OK, here’s what we should allow on plane …

Mihejevs/Shutterstock
Mihejevs/Shutterstock
Can we look past this ridiculous debate about cellphones on planes? Can we ignore, for a moment, the breathless opinion polls, the pompous declarations by airlines that they’d never allow wireless chatter in their cabins, and the heated discussions you’ve read in your favorite travel blog?

Mobile phones on commercial flights, already on their way to becoming a reality in the rest of the civilized world, will eventually come to the United States. It matters not that 59% of Americans in a recent Quinnipiac University poll declared they’re against it. Since when is the interior of an aircraft — where good etiquette remains in short supply — a yak-free zone like a library or church?

But keep looking, my friends. What else isn’t allowed on a commercial flight that should be? Conventional wisdom says we should permit fewer things on a plane, not more.

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Perhaps we’re having the wrong debate. Many air travelers suggest there’s more that should be permitted — much more.

Bottled water. “I think they should allow you to bring your own factory-sealed water bottles through a TSA screening area,” says Theresa Kropp, a bookkeeper from Lakewood, Colo. “It’s so ridiculous that we have to buy water from the shops after we go through security.”

Truth is, the TSA kind of stopped enforcing its own liquid and gels rule years ago. I accidentally brought a large cup of yogurt in my carry-on bag on a recent flight, and I routinely hear from readers who manage to sneak water and soft drinks through security. The European Union is reportedly testing a liquid scanner that would allow passengers to carry drinks through its checkpoints, but it’s unlikely the TSA will officially ease its liquid restrictions stateside anytime soon.

Pets. While some animals are allowed in the main cabin, many are not, forcing air travelers to leave their beloved cats, dogs and birds at home. “I should be able to bring my parrot in his carrier,” says Elise Negrin, an administrative assistant from West Palm Beach, Fla. “He’s better behaved than many children.”

Well, here’s some good news, at least for affluent animal owners: Pet travel fees are one of those still-unexploited areas for airline surcharges. For example, US Airways allows a small domestic dog, cat or bird per passenger for $125 each way. But if it can figure out how to extract more, what’s to stop an airline from loosening the size and weight restrictions? Now, if something could be done about those naughty kids.

Knives. “Why don’t we allow pocket knives?” asks Tim Pylant, an engineer from La Grange, Texas “They’re no more dangerous than a ballpoint pen unless it folds back on your hand and cuts you.” Good point. The interior of an aircraft is filled with objects that can be more dangerous than a pocket knife, including pens, knitting needles and cutlery. Why single out small knives?

The TSA continues to prohibit knives in carry-on luggage except for plastic or round-bladed butter knives. Never mind that in other parts of the world, pocket knives are absolutely fine and are correctly not considered a threat to aviation safety. Oddly, the TSA last year announced it would permit knives on board. That is, until flight attendants’ unions, consumer advocates and law enforcement officials raised objections to the proposed rule change, claiming the knives would make air travel less safe. There is no evidence it would, and I’m willing to bet pocket knives will be allowed again someday.

We already allow things that probably shouldn’t be allowed, and we don’t permit things that should, all of which brings us to the point of this exercise. I’m as annoyed as the next passenger when the teenager next to me fires up Grand Theft Auto on his iPad and goes on a virtual killing spree. Or when the creepy guy across the aisle from my daughter watches an R-rated movie on his PC. But good manners can’t be regulated by banning tablets, computers or badly behaved kids — any more than allowing bottled water, pocket knives or more pets on an aircraft will make the in-flight experience less safe.

The answer isn’t to legislate our in-flight manners, but to deepen passengers’ collective sense of responsibility. It’s a simple, “do unto others” sensibility so lacking on today’s aircraft.

Perhaps that’s a good place to start the real discussion.

What else isn’t allowed on a plane?

The Transportation Security Administration has a long list of other items on the “no fly” list. Items that can’t be brought through security screening in your carry-on include:

– Scissors with blades longer than 4 inches

– Golf clubs

– Pool cues

– Hammers

– Drills and drill bits

– Firearm replicas

Source: Transportation Security Administration

Which of the following should be allowed on a plane?

