When you are on holiday, you want your hair to look nice, so many of us would like to take our curling irons with us. The tricky question is where to pack them. Should they go in your suitcase or is it better to put them in your hand luggage? The rules can seem confusing, especially as they are different in every country.
Why Wouldn’t You Be Allowed to Take Your Curling Iron in Carry-On Luggage?
To help understand where the best place to pack your curling irons is, it can help to look at why there are rules on where certain items are allowed on a plane. There are three main areas of concern.
- Could it cause an injury? Obviously, weapons are not allowed on a plane. However, most authorities also have rules about carrying items that could be repurposed as a weapon or could accidentally cause an injury. So, anything with a sharp edge or a point usually has restrictions and this applies to a whole range of items from hiking sticks and crampons to knives. There are also limitations on things that could be used to hit or bludgeon someone. If your curling irons are a heavy model with lots of metal, they may fall into this category. However, most modern curling irons are made from lighter materials such as titanium and ceramic, and they would not be sturdy enough to attack someone.
- Could it cause a fire? Having a fire break out on a plane would be a disaster. While modern planes are fitted with fire containment systems, even a small fire would require the aircraft to land and could cause damage and injuries. Understandably, precautions are in place to reduce the risk of a fire starting. If your curling irons are powered by being plugged into a socket, they are fine. However, if your curling irons are powered by a gas cartridge or by batteries, there will be restrictions on where and how you can pack them. Any pressurized gas presents a risk of exploding, so there are limits to how big your gas cartridge can be, and you will probably have to put it in your hand luggage.
- Could terrorists use it to conceal explosives? Over the years, there have been a number of plots by terrorists to blow up planes using materials they have smuggled onboard. Small electrical devices such as curling irons are not usually involved in these schemes, so they are not affected by the laws brought in to prevent attacks
So, Can I Bring My Curling Iron on a Plane as Carry-On Luggage?
As you can see, the type of curling iron you are packing is the key factor when working out what rules you have to follow. While there is some variance, the regulations are very similar in most countries.
America – What Does the TSA Say About Curling Irons?
According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), electric curling irons and hair straighteners with cords can be taken on planes in America. However, if your curling irons contain a gas cartridge, such as butane, or have batteries, they have to go in your carry-on bag, not your checked bag. There must be a safety cover that fits securely over the heating element. There should also be some kind of safety device that prevents them from being switched on accidentally. You are not allowed to pack any extra gas cartridges or refills.
The UK – What Are the UK Government’s Regulations Concerning Curling Irons?
The UK allows you to take hair curlers on a plane in both your cabin and hold bags. If they contain a hydrocarbon gas, such as propane or butane gas, you must have a safety cover fitted over the heating element at all times. You cannot carry spare gas cartridges anywhere on an aeroplane. If your curler uses batteries, you need to check if they are allowed to go in your checked luggage. Some types of batteries, for example, rechargeable lithium batteries, may only be permitted in your hand luggage.
Europe – What Are the EU’s Guidelines Regarding Curling Irons?
The EU is happy for you to take your curling irons on a plane in both hand or hold luggage as long as the safety cover is fitted at all times. You cannot take separate gas cartridges on board. If your curling iron has a lithium battery, it must not exceed a Watt-hour (Wh) rating of 100 Wh or 2 grams of lithium content.
Australia – Does the ABF Have Laws About Curling Irons?
The Australian Border Force (ABF) permits hair curlers containing hydrocarbon gas in the hold only, provided that the safety cover is securely fitted over the heating element. You are not allowed to use the hair curler while you are on the plane. You cannot have gas refills in checked-in or carry-on baggage.
If your curling irons have a lithium battery, it must not exceed 2 g for lithium metal or 100 Wh for lithium-ion. Preferably, it will be in your carry-on baggage. If you pack your lithium battery-powered curling irons in your checked luggage, you must prevent unintentional activation and protect it from damage. You also can’t leave your curling irons in sleep or hibernation mode; you have to turn them completely off.
New Zealand – What Are the CAA of New Zealand’s Rules About Curling Irons?
Electric-powered hair curlers are not restricted by the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA), but hydrocarbon gas-powered hair curlers have some restrictions. These are the rules you must follow:
- You must not use hair curlers during the flight
- You are allowed only one hydrocarbon gas-powered hair curler per passenger
- A safety cover must be fitted over the heating element
- You are not allowed spare hydrocarbon gas cylinder refills
If your curling irons have a lithium battery, they should ideally be in your cabin baggage. If they are in your suitcase in the hold, you must turn them completely off. You must also make sure they can’t be inadvertently activated.
