Airport security and your luggage

Introduction

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 an aircraft 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 an aircraft will help you plan the contents of your baggage accordingly.

Rules

You cannot bring the following items into restricted areas of an airport or on board an aircraft:

  • Projectile-firing weapons – firearms, toy or replica guns, firearm parts (except telescopic sights) airguns, pellet guns, BB guns flare guns, starting pistols, bows or crossbows, 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, disabling and incapacitating chemicals, gases and sprays, such as mace, pepper sprays, capsicum sprays, tear gas, acid sprays and animal repellent sprays
  • Sharp items - knives (with blades over 6cm), razor blades, box cutters, scissors (with blades over 6cm from fulcrum), axes, hatchets, cleavers, ice axes, ice picks swords, sabres, sharp or pointed martial arts equipment
  • Trade tools - 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
  • Blunt instruments – objects capable of being used to cause serious injury when used to hit including, 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 aircraft. 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 checkpoints

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 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 foams and deodorants)

You may still pack liquids in luggage that you check in, the new 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 an aircraft 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 have produced these Frequently Asked Questions on the carriage of liquids as hand luggage.

Planning your baggage requirements

  • 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. It is important to remember that airline liability is limited to 1,000 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) per passenger for unchecked hand luggage. If your unchecked hand luggage 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. More information on SDRs is available from the International Monetary Fund.
  • 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 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.

Identification

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.

Departure

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 contains important information about your flight details, 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 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 permitted 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

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, surf boards, snowboards, skis and bicycles) are permitted 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).

Further information

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:

Page edited: 20 September 2021