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Security issues and airline baggage

Information

As part of general air transport security measures, you are not allowed to bring certain items into a restricted area of an Irish airport or on board an aircraft leaving an EU airport. This is because these items have the potential to be used as weapons. The rules regarding air transport security are in place internationally and have been noticeably increased in recent years.

In advance of air travel, you are advised to contact your airline directly and seek advice if you are unsure about any security issue, or if you wish to carry certain goods. Knowing in advance which items you are forbidden to carry on board an aircraft will ensure you can plan your baggage requirements accordingly.

Rules

It is forbidden to bring the following items into restricted areas of an airport or on board an aircraft as unchecked/hand luggage:

  • Toy or replica guns
  • Catapults
  • Household cutlery
  • Knives with blades of any length, including letter openers made of metal or any other material that is strong enough to be used as a potential weapon
  • Open bladed razor blades - razors that can be opened and the razor blade removed. Razors that have the blade set into a plastic moulding are not prohibited and may be allowed on board an aircraft.
  • Tradesman's tools
  • Darts
  • Scissors
  • Hypodermic syringes (unless you notify the airline in advance and have a current letter from your doctor confirming you have a specified medical condition that requires you to carry hypodermic syringes with you. You should also be aware that the airline may insist that the medication be packed in a certain way and may be retained by the captain until necessary)
  • Knitting needles
  • Corkscrews with blades attached
  • Sporting bats
  • Snooker, billiard or pool cues
  • Any other article that could reasonably be used or adapted to cause injury to a person.

The articles listed above will be confiscated and/or consigned to the hold of the aircraft. When on duty, flight crew are allowed to keep certain articles, such as cutlery, when they are essential for in-flight duties.

Restrictions on liquids and security checkpoints

In 2006 new restrictions were introduced throughout the EU limiting the carriage of liquids in carry-on hand luggage. You may only take small quantities of liquids in hand luggage. Those liquids must be in individual containers with a maximum capacity of 100ml each. The liquids must be packed in one transparent, re-sealable plastic bag that is not more than 1 litre in capacity. Liquids include the following items:

  • Water and other drinks, soups and syrups
  • Gels (including hair and shower gels)
  • Creams, lotions and oils
  • Perfumes
  • Pastes (including toothpaste)
  • Mascara
  • Pressurised containers (including shaving foam, other foams and deoderants)

You may still pack liquids in luggage that you check in, the new restrictions only apply to hand luggage. You may also carry in your hand luggage any medicines and dietary requirements (including baby foods) for use during the trip. Remember however, you may be asked for proof that they are needed.

These restrictions are to be gradually lifted once they can be replaced by screening for liquid explosives. All airports must have the capacity to screen liquids, aerosols and gels by April 2013.

You may also buy liquids (such as drinks and perfumes) either in an EU shop beyond the point where you show your boarding pass or on board an aircraft operated by an EU airline. If these items are sold in a special sealed bag - don't open it before you are screened, as the contents may be confiscated at the checkpoint. The European Commission have produced these Frequently Asked Questions on the carriage of liquids as hand luggage.

Planning your baggage requirements

  • Ensure your bag is securely closed/fastened and if possible, locked
  • Tie up loose straps and ensure no items are hanging from the bag - they may get caught in the baggage system
  • Do not pack medication, important documents, valuable items or cash in your checked baggage - carry them instead in your unchecked/hand baggage. It is important to remember that airline liability is limited to US$400 per passenger for unchecked/hand baggage. If your unchecked/hand baggage contains items of greater value than this, you can sign a declaration and pay additional charges at check-in to cover any damage caused to your baggage.
  • Label each bag on the inside with your name and full destination address and on the outside with your name and destination city
  • Airlines have set varying levels of weight and dimensions (i.e., width, length, etc.) for checked and unchecked/hand luggage. You may have to pay additional charges if your luggage is greater than that specified by the airline. Check with the customer service department of the airline in advance of travel.

Identification

Every piece of your checked baggage (i.e., baggage or luggage that you give custody of to the airline when you check-in) must be clearly labelled with your name and destination address. It is also advisable to place a similar label inside each piece of baggage. (Sometimes, airlines provide these labels free of charge when you check-in).

Remove all tags and labels left over from previous flights - they may cause your baggage to be delayed or misplaced.

Departure

Before presenting your baggage at check-in, ensure it is locked. When it accepted at the check-in desk, each item of checked and baggage will be given a destination tag showing your flight number and a receipt portion will be attached to your ticket. It is important to retain the receipt for your baggage as this receipt has important information about your flight details, airline, etc., and will help track your baggage if it is delayed or misplaced.

Ensure the tag shows the correct destination and flight number and, if you are making connections en route, that your baggage is checked to your final destination.

Security

Before boarding your flight, your hand baggage will be checked by security staff using x-ray machinery.

Never carry packages with unidentified contents on behalf of other people and if you are asked to do so, contact the airport police, customs or member of staff immediately.

Your checked baggage will be screened by security and matched against the passenger list prior to loading. Airline liability could be reduced for both checked and unchecked baggage if your baggage was presented at check-in, packed in an unsuitable way (or packed in a damaged bag or case or if you presented your baggage after the recommended check-in time).

Restricted articles

Your airline may carry some items of baggage with special precautions. There may be an additional charge to carry these items and it is always advisable to check with the airline in advance regarding arrangements you will need to make. The following are some examples of restricted articles:

  • Sports equipment (i.e., golf clubs, surf boards, snowboards, skis, bicycles, etc.) are permitted as checked baggage only
  • Mobility aids (i.e., certain types of electric wheelchairs, walking frames, etc.)
  • Musical instruments
  • Guide dogs (some airlines will allow visually impaired passengers to travel with their guide dog once the animal is securely fastened and complies with quarantine requirements at your destination).

How to apply

Contact your airline if you have any concerns regarding airline baggage or on-board security issues.

Page updated: 15 November 2011

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Contact Us

If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.