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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.

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. Here’s what you need to know.

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.

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. Here’s what you need to know.

Written by
Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
Last Updated
29 JANUARY 2024
5 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
  • Tablets such as iPads
  • E-readers such as a Kindle or Kobo
  • 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. 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?

Yes. 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.

Did you know?

With over 3,000 charging points, Heathrow Airport is one of the most mobile-friendly airports in the world. All terminals offer free Power Pole charging stations, which are compatible with USB cables as well as UK and European plugs. This means you can easily charge up your devices before heading through security.

Can you take batteries on a plane?

Yes, you can take batteries for your devices on a plane, but they must be in your carry-on luggage. Batteries – including the rechargeable lithium batteries in your phone, laptop, and e-readers and any spares – are not usually permitted to go in the hold.

The restrictions for batteries on a plane 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, you can use it during the flight but be sure to turn it off during taxiing, take-off and landing.

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.

Can I use electrical items on flights?

You can use electronics on board a plane, but there are restrictions.
You won’t be allowed to use devices such as a laptop, iPad or Kindle during take-off or landing, and you can only use your mobile phone if it’s set to flight mode.

Airlines may let you use your phone during take-off and landing if it’s in airplane mode, but this can vary depending on your airline so listen carefully to any instructions from your cabin crew.

Can you use Bluetooth headphones on a plane?

You can use Bluetooth connected devices such as a wireless keyboard or headphones during the flight. But they must be switched off for taxi, take-off and landing.

You’ll also 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 cover the cost of 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 and electronics in hand luggage to ensure they’re covered.

If you’re taking electronics with you on holiday, make sure they’re covered by your baggage insurance. If that doesn’t offer enough cover, you might want to look at gadget travel insurance.

Our checklist for travelling with gadgets 

Here are 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 your claim 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

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

It depends on the 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 might be able to book you on the next available flight to give you time to charge it.

To avoid this kind of disruption, always make sure your devices are fully charged before going through airport security.

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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