Airport security and your luggage
As part of air transport security measures, you are not allowed to bring certain items into a restricted area of an Irish airport or on board a plane leaving an EU airport. This is because these items have the potential to be used as weapons. The rules about air transport security are in place internationally and have become more stringent in recent years.
If you are unsure about any security issue, or if you want to bring certain goods when flying, you should contact your airline directly for advice before flying. Understanding which items are forbidden on board a plane will help you plan the contents of your baggage accordingly.
You cannot bring the following items into restricted areas of an airport or on board an aircraft:
- Firearms, toy or replica guns, firearm parts (except telescopic sights), airguns, pellet guns, BB guns, flare guns or starting pistols.
- Bows or crossbows or arrows.
- Harpoon guns and spear guns.
- Slingshots and catapults.
Stunning devices designed specifically to stun or immobilise
- Stun guns, tasers and stun batons.
- Animal stunners and animal killers.
- Disability and incapacitating chemicals, gases and sprays such as mace, pepper sprays, capsicum sprays, tear gas, acid sprays and animal repellent sprays.
- Knives (with blades over 6cm).
- Razor blades, box cutters, scissors (with blades over 6cm from the fulcrum).
- Axes, hatchets, cleavers, ice axes or ice picks.
- Swords, sabres, sharp or pointed martial arts equipment.
- Crowbars, drills and drill bits, saws, blowtorches, bolt guns, nail guns, or any tool with a blade or shaft over 6cm e.g. screwdrivers or chisels.
- Objects capable of being used to cause serious injury when used to hit include sporting bats, clubs, batons, and marital arts equipment.
Explosives and incendiary substances and devices
- Ammunition, blasting caps, detonators and fuses, mines, grenades and other explosive military stores.
- Fireworks and other pyrotechnics, smoke-generating canisters or cartridges.
- Dynamite, gunpowder, and plastic explosives.
- Any other article that could reasonably be used or adapted to cause injury to a person.
The items listed above will be confiscated and may be consigned to the hold of the plane. When on duty, flight crew are allowed to keep certain items, such as cutlery, if they are essential for in-flight duties.
Restrictions on liquids and security check points
There are restrictions in operation throughout the EU, which limit the amount of liquids in carry-on hand luggage. You can only take small quantities of liquids in hand luggage. Those liquids must be in individual containers with a maximum capacity of 100 ml 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.
- Pastes (including toothpaste.)
- Creams, lotions, and oils, including lip balm and moisturizer.
- Make-up, including lipsticks and mascara.
- Sprays, including sun-tan lotion.
- Gels (including hair and shower gels)
- Pressurised containers (including foams and deodorants).
- Liquid-solid mixtures.
- Any other item of similar consistency.
You may still pack liquids in luggage that you check in; these restrictions only apply to hand luggage. You can also carry any medicines and dietary requirements (including baby foods and baby milk) for use during the trip in your hand luggage. However, you may be asked for proof of authenticity.
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 a plane operated by an EU airline. If these items are sold in a special sealed bag - don't open the bag before you are screened, as the contents may be confiscated at the checkpoint. The European Commission has produced these Frequently Asked Questions on the carriage of liquids as hand luggage.
Planning and packing your luggage
- Ensure your bag is securely closed and locked if possible.
- 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 luggage - carry them in your unchecked hand luggage.
- You should label each bag on the inside with your name and full destination address and on the outside with your name and destination city.
- Airlines can set their own limits for the weight and dimensions (width, length, and depth) of checked and unchecked hand luggage. You may have to pay additional charges if your luggage exceeds these limits. You can check the limits with the customer service department of the airline in advance of travel.
Label your luggage
Every piece of your checked baggage (the baggage or luggage that you hand over 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.
You should remove all tags and labels from previous flights; they may cause your baggage to be delayed or misplaced.
At the check-in desk
Before presenting your baggage at check-in, ensure it is securely closed and if possible locked. When it is accepted at the check-in desk, each item of checked 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 keep this receipt as it has important information about your flight details. It will help you 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 check before boarding your flight
Before boarding your flight, your hand baggage will be scanned and checked by security staff.
Have your laptop and any other electrical devices ready to place in trays at the airport security point. It is also advisable to have all your devices fully charged before you travel. If you’re not sure what you can bring, check with your airline to see which electronic devices and electrical equipment are allowed on board.
Never carry packages with unidentified contents on behalf of other people. If you are asked to do so, you should contact the airport police, customs or member of staff immediately.
Your checked baggage will be screened by security prior to loading. Airline liability can be reduced for both checked and unchecked baggage if your baggage was:
- Packed in an unsuitable way.
- Packed in a damaged bag or case.
- Presented after the recommended check-in time.
Restricted items with special precautions
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 special arrangements. For example, the following may be considered restricted items:
- Sports equipment (for example, golf clubs, surfboards, snowboards, skis, and bicycles) are allowed as checked baggage only.
- Mobility aids (such as electric wheelchairs and walking frames).
- 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).
Contact your airline if you have any concerns about airline baggage or on board security issues. You can also check the airports website for more information on airport security.
Some of the airports in Ireland are: