When you’re packing for a flight to another country, or taking a domestic flight during a vacation, the last thing you want is to run afoul of the law by attempting to take something illegal on the plane.
Some prohibited items on airplanes are quite obvious, like loaded firearms and explosives. However, others may not be. It’s easy to accidentally overlook the rules when packing a souvenir for a loved one. The next thing you know, your item is confiscated, and you’re forced to pay a sizable fine.
To avoid this, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has published a list of prohibited items that cannot be taken onboard an aircraft, along with the fines you could pay when you’re caught. Pay attention to this list, and leave the following items at home.
Prohibited Items to Take Through TSA Security or in Carryon Bags
- Flammable liquids – This includes liquid or gel fuels such as gasoline, turpentine, paint thinner, lighter fluid, and cooking fuel. The max penalty for attempting to board a plane with a prohibited flammable liquid is $2,250.
- Axes, hatchets, and knives – Do not attempt to board a plane with any sort of axe, hatchet, bow and/or arrow, icepick, ice axe, switchblade, butterfly knife, double-edge knife or dagger, meat cleaver, saber, sword, foil, machete, or throwing star. If you’re caught, you could pay a fine of $2,250.
- Non-firearm weapons – These include BB guns, pellets guns, flare and starter pistols, realistic firearm replicas, inert firearms, spear guns, stun guns, cattle prods, or other devices that produce electric shocks. The fine can be up to $2,250.
- Explosives – It may seem obvious, but never attempt to board a plane with blasting caps, dynamite, more than 10oz of gunpowder, hand grenades, plastic explosives, or any other high explosives. The penalty can be up to $14,950 plus a criminal referral.
- Fireworks – Your nephew may love them, but never put them in your carryon bag. This includes any consumer, novelty, or professional-grade fireworks or flares. The penalty can run you $2,250.
- Loaded firearms – Never attempt to bring a loaded firearm onto an aircraft, or an unloaded firearm with accessible ammunition into an aircraft passenger cabin. The penalty is up to $10,700 plus a criminal referral for the first offense, and up to $14,950 plus a criminal referral for a repeat violation.
- Unloaded firearms – Even if the firearm is unloaded with no ammunition present, it is still prohibited to carry onboard an aircraft, and carries a fine of up to $5,730 plus a criminal referral. You are permitted to pack an unloaded firearm into a checked bag, but you are required to declare it with the airline.
- Replica explosives or inert explosives – This can include fake hand grenades or ammunition, such as you might find in a souvenir stand. If you leave these items in your carryon bag, you could face a $3,720 fine plus a criminal referral.
- Intact vehicle airbags – The explosive nature of these devices makes them prohibited to have onboard. They carry a fine of up to $3,720 plus a criminal referral.
- Self-defense sprays or teargas – This includes the types of pepper spray and OC spray you may carry on your keychain or in your purse for self-defense. Make sure to remove them from your carryon bag, or face a fine of up to $2,250.
- Silencers, mufflers, frames and/or receivers – These firearm components carry a fine of up to $1,490 plus a criminal referral.
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Prohibited Items to Pack in Your Checked Luggage
- Flammable liquids – This includes liquid or gel fuels such as gasoline, turpentine, paint thinner, lighter fluid, and cooking fuel. The max penalty for attempting to check a bag with a prohibited flammable liquid is $2,250.
- Explosives – Do not pack any sort of explosives in your checked baggage including blasting caps, more than 10oz of gunpowder, hand grenades, plastic explosives or any other high explosives. They carry a maximum fine of $14,950 plus a criminal referral.
- Fireworks – All types of fireworks, be they consumer-grade, novelty, or professional grade, plus flares and gunpowder in the amount of 10oz or less are prohibited. The maximum fine is $2,250.
- Loaded firearms – If you check a firearm, it must be unloaded and properly declared. If you place a loaded firearm in your checked bag, you could face a $2,990 fine and a criminal referral.
- Undeclared/improperly packaged firearms – Even when the firearm is unloaded, it must be declared and packed correctly. Failure to do so could result in a $1,490 fine.
- Replica/inert explosives and intact vehicle airbags – The fine could be up to $3,720 and include a criminal referral.
- Undeclared and/or improperly packaged silencers, mufflers, frames and/or receivers – These firearm parts carry a maximum fine of $2,250 if undeclared and not packaged properly.
Will You Receive Confiscated Items Back?
The TSA states that federal law restricts the return of prohibited items that are left at the security checkpoint.
This list of prohibited items is current as of April, 2023. However, this list can be updated and amended with little warning. Please check official TSA sources if you have questions about prohibited items before flying. Also, please note that this article only applies to flights that are controlled by TSA security checkpoints. When traveling between multiple countries, there may be different regulations depending upon the governing agency. It is up to you as a traveler to understand the laws and pack accordingly.
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