Which powders are now banned on Australian flights?

Posted: 25 June 2018 8:00 am
News

Here are the new carry-on luggage rules for talcum powder, protein powder, coffee and snow globes.

If you're flying internationally from Australia, new rules will kick in from 30 June 2018 which restrict the amount of powder you're allowed to have in your carry-on luggage. That's potentially bad news if you carry a lot of face powder to touch up during flights. Here's what you need to know so you don't get caught out.

Chances are you're already aware of the limits on carrying liquids in hand luggage for international flights. You can't have any container with more than 100ml, and those containers must all be able to fit in a clear sealable bag measuring no more than 20cm by 20cm.

Now you have to think about powders as well when you're packing your hand luggage. The new restrictions apply to what the regulations refer to as "inorganic powders". (Reading between the lines, there's a risk these might be used to make an explosive device.)

What that means in practice is that there are no restrictions on foodstuffs. So there's no limit on taking baby formula on board, nothing stopping you toting your preferred coffee grind, and no cap on the amount of protein powder that body-building types can pack.

So what falls into the restricted category? Here's the full list from the government TravelSECURE site:

  • Salt
  • Salt scrub
  • Sand
  • Some talcum powders
  • Some powdered deodorant
  • Certain foot powders
  • Powdered detergent and cleaning products

You are restricted to taking no more than 350 grams of such powders in total. There's no limit to the number of containers you can take, but the total volume, when filled, of all those containers, can't add up to more than 350 grams. You need to present any such containers separately at airport security for screening. However, unlike liquids, you don't need to place them in a separate plastic bag.

Traps to watch out for

A little confusingly, the list notes that "some talcum powders" may be banned, but that "most cosmetics" are OK. In reality, the final decision will come down to what the security officer thinks, so I wouldn't risk taking any talc or face powder in hand luggage unless you're happy to risk it being confiscated.

The regulations also specifically call out snow domes as a potential risk: "Some items may not be obvious, such as snow domes or toys and souvenirs with sand or granular material inside."

If you are travelling with powders of this type, don't fall into the trap of putting them into larger containers. The volume is calculated on total container size, not the amount of powder contained in them. It would seem prudent to make sure any containers are clearly labelled with their volume.

There are exemptions to the rules for medical items required during flight. If you need to pack these in hand luggage, you'll also need a letter from your doctor.

One final exemption: there's also no restriction on flying with cremated human remains (cremains). If you have to do this, they'll be supplied to you by the funeral director in an appropriately labelled package. (I speak from experience here, folks.)

Don't panic, domestic fliers

Note these rules only apply to international flights out of Australia. On domestic flights, there are no powder rules (or liquids rules) in place. The one minor exception is if you've booked a domestic flight that departs from an international terminal, which sometimes happens if an international carrier wants to connect to multiple cities. In that case, you will need to obey the rules.

Compared to the liquid rule, I don't imagine this is going to inconvenience too many passengers. But it might pay to think twice about purchasing a souvenir snow globe in a transit airport on your way home. Just remember the golden rule, as TravelSECURE notes: "If you are unsure if an item will pass screening, pack it in your checked baggage."

And as usual, don't forget to follow the existing rules around hand luggage size and weight on every flight to avoid paying excess fees. Trying to travel carry-on only? Check out our video tips below on what not to pack.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.

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