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The truth about hand luggage

Author: ASATA, the Association of South African Travel Age Updated: 15:01 20-09-2017

Rules are rules, especially when it comes to flying and what you are allowed to carry with you in your hand luggage on board. 

While carry-on restrictions are nothing new, the ins and outs on what exactly you can carry and what you cannot seems to almost change regularly and could be regarded as just a little strange from time to time, albeit for the greater good of safety and security.

Case in point was one rather unlucky would-be superhero who in May had his homemade ‘Green Lantern’ mask confiscated travelling between City of Derry Airport and Birmingham, as security officials felt that he could use it to conceal his identity when committing an offence onboard.

More recently, a mother and daughter were refused boarding after security officials informed them that the daughter’s carry-on rucksack measured half-an-inch (2 cm) too deep to account as hand luggage.  While they were given to option to check the bag, the mother did not have any funds available as she was only due to be paid the following day and the pair ended up having to overnight at the departing airport. 

The Association of Southern African Travel Agents, takes a look at what is allowed and not allowed in your hand luggage on your next flight.


According to laws governing global aviation, which states that ‘you cannot take any objects in your hand baggage that could cause injury to yourself and other passengers’, you are allowed to take a lighter with you onboard, although not more than one.

Even more bizarre is that you should ‘keep the lighter on your person throughout the flight’. Just a thought, but wouldn’t the lighter pose more danger to other passengers if it were in the hands of an actual person instead of safely inside a bag?

Mascara and cream

Most countries have restrictions on the types and quantity of liquid you may carry in your hand baggage through security at an airport, and sorry ladies, this even extends to mascara. 

While you may argue that your mascara may be environmentally safe and animal-testing free, if it is 101ml or more you will have to leave it out of your hand luggage. The same goes for any gels and liquids including water, but also ‘essential’ medicine.

If you are thinking about taking a snack onboard also keep in mind that while solid foods are allowed, your destination may restrict the types of food allowed into the country (e.g. meat and fresh fruit and vegetables are prohibited by many countries). 

Snow globes

Whether you carry it as a lucky charm or bought is as a gift, you are not allowed to carry snow globes through airport security.

The two main reasons for this restriction is that it can ultimately be used as a weapon should it break into shards. Also, if you think about it another reason would be the amount of liquid it holds. Chances are, it’s over the 100ml limit.


While there is nothing wrong with taking a gift onboard that complies with the safety and security rules, you may want to consider leaving it unwrapped.

While the worst-case scenario may be that you will have to unwrap the gift for further inspection, it will still add to your time at security checks at the airport.

Art equipment 

Forget about self-expression, if you are thinking of catching up on your artistic talents onboard, the sad news is that your paints and equipment will probably not make it with you onboard.

The reason is behind the is obviously again the 100ml rule, but also for the fact that in many instances art equipment contain ‘dangerous’ chemicals.

Tent pegs

If you are planning to camp out in the great outdoors, it may not be a good idea to pack your tent pegs in your hand luggage.

Needless to say that having these confiscated will leave you having to improvise. However, if you have tent poles with you, are more than welcome to carry them onboard.

Even more bizarre than what you cannot take with on an airplane, is what you can:

If you are still in doubt on what you are allowed to take with you on the plane check with your carrier of choice or, simply ask your travel agent to #TravelwithPeaceofMind.

Published: 13:15 07-09-2017

Posted by on September 7, 2017.

Categories: Flights, Travel

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Updated: 07:37 25-Mar-2018