18 Things the TSA Doesn’t Want to See in Your Checked Luggage

Going through the TSA is one of the most stressful parts of flying. You don’t want your luggage flagged for a bag check, so avoid carrying any prohibited items. There are many items you can’t bring through TSA, though, and some of these 18 examples may surprise you.


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Any form of lighter is considered a massive risk on a plane because it could be unintentionally activated. As a result, you can’t pack lighters in your checked luggage in case movement flicks them on and your bag catches fire, so keep them out of your checked bags!

Cordless Curling Irons

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The TSA has banned curling irons without cords from checked baggage because they contain gas fuel or lithium metal, so they risk catching fire on the plane. If your bag is searched and a TSA officer finds a cordless curling iron, they’ll confiscate it, so just leave it at home.

Wrapped Gifts

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Plenty of people travel home for Christmas or Thanksgiving, but it’s a good idea not to wrap your gifts until after your flight. While wrapped gifts aren’t banned, the TSA recommends keeping items unwrapped so officers can inspect them. Wrapping things may unintentionally look like you’re trying to conceal something.


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Fireworks are loud enough in your backyard, so imagine how terrifying it would be if one went off inside a plane. Not only are fireworks loud, they’re destructive and should never be set off indoors. To keep the aircraft and its passengers safe, the TSA doesn’t take kindly to fireworks in checked bags.

Overproof Alcohol

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Most bottles of unopened alcohol are allowed in your checked luggage, but you can’t pack alcohol over 140 proof (70%) because it’s highly flammable. TSA officers will remove these expensive bottles of alcohol from your bag, leaving you out of pocket.


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While squeezing plants inside your checked luggage is already a bad idea, it will also lead to your bags being searched. Whether you can bring plants back to the US from another country depends on the species and where it came from, as they could be carrying pests or diseases.


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It’s always safer to keep money with you in case your luggage is lost, but large sums of cash usually raise questions. According to Alternative Airlines, TSA officers might become suspicious of why you’re holding so much cash, so to avoid being questioned, don’t pack it in your checked luggage.


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Many people use vapes as an alternative to cigarettes nowadays, but the TSA doesn’t want to see them in your checked bags, as vapes contain lithium-ion batteries, making them a considerable fire risk. You may be allowed a disposable vape in your carry-on bag, but always check with your airline.

Suspiciously-Shaped Items

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It’s hard to know what counts as a ‘suspiciously shaped item’ when packing, but try to avoid replicas of dangerous items, such as toy guns. While this isn’t prohibited, it will raise suspicion, and TSA officers will need to check your bag, so it’s sensible not to bring them.

Tropical Fruits

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Most sealed foods are acceptable to pack in your checked luggage but take care with food items like tropical fruits. Like plants, these fruits could potentially introduce new diseases to the US, so it’s the TSA’s job to confiscate them. Stick to enjoying these fruits abroad, and don’t bring them back with you.

Cleaning products

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You might be tempted to bring your own cleaning products on your trip, but the TSA won’t allow it. It may seem fine if they’re sealed, but they still pose a risk to baggage handlers if they leak. Ultimately, they fall under the ‘hazardous chemicals’ label and are considered dangerous.

Cremated Remains in Opaque Containers

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Losing a loved one is devastating, so to keep their remains safe while you travel, don’t carry them in opaque containers. If your bags are searched, the TSA warns that officers cannot open containers of cremated remains out of respect, so it’s best to seal them in a transparent container.

Loaded Guns

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If you own a firearm, you should be well-educated on how to travel with it. The TSA allows unloaded guns in checked luggage as long you declare them, and they’re inside hard-sided containers. Be sure to follow airline-specific rules, too, because the last thing you want is commotion over a firearm in an airport.


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Paint is another liquid that the TSA doesn’t like to find in your luggage because it’s considered hazardous. Non-flammable artist paints are typically allowed, but carrying any paint will raise a red flag, so even if it’s safe, the TSA will likely confiscate it anyway to be on the safe side.


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Artists might pick up specialty glue on or for a trip, but many of these adhesives are highly flammable and won’t impress a TSA officer if discovered. You must check the type of glue you’re packing, and if it’s too flammable, don’t bring it, or you’ll get into trouble with the TSA.


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Cannabis is currently legal in 38 out of 50 states, but you can never anticipate the TSA’s reaction. TSA spokesperson Lorie Dankers has advised that officers are required to report any potentially illegal item to law enforcement, so even if you’re traveling between two legal states, marijuana may still be confiscated.

Expensive Jewelry

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While there’s no rule against packing expensive jewelry in your checked baggage, TSA officers would rather you pack it in your carry-on. This is to safeguard your valuables from theft or loss during searches, so while you won’t be ordered to remove them, keep them with you for the sake of security.

Film Cameras

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Last but not least, it’s film cameras! If you still use an analog camera and want to bring it on a trip, put it in your carry-on because the baggage scanners are powerful enough to ruin your film! TSA officers don’t want to be accused of causing damage, and it’s not their responsibility.

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