To avoid baggage fees and lost luggage, many travelers try to pack everything for their vacation into carry on bags. However, federal security regulations impose strict limits on what you can put into your carry on luggage. Although you should always check the current Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) rules before you leave, some basic guidelines will help you pack for your next trip.
The 3-1-1 Rule
The TSA regulation allows you to bring however many 3.4-ounce or smaller bottles of liquids you can pack into one quart-sized plastic bag. Each passenger is allowed one quart-sized bag. This is known as the 3-1-1 rule (3.4 ounce bottles per 1 passenger per 1-quart bag). All of your liquids must go into this bag. This includes lotion, shampoo, perfume, liquid makeup, hairspray and gels. Solid toiletries, such as deodorant or lipstick, do not need to go into your 1-quart bag.
Larger Bottles of Liquids
Bottles of liquids larger than 3.4 ounces will be confiscated by TSA agents at the security check point. If the liquid is medically necessary, baby formula or part of a prosthetic you must tell the security agent who will do a special check of the item. To avoid holding up the security line, separate the larger bottles of liquids before you go through the inspection point.
Sharp Objects, Tools and Sporting Goods
The only sharp objects allowed in your carry on are nail clippers and small manicure scissors. The scissors must have blades less than four inches long. Hand tools measuring less than seven inches also are allowed in your carry on bag. All other sharp objects, tools and sporting goods must be packed in your checked luggage.
Lighters, Explosives and Flammables
A standard cigarette lighter is allowed in your carry on. Only empty lighters or lighters in special cases may be packed into your checked luggage. No other explosives or flammable items are allowed in your carry on or your checked bags.
Size and Weight of Bag
Although airlines vary in their regulations, most require carry on luggage to measure no more than 10 inches by 17 inches by 24 inches. The bag typically must weigh less than 40 pounds. Each passenger may bring one bag this size and another bag, such as a backpack or purse. The second bag must be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you.