15 Surprising Things TSA Allows Past Airport Checkpoints

Goldfish in bags
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Since its formation on Nov. 19, 2001, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Transportation Security Administration’s mission has been to “Protect the nation's transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.”

Most people are familiar with the agency when they pass through airport security checkpoints. Transportation Security Officers are there to for passenger safety, ensuring that prohibited goods don’t get back the checkpoint.

Some items — like guns (real or replica), large scissors and flammable liquids — are never allowed. But the agency continues to make changes when it comes to what can get past the checkpoint.

Below are 15 surprise items you can actually take past the checkpoint. But in case you still have questions, you can take a photo of the item and send it to either AskTSA on Facebook Messenger or via Twitter. Staff are online with answers from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET during the week and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

  • 01 of 15

    Alcoholic Beverages

    Mini Bar Drinks
    Sucek/Getty Images

    TSA treats adult beverages with between 24 percent but not more than 70 percent just like other liquids. The bottles must be unopened, be 3.4 ounces or less and fit into a quart-sized bag. But FAA regulations prohibit travelers from drinking their carry-on alcohol unless it's served by a flight attendant.

  • 02 of 15

    Antlers and Bones

    Close-Up Of Hornes
    Linda De Winter / EyeEm/Getty Images

    ​TSA recommends that travelers wanting to carry on these items should check with the airline they’re flying to make sure the items will fit under a seat or in an overhead bin. It's also recommended that antlers placed in overhead bins be packed so no one is injured when the bin is opened.

  • 03 of 15

    Baby Formula, Breast Milk and Juice

    Baby's bottle
    TEK IMAGE/Getty Images

    All three items are allowed in "reasonable quantities" in travelers’ carry-on bags, although TSA does not specify how it determines what is reasonable. These items must be removed and screened separately. And parents do not need to have a child with them in order to bring breast milk past the security checkpoint.

  • 04 of 15

    Car Parts

    Car components
    urbancow/Getty Images

    As long as the parts don’t have any traces of fuel, the can be stored in a carry-on bag. But TSA recommends that travelers call their airline to make sure the parts fit in the overhead bin or under a seat.

    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 05 of 15

    CO2 Cartridge for Life Vest

    Life jacket with copy space
    Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

    Travelers are allowed to bring a life vest with up to two CO2 cartridges inside, plus two spare cartridges, in a carry-on bag. But be warned: travelers may have to go through a secondary screening and it could be banned if it triggers an alarm during screening.

  • 06 of 15

    Cooked Meat, Seafood and Vegetable (No Liquid)

    James Baigrie/Getty Images

    These items are allowed in a carry-on bag, but again: check with the airline to ensure that the item will fit in the aircraft’s overhead bin or under the seat. And travelers should make sure that whatever they use to keep the food cold is approved by TSA to go past the security checkpoint, including ice and ice gel packs.

  • 07 of 15

    Crochet/Knitting Needles

    Red ball of wool and knitting needles
    Skobrik/Getty Images

    Despite their obvious potential as a weapon, TSA allows both of these items in carry-on bags. advises travelers to ensure that their needles are sheathed or securely wrapped when not in use.


  • 08 of 15
    Directly Above Shot Of Multi Colored Cigarette Lighter On Table
    Stephanie Leong / EyeEm/Getty Images

    In 2005, TSA decided to ban cigarette lighters on planes. Two years later, it reversed that decision, allowing travelers to bring lighters in their carry-on bags. But torch and micro-lighters are still not allowed past security. And lighters with fuel are not allowed in checked bags unless they are enclosed in a DOT-approved case.

    Continue to 9 of 15 below.
  • 09 of 15


    E cigarette

    TSA allows travelers to pack battery-powered eCigarettes, vaporizers, vape pens, atomizers and electronic nicotine delivery systems in a carry-on bag. But it advises making a call to they airlines to ensure they don’t have their own restrictions on these devices. And they can't be used once onboard the plane to comply with FAA's smoking regulations.

  • 10 of 15


    Asthma inhaler, close-up
    Gerard Brown/Getty Images

    TSA will waive the 3.4-ounce carry-on liquid rule for medically necessary liquids, gels, and aerosols in reasonable quantities. They must be declared to TSOs for hand inspection, and the process is helped if the medications are labeled.

  • 11 of 15

    Shell Casings

    Shell casings are pieces of metal that surround a bullet. Empty casings can be carried in a bag as long as the projectile is no longer intact or the primer has been removed or has been discharged.  

  • 12 of 15

    Fishing Rods

    Fishing rod and reel with red line
    Mark Weiss/Getty Images

    Anglers can bring their poles. But they should check with the airline to ensure that it complies with size limitations and that they fit into an overhead bin.

    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15

    Live Fish/Live Lobsters

    Goldfish in bags
    blue64/Getty Images

    TSA requires both to be transported in a clear, plastic, spill-proof container. A TSO will visually inspect a crustacean at the security checkpoint, and the agency recommends checking with an airline about its carry-on lobster policy.

  • 14 of 15

    Snow Globes

    Close-up of figurines of Mt Vesuvius in a snow globe
    DEA / A. DAGLI ORTI/Getty Images

    TSA got a lot of backlash from customers with upset children back in 2011 after banning liquid-filled snow globes. They are now allowed in carry-on bags -- but only if it follows the agency's 3.4-ounce rule and fits into a quart-sized bag.

  • 15 of 15

    Used/Unused Syringes

    Travelers are allowed to have used syringes in their carry-on bag as long as they are placed in a Sharps disposal container or another similar hard-surface container. They can bring unused syringes when accompanied by injectable medication. Both items must be declared to security officers at the checkpoint for inspection. Medications with labels will help facilitate the inspection process.