Some dangerous goods can only be transported on an aircraft if a competent person or organization properly packs them. These items are listed in the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) and must be prepared, labeled and declared in accordance with them.
However, some items listed in the regulations may be carried onboard the aircraft by passengers and crew if they fulfill the listed restrictions and limitations. The Table 2.3.A (pdf) of the DGR provides information of the items that may be carried in either checked or carry-on baggage. This document is also available in French (pdf), German (pdf), Spanish (pdf) and Russian (pdf).
Wether a lithium battery can be carried by air or not depends on its configuration and either Watt-hour rating (for rechargeable) or lithium content (for non-rechargeable). In addition, spare batteries may not be placed in checked baggage. Check Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority video on travelling safely with lithium batteries:
Find more information in the lithium battery passenger pamphlet (pdf)
Electronic cigarettes, devices that mimic smoking, had become very popular in the last years: their sales increased from 50,000 in 2008 to 3’5 million in 2012.
In its Guidance on Electronic Cigarettes (pdf), IATA recommends that the use of simulated smoking materials (cigarettes, pipes, cigars) should be prohibited to passengers and crew at all times. Electronic cigarettes are allowed in aircrafts but must remain stored unused in carry-on baggage.
ICAO Technical Instructions and IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations permit the carriage and use of certain fuel cells and fuel cell cartridges by passengers and crew. According to ICAO Guidance Material for Fuel Cells (pdf), those designed and built to meet the transportation safety standards are allowed in aircrafts.
Frequently asked questions
I am really unsure which of my personal belongings may be allowed and which not. I have doubts about my after shave / hairspray / gas cartridge for curling iron, etc.
Most normal toiletry items in reasonable quantities are acceptable and therefore allowed in carry-on and check-in baggage. List of items permitted in passenger baggage (pdf).
However, be aware that security requirements restrict liquids in carry-on baggage to those in containers of no more than 100 milliliters (3 fluid ounce). In addition the liquids must be packed in a clear Ziploc bag.
For special items please check with your airline when making your reservation.
I am planning to travel and want to take a number of items powered by lithium batteries such as a mobile phone, handheld computer, laptop computer, mobile printer, GPS system, MP3 player, etc. Is that a problem?
Provided the batteries are either installed in the equipment or packed in a way that they are sufficiently protected against short circuits there should not be a problem. The carriage of larger spare lithium batteries of the type used to power video cameras is under restrictions.
However, please be prepared for extended security checks when traveling with an unusual amount of electronic equipment. Also, be aware that, although you may be allowed to carry these items, their use on board the aircraft may be prohibited or at least limited. Check with your airline for further details.
I am a sailor / pilot / skier and I want to travel by air with my life vest / parachute / avalanche rescue backpack. Are there any exceptions?
Passengers may carry certain articles even though the article contains dangerous goods. Parachutes themselves are not restricted. Some parachutes are fitted with an automatic activation device (AAD), e.g Cypres, which contain small quantities of explosive material. Most of these are not classified as dangerous goods and are not restricted in passenger baggage.
A single (1) avalanche rescue backpack per person are authorized containing a cylinder of compressed gas in Division 2.2. They may also contain an explosive trigger mechanism containing less than 200 mg net of explosives in Division 1.4S.
Self-inflating life jackets are permitted if they contain not more than two small cylinders with a non-flammable gas in Division 2.2 plus not more than two spare cartridges per person.
For items that are acceptable only with approval from the airline, consult with your airline well in advance and also allow additional time for check-in.
For my personal safety I always carry a small can of aerosol self-defense spray (such as mace, pepper spray, etc). Is there any problem?
Yes, disabling devices of any kind are forbidden in both carry-on and check-in baggage.
I am a sporting shooter and need to travel to a competition with my weapon and ammunition. Is there anything I have to observe?
Sporting weapons and an amount of ammunition up to 5 kg (11 lb) may be in passenger checked baggage only. The weapon must be unloaded and be in its designated transport box. Please check with the airline you intend to travel on to make necessary arrangements.
I am handicapped and want to travel with my battery-powered wheelchair. Can I travel by air with that?
Yes, but there are different procedures depending on the type of the batteries your wheelchair uses. Most modern types use gel-type non-spillable batteries, which are considered to be non-dangerous and can be loaded along with the checked baggage in the cargo compartment of an aircraft without further restrictions.
Older “wet cell” batteries will require disconnection of the battery and possibly removal of the battery from the wheelchair with the battery being packed in a special box, depending on the type of aircraft.
Lithium battery powered wheelchairs will also have additional requirements, please check with the manufacturer / distributor of your wheelchair and battery to get appropriate documentation also check with the airline well ahead of your planned trip.
I have to transport urgent patient specimens but they have to be kept refrigerated. What do I need to do when I want to carry such specimen as a passenger?
Only specimens that have a minimal likelihood of containing pathogens may be carried in passenger baggage. If there is any doubt then the specimens must be treated as infectious substances, Category B, packaged according to Packing Instruction 650 and consigned as cargo. Infectious substances may be packed with Dry Ice (Carbon Dioxide, solid) or in a so-called Dry Shipper if they need to be kept refrigerated. Further information on infectious substances classification and packaging.