Myth Buster: Flying 101


  • Plane travel 101 : Image by Deyan Georgiev

  • Family travel : Image by Nico El Nino

Your bags are packed, the taxi is booked – you’re ready to head to the airport to catch your flight. Waiting for the taxi, you look down at your bags with a little bit of uncertainty. Will the bag meet the luggage allowance? Did you put a lid on the aerosol can of deodorant? Is everything in zip lock bags?

Ever been so wound up about baggage allowances and security checks that you wished you were taking a road trip instead? I know I certainly have.

I’ve done hundreds of flights, international and domestic, as a flight attendant in a former life and as a passenger.

And from one Expedia traveller to another, I can vouch that flight regulations and baggage allowances still put me a little outside of my comfort zone.

Here’s what you need to know for a hassle-free experience:

Pre-travel

As the world changes so do travel alerts and visa requirements. The best way to avoid the hassle is to educate and organise before you go. Check out a fantastic resource called Expedia Travellers’ Tools. There’s a section solely dedicated to current travel alerts, another for visa requirements, a currency converter, options for affordable and competitive travel insurance along with clickable links to help you change your hotel or car booking. All the essential travel resources at your fingertips.

Check in

Check in can be chaotic. To avoid drama, arrange to get to the airport early, no later than 45 minutes for domestic flights and two hours for international flights. If you require special assistance (wheelchairs, you’re travelling with pets or infants), it’s best to call the airline no later than 24 hours prior so that special arrangements can be made.

The greatest check in challenge is baggage allowance. There’ll be times when you’re transporting skis and surfboards, oversized bags or fragile goods. And sometimes you’ve packed everything except the kitchen sink and you’re certain you’re over the weight restrictions. Who can remember what to do for all that? It’s best to clarify all these details before you even begin packing. Find out the baggage allowance and procedures for the airline you’re travelling with over at Expedia Travellers’ Tools Check In.

Hand luggage

There’s nothing worse than going through security and having to surrender something from your hand luggage. It can be humiliating and inconvenient. What’s more, airports and airlines are under no obligation to store or return surrendered items, so you can bid farewell to your confiscated item. Let’s take a look at what’s allowed and what’s not.

1. Sharp items or weapons
Any item that has a sharp edge with the potential to be used as a weapon is classed as a prohibited item. That includes anything that can be used to restrain someone. So leave your sharp sporting equipment, kitchen utensils, tools, scissors and cable ties at home. The rules do change: you can now take knitting and crochet needles, pointed metal nail files, nail clippers and disposable razors on board. If you’re unsure, pack the item in your checked luggage. See the Government’s Travel Secure for a more detailed list.

2. Aerosols
You can take aerosols in your hand luggage as long as they’re for personal or medicinal use – hair sprays, deodorants, perfumes and medical inhalers. The nozzle on the aerosol must be protected by a cap or have a release lock, otherwise it will be confiscated. For domestic travel the aerosols in hand luggage must be under a net quantity of 2kg/2L and a single article must not exceed 0.5kg/0.5L.

For international travel each aerosol should not exceed a 100gr/100ml bottle.

3. Liquids, pastes and gels
While these items seem insignificant, a combination of a pressurised cabin, high altitudes and extended travel cause everyday substances to react. This regulation is in place for international travel only, to protect travellers from the threat of liquid explosives. You must not carry liquids, gels, pastes and aerosols in containers greater than 100ml. You also need to ensure you pack these products in a transparent, resealable bag. You’re allowed one plastic bag measuring no more than 80 centimetres (e.g. 20×20 cm or 15×25 cm). To avoid any hassles pack the bigger items in your checked luggage.

Remember: If you buy additional liquids and gels (perfume!) Duty Free after security screening, by law they must be packaged in a sealed bag which you can’t open until you arrive at your destination. My biggest tip is to only buy these items at the stop before your destination, otherwise if you have a connecting flight you’ll have to go through pre-screening. They could be confiscated – even if they’re in a sealed duty free bag.

There are exceptions to these rules, especially when it comes to medicine and baby products. Check with your aircraft carrier on what to do to get cleared to carry your required items on board.

Food

You’re allowed to pack and take your own food on a flight. Just remember if you’re flying international, you can’t take any liquid in a container greater than 100ml. You can buy liquids to take on board once you’ve passed security.

Remember:
You can’t take on board or check in any self-heating food such as cans of coffee or soup that are ready to eat/drink once opened.

Some airlines won’t let you board the flight with hot cups of coffee – it’s best to sit and savour before heading to the boarding gate.

Travelling with fresh seafood (this doesn’t include tins or pre-packaged seafood), like fresh fish or prawns packed on dry ice, may be prohibited or restricted. Check with your airline beforehand.

Quarantine: Each state and country has its own quarantine regulations. Usually they involve fresh food and nuts, so eat these on the plane before arrival. Check the quarantine regulations before you travel at the Australian Customs and Quarantine website.

Dangerous Goods

Some things were never intended to fly. Everyday items (‘Strike anywhere’ matches, moth balls, paint, mineral turpentine, methylated spirits, gas cylinders, cigarette lighters with a blue flame, bleaches, glues and aerosols) can become lethal in the air. If there’s something you want to take and are unsure it will be ok, check to see whether there is a hazardous symbol on the container. If there is then ask yourself ‘Do I really need to take it? Or, can I buy it when I get there instead?

If you’re still determined:

  • Read the list of forbidden or restricted ‘dangerous goods’ on the webpage of your airline carrier.
  • Review the CASA Dangerous Goods web page.
  • Contact the airline for accurate clarification.

Whatever you do, never try and smuggle it in your luggage. Handlers have enhanced screening facilities. They’ll find it and you’ll be slapped a hefty fine and maybe even charged.

Going through Security

Airports have different security screening measures, some may require you to take your umbrella out of your bag and others may not. Bottom line; just politely do what they ask.

Take out all electronics, liquids, aerosols and gels. Put them in the plastic containers provided. If the alarm rings when you walk through the metal detector, you might be asked to remove your shoes, belt or other metal objects such as jewellery. If it goes off again, the security officer may pat you down or take you aside. This is fairly common so don’t be worried. Let the screening staff know if you have any medical conditions that might cause the metal detector alarm to sound; for example, an implanted metallic joint or pace maker.

Australians are a bunch of friendly larrikins, who often end up in handcuffs after a harmless joke, trust me I’ve seen it many times. The Australian Government and the aviation industry take aviation security seriously. Whatever you do never make jokes about bomb threats, attacking anyone and taking weapons on board. Save your jokes for when you’re sitting by the pool. Always respect the security staff. Don’t get angry if you’re pulled aside for a random explosive test – by law they’re required to pick people by random.

So there you have it, flight rules and regulations demystified. It’s now time to go pack your bags and head out on that well-deserved holiday. Bon Voyage.

Images by NicoElNino and Deyan Georgiev

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Claire-Maree Charters

About the Author Claire-Maree Charters

Editor and founder of the Zenspiration Magazine, Claire has a love for the simple luxuries of life which she expresses through her blog. Zenspiration is a lifestyle blog and Claire writes about everything from travel, fashion, beauty to finding inspiration in everyday moments. Claire believes that the luxurious life can be led by everyone, no matter what their budget or circumstance, she believes that it is about finding the beauty and enchantment in everyday living. Away from writing her blog Claire can be found hiking in national parks, restoring old furniture or teaching a local workshop.   3 travel must haves? Hiking shoes, moleskin diary and a great book to read.   What's on your travel bucket list? Hiking to Basecamp Mount Everest and swimming with Whale Sharks.