn and being socially acceptable. The good news is, you don’t have to compromise. TSA will allow you to bring breast milk on the plane. Just make sure to remove the bottles from your carry-one so they can be screened separately. And an added bonus – your child does not need to be traveling with you to board the flight with breast milk.
8. Butane Curling Irons (cordless)
You might have had the same reaction I did when I discovered that butane curling irons are allowed on airplanes. That’s probably because you know that butane is one of the last things that would be allowed on a metal tube 30,000 ft in the air filled with pressurized air. Then I had to read it again. The “curling iron” is what is allowed on the plane. That is provided the gas cartridge is not with it. So cordless curling irons and butane “fueled” curling irons are what’s permitted. Spare gas cartridges are not allowed in your carry-on.
9. Camp Stoves
This is another one I thought wouldn’t be allowed. But just like with butane curling irons, there are conditions. If you bring a camp stove in your carry-on or your checked bags, you must ensure that it is completely emptied of fuel and that no residue or fuel vapors remain. You’ll also want to wrap the cords and layer the items in bags so that the TSA officer can clearly see them.
When I learned that cramptons were allowed on planes, I first had to find out what cramptons are. Cramptons are traction devices that attach to boots to help provide traction on snow and ice when ice climbing. You learn something new every day, right? However, while cramptons are “officially” allowed on airplanes, TSA agents have the authority at his or her discretion to prohibit them. The agent might decide that the sharp edges could pose a security threat. Best option? Put them in your checked baggage.
11. Cremated Remains
There is the unfortunate possibility that you may have to attend a funeral of a loved on that requires you to board a plane. If this is your situation, the good news is TSA will allow the remains through security. TSA recommends “purchasing a temporary or permanent crematory container made of a lighter weight material, such as wood or plastic”. The TSA agent must be able to see what is inside. If they can’t, the container will not be allowed through security. And out of respect, the TSA officer will not open the container, even if you tell them it’s OK. This is another situation where you’ll want to check with the airline. Because even if TSA let’s you through with the cremated remains, the airline may not allow you to board with them.
Everybody loves hearing the drummer get wicked. But he can’t do that without his cymbals. The good news is that cymbals will be allowed through the security checkpoint. And because they’re musical instruments, they’ll have to be physically inspected. Once again, check with the airline to ensure they’ll be allowed as a carry-on.
13. Desktop Computers
I can’t imagine why someone would bring a desktop computer as a carry-on item instead of shipping it with UPS or FedEx. But if you so choose, you can bring a desktop computer with you as an allowed carry-on item. Watching a movie on it during the flight might be awkward. But it is allowed. As with all electronic devices, you’ll need to take it out the bag for screening.
Shooting video from a drone while on vacation is a pretty popular thing these days. TSA recognizes this too and will allow your drone through the security checkpoint. Your airline, on the other hand, may not. So check with them before packing your drone into your carry-on bag.
15. Emergency Position-Indicating Radiobeacons (EPIRB)
If you don’t know what Emergency Position-Indicating Radiobeacons (EPIRB) are, don’t worry about it. If you do, know that these are items the TSA will permit in aircraft cabins. As with so many other things on this list, check with your airline first.
16. Dry Ice
Dry ice isn’t the first thing that comes to mind to bring on an airplane. But if you do need to bring some on with you, you can put them in your carry-on. The FAA will allow up to 5.5 pounds of dry ice on the plane. But it has to be properly packaged. And by “properly packaged” they mean the package is the venter. And it must be marked.
17. Fresh Meat and Seafood
If you like to hunt and fish, this is awesome news! You can take your catch back home with you. On the airplane. In the cabin! Obviously, TSA is going to have conditions for permitted items like these in airplane cabins. But the rules aren’t too outrageous. Make sure the food is packed in a cooler or other container with ice or ice packs. Just make sure the ice or ice packs are completely frozen with they go through the security screening.
You probably think I put this one in here as a gag or to fill up the page. But I kid you not. The TSA has explicitly stated that you can bring a lightsaber with you as a carry-on. As the TSA says: “Since real lightsabers don’t exist, toy lightsabers are allowed.” That means if you do get a real lightsaber, they won’t let you on with it. But if you do obtain one, let us know in the comments where we can get our kyber crystals so we can build ours.
19. Live Fish
You’d think this would fall under “fresh meat and seafood”. But the TSA felt the need to expressly state that live fish is allowed in the cabin. Probably because not all live fish are for the purposes of eating. To get them on the plane and past TSA security, put them in a clear, transparent container with water.
20. Live Lobster
If you don’t want to trust your expensive lobster to anyone and would rather keep it with you, TSA will allow that. Much like live fish, it too must be in a clear, plastic, spill-proof container. This is one that you’ll want to clear with your airline first. You’d hate to get past security only to stopped at the gate and separated from Larry (Spongebob fans will understand).
Visit the TSA’s official website for a list of everything that is and is not allowed through security.