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Airport Security Around the World – Same, Same but Different


I recently flew out of Veracruz, Mexico. Going through Security, my bag got pulled to the side for a more thorough screening. My bag of knitting was extracted and I was told no knitting needles. No knitting needles? Sure, these were prohibited at our U.S. airports after 9/11, but I thought these were ok to travel with now. I learned otherwise, at least as far as the Veracruz Airport is concerned. (If you’re a knitter, imagine trying to salvage the stitches onto a pen dug from the bottom of my bag while the security agent is impatiently waiting to snag the offensive needles and rushed travelers are all around you – I hope my project is salvageable!) The point is, what is ok to travel with in one airport may not be ok in another. So how to do you know before you fly?

Restrictions for liquids and gels in carry-on bags are fairly standard around the world. Most countries follow the security policies put in place in the U.S. and the European Union. The current requirements are that liquids, gels, and aerosols be in containers no larger than 100 milliliters (about 3.4 ounces), and these containers must be inside a single, clear, 1-liter zip top bag. In the U.S., TSA security has gone silent to telling us to remove our liquids from our bag as we go through security, so I have not done this in the past couple of years. However, in my international travels, I almost always have to extract the bag of liquids and place them in a bin. To save the time of your bag having to go through the conveyor belt again, it is wise to just pull out the bag of liquids and be done!

For liquid medicines, as well as baby food, bottled breast milk and formula, there are usually allowances that let these go through, though you may be asked to taste the liquid to prove that it is what it is.

Do not assume, however, that all worldwide airports follow this rule. Nigeria, for example, has a 100% ban on all liquids and gels in hand baggage. If in doubt, call your airline and ask.

Here are several airports and airlines websites which list their security guidelines for carry-on bags:

Singapore’s Changi Airport

London Heathrow Airport

London Gatwick Airport 


Paris Charles de Gaulle – At this airport, plan on removing all technical gadgets from your carry-on as you go through security (power cords, camera, iPad/Kindle)

Sydney Airport – This is where I had a very small sewing scissors taken away

Hong Kong International Airport – My Starbuck’s Venti Latte was confiscated as I boarded my flight bound for the US – so even though it was bought after I had gone through Security, it was not allowed on the plane

Kuala Lumpur International Airport – No knives allowed!

Veracruz Airport – Where sharp or pointed instruments are prohibited; my knitting needles met their demise here

American Airlines

Aerolineas Argentinas



Government websites also offer rules for carry-on bags:

Transport Canada

US: Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The TSA also has an app for your mobile device where users can type in an item they plan to bring on a trip to find out if it is permitted or prohibited.

So many rules and so many interpretations of the rules. If in doubt, call your airline. If you’re still not sure, either pack the item in your checked bag or leave it at home. As for me, I bought replacement knitting needles, though I will also now carry a stitch holder in case they get nabbed again.

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