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45 thoughts on “OK, here’s what we should allow on plane …

  1. A drill? (the correct name is actually “drill motor”) Someone is going to hijack a plane with a power drill? Reminds me of Jeff Foxworthy telling about the leaf blower in the security display at ATL.

  2. I’m highly allergic to cats. A cat in a cage under a seat near me could make for a very unpleasant journey. The airlines currently prohibit peanuts being served on flights when there is someone who is allergic to peanuts on board. What can be done to keep people with pet allergies from suffering?

  3. What I would really like to be able to carry on is toothpaste. Why is the TSA so afraid of it? Has there ever been a toothpaste bomb on a plane?

    I can just picture the action movie now “Don’t miss Denzel Washington in ‘Crestfallen’!”

  4. Let’s ban finger nail polish and all fragrances, even if below 3 oz. quantity limit. Let’s have a scent-free zone.

  5. Just remember…I was subjected to sitting next to a damn SNAKE who was an “Emotional Support Animal.”

    The lady with the parrot should just claim he’s an ESA and she’ll be good to go.
    I’d rather sit next to a parrot than a damn snake…

    Course, two weeks ago, I was on a flight (to my favorite location) with a supposed “service dog” for a kid with autism. The dog was freaking out. I don’t know what “service” he performed…especially after he pooped right in the aisle.

  6. “Factory sealed” water could easily be substituted with “apparently factory sealed” anything. However, since terrorism has moved beyond planes to easier targets, all these arguments may be moot, at least until the next Lockerbie.

  7. Good manners and consideration for others is so un PC in the world of I. Don’t see it coming back any time soon no matter what we can or cannot bring onboard.

  8. “I’d rather sit next to a parrot than a damn snake..”

    I’d re-think that. I don’t think a parrot would be much better.

    “Aaark! Polly wants your peanuts! Polly wants your peanuts!”

    For three hours.

  9. No. The container itself must be less than 3.5 ounces. There are travel size tubes of 2.8-3.5 oz available.

    This mirrors their rule about the bag (sigh). Cannot be gallon size even if your stuff would fit in a quart size bag.

    Resistance is futile!

  10. I got stabbed in the back with a knitting needle on a flight once. It was an accident, but wow did it hurt. The person who did it was very nice and apologetic. But those things are probably more dangerous than a small pocket knife. I’m still torn on the knives on planes rule. I used to always carry a knife for pure utility reasons and they come in quite handy. But they could be used for evil.

  11. Sealed bottles of water should be allowed. Knives and pets? Don’t think so. Why do you need a knife in your carryon? Put it in your suitcase if you can’t live without it. Pets would be OK if we could count on the owners to have some consideration for other passengers but that ain’t gonna happen.

  12. TSA = Trying to Scare Americans:

    40,000 fatalities from car accidents

    16-20,000 Homicides a Year: 80% involve firearms

    Number of Terrorist attacks on America = Negligible.

    More chance of dying in School Shooting, Armed Robbery, Public Shooting, Gang Violence, etc than from some foreign national.

    Long story short…. Our government does a great job of scaring us and spying on us… I don’t feel more safe, but I DO FEEL LESS FREE…

    Security is great (TSA and Government) in proportionate measures. Period.

  13. I do check my tools (required to do so) but when TSA zip ties my pelican case shut I have NO means of cutting it open upon arrival at my destination. A small pocket knife would easily solve that issue. I had to remove the tiny (!) foil cutter from my wine key as it is viewed as a “knife. I can bring scissors along if the blades are less than 4” but that typically involves a “do you know what the web site says” discussion. A small weatherman tool would be very handy for a myriad of things, but due to a knife blade of any dimension they cannot be carried on. The most frustrating part of dealing with security screening is that it is NOT consistent. What you may bring on through can and does vary from airport to airport and even from among specific screening crews. Hence, all the anecdotes of people getting away with carrying through their knives/water/yogurt, etc.

