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Lifestyle Guides

Ultimate guide to hand luggage restrictions

hand luggage

While the size of your actual hand luggage can be a minefield to negotiate with different airlines allowing different sizes, weights and even number of bags, thankfully the acceptable contents of said hand luggage is a lot clearer.

Hand luggage liquids

Since 2006 we've had strict restrictions on what liquids can be taken onboard a plane in hand luggage. If possible, it's always best to pack your liquids into your main suitcase in the hold, but if you're only taking hand luggage or have essential liquids you need onboard, here are the restrictions:

  • 100ml travel bottles are the maximum liquid allowance
  • 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

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

  • Essential medicine including inhalers
  • Special dietary requirements
  • Baby food, milk and sterilised water

What's classed as a liquid?

  • All drinks and semi-liquid foods such as soup, jams etc
  • Cosmetics and toiletries including sprays and toothpaste
  • Contact lens solution

Can you take aerosols in hand luggage?

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

Can you take tablets in hand luggage?

Yes, tablets and capsules are allowed in your hand luggage. You can also take essential medicines over 100ml and medical equipment if they're essential for your journey. 

You'll need to take a letter from your doctor or a copy of your prescription with you and be prepared for airport staff to open the containers and screen the liquids at security. Medical equipment is screened separately.

Can I take my iPad or laptop on a plane?

Yes, you can take your iPad on the plane as well as the following electrical devices:

  • Mobile phone
  • Laptop
  • Tablet devices
  • MP3 player
  • Hairdryer, straighteners, curlers
  • Travel iron
  • Electric shaver
  • E-cigarettes
  • Camera

You need to make sure your devices are charged before you get onboard in case airport security ask you to switch it on; if you can't do that it'll be taken off you.

Can I take food onto a flight post-Brexit?

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

POAO – products of animal origin (meat and dairy) 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 and foods needed for medical reasons; they must weigh less than 2kg and be packaged, branded products.

Vegetables and most fruits are also banned – bananas, coconuts, dates and pineapples are the exception.

If you're so inclined, you're allowed up to 20kg of fish.

"Products other than those described above which do not contain meat or milk (eg honey)” are limited to 2kg.

On your return to Blighty there are 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

With all sales of alcohol and tobacco for UK travellers heading to the European Union now being duty free, prices have dropped but 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.