Can You Travel with Wrapped Christmas Gifts on a Plane?

Unfortunately, “tis the season” isn’t a compelling enough reason for the TSA to make exceptions; if your holiday cheer won’t fit in an overhead bin, you’ll have to check it at the gate.

Santa and his eight tiny reindeer aren’t the only ones soaring through the frosty air around Christmastime. According to the TSA, over 41 million travelers took to the sky during the 2018 holiday season. Unlike Saint Nick, if you’re flying commercial, you can’t just toss your dutifully wrapped presents for all the boys and girls of the world in the back of the aircraft and call it day. So, if you find yourself unable to ship your presents ahead of time, there are a few things you should keep in mind before packing—like knowing these things most likely to get you flagged by the TSA. Dare we say make a list and check it twice?

Can you fly with wrapped gifts: yes or no?

If you must fly with presents in tow, you’re better off squirreling away in a guest bedroom to wrap them once you arrive at your destination. Wrapped gifts aren’t prohibited, but if they trigger an alarm, chances are you won’t be getting them back with the intricately tied ribbons and razor-sharp corners in which you so delicately bundled them. TSA agents won’t hesitate to unwrap them if needed, but if you absolutely must have a fully wrapped gift upon arrival, things will go much more smoothly for you if you use a gift bag, and the agents will probably appreciate it too. Otherwise, you might be stopping at the nearest airport shop to pick up some impromptu wrapping paper, or enlisting one of these 11 hacks to wrap a gift without wrapping paper.

But still, use your noggin!

The most important thing is to be aware of the item you’re gifting and how it fits into the TSA’s preexisting carry-on rules. If you’re gifting your favorite little leaguer an aluminum baseball bat, TSA might not be too merry about that, no matter the perfectly coifed bow placed lovingly on the barrel. You’re going to have to check that. Oddly enough, artificial skeleton bones are fair game, in case you’re related to a biology teacher, or Wednesday Addams. One other common holiday item whose travel restrictions are frequently forgotten: snow globes. Everyone loves a yuletide snow globe, but not everyone (the TSA) loves when you carry more than 3.4 liquid ounces onboard an aircraft. If the snow globe is larger than a tennis ball, you’ll have to pack it in your checked bag, otherwise, it will never see the firelight of your kooky aunt’s mantle. Steer clear of these other surprising things the TSA won’t allow on planes, too.

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