A Naughty-or-Nice List for Aviation Security

If you think Santa’s list is long, you should check out the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority’s (CATSA) What Can I Bring list. It’s basically a naughty-or- nice list for aviation security – a searchable database saying what can and cannot pass through airport security in your carry-on or checked luggage. It has hundreds of items, so here’s a seasonal selection of what’s ho-ho- ho and what’s no-no- no.

– Replica weapons: This shouldn’t be too surprising, but if you’re helping Santa to bring toy guns, replica knives or anything similar this holiday season, you’ll have to mail it to your destination or pack it in your checked baggage.
– Liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) in containers of more than 100 ml: Pack your egg nog in your checked bag if the container is larger than 100 ml. Passengers are allowed to bring only as many smaller containers as can fit inside a 1L bag (which is available at the checkpoint). Check CATSA’s website for more info.
– Wrapped gifts: Leave your gifts unwrapped when bringing them through the security checkpoint, in case their contents need to be inspected. In some airports, gift wrapping services are available after security during the holiday season.

– Electronics: Portable electronic devices are allowed in your carry-on, so feel free to load up your tablet with holiday movies to watch on the plane. However, you may be asked to remove your device’s protective case, and to power it up at the checkpoint. CATSA’s security-screening page has everything you need to know about screening procedures.
– Medications: Does it feel like your immune system is already on holiday? Medications, even non-prescription ones like cough syrup, are permitted in your carry-on, and they’re exempt from the 100-ml naughty-list rule. For more info, check out CATSA’s special medications page.
– Baby food/drinks: We all know the holidays can be hard on parents, but air travel doesn’t have to be. Things like baby food, juice, formula and breast milk for children under two years old are also exempt from the 100-ml rule, and so are ice packs used to keep them cold.

They’ve checked their list more than twice (take that, Santa), but if you still don’t find the item you’re looking for on CATSA’s What Can I Bring list, you can send a picture or a question to them on Facebook or Twitter. Happy holiday travels!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of CATSA. All opinions and witty commentary, as always, are my own.


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  • A friend of mine had to ditch a full tube of l’Occitane hand cream at an airport a few years ago. It was heartbreaking. We’d travelled out with carry-on luggage only, and forgot on the way back that some bargains we’d scored would be too big for in-cabin bags. Live and learn.

    • Next time re-package your expensive cream in 100 ml bottles for the trip. You can fit several in the allowable bag.

  • Very helpful information for holiday travellers! Great to know that some airports offer gift wrapping after security during the holidays!

  • Very good points made. I once flew back home and took crystal vases with me as gifts. Being very careful and not wanting to damage them I carried them wrapped nicely and stuffed them with paper towels in my back pack to be sure they didn’t break. Needless to say it all had to be unwrapped and checked out since they couldn’t see anything when my back pack passed under the Xray machine, apart from the shape due to the lead contained in the glass! We laughed when I handed over the presents with their torn wrapping paper. 🙂

  • Thanks for the reminders! Sometimes, I get so stressed about packing, I forget about sizes and restrictions. I’ve had to throw out a few things over the years!

  • I wish we were going somewhere exciting soon but great things to keep in mind for the next time we go anywhere 🙂

  • Good advice. I’ve had to throw stuff out before because I get too excited about the gift and don’t thing about how to package it for travel. Never fun

  • Good information! I had a big bag of small liquid went through Calgary airport no problem. Montreal airport didn’t allowed it. So she give me the right size of bag. I stuff it all up in it but couldn’t close it. I said I understand and will not make that mistake twice, but Calgary let me go no problem with it. She let me keep everything, what a nice lady.

  • Thankfully I got my travel out of the way a month ago and wont be doing that again for awhile lol. its nice once in a while but for me not often

  • There’s so much when it comes to flying! I read recently small knives are now allowed on flights…

  • Better yet, ship them before hand to save the hassle. I gave my aunt & uncle a gift and they were held up for sooo long! Oops! lol

  • I totally forget about this all the time – it never occurs to me that a wrapped gift would cause issues at security – thanks for the reminder!

  • Nothing beats shipping gifts directly to the recipients! In my case, I send gifts for my niece and nephew to my brother and his wife to hide until Christmas. Then my folks don’t have to give up space in their luggage.

  • I learned the hard way to really think about what I am buying! We did a cruise and bought some duty free alcohol on the last day, completely forgetting that we wouldn’t be able to take it on the plane when flying back. We strolled up to security without a care in the world, only to told we couldn’t take the bottles!!!!

  • I love all the tips. I only get to fly once in a blue moon… last time was 2012 so it’s nice to keep current on what’s good/bad incase I win a trip!! LOL!

  • I always forget the water thing. Travelling before 9/11 you could bring bottled water onboard. Now, no. Understandable but I always tend to forget that. Thanks for the reminder.

  • These are excellent reminders! At holiday time, everyone has so much on their minds and are in a hurry to get where they are going so it’s easy to forget about these rules.

  • Oh, good to know that we can ask questions about CATSA’s “What Can I Bring list” on Facebook or Twitter – I didn’t know about this, and I love it!

  • Great information with the winter travel season coming up. We usually try to travel with only our carryons and just buy wherever we are going if something is needed.