Ultimate guide to hand luggage restrictions

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hand luggage

Hand luggage rules are difficult to understand, particularly around luggage size. However, rules on contents are now a lot clearer, and we’re here to explain all the hand luggage restrictions.

What can you take in your hand luggage?


Restrictions for liquids in hand luggage were introduced in 2006.

If possible, pack your liquids into your hold luggage, but if you're only taking hand luggage or have essential liquids you need onboard, here are the restrictions:

  • use travel bottles with a maximum of 100ml
  • travel bottles typically must be full
  • containers must be kept in a transparent, resealable plastic bag (you can get them at most airports) measuring approximately 20cm x 20cm
  • only one plastic bag per person is allowed
  • bags must not be secured close
  • security must see the bags

You can take travel bottles over 100ml through security if they're:

  • essential medicine including inhalers
  • for special dietary requirements
  • baby food, milk and sterilised water

What's classified as a liquid?

  • all drinks, including water
  • liquid or semi-liquid food
  • cosmetics and toiletries like sprays and aftershave
  • pastes like toothpaste
  • gels like shampoo and shower gel
  • contact lens solution
  • all other liquids


Sprays including shaving foam, hairspray and deodorants can be included in your hand luggage toiletries if they're under 100ml.


Tablets and capsules are allowed in your hand luggage.

You can also take essential medicines over 100ml and medical equipment.

You'll need to take a letter from your doctor or a copy of your prescription with you.

Medical equipment is screened separately.


You can take the following electrical devices:

  • mobile phone
  • laptop
  • tablet devices
  • MP3 player
  • hairdryer, straighteners, curlers
  • travel iron
  • electric shaver
  • e-cigarettes
  • camera

Charge your devices beforehand in case airport security ask you to switch it on. If you can’t do that, it'll be taken off you.


You can carry one lighter on board in a clear, resealable plastic bag. You can’t put this in your hold or hand luggage after screening.


Most chemicals are banned.

You can’t take:

  • oxidisers and organic peroxides
  • acids and alkalis
  • corrosives or bleaching agents
  • vehicle batteries and fuel systems
  • self-defence or disabling sprays like mace
  • radioactive materials
  • poisons or toxic substances
  • biological hazards
  • flammable materials
  • fire extinguishers

Sport equipment

Most sport equipment needs to go in the hold.

However, you can take the following on as hand luggage:

  • sports parachute
  • snooker, pool or billiard cue
  • fishing rod
  • tennis racquet

Some airlines will allow diving equipment.

Work tools

Sometimes, tradespeople work away and need to take their tools with them.

Tools are banned from hand luggage. Place them in your hold luggage.

Can I take food onto a flight post-Brexit?

Since leaving the EU in 2021, British travellers from England, Wales and Scotland face restrictions on food and drink items allowed into the EU.

Products of Animal Origin (POAO) are no longer allowed; this extends to cakes that contain fresh cream and confectionery "made with high levels of unprocessed dairy ingredients”.

You're still allowed to take:

  • powdered infant milk
  • infant food
  • packaged, branded foods needed for medical reasons if they weigh less than 2kg
  • bananas, coconuts, dates and pineapples
  • up to 20kg of fish
  • up to 2kg of foods which do not contain meat, milk or honey

Returning to Britain brings no significant changes. The UK government says: "You can bring meat, dairy [and] other animal products, for example, fish, eggs and honey.”

Duty free changes after Brexit

There are now strict limits on what you can take into the EU:

  • One litre of spirits
  • 200 cigarettes (only 40 to Estonia and Romania)

"Other goods” are limited to a total of €430 (£390) for air and sea travellers.

Not sure what size bag you can take? Skyscanner has a handy table of each airline's hand luggage size and weight restrictions.

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