You can’t take it with you

The ground rules of air travel

Gatwick Airport had its busiest July ever, in what is proving to be its busiest year. To those of us at Simplify the Law who will soon be passing through it on our way to a well-earned break, this comes as a disturbing prospect. Of course it’s great for business and great for the economy, but for the personal stress levels it’s slightly less beneficial.

And as you’d expect, there are so many rules, procedures and protocols to be observed at a busy airport, that you’d be forgiven for wondering how anything ever gets off the ground. But they are essential; and the ones that get people’s tension levels rising second fastest (after delays, obviously) are the ones which concern what you can take with you.

So we’ve decided to help you with the tricky business of what you can and, more importantly, can’t take on a plane, so that you can be the smug one in the queue who knows that their carry-on luggage is beyond reproach.

And here are some of the highlights. All of them are real.

  • Scissors with blades less than 6 cm can be carried as hand luggage, but not corkscrews. (You’ll have to make do with screw tops for the wine).
  • Knitting needles are permitted (though we think you should supply fellow passengers with something to drown out the incessant clicking).
  • Musical instruments: if you’re thinking of carrying your tuba into the cabin, think again. We presume that small musical instruments are probably OK to carry on, but (a) you should check with your airline, (b) don’t make jokes about guns in violin cases (really, don’t – they don’t go down well), and (c) under no circumstances start to tune up your harmonica unless you want it put to an unexpected use.
  • Most small electrical appliances are OK if they’re small enough, but don’t expect other people to make room for you if you start ironing.
  • Likewise electronic equipment – but if it’s not charged (and you can’t switch it on if requested) you won’t be able to take it.
  • You can’t take darts, crossbows or harpoons into the cabin, or more innocent items like snooker cues, catapults and nunchuks. It’s apparently OK to put them – along with knuckledusters – into the hold.
  • You can, however, carry your sports parachute into the cabin, even though we think that gives you an unfair advantage.
  • If you have the hang of this by now, it won’t surprise you to learn that most work tools – we’re going to single out nail guns and blowtorches – are forbidden in the cabin, but fine in the hold.
  • Guns are not allowed in the cabin, but may be carried in the hold if your airline permits. Dynamite, mines, grenades and “other explosive military stores” are not allowed in the hold or the cabin. Did we really need telling?

Hopefully that’s cleared some stuff up for you. If we missed anything, you can probably find it here:

If you’re travelling abroad for business, and your business is guns, knives, darts, harpoons, knuckledusters, bass guitars, large scissors, etc …. you should maybe consider using a distributor instead.

Find out about distribution agreements at Simplify the Law

Otherwise, have a good holiday, and keep your luggage with you.

He wouldn't put it in the hold, so he had to walk

He wouldn’t put it in the hold, so he had to walk.

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