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25 Surprising Items Allowed on Planes


It’s a no-brainer that certain items are strictly prohibited on flights: dynamite, hand grenades…you know, stuff that could blow up the plane. But we were shocked at some of the things that aren’t prohibited.

For example, we’d love for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) to explain why more than 100 ml of shampoo is a no-no in your carry-on but darts are okay.

Here are twenty-five allowable items on Canadian flights that made us go, “Huh?”

Beretta pistol (Photo: Wikipedia)

1. Guns. Not only BB guns and pellet guns, but air guns, pistols, rifles, revolvers and shotguns are allowed. But no stun guns. Phew—we were worried for a moment. Allowed in checked luggage.

2. Axes. You never know when some wood will need choppin’. CATSA is sensitive to the lumberjack in all of us. Allowed in checked luggage.

3. Chainsaws. If the axe just won’t cut it (literally), you can always bring a chainsaw as backup. Regular saws are also permitted. Allowed in checked luggage.

4. Crossbows. We assume this is for archery enthusiasts, but we all know what happens when we assume. Allowed in checked luggage.

5. Catapults. As a rule, they’re not allowed, but according to CATSA catapults “may be permitted in checked bags if approved by air carrier”. Do airlines train their employees to ask appropriate catapult-permissibility questions, we wonder? Are human catapults strictly prohibited? We may never know. Allowed in checked luggage, if approved.

6. Swords. We suppose there’s little danger in allowing these; guns are allowed, after all. Why bring a sword to a gun fight? Allowed in checked luggage.

#2 - axe (Photo: Garrett Wade)

7. Sabres. Lest you think a sabre is a sword. Allowed in checked luggage.

8. Billy clubs. Is this a special concession for police officers? Allowed in checked luggage.

9. Meat cleavers. Butchers serious about their trade need not use an inferior tool while away from home. Allowed in checked luggage.

10. Straightjackets. No mention on the CATSA Web site that any proof of psychiatric licensing is necessary. Perhaps this is meant for magicians? Allowed in carry-on and checked luggage.

#24 - pinata (Photo: PartyCity.com)

11. Throwing knivess. Magicians get all the good stuff. Throwing stars, however, are not allowed on board. Allowed in checked luggage.

12. Soldering irons. Obviously, a carry-on-only item. Obviously. Allowed in carry-on.

13. Dry ice. In-demand, jet-setting prom planners can breathe a sigh of relief. The Stairway to Heaven theme will be complete. Better yet, throw the prom in flight—dry ice is allowed in your carry-on. Allowed in carry-on and checked luggage.

14. Darts. It’s perhaps not surprising that these are allowed in checked luggage, but that they’re okay in your carry-on. (As long as they measure 6 cm or less.) Really? Allowed in checked luggage.

15. Lawn darts. Despite the fact that these were banned for sale in 1989, CATSA allows them on the plane—and even in the cabin. Allowed in carry-on and checked luggage.

#15 - lawn darts (Photo: Greg Dunlap)

16. Whips. Forget magicians, dominatrices get to pack the coolest toys! Allowed in carry-on and checked luggage.

17. Antlers and horns. CATSA doesn’t mention these on its list of restricted items, but Air Canada specifically permits them; however, each set of antlers or horns are charged as one piece of checked baggage. Allowed in checked luggage.

18. Aerosols. Are we the only ones who thought these were an explosion hazard? Certain aerosols, however, like bear spray (an actual useful item in many places in Canada), are prohibited. Allowed in carry-on and checked luggage.

19. Lobster and fish. Allowed in your carry-on, with packaging restrictions, which we hope includes odour-proof containment. Allowed in carry-on.

20. Gas-operated curling irons. This exists? Allowed in checked luggage.

21. Metal forks. We thought airlines stopped giving us real cutlery because it wasn’t safe. Turns out you can still bring your own in your carry-on—no butter knives, though. Allowed in carry-on and checked luggage.

#4 - crossbow (Photo: Nick Perla)

22. Knitting needles. We’d feel safer if airline employee first confirm that the passenger knows how to knit. Allowed in carry-on and checked luggage.

23. Scissors. Allowed as a carry-on item, which seems just as (or more) dangerous as a bevy of things not allowed in the cabin, such as box cutters, multitools or perfume bottles shaped like grenades. Allowed in carry-on and checked luggage.

24. Piñatas. We’d never have thought twice about this except that the Toronto Sun reported this week that Air Canada confiscated a man’s piñata at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. CATSA says they’re permitted, though individual carriers may have restrictions. Air Canada’s Web site doesn’t list any piñata policies, though the policy may have been recently removed, since a Google search brings up text from the Air Canada Web site reading, “Papier maché statues/piñatas are accepted in carry-on baggage provided they are…”. The real kicker in this story was that the piñata wasn’t purchased at a small-town shop in Mexico, but at Pearson Airport’s gift shop in Toronto. Allowed in carry-on and checked luggage (CATSA); allowed at discretion of individual airline employees on Air Canada, apparently.

25. Nitroglycerin—in medicinal form. Nitrogycerin, a key ingredient in many explosives, is strictly prohibited on planes—unless you take it as a medication, generally prescribed for heart conditions. Those with a prescription can also carry more than the 100 ml limit allotted to other liquids. Allowed in carry-on and checked luggage.

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