Can I Take Wrapped Presents on an Airplane?

02.15.23 by Travelex Insurance
Image credit: Getty Images

Planning to fly during the festive season? If you’re visiting family — or traveling with them — you’re probably adding a few gifts or Secret Santa surprises to your luggage. But you might be wondering — can you bring wrapped gifts through airport security? Can you take wrapped gifts on an airplane?

Use common sense, Pay attention to TSA regulations, pay close attention to food and beverage gifts, and check lists of prohibited items.

Plan ahead with these five tips to ensure your presents make it under the tree at your destination.

Tip #1: Decide if your gifts should go in checked luggage or carry-on

Can I take a wrapped gift on an airplane in my carry-on, or should I pack it into checked luggage?

It really depends on what you’re taking.

While in most cases it’s possible to take wrapped gifts on an airplane, it’s important to ensure what you’re bringing complies with TSA regulations — especially if you plan to bring wrapped gifts through airport security.

Always double check TSA guidelines on what’s allowed in your luggage and what isn’t. This is especially important if the gifts include electronics, batteries, food, or liquids.

If an item is extremely valuable, it may be best to keep with you in your carry-on luggage in order to prevent issues if your luggage is lost or delayed in transit.

With this in mind, plan how you will pack your gifts ahead of time so you can fly with confidence.

Tip #2: Be prepared for gifts to be unwrapped by TSA

No one wants to spend time beautifully preparing presents only to arrive with your gifts unwrapped, poorly re-wrapped, or missing altogether. Whether traveling with a carry-on or checked bag, know that if your wrapped gift triggers an alarm while going through security, it’ll be unwrapped for inspection.

For this reason, you may prefer to travel with gifts unwrapped or secured in clear packaging for easy inspection.

Tip #3: Be extra careful with liquids and food

Keep in mind that any liquids, gels or lotions packed into carry-on must comply with TSA regulations and be 3.4 liquid ounces or less.

If traveling internationally, make sure you comply with rules around what alcohol (and how much) and what food items you're allowed to bring into your destination country. This will vary from country to country.

Common gift problems — and how to solve them:

  • Homemade cookies, cakes or fudge: pack in unwrapped, see-through plastic container inside your carry-on bag.

  • Syrup, wine, liquor or perfume: protect with clear bubble wrap from easy identification and secure with rubber bands instead of tape. Pack these in checked luggage.

  • Food gifts like jellies, jams, salsa, and sauces: secure with clear bubble wrap and add to checked luggage.

Tip #4: Know what items are prohibited before you pack them

Airport security isn’t there to ruin your vacation. They’re here to do their job and keep us safe. It’s your responsibility to do your homework before traveling to decide whether or not it’s a good idea to take wrapped presents on an airplane.

Common red flag items for airport security include:

  • Snow globes with liquid

  • Gel candles

  • Children’s toys, including toy weapons

  • Sporting equipment

  • Unusually shaped items

  • Battery powered toys or gifts

Tip #5: Reduce the headache of traveling with wrapped gifts

Traveling during holiday season is hectic enough as it is, but these tips may help you have fewer headaches and ensure your gifts arrive in good condition.

Instead of worrying if you can take wrapped gifts on an airplane, consider these alternatives:

  • Bring wrapping supplies with you or purchase upon arrival and wrap gifts at your destination.

  • Take advantage of holiday free-shipping deals and ship your gifts ahead of you.

  • Use an easily opened gift bag or box, making inspection easier. Never use tape.

  • When packing gifts in checked luggage, use a hard-shell suitcase to give more cushion and help protect fragile items.

  • Carry your most valuable items with you at all times.

Ready to plan your Christmas vacation?

Protect your trip with travel insurance so you can vacation with peace of mind. Find out how affordable our Travelex plans can be — get a quote here.

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