Packing for a holiday break?

Given the recent problems passengers have experienced with reclaiming baggage that has been stored in the aircraft holds during a flight, particularly but not only at Stansted, you may be tempted to travel with just a carry-on bag and buy anything else you need at your destination.

But what about the restrictions on items you can take, especially in hand luggage, that may vary with the current threat levels?

This is where it gets a bit more complicated. The permitted size of hand luggage, and its contents, will vary from airport to airport, and also depending on the countries you are travelling to and from, so it is always worth checking the airport and on airline websites, especially if you have connecting flights mid-journey.

Different airlines also have different restrictions and also give different dimensions and how many items for carry-on luggage (one bag only on some carriers or one bag plus handbag or laptop on others).

Gatwick airport for example states that you may only carry small amounts of liquids, gels, creams and pastes. These must be in containers of 100ml or less and should be placed into one, 1 litre transparent re-sealable bag (maximum size: 20cm x 20cm) which will be screened separately at security.

Liquids include all drinks, including water, liquid or semi-liquid foods, for example soup, jam, honey and syrups, cosmetics and toiletries, including creams, lotions, oils, perfumes, mascara and lip gloss, sprays, including shaving foam, hairspray and spray deodorants, pastes, including toothpaste, gels, including hair and shower gel, contact lens solution and any other solutions and items of similar consistency

Mobile phones and tablets must also be fully charged and working so that they can be checked.

There are items you cannot take at all, whether in the suitcase in the hold or in hand luggage and these are all listed on the websites of the main airports, such as Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick. Many of them are obvious and about safety.

They generally include flammable or harmful substances such as gases, oxidisers, poisons, corrosives and hazardous biological or chemical material. Non-safety matches, lighter fluid and firelighters are also included.

Some have additional restrictions for the most unlikely items such as Christmas crackers and party poppers!

If you are taking a bag to store in the hold here are some packing tips:

  • Put heavy items at the bottom of the case/rucksack.
  • Stuff small items like socks/underwear into shoes to save space.
  • Roll up shirts and t-shirts to get more into the case
  • Take a small separate folding backpack for daytimes.
  • Keep a spare set of underwear, toothpaste and copies of important docs in hand/carry-on luggage.
  • Weigh your packed cases to ensure they are within the permitted limit to avoid expensive excess baggage charges.

Most important of all – don’t forget the passport!