  14. Where does it stop? Peanuts. Pet hair. Mold. Dust. Perfume. Latex. Wool. Plastic. Can’t wait to see the fight between the guy who needs his “comfort cat” to fly and the person allergic to cat hair.

  15. I think the point – no pun inten… aw, heck, pun very much intended – is that, so could a pencil or pen. I could bash you on the head with any number of mundane objects. As long as the cockpit doors are closed and locked, I don’t see a whole lot sense to most of this.

  16. My niece’s Today’s wtf question: why do they stop you from putting nail clippers in your carry-on luggage if they sell them after you go through security anyway?

  17. To quote Samuel L Jackson “I have had it with these motherf*cking snakes on this motherf*cking plane!”.

    Nothing scary about snakes.. Heights on the other hand..

  18. Seen it the allergies person was removed not the pet
    of course they were rebooked on the next available flight out :-)

  19. I have a pair of toe nail cutters in my “must have” bag that I keep with me, just so that I can clip zip ties. (Fingernail cutters aren’t strong enough.) I zip tie shut anything I’m gate checking if I can’t find an actual lock for that suitcase. I got that idea from this forum. Hope my solution helps.

  20. I don’t know, I think a snake would have been nicer in the seat next to me than the runny nosed rude jerk that sat next to me on my last flight.

  21. I’ve been caught by this silliness also: a six-ounce tube that has obviously about two ounces left in it.

    So why is the limit a funny number like 3.4 (or 3.5 – even the airline employees in here aren’t sure!)? This rule must be devised by the same gang of idiots who with every Post Office rate increase rate set the new price to a funny number that requires us and the clerk to fuss with the largest possible amount of small change. This month’s new rate is $0.49 .

  22. The limit is 100 ml. Which equals about 3.4 to 3.5 fluid oz depending on how your calculator rounds. So if you have something that is 3.4 oz mass, is it really legal? :-)

    And the post office should have just gone with 50 cents. But congress won’t let them.

  23. As far as water goes, bring an empty bottle or two and fill them after clearing security. I have seen special bottle filling water fountains at several airports lately and use those at DEN often. The water is not bad and it is free! (OK, not really free because you have to buy a plane ticket to get to it. But you can drink as much as you want at no additional cost :-)

  24. I’ve never understood the magic of 100ml or 3.4 ounce containers. I know of several liquids that packed in containers of that size individually would look completely harmless, but once on the plane and mixed together could make poisonous gas or a bomb big enough to take the plane down or kill dozens of people. This surely cannot be unknown to the TSA/NSA/any of the other 3-letter organizations supposed to be “protecting” us.

  25. I bought a Brita Water Bottle with its own charcoal filter. Doesn’t matter what crappy water you use, it filters out the nasty stuff

  26. Why or why do people seem to think that a pet has rights like a person? A pet is an animal and does not belong in the cabin of an airplane. I don’t care how important you think it is to you, it is still an animal.
    A service animal is different, it is a working animal not a pet. However the definition of who needs what as a service animal is becoming stretched past the belief point.

  27. Deodorant, too? I would rather smell something nice, than the unwashed masses lately travelling. :)

  28. Yep – and can tote around a couple of those drink packets and have lemonade or iced tea as you like!

  29. And if flying cross country to move, you can’t put a small puppy or kitten in cargo – has to go onboard due to dangers to the animal.

  30. The written policy wasn’t clear on who to remove it just stated if they weren’t agreeable to sitting on opposite ends of the aircraft one would be put on the next flight available. I think it was because the allergy person was cussing at the other passenger and called the captian an idiot so I’m not sure which would’ve been taken off had they been remotely polite it may have been visa versa it was the pilots choice.
    Seems about right though doesn’t it that they value animals more than people? It’s one of those blurred judgment calls like when someone doesn’t buy two seats and overlap into their seat mates on a full flight….

  31. Why such a snarky response to a sincere comment on fragrances, clearly a different class than deodorants usually covered with layers of clothes..

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