Last Updated on November 4, 2023 by Nicole
There are a lot of factors that you have to consider before choosing whether you are going to pack carry-on baggage or opt for a checked bag. One obvious issue is how long you are planning to be away. Can you can fit everything that you may need into a small carry-on bag or do you need to check-in a much larger suitcase?
Cost is another. Most airlines, except the super low-cost no frills ones (like Spirit Airlines), do not charge for hand luggage while they do for checked baggage.
A less common but equally important consideration is what you need or want to bring on your trip. Specifically, are you allowed to bring all your desired items in your carry-on baggage or are they only permitted in checked luggage? This is a particularly important question when you want to pack a razor, shaving cream or an electronic device.
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Transportation Security Administration
The Transportation Security Administration or the TSA is responsible for protecting America’s “transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce”. This includes airports, airlines, and passengers. It oversees and creates TSA rules for carry-on baggage and checked baggage screening, specifically prohibiting dangerous items.
There are many items that are considered dangerous by the TSA that are everyday household or personal goods that you would not normally think or categorize as dangerous. However, these products are not allowed on planes because they might be unstable under different air pressure, or they are sharp objects that could be used as weapons.
To further complicate matters, some items are only forbidden in carry-on bags while allowed in checked luggage, or vice versa.
Penalties for Packing A Prohibited Item
It is important to double check TSA guidelines before you pack to determine whether you are bringing a prohibited item. Firstly, you want to arrive prepared at the airport with the right luggage. For example, you may only want to bring hand luggage and can fit everything into that one bag. However, if you arrive at the airport with a single carry-on bag only to find out you have items that are not allowed with you on the plane, you run the risk of having to check-in your hand luggage with other personal, fragile or important articles. Lost luggage doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen.
Secondly, penalties for packing a banned article range from it being confiscated to receiving a large fine. Generally, the more dangerous the item, the more likely you will be fined versus having the object seized. Of course, if the product was expensive, having it seized could still be a very costly mistake.
When Are Your Checked Bags and Carry-On Bags Screened?
Baggage handlers screen your checked bags after you drop them off at the check-in desk. At some airports, this is done at drop off in front of you, but in North America, it is more common that your checked luggage is sent into the bowels of the airport for screening. If a prohibited item is then found by security officers, the article is seized without recourse.
On the other hand, your hand luggage is always screened in front of you by TSA agents at airport security. If a banned item is found in your carry-on baggage at the security checkpoint, a TSA agent will remove it in front of you.
It is at this point that airport security will inform you whether the article is fully prohibited on any flight or only forbidden in a cabin bag. If it is the latter, you will be given the option to return to your airline’s check-in desk to check-in your item. If you choose not to do this, or if the article is fully prohibited, it will be permanently seized.
Are Razors Allowed In Your Carry-On Luggage?
Razors fall into a complex category. Whether you are permitted to pack a razor into cabin baggage, checked luggage, or both, depends on the kind of razor.
Any sharp objects in checked bags should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and security inspectors. If possible, it is also recommended to place them in a clear plastic bag so that they can be easily inspected.
Electric razors are normally allowed in both carry-on luggage and checked bags. However, for all other electronic devices, you need to check the type of batteries that they have.
Electronic devices containing lithium metal or lithium ion batteries should ONLY be carried in your hand baggage. Most household devices contain alkaline batteries and are permitted in both carry-on bags and checked luggage.
A straight razor is a blade sharpened on one edge with an attached handle. The blade rotates in and out of the handle. Unsurprisingly, a straight razor is an unacceptable carry-on item according to TSA guidelines. However, it can be packed in your checked luggage.
Safety razors have removable or disposable blades that connect to the razor’s head. They have a protective device positioned between the edge of the blade and the skin. They were designed to replace straight razors and the need to go to the barber for a shave. With little technique, they allow for injury-free shaving at home.
Safety razors with removable blades are not allowed in your hand luggage, but may be packed in your checked bag. However, safety razors without blades are allowed in your carry-on baggage.
Disposable razors, like a Gillette razor, are allowed in carry-on bags and checked luggage. They are the least confusing and stressful from a flying perspective. However, anything plastic and disposal is not the best choice from an environmental perspective.
