Christmas flights – a guide to hand luggage restrictions

The countdown to Christmas has begun, and if you are flying this Christmas, you’re bound to be taking Christmas presents with you.

It’s always nice to surprise your hosts at the airport with a small Christmas present, however, if you plan to carry presents in your hand luggage you do need to make sure they are permitted in your hand luggage.

Hand baggage limits vary from airline to airline and what is acceptable by one airline may prove too large or too heavy for another and will mean you have to check your bag into the hold, incurring extra charges.

It’s advisable to check your airline’s website for size and weight restrictions, however, as a guide, you will find most airlines only permit one piece of hand luggage per passenger.

Hand baggage restrictions

Hand baggage sizes vary but generally it should be no larger than 56 x 45 x 25cm (22 x 17.7 x 10 inches) including wheels, handles and outside pockets – these dimensions are the maximum size you are allowed to carry – some airlines specify smaller hand luggage sizes – always check your airline’s website for details.

Liquids in hand luggage rules
Liquids, including gels and aerosols can only be carried in containers of 100ml or less. Any container larger than 100ml, even if it’s only partially full, will be confiscated at security. All liquid items must be placed in a transparent, re-sealable bag no larger than 20cm by 20cm – a re-sealable freezer bag will be okay. It’s best to prepare this before you get to the airport to save yourself time, hassle and sometimes expense – while some airports give away clear plastic bags free of charge, some airports charge!

Don’t forget, liquids include mascara, lip gloss, jams etc., so if the presents you are carrying in your hand baggage contain liquids, they must be of less than 100ml and they must be placed in your re-sealable plastic bag.

Prohibited items in hand luggage
You may think you’re just carrying a harmless Christmas present but if it contains a prohibited item you will have it confiscated at security. A child’s water pistol or catapult, tools, any item that could be used as a potential weapon will not be allowed through security.

Carrying Christmas items

Christmas Crackers
Some airports and airlines permit the transportation of Christmas crackers, however, many don’t. Where they are permitted, airlines usually only permit them in checked-in baggage, as some crackers contain banned items, such as scissors and screw drivers. Generally, there is also a limit on quantity carried, and are usually limited to commercially made crackers in sealed boxes.

Check with your airline before attempting to take Christmas crackers on a plane.

Party poppers
Party poppers are regarded as explosive items and are therefore banned on aircraft.

Sparklers, whether indoor or outdoor, along with fireworks are banned from aircraft.

Don’t wrap presents that are carried in your hand luggage
It’s advisable not to wrap any presents that are carried in your hand luggage as they may be subject to extra checks at security and will therefore require unwrapping.