A guide to taking electronics on planes

All hand luggage is screened at airport security, so it’s important you’re aware of what you can and can’t take before you pack. This can help avoid delays and prevent you bringing items that security won’t let through. Most electronics are allowed, but you’ll need to check in advance what you can take or risk handing them over at the security gates. 

All hand luggage is screened at airport security, so it’s important you’re aware of what you can and can’t take before you pack. This can help avoid delays and prevent you bringing items that security won’t let through. Most electronics are allowed, but you’ll need to check in advance what you can take or risk handing them over at the security gates. 

Last Updated
12 MAY 2022
4 min read
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What electronics am I allowed to carry in my hand luggage?

The electronic devices you can typically take on a flight include:

  • Mobile phone
  • Laptop
  • Tablet
  • E-reader
  • MP3 player
  • Travel iron
  • Hairdryer
  • Hair straighteners/curlers
  •  E-cigarettes (not allowed in the hold)
  • Electric shaver
  • Camera (there may be restrictions on specialist equipment)
  •  Phone charger 

Some airlines or countries may have different restrictions, so it’s important to check with your airline before you travel. There should be a list on an airline’s website, but if you can’t find it you can always give it a call or send an email.

What do I need to consider before packing electronics?

When packing electronics in your hand luggage, make sure they’re easily accessible as you may have to remove them from your bag when you go through airport security. Laptops and tablets will typically be screened outside your bag and placed in a separate tray.

Forgetting to take your electronics out of your hand luggage could result in security needing to carry out additional security checks, which can cause delays.

You don’t want to be that person who holds everyone up in the queue, risk losing your items or having to pick them up at a later date. So make sure you know what you can take and how it needs to be packed before you get to the airport. 

Do my electronics need to be charged?

You’ll have to make sure your devices are charged before you travel. This is because an uncharged device might be a security risk – for example, explosives or other substances could be stored in the battery compartment. If your device doesn’t switch on when requested, you may not be allowed to take it on board.

Can I bring batteries in my hand luggage?

Contact your airline to check the restrictions on batteries in hand luggage as you may need permission in some instances – the information should be on their website. Typically, batteries – including the rechargeable lithium batteries in your phone, laptop, and e-readers and any spares – are not permitted to go in the hold. 

The restrictions for batteries will depend on their wattage, if they’re individually protected, how many you want to take and if they’re for personal use. It may be necessary to contact the manufacturer to confirm that they have complied with the airline’s requirements if you’re unsure. If you’re flying with an external battery or power bank, make sure it’s in your carry-on luggage and don’t use it to charge your devices during the flight.

Can I use electronics on board?

You can use electronics on board a plane, but there are restrictions. You won’t be allowed to use your laptop during take-off or landing, and you can only use your mobile phone if it’s set to flight mode. Increasingly, airlines may let you use your phone during take-off and landing if it’s airplane mode, but this can vary depending on your airline so listen carefully to any instructions from your cabin crew. You can use your devices to listen to music, but you’ll be asked to remove your headphones during the pre-flight safety briefing.

Are my electronics covered under my travel insurance policy?

Most travel insurance policies will will cover the cost of any lost, stolen or damaged possessions. However, many policies exclude valuables that have been checked into the hold. Check your policy documents to see what items are excluded to ensure you’re not putting your valuables at risk. It’s a good idea to keep valuables in your hand luggage to ensure they’re covered. If you’re taking expensive electronics with you on holiday, make sure they’ll be covered by your baggage cover.

Our checklist for travelling with gadgets 

Here’s a few things to think about when packing your tech for travel: 

  • Make sure larger electronic devices like laptops and tablets are readily accessible for security screening
  • Make sure all your battery-powered electrical devices are fully charged and will power on if requested by airport security
  • Remember to bring any chargers you’ll need for your gadgets
  • Pack power banks and any device with a lithium battery in your carry-on luggage
  • Remember to check you have the right country plug adaptor for your holiday destination – and don’t forget to pack it
  • If you want to use your phone while you’re away make sure you’re aware of your network’s data roaming charges.

Customers with pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, your travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. Whatever happens, don’t lie to an insurance provider, because this could mean any claim you make is rejected. When you declare any medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show you quotes from insurance providers who will cover them, with no exclusions.

If your condition is more serious, MoneyHelper has a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone. You can call them on 0800 138 7777.

Frequently asked questions

Is there a ban on taking large electronic devices in the cabin of certain flights to the UK?

In March 2017, the UK government placed a ban on bringing large electronic devices like larger phones, tablets, and laptops in hand luggage on inbound flights to the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. However, that ban was lifted in January 2019 and normal cabin baggage restrictions now apply to flights from those destinations.

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

If airport security ask you to switch on an electrical item and it won’t power on, they may not let you take it on the plane. In this case, what happens next will depend on your airline. They may be able to store your device securely until you return to the UK or arrange for a courier to take it to an address of your choice, or they may be able to book you onto the next available flight to give you time to charge it. To make sure this doesn’t get in the way of your holiday plans, make sure all your electronic devices are fully charged before you travel.

What is airplane mode and why is it necessary?

Activating airplane mode or flight mode automatically stops your phone from connecting to phone networks, mobile data, WiFi and Bluetooth. That means when your phone is in airplane mode you won’t be able to make or receive calls or messages, transfer data across Bluetooth, or connect to the internet. 

Airlines ask you to put your devices in airplane mode when you fly because planes rely on electronic communication and navigation systems, and using your phone may interfere with those systems. Some flights now include WiFi that you can connect to during your flight – either for free or to purchase – but you must make sure your device is in airplane mode first before re-connecting to WiFi.

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