Airline regulations & wrapped Christmas packages

Updated April 14, 2017

When travelling near Christmas, it is common to take along gifts for those you are visiting. While airlines typically do not have any of their own regulations regarding wrapped presents on a plane, the Civil Aviation Authority (in the UK) and the Transport Security Administration (in the United States) do have specific guidelines regarding wrapped packages and baggage screenings. Knowing what the CAA and TSA allow helps save time and make the screening process easier.

Checked Luggage

Checked luggage, luggage that is dropped off at the airport's check-in counter and screened by the regulatory bodies before being placed in a plane's cargo hold, should not include any wrapped Christmas gifts or other packages. According to the TSA website, having a wrapped package in checked baggage may result in having the luggage opened and the package unwrapped to ensure it meets all safety requirements and does not contain any prohibited items. The TSA also suggests not packing gift items, such as jewellery, electronics or fragile items, in checked luggage to help ensure their safety while at the airport and on the flight.

Carry-on Baggage

The bodies recommend that Christmas presents and other gifts in carry-on bags, those that go with the passenger through the TSA screening process and on the plane, not be wrapped, as in certain instances the TSA security officer may need to unwrap the gift at the checkpoint to further inspect the contents. In addition, certain foods to be given as gifts such as maple syrup, jellies and alcohols as well as items such as perfume and snow globes must be in 100ml. or smaller bottles and all fit in a quart size bag before being allowed through the security checkpoint. The TSA website suggests packing unwrapped liquid and gel gifts in checked bags. They also announced that they would unwrap any Christmas gifts deemed "suspicious."

Other Considerations

Gifts that are purchased past the TSA screening checkpoint do not have to be unwrapped or inspected, according to the TSA website. Gift wrap, bags, boxes, tape and scissors with blades smaller than 4 inches are all approved items for both carry-on luggage and checked baggage, and gifts may be wrapped past the security checkpoint or upon arrival at a final destination. The TSA suggests that shipping wrapped gifts as another option to taking wrapped Christmas presents and other gifts on a plane. Things like batteries, toy guns and snow globes can set off airport alarms.

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About the Author

Based in Florida, Mandi Titus has been writing since 2002. Her articles have been published on sites such as Goodkin, Go Green Street and Living the Healthy Way. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Stetson University.