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It may be obvious that whatever cannot go into your carry-on, should thus go in your checked luggage, it that is not always the case (forgive the pun).
Ultimately, there are various restrictions on which items you can take in your checked luggage when boarding a plane, albeit not as stringent as rules for carry-on.
For instance, there are different rules if you’re taking goods to sell or if you are temporarily abroad for business reasons, for example sales samples, professional equipment or musical instruments for a performance or if you take with you sporting equipment. And, basically as per any of the rules and regulations of modern-day air travel, these rules are there to ensure a smooth and safe flight.
The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) takes a closer look at what is allowed and what’s not when it comes to checked luggage.
Food and drink
If you’re travelling internationally, you may be prohibited from taking food to your end destination. Each country has its own rules about what kinds of foods can be brought across borders.
If you’ve ever watched Australian Border Security, you’ll be well aware that fresh fruits and vegetables, meat products, seeds and animals and some animal products such as skins, etc. are often not allowed into an international destination.
When it comes to packing drinks in your checked luggage, the rules may be a bit more flexible, but there still may be restrictions on the amount and type of drinks that you pack. As a general rule of thumb, it may also not be the best idea to pack items in your checked baggage that can break and spill.
Before you travel, check the embassy website or with your carrier of choice should you be considering carrying any consumables with you the country you’re visiting for more information.
The main rule to consider when packing medication is to ask yourself if you can live comfortably without it? If you can don’t pack it at all and if you can’t then it should probably be not be packed in your checked luggage.
Again, each country has its own laws and regulations on medications allowed to be brought into the country. While you may have a prescription from your doctor, it would be wise to check what the rules and regulations are for your specific medication before you travel.
If you do get the all clear, the good news is that travellers are often permitted to bring liquid medications onto planes, even if they exceed the amount allowed for carry-on baggage. However, you will need to officially declare any oversised liquid medications when going through the checkpoint. Tell a security officer stationed at the checkpoint that you’re carrying liquid medications, and hand them over for inspection. It helps to have a doctor’s note or a medical ID card, but it’s not required. It is also recommended that travellers label medications to facilitate the screening process.
The rules on packing flammable items such as lighters, matches, liquid fuel and paint are also not set. Each country, and even airlines have varying rules and considerations when allowing such items to be packed.
For instance, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has provided a checklist of items on its website. And, while some objects are quite obvious such as gun powder, hand grenades, tear gas, vehicle airbags, others are not. For example, while lighters without fuel may be packed in checked luggage, lighters with fuel may only be packed in checked luggage if they’re in a Department of Transportation-approved case. Matches are prohibited in checked baggage, and flammable items, such as paint or liquid fuel, should be avoided as well.
Tools and equipment
Safely contained sharp tools and blades, such as screwdrivers, chisels and scraper blades are often allowed in checked baggage, however internal combustion or fuel cell engines, even if the fuel and liquids have been drained may not be or may be subject to restrictions.
When in doubt refer to this quick list of items that may require special thought and consideration:
• More than one box of matches or lighter
• Liquid oxygen systems
• Disabling devices containing an irritant or incapacitating substance, such as pepper spray
• Electric shock weapons containing dangerous goods such as explosives, compressed gas or lithium batteries
• Aerosols that are not medicinal or toiletry items
• Security type equipment – such as attaché cases, cash boxes and cash bags – that include lithium batteries, pyrotechnical material or other dangerous goods as part of the equipment
• Hoverboard, Mini-Segway, solo wheel, air wheel, balance wheel, Lithium powered skateboard or Personal transportation devices with on-board storage and similar lithium battery powered small recreational vehicles
• Installed or spare lithium batteries with ratings more than 160Wh or 8g lithium content