# Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Air Travel Carry-OnsChristmas is almost upon us and many Canadians will be traveling by air to various locations. Some will be flying to spend the holidays with family or friends. Others will be traveling to a climate that is warmer compared to the winter weather we usually get here.

When traveling by air it is useful to know what is allowed as carry on baggage and checked baggage. Many Canadians (and people visiting Canada for that matter) are not aware of the carry-on rules that are enforced at all Canadian airports.

What are Carry On Baggage Items?

Carry-on items are things like suitcases, backpacks, briefcases, large purses and large electronic instruments such as laptops.

Allowable items that usually do not count as carry on baggage (subject to airline policy) are things like:
  • Small purses (less than 25 cm x 30 cm x 14 cm)
  • Camera cases
  • Some medical equipment
  • Canes, walkers and crutches
  • Coats
  • Strollers for children
  • Duty free items
  • Small electronic devices (e.g. cell phones or MP3 players)

Allowed Number of Carry On Items

The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) restricts airline passengers to having two carry on baggage items.

The total number of allowed carry on items is also subject to the airline’s policies. For example, Air Canada and Westjet both allow one "standard" article (e.g. suitcase, backpack, etc.) as well as one "personal" article like a purse, handbag or laptop. Size restrictions differ between a "standard" item and a "personal" item (see below).

Size Restrictions

The size restrictions for carry-on items vary from airline to airline. Air Canada and Westjet “standard” items like suitcases cannot be larger than 23 cm X 40 cm X 55 cm (9.2 inches X 16 inches X 22 inches) and can’t weigh more than 10 kg (22 lbs). "Personal" items such as purses and handbags can be up to 16cm X 33cm X 43cm (6.4 inches X 13.2 inches X 17.2 inches) and can’t weigh more than 10 kg.

If an allowable carry on item is larger or heavier than the size/weight mentioned above than that item must be checked (many airlines now charge extra for checking items).

Of particular note are lotions and gels. Generally speaking lotions/gels that are less than 100 mL in volume (6.1 cubic inches) are allowed as carry on items. Any personal health care lotions or gels (as well as other liquids such as baby food and beverages) that exceed this maximum volume must be checked upon arrival.

Prohibited Carry On Baggage Items

The following items are not allowed as carry on baggage but can be checked by the airline:
  • Golf clubs
  • Scuba knives and tanks
  • Ski poles
  • Baseball and cricket bats
  • Drills and drill bits
  • Hunting and jack knives
  • Umbrellas with a pick in the tip
  • Hockey sticks and walking sticks
  • Multi-tools
  • Hammers and other heavy tools
  • Gas operated curling irons
  • Saws
  • Billiard (pool) cues
  • Bows and arrows
  • Ammunition
  • Lacrosse sticks
  • Paintball guns
  • Swords
The following items are not allowed as either carry on or checked baggage:
  • Fireworks
  • Paint
  • Flammable aerosols that are not toiletries (e.g. hair sprays)
  • Caustic materials such as liquid bleach
  • Chemical oxygen generators
  • Intoxicants
  • Liquid oxygen
  • Animal repellants
  • Butane cylinders
  • Stoves and lanterns that can contain a combustible fuel source
  • Kerosene


Important points to note when it comes to Canadian carry on rules and baggage rules are:
  • Liquids that are more than 100 mL (6.1 cubic inches) by volume will have to be checked (they are not allowed as carry ons)
  • Any sort of flammable or caustic material is not allowed as either a carry on or checked baggage
  • Many sport items and outdoors items are allowed as checked baggage only (e.g. ski poles, baseball bats, cricket bats, hockey sticks)
  • Knives that are legal in Canada (pocket knives, jack knives, hunting knives) can be transported as checked baggage only
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