Cartridge razors are a type of razor where the head or cartridge can be detached from the handle so it can be discarded when it becomes worn. The razor handle can then be used with replaceable cartridges.
Cartridge razors are allowed as a carry-on item and in checked bags.
A beard trimmer comes in many different forms. They can be similar to electric shavers in which case they may be allowed in carry-on bags and checked baggage. However, check whether the batteries are lithium or alkaline. If lithium, the beard trimmer is not allowed in checked luggage.
A beard trimmer may also be in the form of hair clippers in which case they are also permitted as hand luggage so long as the clippers are less than 4″.
Similar to beard trimmers, if they are like electric shavers or hair clippers, they are permissible in both carry-on luggage and checked bags depending on the battery type and length of clippers. On the other hand, if they have an open blade, they are prohibited in cabin baggage but allowed in checked luggage.
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Other Sharp Objects
Box cutters are a thin, inexpensive razor-blade knife designed to open cardboard boxes. They are not allowed as a carry-on item but may be packed and checked-in.
Nail clippers are allowed in both hand baggage and checked luggage.
Related Electronic Devices
Hair straighteners or flat irons that are cordless and contain lithium metal or lithium ion batteries or gas or butane fuel are only allowed in carry-on bags. A safety cover must be securely fitted over the heating element and the electronic device must be protected from accidental activation.
Hair straighteners or flat irons with cords (including curling irons) are unrestricted unless they also include batteries or gas/fuel cartridges. In these instances, they are only allowed to be carry-on luggage.
What About Shaving Cream?
Shaving cream, shaving gel and shaving foam normally come in two forms – aerosol or lotion. They have slightly different rules according to TSA guidelines.
Shaving cream or gel in the form of a lotion is permissible in cabin baggage if it is less than or equal to 3.4oz/100 ml. Anything larger must be packed into your checked luggage. This also includes aftershave lotions.
Shaving cream, gel or foam in the form of an aerosol may be allowed in carry-on bags in certain circumstances. Like lotion, it must be less than or equal to 3.4oz/100 ml.
They may also be allowed in checked baggage so long as the total amount of restricted medicinal and toiletry articles, including aerosols (like drugstore hairsprays), in checked baggage does not exceed 2 kg (70 ounces) or 2 L (68 fluid ounces) per person. The capacity of each container must not exceed 0.5 kg (18 ounces) or 500 ml (17 fluid ounces).
In addition, there must be a cap or some other form of acceptable cover over the aerosol release button or nozzle to prevent the accidental release of the shaving gel or foam.
Other Travel Tips
If you are trying to decide whether you should travel with a suitcase, or whether your existing luggage is suitable, consider Samsonite Winfield 2. Samsonite is an excellent brand in travel bags. Theses suitcases are made from a polycarbonate shell for lightweight, durable use and protection. They also come in three sizes offering options for carry-on baggage or checked luggage.
If you prefer a soft shell and a more relaxed look, check out 12 Best Canvas Duffel Bags With Style.
On the other hand, if you are looking for something smaller like a backpack or a messenger bag, then there is lots to review. Most of them offer many internal and external compartments, including ones for laptops or other electronics. Many of them would also work well as a cabin luggage, weekend getaway bags or for business travel.
- 12 Exquisite Leather Messenger Bags For Men And Women;
- 11 Stylish And Best Messenger Bags For Men;
- 9 Most Affordable And Chic Messenger Bags For Women
- 12 Best Stylish Yet Practical Canvas Crossbody Bags; and
- 7 Most Sleek And Versatile TUMI Backpacks.
Although all of the different rules related to razors and other sharp objects may seem confusing, however, it really boils down to safety. As a general rule, if you intend to pack a razor or other sharp objects and they could be used as a weapon, TSA officers will not allow them in carry-on bags.
Accordingly, if you had hoped to only bring carry-on luggage but now can’t because you have an item that must be packed into checked baggage, you have to weigh the cost of checking a suitcase versus your desire to bring the restricted object. Overall, it might be better to just bring disposable razors for your time away or an electric razor, if you have one, to keep your costs and stress level down.