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What can I take through airport security?

For safety and security reasons, there are strict rules around what you can carry onto a plane with you. With this in mind, it’s important to know which items you can and cannot have in your hand luggage when preparing for airport security .

What can you not bring through airport security?

If you’re getting ready to jet off on holiday but are concerned about what you can include in your hand luggage, keep reading. From liquid limitations and essential medications to food and electronics, this handy guide tells you all you need to know about what can be taken through airport security.

Can I take medication through airport security?

Yes, all prescribed medicines and medical supplies can be taken through airport security. However, travelling with medication can require some additional planning. There is no limit on the amount of medicines you can take through security. This includes liquid medicines, which are exempt from regular liquid restrictions. However, not everyone can carry prescription medication through airport security.

Each country has their own laws relating to medicines and other controlled substances. This means medications may need additional screening in airport security. A valid prescription or doctor’s certificate should always go with any medications you are travelling with. Be sure to keep these in a safe and accessible part of your hand luggage. For example, in a pocket with your passport, boarding pass, and car parking booking documentation.

What liquids can you take through airport security?

Since 9/11, liquids have been strictly controlled as part of airport security. This relates to both substance and volume. But with so many grey areas when it comes to items such as drinks and cosmetics, it's not always clear what is permitted.

UK government guidelines state the term ‘liquids’, in this context, refers to:

  • All drinks designed for human consumption
  • Majority-liquid foods, such as soup, baby food, sauce, honey, etc
  • Toiletries/cosmetics, such as make-up, perfume, toothpaste, lotions, gels, etc
  • Aerosols, such as deodorant and hairspray
  • Contact lens solutions
  • Liquid chemicals, including petrol, rubbing alcohol, bleach, etc

The main rule to keep in mind when it comes to taking liquids through airport security relates to volume. In order to be included in your hand luggage, individual liquid containers must hold 100ml or less. All containers must also be taken through airport security in a transparent plastic bag no larger than 20cm x 20cm. These are usually provided at airport security terminals free of charge. Any liquid container that is larger than 100ml must be packed in your hold luggage.

Some liquids are completely prohibited from air travel and will be confiscated at airport security. These items include:

  • Highly flammable liquids, such as petrol, lighter fuel, paints and thinners
  • Liquid explosives
  • Liquid poisons, such as arsenic trioxide or weedkiller
  • Instruments containing liquid mercury, such as thermometers
  • Wet-cell car batteries

Can I take food through airport security?

Yes, you can take food through airport security. Sandwiches, fruit, sweets and most other solid foods can be placed in your hand luggage. However, this doesn't apply to foods with a high liquid content if they are in a container larger than 100ml. For example, soup, baby food, stews and foods covered in sauce, such as lasagne. Honey, jam and other preserves are considered liquids and are therefore subject to liquid restrictions.

What electronic devices can you take on a plane?

When it comes to portable electronics, most devices are permitted. However, devices containing lithium metal or lithium-ion batteries will need to be removed from your hand luggage and scanned separately when you are passing through security checkpoints. This includes items such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

If you know you are going to be travelling with hand luggage containing controlled items, give yourself more time to get through security. For additional peace of mind, why not purchase a fast-track security pass? These handy add-ons can reduce queuing time and speed-up the security process.