18 Things You Shouldn’t Put In Checked Baggage According to the TSA

Photo of author

By Darryl Henderson

Getting your luggage through an airport has never been more difficult, with so many items being made illegal to travel with. So, to help you get through your next vacation with ease, here are 18 things that the TSA doesn’t want you to put in your checked baggage.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Riccio da favola

A single box of safety matches is permitted in a carry-on bag, but not your checked-in luggage. This is because of the risk of accidental fire in the luggage hold, which airline staff won’t be able to put out. That’s just common sense, really; just buy some when you arrive!

Cremated Remains

Photo Credit: Anze Furlan/Shutterstock

The TSA won’t take kindly to you bringing the cremated remains of a loved one on board. As is made clear by the TSA, their policy prohibits officers from opening urns containing cremated remains out of respect for the dead, meaning they won’t be able to check and may dispose of the ashes!

Compressed Gasses

Photo Credit: Chontavat.M/Shutterstock

Oxygen tanks, SCUBA gear, propane, and butane are all substances that will lead to trouble if you try to take them in your checked luggage. If you require oxygen, it’s best to get in touch with your airline before flying, as they will likely help you or give you more information.

Radio Beacons

Photo Credit: bbernard/Shutterstock

Radio beacons are meant for those heading into remote areas so that emergency services can locate them. However, pilots don’t like people not putting their phones in airplane mode, so it’s safe to say they won’t be happy if you bring a radio beacon onto the plane!

Extra-Strong Spirits

Photo Credit: Ajdin Kamber/Shutterstock

If you are bringing spirits with you, be sure to check that they are under 70% in strength; otherwise, they will be confiscated by the TSA. Spirits of this strength are not permitted in either your checked luggage or a carry-on bag, so leave your grandpa’s homebrew at home!


Photo Credit: steved_np3 / Shutterstock

If you want to take a gun on a plane, you’ll have to comply with the laws of the state you are traveling to. However, never try taking a firearm outside the U.S., as your trip may end with a stint in prison, according to the U.S. Department of State.


Photo Credit: Eric Glenn/Shutterstock

The TSA does not allow any type of fireworks, whether large rockets or the smallest sparklers, to be brought onto a plane in checked luggage. Bringing such items onto an airplane increases the risk of accidental fire in the luggage hold, which would, naturally, prove catastrophic.

Aerosols (Non Toiletry)

Photo Credit: Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock

Aerosols used for toiletry purposes, such as deodorants and fragrances, are unlikely to be an issue when going through security. However, aerosols such as air fresheners, cooking oils, or spray paint will likely lead to confiscation and lengthy delays, so it’s best to leave them at home.

Live Fish

Photo Credit: PixieMe/Shutterstock.

If you were planning on bringing your pet goldfish on vacation with you, you’re out of luck because the TSA prohibits packing live fish or coral in your checked luggage. However, bizarrely, if you want to bring a live lobster with you in your checked luggage, you are free to do so!

Replicas of Explosives

Photo Credit: ZouZou / Shutterstock

As you can probably understand, the TSA doesn’t want anybody bringing a replica explosive onto a plane. Even if it’s a child’s toy or a comical novelty bomb, it’s not worth wasting everyone’s time, as the TSA will no doubt confiscate it from you.

Corrosive Chemicals

Photo Credit: chemical industry/Shutterstock

It may seem clear to most that bringing corrosive chemicals such as chlorine, acid, or paint stripper to an airport won’t go down well with the authorities. However, items such as hair dye may also fall into this category, so it’s best to double-check before you pack.

Lithium Batteries

Photo Credit: IM Imagery/Shutterstock

Lithium batteries present a fire risk and can be found in more items than you’d expect, including laptops, tablets, and various battery-powered toys. Lithium batteries were banned from checked luggage in 2020 by the Federal Aviation Administration, as reported by CNN, so remember to remove them to avoid delays!

Electronic Lighters

Photo Credit: JRJfin / Shuttestock

One of the more obvious items banned by the TSA is electronic lighters, as they pose a huge fire risk. Electronic lighters can behave erratically if they are exposed to sudden changes in temperature, which increases the risk of accidental activation.

Christmas Crackers

Photo Credit: Linda Macpherson/Shutterstock

Much to the dismay of many Brits traveling to the USA over the festive season, traditional Christmas crackers are banned by the TSA. That’s because the cracking sound made by the crackers is created with the help of a tiny amount of gunpowder; you can see why they have to be this cautious!

Bang Snaps

Photo Credit: Shyamalamuralinath/Shutterstock

The TSA doesn’t appreciate any form of explosive; it’s not just Christmas crackers! The bang snaps that children enjoy throwing around playgrounds are equally restricted, as each pouch contains small amounts of the explosive silver fulminate, a substance sensitive to heat and impact. It’s just not worth the risk. 

Bear Bangers

Photo Credit: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

For those who are worried about being attacked by a bear while at 30,000 feet in the sky, it’s a bad day. Bear bangers, the explosives used to defend oneself against bears, are prohibited in both carry-on bags and checked luggage, as confirmed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection


Photo Credit: Petr Smagin/Shutterstock

The TSA does not currently allow anyone to bring an engine with residual fuel onto an aircraft in their checked bag. This includes internal combustion engines, fuel cell engines, and any engine that uses fuel to run, despite this being allowed in international travel regulations. It’s just not worth arguing over.

Flare Guns

Photo Credit: Red_Baron/Shutterstock

Finally, if the aircraft that you have boarded is in trouble, the pilot will have the means to seek help, so you won’t need to bring your flare gun with you. The flares inside the guns contain explosives that would cause catastrophic damage to the aircraft and those inside it if accidentally discharged, hence why they’re banned on flights.