Did you know? Permitted vs non-permitted items on a flight

April 15, 2014

Air travel security can sometimes be intriguing. If occasional travelers often seem lost in the rules and regulations of air travel security, frequent travelers may also be surprised with the following information. Although air travel security is a serious business, some facts about what is permitted and non-permitted through pre-board screening can be surprising.

Hélène Rivard is Regional Employee Development Manager at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Peanut butter – non-permitted

Did you know that peanut butter is considered a liquid? And I am not just talking about the super natural one that’s half oil and half tasteless paste; even the incredible tasty, smooth and creamy solid Kraft Peanut butter won’t make it through pre-board security!

In fact, as per the rules and regulations pertaining to airport security, a passenger is not allowed to bring liquids and gels over 100ml. Bottles under 100ml are allowed as long as they fit in one clear, closed, resealable plastic bag no more than 1 litre in capacity. The bag must be transparent to allow screening officers to easily see the contents.

Baby formula or breast milk – permitted

Although most liquids over 100 ml are non-permitted, you still have some exceptions. For example, if travelling with an infant younger than 2 years of age (0-24) you can bring:

  • Baby formula, baby food

  • Breast milk

  • Prescription medicine

  • Gel and ice packs if used to refrigerate baby food, milk, formula etc.

Duty Free liquid purchases – permitted (see exceptions)

As of January 31, 2014, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) will accept, subject to screening, duty-free liquids, aerosols and gels purchased from any airline or airport retailer that are properly sealed in official security bags and accompanied by a receipt.

Exceptions: This said, if you have to pass through pre-board screening at a connecting point in another country, that very expensive bottle of wine you just bought may be intercepted and you may be asked to:

  • surrender them to the screening officer;

  • transfer them to your checked baggage, if possible and time permits;

  • ship them via mail, cargo or courier. Please keep in mind that shipping options vary at airports.

Cats and dogs- permitted

Did you know that most airlines will welcome your hairy friends as carry-on? Just beware, in most cases your pet will count as the one standard carry-on item that you are allowed to bring on board. Please check your airline’s website for the rules and conditions regarding pets on board. And if your cat or dog is like mine, please make sure she/he understands the on board etiquette. No whining, no complaining, no crying, no screaming and no disturbing the passenger next to you …

Other surprising facts:


  • Knitting needles

  • Matches

  • Lighters (only one, and has to be non-refillable)

  • Ice skates

  • Avalanche backpack

  • Bowling ball

  • Non-permitted:

    • Golf Clubs

    • Bullet casing (even empty as a key chain, pendant etc.)

    • Wooden bows (even decorative)

    • Ski poles

    • Items resembling a weapon such as a perfume shaped as a grenade

Permitted vs non-permitted items are regulated by Transport Canada, which offers a detailed list of items passengers are not allowed to carry when boarding a flight.