The holiday is planned and everyone is looking forward to it. But before you can begin to relax there are a number of stress factors which still need to be dealt with. One of the greatest challenges prior to your journey is “packing”. How much can I take with me? What is allowed as carry-on baggage? Here we’ll tell you what you should take into account when packing in order to avoid any problems at the airport.

Before undertaking any flight you really must think about a thousand things. One of the most important is your baggage. In the last few years there have been many changes in regulations as to what and how much you can take with you, in particular in respect of carry-on baggage. Here are the FAQs in respect of flight baggage and transport regulations.

What is the maximum permissible weight for my baggage?

Most Airlines have a maximum weight limit of 20 kg. Everything above this maximum weight is subject to extra payment and in some cases this can be really expensive. For example, many airlines have a charge for every piece of baggage checked in, others offer extra weight packages and some demand a fixed price for every kilo of extra weight. It is worthwhile comparing these in good time. If you can take time in advance to get information on weight limits from the respective airline, then this will of course make packing easier, not to mention avoiding extra charges. The maximum size for pieces of baggage and the maximum weight differ from airline to airline. Here you can find a detailed list of baggage regulations of various Airlines.

Flight baggage regulations - A plane approaching for landing.
Photo: Lars_Nissen_Photoart, pixabay.

How much carry-on baggage can I take on board with me?

Here too, the regulations depend on the respective carrier. In general, the measurements for hand baggage are restricted to 55x40x20 cm, and the top weight as a rule is around 6 kg. Most airlines permit you to take one piece of hand baggage and a personal object, which must in all circumstances be smaller than the piece of hand baggage. A personal object, for example, could be a jacket or an umbrella. Special care should be taken when booking with the so-called “cheap-flight” airlines where there are often a number of extra regulations. Here an overview of airlines and their regulations.

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What liquids can I take on board?

Strict controls in respect of explosives have led to extreme restrictions in respect of liquids carried. Drinks or cosmetics from home in your hand baggage must be either disposed of or packed in a transparent plastic bag. This may not exceed the pack volume of one liter. The individual items in the bag are also subject to complicated regulations: Each container of liquids must not exceed 100 ml and everything in excess must be disposed of prior to the flight. Normally you will not be able to take your own drinks on board unless you have just purchased these in the boarding area. Duty-Free products such as alcohol or perfume may be carried.

What is “special baggage” and what happens with it?

All items of baggage considered as bulky or sensitive such that they may not be taken on board as normal travel baggage are designated as “special baggage”. The spectrum is quite broad: special baggage can be pets or musical instruments, sports equipment or furniture. It is important to always book in this special baggage in advance with the airline which in turn must issue its approval. In most cases there is an extra charge.

What must I not take with me?

The manicure set for a little nail care during the flight, the pocket knife which for years was just hanging around on the key ring: these everyday aids are assumed to be harmless but in fact can lead to problems with the baggage control officials at the airport. Pocket knives, nail scissors etc. are thrown out mercilessly as they are classed as “pointed, weapon-like objects or tools”. It is therefore recommended that prior to departure you should obtain the latest information about what is allowed on board and what is not. The following items are certainly not allowed in the aircraft cabin as they could be used as weapons:

  • Knives
  • Scissors
  • Screwdrivers
  • Ice Skaters
  • Cutter
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The same applies of course to all combustible substances and batteries. Fuels, alcohol (insofar as this was not purchased duty-free) or liquid gas are strictly prohibited; vehicle batteries have no chance because they could run out and would then be easily flammable. Smaller batteries and chargers for laptops etc. on the other hand, are permitted. Gas containers are treated extremely strictly, regardless of the gas with which they are filled. This is of particular interest to divers who often wish to travel with their entire diving equipment. In itself this is not a problem but the gas bottles must be left behind or at least emptied, in view of the high risk of explosion. Further prohibitions include all types of chemicals such as e.g. mercury or chlorine. Detergents or pepper sprays can therefore also not be taken along. Further information on prohibited objects in your baggage can be found here.

Hand luggage regulations vary from airline to airline.
The regulations especially for hand luggage vary from airline to airline. Cheap airlines in particular have strict guidelines. Photo: alexas_fotos, pixabay.

What do I need to declare at customs on my return?

When traveling we can find lovely things on every corner which we would like to take home as a souvenir. These can be items of clothing, jewelry or special things to eat. Then always comes the question, how much can I take home with me without customs duties.

For journeys within the EU there is a duty-free system. All objects intended for personal use, may be brought in without charge. There are, however, restrictions in respect of goods subject to excise duty including, for example, cigarettes, coffee or alcohol:

  • max. 800 cigarettes
  • max. 400 cigarillos
  • max. 200 cigars
  • max. 1 kg tobacco
  • max. 10 liters of spirits
  • max. 20 liters of liqueurs, vermouth
  • max. 90 liters of wine of which max 60 liters of sparkling wine
  • max. 110 liters of beer

If these limits are exceeded, then import duty must be paid, as a rule at 17.5% of the commodity value.

For travel outside the EU certain quantities may be brought in without excise duty but in this case the quantities are considerably more restricted:

  • 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars
  • 1 liter of alcohol and drinks containing alcohol of more than 22 vol.% or
  • 2 liters of alcohol and drinks containing alcohol of maximum 22 vol.% or
  • 4 liters of wine, 16 liters of beer
Flight baggage regulations - Some goods have to be cleared at the airport.
When travelling within the EU, most goods are duty free. However, there are exceptions. Especially when travelling outside the EU, there are a few things to keep in mind. Photo: Rudy and Peter Kitterians, pixabay.

Clothing, cosmetics and electric articles may be imported without customs duty up to a goods value of €430 on flights and sea travel.

Attention must be paid in the case of animal products: The import of meat or dairy products into the EU is forbidden.

Souvenirs such as ivory carvings, fur or leather accessories are also subject to stringent controls. Here the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora applies whereby animals and plants threatened by extinction are to be protected.

Tip: Safety on your travels: 10 tips for adventure trips without problems