Canada – What Does the CBSA Say About Curling Iron?
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) lets passengers have one gas-operated curling iron with its gas container per person. However, you must have a safety cover that fits securely over the heating element. Separate gas refills for curling irons are permitted in checked baggage with the approval of the air carrier. The curling iron without the gas container is allowed in carry-on bags.
Electric hair blow-dryers, curling, or flat irons are allowed in both carry-on and checked baggage. However, if you have a battery-operated curling iron, the battery must be less than 160Wh.
The Rest of the World
Check with your airline if you are traveling in regions like Asia, Africa, and South America. There is no overall authority in these areas, so each country may have a slightly different set of regulations. The same general regulations as other countries are generally applied.
Curling irons that plug into the mains are usually acceptable in both checked and cabin baggage. If your curling irons are powered by gas, you may have to keep them in your carry-on bag, and you will not be able to take refills on a plane. If your curler has batteries, especially if they are rechargeable lithium batteries, you will find most airlines prefer you to carry them in your hand luggage. The main requirement seems to be that your curling iron has a well-fitting safety cover.
What’s the Best Advice for Travelling on a Plane with Curling Irons?
As we have seen, curling irons that plug into the mains are easy to bring on a plane. However, if your curlers use gas or batteries as their power supply, there will be limitations on where you can pack them.
Curling irons that have gas cartridges are the most problematic for air travel. Pressurized gas has the potential to explode and cause a fire, similar to lighters. This means you will probably have to find room in your carry-on for your curlers. To reduce the chance of problems when you go through the security check, it would probably be a good idea to take them out of your bag and put them in a tray where they can be clearly seen.
Airlines also have concerns if you have a lithium battery in your curling iron. According to the UK Civil Aviation Authority: “Lithium batteries are very safe, but because of their high energy, if they are not treated with care or if they are abused or have a manufacturing fault, they can catch fire. Batteries have been the cause of a number of fires on board aircraft and during ground handling.” The FAA reported that “the number of lithium-ion battery fires jumped more than 42% in the last five years. Incidents of overheated lithium batteries causing smoke, fire, or extreme heat on aircrafts are now happening at an average rate of more than one per week.” You will, therefore, have to put any lithium-powered curling irons in your cabin bag.
What Happens If Your Curling Irons Are Flagged by Airport Security?
It can be embarrassing if your curling irons are flagged when you go through security, but there is no reason to panic. If you speak politely and calmly to the security officers, you will find that they are very helpful, and they just want you to make sure you have a safe journey.
If your curling irons are flagged in your hand luggage, the tray containing them will be taken off the conveyor belt to a separate area. If they are in your bag, you will need to empty out all the contents. The security officer will explain why there is a problem. If there is a way to resolve the issue, they will explain the best way to proceed. However, if the security officer decides your curling irons present a risk, he will confiscate them. The security officer’s decision is final, and you will achieve nothing by arguing or being rude.
If your curling irons are flagged in your checked baggage, you will hear your name called over the PA system, and you will be directed to where your suitcase is being held. The security officers will normally ask you to start unpacking your suitcase until they find the item that has been flagged. Depending on what the problem is, they will either remove your curling irons or they will allow you to put them in your carry-on.
If you have your curling irons taken away by security officers, they are usually passed on to the airline you are flying with. If you want to reclaim your curling irons, contact your airline as soon as possible, as companies typically only keep confiscated items for a few days before throwing them away.
Most of the time, there should be no problem bringing your curling irons on a plane. Most countries allow you to pack them in both your checked suitcase and your carry-on bag. If your curling irons are powered by gas cartridges or batteries, then you will need to put them in your cabin bag.
See other articles in this series:
- Can You Bring Nail Clippers on a Plane?
- Can You Bring Tweezers on a Plane?
- Can Your Bring Shampoo on a Plane?
- Can You Bring Hiking Sticks on a Plane?
- Can You Bring a Lighter on a Plane?
- Can You Bring Razors on a Plane?
- Can You Bring Deodorants on a Plane?
- Can You Bring Candles on a Plane?
- Can You Bring Scissors on a Plane?