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Electricals in Hand Luggage

A guide to taking electricals on planes

Mehdi Punjwani
Written by  Mehdi Punjwani
Donna McConnell
Reviewed by  Donna McConnell
5 min read
Updated: 06 Mar 2024

Having a laptop or tablet with you for a flight can be as important as having your phone, especially if you’re flying long haul - and if you have kids to entertain. You might also be travelling with other electronics in your hand luggage, like cameras or hair straighteners - here’s what you need to know about taking them on the plane with you.

What electricals am I allowed to carry in my hand luggage? 

You’ll generally be able to take the following electricals on a flight with you: 

  • Mobile phones 

  • Laptops 

  • Tablets and e-readers, like iPads or Kindles 

  • MP3 players 

  • Hairdryers, hair straighteners, and curlers  

  • Travel irons 

  • Electric shavers 

  • Phone chargers 

  • Cameras - but there may be certain restrictions if you’re carrying specialist photography equipment 

  • E-cigarettes - these are not allowed in the hold  

It’s important to remember that this is a general list, but certain airlines and countries could have specific restrictions or a different list. Check with your airline before travelling - information should be available on their website but you can also get in touch to find out more. 

Man in airport looking at information screen

What electricals can go in the hold? 

All of the above is allowed in the hold as well as in your hand luggage, with the exception of e-cigarettes. 

Packing electronics for airport security 

It’s important to keep your electronics accessible when you pack them in your hand luggage, in case you’re asked to remove them by airport security. Laptops and tablets in particular will have to be separated when you go through security as they’ll be screened in their own tray - so take them out beforehand to save time. 

Not taking your laptop and tablet out if you have them, or having electronics deep in your hand luggage can end up causing delays. Ensure everything is packed correctly and accessible - and remember, your items should be charged before boarding.  

Charging requirements for electronics  

For security reasons, you’ll need to ensure your devices are charged before travelling - uncharged devices can be security risks. You may even be asked to switch on your device to ensure its battery is in place, rather than something illicit being stored in the battery compartment instead - if it doesn’t switch it on, it could be confiscated.  

Battery regulations on planes 

You are allowed to take batteries on board the flight so long as they are kept in your hand luggage or carry-on bag. Batteries are not usually allowed in the hold - including lithium batteries for your phones, laptops and other devices.  

There are also restrictions in place in terms of what kind of batteries you can bring on in your hand luggage. Generally speaking, it will depend on the number of batteries you want to bring, their wattage, whether they’re stored safely, and what you’re using them for. 

You can also take external batteries or power banks with you on board, but they must be switched off during take-off and landing. 

It’s worth contacting your airline to double check any restrictions on batteries if you’re planning on taking some with you - and also with the battery’s manufacturer to ensure they’re safe to travel with. 

Usage of electrical items on flights 

You’ll be able to use electrical devices on your flight, however you should be aware of certain restrictions. While your mobile phone can sometimes remain on throughout, it must be set to flight mode - other devices like laptops and e-readers must be turned off during take-off and landing, as well as Bluetooth devices like headphones. Your cabin crew will give you specific instructions regarding things like mobile phones as this can vary between airlines. 

Travel insurance for electronics 

It may be worth taking your electronics on board in your hand luggage rather than packing them in your suitcase. While most travel insurance policies will cover your belongings if they’re lost, damaged or stolen, this may not extend to items kept in the hold - so check your policy documents to be sure.  

However, one thing to be aware of is whether your standard travel insurance policy offers enough baggage cover to protect your electricals. For any particularly valuable items you might want to consider gadget insurance to ensure you’ve got the right cover in place. 

Checklist for travelling with gadgets 

To ensure things go as smoothly as possible on your travels, keep the following in mind: 

  • Where you pack your gadgets: Keep your laptops and tablets accessible in particular as you’ll need to get them out for the security check 

  • Charge your devices: Your gadgets should be fully charged and be able to switch on if required 

  • Where you keep your batteries: Pack batteries in your hand luggage and check they’re suitable to fly with 

  • Remember your accessories: Ensure you have chargers and power adaptors if necessary 

  • Check roaming charges: If you’re travelling abroad check your mobile phone’s roaming charges to avoid any nasty surprises 

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Can I put electrical items in my carry-on luggage or baggage? 

Yes, you can put electrical items in your carry-on luggage, so long as they’re on the list provided by the UK government and your airline provider - items like phones, tablets, hair straighteners, shavers, and travel irons are allowed. 

What happens if my electronic device is confiscated by airport security? 

If your electrical device is confiscated by airport security, you might have to wait until you return to the UK to get it back, or you may be able to arrange for it to be delivered to your chosen address.  

If it’s been confiscated due to it not being charged and therefore not switching on, airline staff might be able to rebook you on the next available flight so you can recharge it. It will usually depend on the airline, however, as there are no concrete rules.  

What is airplane mode and why is it necessary? 

Airplane mode is a setting on all smartphones that prevents it from connecting to phone networks and mobile data, as well as WiFi and Bluetooth. However, these can sometimes be turned off while airplane mode is kept on, as WiFi and Bluetooth are safe to use when not taking off or landing. 

Airplane mode is required as these signals, like your mobile network and WiFi, can interfere with communication and navigation systems that are vital for the plane and pilots.