This article looks at the TSA restrictions on common hair styling tools.
If you are wondering if you can bring hair straighteners, a flat iron or a curling iron on a plane in hand luggage or in your checked bag we’ve got you covered.
The TSA Rules About Hair Straighteners & Styling Tools
As is often the case with these matters the TSA website was a logical starting point.
However, their website was not as clear as I hoped. Here are some screen grabs:
The answer seemed straight forward. Yes, you can bring a flat iron, curling iron, or hair straighteners in either carry on bags or checked bags on U.S. domestic airlines.
But directly under that was an ominously italicized caveat warning. It stated that, “The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.”
Alarm bells were ringing in my head and it made me remember about cordless curling irons that use butane gas canisters. Would they be permitted inside the cabin or in checked bags?
First I checked if butane was allowed on flights and discovered that it’s prohibited.
A little more searching and I found this:
So here is a more detailed description of the rules around hair styling tools:
Hair straighteners, flat irons, and curling irons are all allowed to be brought in both your carry on bags and your checked in bags when you fly. However, hair curling irons that contain a form of hydrocarbon gas, like butane, are only allowed to be brought in your carry on bags. Gas powered curling irons are not permitted in checked bags.
Also, these gas powered tools are limited to one item per passenger. Your item’s safety cover will have to be securely fitted over the heating element. You are not permitted to bring additional butane cartridges in either your checked or your carry on bags.
So you can easily bring your electric flat iron, but not so easily pack your cordless gas-powered one.
You can bring the cordless butane powered curling irons with 1 canister inside the device in hand luggage only but with no additional spare canisters.
Keep in mind that if you pack your expensive hair straighteners, flat iron or curling iron in your checked luggage than there is a risk that your bag could go missing and your expensive styling tool with it. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
It’s always more secure to pack valuable items in your hand luggage. Pity Muffin didn’t know that before she flew with Delta.
I don’t want to pick on Delta airlines. There is always a checked baggage risk whoever you fly with. I hope Lovita got reimbursed by American Airlines.
I also checked on Amazon and noticed that there are a few rechargeable cordless curling irons available.
There will have lithium-ion batteries inside them and will not be permitted inside checked luggage. You will be able to bring them inside your carry on as long as the batteries are under the maximum limits. It’s just 1 more thing to be aware of when packing your suitcase!
Check With Your Airline If You Are Unsure
Whatever the TSA says, the individual airlines all have their own safety rules and regulations. While security may permit you to bring your flat irons and hair straighteners aboard the plane with you, remember that your particular airline carrier can have more stringent rules. It is possible that they will have other items on their own prohibited list.
Both United Airlines and Southwest recommend to their passengers that you check your TSA list before you pack. It is possible that you may have left a prohibited item secreted away in a pocket somewhere. This is why you should go carefully through all compartments in order to be certain that nothing that might now be prohibited sneaks on your trip with you and causes you potential embarrassment and hardship at the security screening counter.
Personally I would pack an electric corded hair styling tool for any airline and not give it a second thought. But if I was taking a gas canister of any form on to a flight with me I’d double-check my airline’s policies.
One more thing that can help you to stay abreast of the countless changes to TSA prohibited items is their handy notification of prohibited items by email service. You can sign up for this at no cost to receive email notifications from the TSA when they make any changes. They will then send you an alert to your email address if they do amend this list at any time in the future.
Beware International Power Supply Voltages
Okay, so you’re packing your electric hair straighteners…
But remember to think about your the power supply at your destination.
Your electrical flat irons will probably not work overseas. If you do insist on having them with you on your trip, then be sure to bring both electrical outlet adapters and the larger transformer packs (so that you can step down the higher voltage electricity from other countries to not fry your curling iron).
It’s not enough to buy a plug adapter. The 220 – 240 volts power supply in Europe will fry most US made hair styling tools.
You can buy travel hair straighteners that are designed for international travel. These will often be smaller in size for handy packing and also be dual voltage compatible accepting an input voltage of 110v-220v.
You would still need a plug socket adapter in some countries and one that is suitable for the wattage of your device.
Since hand luggage restrictions seem to be getting smaller and smaller a travel-sized hair straightener would make packing easier. It’s something to consider. But I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether they can compete with your GHD’s on how well they straighten hair.
So now you no longer have to suffer from problems with your hair when you travel on an airplane. The TSA had mercy on you and made it really easy to travel with electric straight irons and somewhat possible to bring the gas versions of them. All corded electric curling irons, flat irons or hair straighteners can go in either your carry on bags or inside of your checked luggage.
Meanwhile, your gas ones can go in the carry on luggage only. Just remember that you can not bring any spare butane cartridges along in either carry on or checked bags, and you will be fine. Do take my advice and “declare” your electrical appliances at the security screening station so that you do not suffer the inconvenience and delay of having them unpack your carry on bag one item at a time.
If you do decide to take your hair straighteners with you on your next trip remember to pack them when you leave! You don’t want to end up “mad af” like this grumpy Twitter user:
If you have any other questions regarding this post, please feel free to reach out to me in the comments section.
See also our post about taking your hair dryer with you in your hand luggage.
Spoiler alert… you can pack that in your carry on too!