Every once in a while, questions about what items are cleared to travel with at airports pop-up and leave us scratching our heads. Some recent examples include: slime, citric acid, an accordion, pepper spray, black petrol, a coyote skull, weed, hair wax, and cornbread. We don’t know why some people would need to fly with some of these items, but we’re not here to judge.
Violating TSA rules on prohibited items can result in a fine of up to $13,066 per violation, so it’s well worth checking ahead to avoid trouble.
The TSA has a helpful “What can I bring?” search tool on their website to search before you pack, though the final decision is always made by the TSA official on site. We’ve put together a brief Weird Stuff to Carry-On guide by class.
We couldn’t find coyote skulls listed but antlers are good to go, even in your carry on luggage. Artificial skeleton bones are OK too, which may come in handy for anatomy students.
Bear spray and bear bangers (flares) are out. You can’t check them and you can’t bring them on board. Teddy bears and other stuffed animals are cleared to fly, but be reasonable about it. Size matters, especially in the overhead bin. Really large stuffed animals should be checked with the airline as irregularly sized luggage if they don’t fit in a suitcase.
Fishing lures are cleared for take-off, whether you check them or carry them onboard. However, large fish hooks must be sheathed, wrapped securely and packed into checked luggage. Flies can fly in the cabin with you, as can expensive reels or fragile tackle packed in your carry on bag. If you’re diving for your catch, spear guns are OK in checked luggage but a no-go in the cabin.
Live lobster? Your airline will decide whether they will allow fresh lobster to travel in the cabin with you, but you can check lobster as baggage. In fact, restaurant suppliers check lobsters
and crabs for shipping to restaurants around the world all the time. There are specialpacking requirements, so call your airline. And, no, lobsters do not qualify as Emotional Support Animals. Seriously.
Cornbread—Good news! Bread is cleared to carry onboard, as are most solid food items. You can bring these on the plane or check them in your luggage. But wedding cakes that take up a whole overhead binwill cause trouble.
Moonshine is a no. Alcoholic beverages that are over 140 proof, including grain alcohol and 151 proof rum, cannot be carried on planes either in your hand luggage or in checked baggage.
Slime might be considered a gel and citric acid is a liquid, so these may give you some trouble, depending on how much you need to carry. The rule on liquids, gels, creams, and pastes limits you to 3.4 ounces or 100ml.
Fertilizer is out, by the way. It’s not allowed in carry-on bags or in checked luggage.
Black petrol is a liquid but the big rule of thumb is that flammable or explosive items are generally banned on planes — you can’t fly with most of this stuff. There are very few exceptions (the odd disposable lighter and spare batteries). The TSA has a whole list dedicated to individual flammable and explosive items that you can check out.
Hair wax qualifies as a paste, so rules on liquids, gels, and pastes apply. Most cosmetics and beauty items fall into this category.
Accordions and musical instruments require special screening — even in checked bags. Some instruments can be carried onboard, but brass instruments must be packed in checked luggage.
Weapons are a real problem on planes, though there are specific rules for permitted carriage, and the TSA has a dedicated list. Lightsabers are fine, though. The TSA finds that we lack the technology to make real lightsabers, and they allow the plastic toy versions in carry-on and checked luggage, so there’s that.