Many Brits will be taking advantage of Covid travel restrictions being eased to take a holiday abroad this summer.
Rules changes introduced in February mean that travellers no longer need to complete a passenger locator form or take any Covid tests before returning to the UK, and are not required to quarantine on arrival. These rules apply whether you are vaccinated or not.
Covid travel restrictions still apply in many popular holiday spots, meaning travellers may have to navigate the various testing and vaccination rules for their destination country before travelling, as well as making sure their passport meets the required criteria.
But holidaymakers should also be mindful of strict rules around hand luggage on airlines to avoid being caught out in airport security.
What items are banned from hand luggage?
Many items are banned from being taken on board flights in hand luggage and travellers found breaching these rules face having these items confiscated.
As well as ensuring that hang luggage meets the correct size requirements on flights, in line with the rules of the airline you are flying with, the following items must not be taken on board:
There are restrictions on the amount of liquids you can take in your hand luggage, so it is easiest to pack them in your hold luggage if possible. Liquids include:
- all drinks, including water
- liquid or semi-liquid foods, for example soup, jam, honey and syrups
- cosmetics and toiletries, including creams, lotions, oils, perfumes, mascara and lip gloss
- sprays, including shaving foam, hairspray and spray deodorants
- pastes, including toothpaste
- gels, including hair and shower gel
- contact lens solution
- any other solutions and items of similar consistency
If you do take liquids in your hand luggage:
- containers must hold no more than 100ml
- containers must be in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag, which holds no more than a litre and measures approximately 20cm x 20cm
- contents must fit comfortably inside the bag so it can be sealed
- the bag must not be knotted or tied at the top
Travellers are limited to one plastic bag per person to hold liquids and this bag must be shown at airport security,
You can only take liquid containers larger than 100ml through security if they:
- are for essential medical purposes
- are for special dietary requirements
- contain baby food or baby milk
You can also take liquids bought at an airport or on a plane (such as duty free) through security if the items are sealed inside a security bag when you buy them, and the receipt for the items is sealed in the security bag and visible.
What about medicines?
Travellers are allowed to carry the following in hand luggage:
- essential medicines of more than 100ml, including liquid dietary foodstuffs and inhalers
- medical equipment, if it is essential for your journey
You will need supporting documentation from a relevant medical professional, such as a letter from your doctor or a copy of your prescription, and airport staff might need to open the containers to screen the liquids at the security point.
Travellers can only carry one lighter on board and this should be put inside a resealable plastic bag which must be kept on you throughout the flight. You cannot:
- put it in your hold luggage
- put it in your hand luggage after screening
Other personal items
The following personal items are banned from hand luggage:
- Knife (with a sharp or pointed blade and/or blade longer than 6cm)
- Large scissors (with blades longer than 6cm)
- Non-safety matches
- Fireworks, flares and other pyrotechnics, including party poppers and toy caps
- Cigarette lighter (but you can put a lighter in a plastic liquids bag and keep it on your person)
- Frozen breast milk
- Umbrellas - unless foldable
- Sports equipment
- Heavy bats and sticks (including baseball, softball and cricket bats)
- Golf clubs
- Walking/hiking poles
- Firearms (including replica firearms)
- Harpoon or spear gun
- Martial arts equipment (including knuckle dusters, clubs, coshes, rice flails and nunchuks)
- Work tools
- Tool with a blade or shaft longer than 6cm (for example chisel)
- Drill and drill bits
- Stanley knife
- Saw (including portable power saw)
- Wrench or spanner
- Bolt gun or nail gun
Chemicals and toxic substances
You cannot take any of these items as hand luggage or in the hold:
- oxidisers and organic peroxides, including bleach and car body repair kits
- acids and alkalis (for example spillable ‘wet’ batteries)
- corrosives or bleaching agents (including mercury and chlorine)
- vehicle batteries and fuel systems
- self defence or disabling sprays (for example mace, pepper spray)
- radioactive materials (including medicinal or commercial isotopes)
- poisons or toxic substances (for example rat poison)
- biological hazards (for example infected blood, bacteria, viruses)
- materials that could spontaneously combust (burst into flames)
- fire extinguishers
You cannot take any guns or firearms (including air rifles and starting pistols) as hand luggage. You may be able to take them as hold luggage, but you should check with your airline before you travel.
Banned items in hand luggage include:
- blasting caps
- detonators and fuses
- imitation explosive devices (including replica or model guns)
- mines, grenades, and other explosive military stores
- fireworks and pyrotechnics
- smoke canisters
- smoke cartridges
- plastic explosives (including black powder and percussion caps)
- hand grenades
- gun cigarette lighters
Airlines also have specific information on banned items for hand luggage on flights, including:
Dedicated guides for passengers are also available online across UK airports, including London Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, and Birmingham.
Travellers who are unsure about rules for a specific item should contact their airline or travel operator directly for more information.