Celebrating the holidays away from home? Unless you're planning to leave your Christmas shopping to the last minute, you may need to fly with presents stashed in your luggage. We can offer expert tips on flying with Christmas gifts to help you keep your precious cargo safe.
Are wrapped gifts allowed on planes?
Wrapped gifts are permitted on planes in both carry-on and checked luggage - but keep in mind that airport officials may need to open them for security reasons. Regardless of how beautifully you've gift-wrapped your presents, airport officials have a job to do and they won't hesitate to rip your pretty wrapping paper to shreds. To avoid having your gift-wrapping efforts go to waste, only wrap your presents after you've reached your destination.
In cases where you can't avoid travelling with wrapped gifts, putting them in your checked luggage will make them less likely to get opened. Just be careful when it comes to checking anything of value - if the item gets stolen, lost or damaged, you'll probably never recover the cost.
Should I pack gifts or ship them in advance?
Shipping items in advance is a great way to avoid the stress of flying with gifts. If you're planning to pack an entire suitcase full of presents, avoid getting a sore back by sending your Christmas haul via post.
Opting to ship your gifts may incur some upfront costs, but it's better than getting stung with fees for exceeding your checked luggage allowance. Just don't leave it too late - express shipping can be costly (especially if you're headed overseas), so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get your presents safely delivered to your destination.
How to pack gifts in your checked luggage
Nothing can ruin Christmas quite like a squashed or broken gift. These tips for packing presents in checked luggage will ensure the contents of your bag survive the flight intact:
- Use a hard-shell suitcase if you're travelling with fragile gifts. Whether it's due to turbulence or careless baggage handlers, your luggage can get tossed about quite a bit during transit. Softer bags simply can't offer the same standard of protection as a hard-shell suitcase.
- If there's enough room in your bag, enclose your presents in a cardboard box to keep them looking freshly wrapped on arrival. You can also use packing peanuts to add extra protection.
- Surround your presents with soft items like clothing. Putting a fragile present right next to your hairdryer is just asking for trouble.
- Check what's allowed in your bag, as different airlines have varying rules relating to what you can and can't bring on-board. Always look at TSA guidelines before heading to the airport.
- Buy gifts that are easy to pack. Before splashing out on a bike or something similarly hard to fit inside a suitcase, keep your upcoming trip in mind when Christmas shopping.
How to pack gifts in your carry-on luggageNever lose sight of your presents by putting them in your carry-on. If you've never travelled with gifts in your carry-on bag before, take note of these tips to enjoy a hassle-free flight:
- Get the biggest carry-on bag allowed. Check your airline's website to see what kind of rules apply to the dimensions of carry-on luggage, especially if your gift is quite bulky.
- Wrap your gifts in a loose layer of bubble wrap secured with a rubber band.
- Place valuable gifts under the seat in front of you. You might think it's safe to put items in the overhead locker, but valuable gifts should never leave your line of sight.
Gifts you're not allowed to pack in your carry-on:Airport security is a pretty big deal these days, and certain items simply aren't allowed in carry-on bags. The following gifts may draw the attention of airport officials:
- Toys that resemble weapons (such as toy guns)
- Some sporting equipment (items like baseball bats and hockey sticks are prohibited by most airlines)
- Toiletries (most toiletries must be under 100ml to be allowed in carry-on luggage, although this may depend on which airline you're travelling with)
- Liquid or semi-liquid food such as cheeses or jams.