Some items you use every day can be considered dangerous at 35,000 feet. To help you pack, we’ve listed the policies for the most common dangerous items below.
Want more details about dangerous items? Check out these pages:
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): PackSafe
- Transportation Security Administration (TSA): What Can I Bring?
- U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT): Air Travel Tips
Dangerous items we don’t allow on board
Federal laws don’t allow you to pack hazardous materials in your checked or carry-on bags. Some common examples include:
- Bags that are self-balancing or self-riding
- Camping equipment that contains fuel
- Defense sprays like mace, pepper sprays and tear gas
- Explosives like fireworks, gunpowder, flares, flare guns and novelty items
- Ready-to-eat meals (MREs) with a flameless heater
- Shock absorbers
- Smart bags with nonremovable batteries
Dangerous items that have some restrictions
Personal items such as deodorant, hairspray, nail polish, perfume and certain medicines have some restrictions. If you’re packing them in your carry-on bag, each container can’t be more than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters). You should also place them in a clear, quart-sized bag. If you’re packing these items in your checked bag, each container can’t be more than 16 ounces. There’s a limit of 70 ounces total for each traveler.
Read on for more examples of items that have restrictions.
Avalanche packs that have a lithium battery under 100WH are allowed as checked or carry-on bags. If you’re checking an avalanche pack, the battery must be removed. Once it’s removed, the battery can be brought on board. Your pack will need to be inspected and approved by one of our representatives before we accept it.
Avalanche packs that contain 1.4s and CO2 aren’t allowed in carry-on or checked bags.
You can pack the following batteries in checked and carry-on bags. Make sure you pack them to prevent short circuiting.
- Carbon zinc
- D alkaline
- Nickel metal hydride
- Silver oxide
Recalled, damaged or defective batteries
Any batteries or devices known to be recalled, damaged or defective aren’t allowed in checked or carry-on bags. You aren’t allowed to have them on you when you fly as well.
You can pack personal devices that have lithium batteries of less than 100-watt hours in your checked and carry-on bags. However, we don’t allow devices like e-cigarettes, personal vaporizers or power banks (including those installed in “smart bags”) in checked bags.
You can’t pack loose lithium batteries in checked bags. For loose lithium batteries in carry-on bags, you must individually protect each one to prevent short circuiting. To do this, you can place each battery in original retail packaging, separate plastic bags or protective pouches. You can also insulate the batteries by taping over exposed terminals. Spare batteries can’t touch metal objects like coins, keys or jewelry. Take steps to prevent crushing, puncturing or putting pressure on the battery as well.
Additionally, we allow up to two lithium batteries larger than 100 watt-hours but not exceeding 160 watt-hours to be packed in carry-on baggage only. The terminals of any packed lithium batteries must be properly covered and insulated. If you’re traveling with a powered wheelchair or mobility device, please see our wheelchair assistance while traveling page.
If you check your carry-on bag at the gate, you must remove any lithium batteries and power banks.
Before your flight, check the specifications of any batteries you plan to travel with to ensure they meet these requirements. If the energy capacity of your battery is not shown in watt-hours (Wh), you can calculate it by multiplying the battery’s voltage by its capacity in ampere-hours (Ah). If the capacity is shown in milliampere-hours (mAh), divide this number by 1,000 to convert to ampere-hours, then multiply by the voltage to convert to watt-hours.
For the most up-to-date information about lithium batteries, visit the DOT's Air Travel Tips page and the FAA's website.
Traveling to or from Japan
The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has some additional restrictions on batteries and battery-operated items. For more information, see the MLIT website.
See our page about perishable items for more information about dry ice.
We allow liquid nitrogen in checked and carry-on bags, but the bags must be vented. You can’t pack liquid nitrogen with an item that we consider dangerous, such as an infectious substance. Liquid nitrogen can only be accepted in dry shippers.
We accept shooting equipment as checked bags in hard-sided, securely locked firearms cases or containers only. See our page about sports equipment for more details.
We only allow gasoline-powered tools and equipment, such as chainsaws and weed cutters, if they’re brand new, you remove the fuel source or you purge the fuel. If the latter, you must provide a letter from the company that purged the fuel.
Some household items are flammable or corrosive. We don’t allow the following items in checked or carry-on bags:
- Aerosol items, like spray paint, household cleaners and pesticides
- Drain cleaners
- Gel fuel
- Matches (the strike-anywhere kind)
- Paint (only certain kinds)
- Torch lighters
- Spray starch
We allow medicinal or toiletry aerosol cans if:
- They don’t go over 16 ounces per container in checked bags
- They don’t go over 3 ounces per container in carry-on bags
To keep our customers and employees safe, we don’t accept any recreational self-propelled vehicles or devices designed to carry one or more persons or goods.
Such devices or vehicles include, but aren’t limited to:
- Smart balance wheels and boards, such as hoverboards, airboards and skateboards
- Self-balancing wheeled devices such as Ninebot
- Battery-assisted bicycles such as e-bikes
- Wheeled vehicles or motorcycles
- Electrically powered scooters
- Riding or motorized suitcases
We accept one carbon dioxide-powered inflatable life jacket as a checked or carry-on bag. You must pack carbon dioxide cartridges as checked bags.
We’ll also accept up to two small nonflammable gas cylinders fitted into the life jacket and up to two small spare cartridges.
If the life jacket has flares or flare guns attached to it, you must remove them or we won’t accept the jacket.
If you have questions or concerns about a specific item, please contact United Cargo.
The TSA allows common lighters in carry-on bags, but not torch lighters.
We don’t accept e-cigarettes and personal vaporizers in checked or gate-checked bags. When traveling, pack these items in your carry-on bag or personal item. Keep in mind you can’t charge or use e-cigarettes and personal vaporizers on board or at any United Club℠ locations.
If you’re departing from Beijing
All matches and lighters are banned from checked and carry-on bags on flights departing from Beijing.
If you’re departing from Japan
There are more restrictions for traveling with lighters from Japan. The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) restricts travelers to only one lighter when departing from Japan. Oil lighters are banned, but if a lighter features fuel absorbed as a sorbent, it’s allowed. For more information, see the MLIT website.
See our wheelchair assistance while traveling page for more information about traveling with a mobility device.
Powered air purifying respirators (PAPR devices) are not permitted for use on board the aircraft. These devices have been linked to incidents of inflight fires and pose an unacceptable risk to passengers and aircraft. You may pack PAPR devices in your checked or carry-on bags, however you must remove and store batteries prior to transport.
We don’t allow tanks under 40 PSI in carry-on or checked bags. We allow anything higher only if the regulator valve is completely disconnected and the tank is no longer sealed. If the tank is sealed, we won’t allow it regardless of the reading on the pressure gauge indicator.
The TSA only allows scuba tanks if they can see inside them.
See our page about sports equipment for more information about scuba equipment.
In the interest of safety for our customers and employees, we don’t allow smart bags with nonremovable lithium batteries on board.
Smart bags are high-tech suitcases which typically include integrated lithium batteries that provide power for features like:
- USB charging
- Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity
- GPS tracking
- Electronic locks
If your bag has a removable lithium battery, please take it out before checking your bag or bringing it on board.
The TSA allows stun guns only in checked bags if the power source is removed.