You’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a bajillion times: No liquid over 3.4 ounces in your carry-on luggage. But…who hasn’t wondered as they’re packing their toiletry organizer about certain borderline suss items that might cause a problem. Could an innocent piece of sports equipment or homemade snack be misconstrued as a weapon or contraband? And how are you going to transport the live goldfish your little one won at the county fair? When we found out that the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) has an especially responsive Twitter account, we asked it, like the oracle of old, the official line on potentially questionable items in our carry-on luggage. Read on to authoritively tell everyone on your next family vacation what the rules are. And by all means, feel free to @asktsa anything yourself—our response times took less than half a day.
We Asked TSA Agents If We Could Bring These 14 Items on a Plane & Their Answers Kinda Shocked Us
1. Breast milk
“Can I take breast milk I just pumped (even if I’m traveling alone)?”
Breast milk is allowed in carry-on bags and can be more than 3.4 ounces per container. There’s no limit in the total amount you can pack. You don’t need to travel with your child to bring breast milk through security. However, please remove the breast milk and any ice packs (frozen or unfrozen) from your bag and place them in a separate bin for X-ray screening. Additional screening may be required. For more info on traveling with breast milk, here’s a press release.
2. Camp Stove And Gear
“Can I take a camp stove? What about an electric blanket? (Because glamping is for real, people.)”
Battery-operated blankets are allowed through the checkpoint. Camp stoves are allowed in carry-on and checked bags only if they’re empty of all fuel and cleaned so that no fuel vapors or residue are noticeable. Please see additional FAA guidance here.
3. Human Remains
OK, full disclosure I asked this of a TSA agent in the Tucson airport because it made me queasy to tweet about this. Here’s what he advised: Take the cremains out of your carry-on and ask to speak with an agent separately and explain what you are transporting. The TSA agent will be able to individually test the container for any traces of explosives without holding up the security process, while (hopefully) treating the whole situation respectfully. Need more intel? The TSA has a page devoted to traveling with cremains.
4. Live Fish
“Can I bring onboard the live fish my kid won?”
This one is ultimately at the discretion of the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint, but in some cases, a live fish in water and a clear transparent container is allowed after inspection by a TSA officer. (And hedge your bets with a cover story/redirection in case that gold fish winds up going down the drain, i.e. “The nice officer just told us that he has goldfish that will be friends with Swimmy at his home,” etc.)
“What about antlers?”
Yes, antlers are allowed in both checked and carry-on luggage. But beware: That 12-point buck’s antlers will still need to fit into the overhead compartment in order to get it home with you.
6. Baseball Bats
“Are baseball bats allowed? Like a signed one I’m bringing for my nephew’s birthday?”
Sports equipment that can be used as a bludgeon, such as bats and clubs, is prohibited in the cabin of the plane and must be transported in checked baggage.
“Always wondered if I could bring a shot-put along.”
Although shotputs aren't specifically listed as a prohibited item in carry-on bags, officers may not allow them past security if they present a security concern or cause an alarm. And since a 12-pound iron ball seems alarming to us, reader, we recommend transporting them in checked bags. Safe travels!
“Love traveling light, so I like the idea of just sticking my board in the overhead compartment. But do they allow skateboards?”
According to the TSA, they are—however, keep in mind that each individual airline has its own carry-on luggage size restrictions. In most cases, skateboards are at least 28 inches long, which is over the standard length limit (22 inches). Since the TSA says to check with your carrier, we’d be sure to call before boarding with it, lest we wind up with a sullen teen at the airport.
9. Prescriptions Not In Prescription Bottles
“Do I need to have all my medication in its original prescription bottle?”
The TSA does not require passengers to have medications in prescription bottles, but states have individual laws regarding the labeling of prescription medication with which passengers need to comply.
“If I’m traveling back from vacay in Colorado to a state where recreational marijuana is illegal, I can just bring the rest of my unfinished edibles, right?”
Marijuana and certain cannabis infused products, including some Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law except for products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by FDA.
“Bought a bunch of fireworks in Indiana…but can I bring them home?”
“Most fireworks are meant to fly high in the sky, but never via a commercial aircraft,” according to the TSA. “As we near the #4thofjuly, here’s a friendly reminder from @asktsa to leave fireworks at home.”
“Can we go back to middle school science of states of matter for a second? Are gels liquid?”
Any item that you can pump, squeeze, spread, spray or spill must follow the liquids rule in carry-on bags.
13. Garment Steamer
“Can I bring my garment steamer in my carry-on?”
Garment steamers are allowed in carry-on bags.
14. Homemade Food Or Snacks/candy Not In Its Original Packaging
“My mom, bless her heart, always tries to send me home with like, homemade Chex Mix or whatever, and every single time TSA searches my carry-on to inspect it and/or swabs my hands for explosives.”
According to the TSA, solid food items—not liquids or gels—can be transported in your carry-on or checked luggage. So to this staff member, may we suggest these TSA agents might just be hungry for your mom’s treats?