Flying with Wrapped Christmas Gifts: What You Need to Know

It’s that time of year again, and if you are one of the millions of people flying home for the festivities this December, there are certain things you need to know before packing any Christmas gifts in your checked or carry-on baggage.

While it would be nice to arrive with your gifts wrapped and ready to place under the Christmas tree, it’s not always practical, especially when flights are involved, and so if you want to travel stress free, here are some top tips to help you make it through the security scanners without setting off the alarms and alerting the bomb squad!

Rules on Packing Christmas Gifts in Hand Luggage

If you are only travelling with hand luggage, you are going to need to shop very wisely indeed this Christmas. Perfumes and alcohol must be under 100ml, toys should not be shaped as anything resembling a weapon (i.e. a gun or knife), and you should avoid carrying food items such as Camembert, which can look a bit like Semtex… apparently!

Christmas Crackers and Party Poppers are a big no-no too, so leave the decorations to your hosts, and forget carrying anything on airline banned lists such as blades over 6cm, corkscrews, tools, darts, and catapults!

If you are carrying Christmas gifts in your hand luggage, they are more likely to be subjected to inspection, so do yourself and the airport security agents a break, and leave them unwrapped.

Rules on Packing Christmas Gifts in Checked Baggage

You have slightly more leeway when it comes to packing Christmas Gifts in your checked baggage, and providing the contents of your gifts do not set off any alarms, they will not be opened by airport security. But you need to pack with care…

A bottle of Single Malt Whisky may be the perfect gift for you Dad, but if it cracks on-route, you’ll be smelling like a Scottish brewery for the duration of your vacation, so bag it, seal it, bubble wrap it, and then bag it again!

Airport Security Advice on Wrapped Christmas Presents

If you are still not sure if you should pack your wrapped Christmas presents in your luggage, here’s what London’s Heathrow Airport had to say, “Wrapped Christmas presents are not exempt from the current aviation security measures, and are subject to searching and screening measures by airport security staff when flying from the UK. It is possible that passengers may be asked to unwrap any presents by security staff at the airport before their journey. Therefore, passengers should travel with any presents unwrapped.

Presents in liquid form (e.g. perfume, toiletries or alcohol) can be carried in cabin baggage but this is subject to the current measures. It would therefore be advisable to place such presents – unwrapped – in hold baggage. Liquids of any amount can still be stored in hold baggage.”

TSA Advice on Wrapped Christmas Presents

Over the pond, the TSA released the following information on its blog, “Since TSA’s inception, we’ve worked to educate passengers about traveling with wrapped presents. This is nothing new. Wrapped gifts are screened just like any other item. We can see through the paper just like we can see through luggage, but just as we have to open a bag when it requires a search due to an anomaly or an alarm, we have to open wrapped items as well if they alarm or require additional screening.

We want your gift to arrive wrapped just as much as you do. Just know the possibility is there that if the item alarms, we might have to open it to resolve the alarm. We don’t enjoy unwrapping presents that aren’t for us, but if an anomaly is detected inside, we’ll have to unwrap it in order to determine what it is so we can clear it for travel.”

If all else fails, buy your friends and loved ones Christmas Gifts online and have them shipped straight to their door.  You’ll carry less, you’ll have no stress at the airport, and you’ll be more than ready to embrace the Season of Goodwill when you arrive!



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