Can You Take Curling Irons in Carry On When Flying?


Air travel sure has gotten complicated these days. It seems like there’s a new rule about what you can and can’t bring on a plane every few months. If you only carry-on luggage, keeping up with the standards can feel like a full-time job.

For example, can you bring a curling iron carry on? The rules for that have changed over the past few years.

Once upon a time, some curling irons weren’t allowed in carry on bags. Others were. Today, it seems like bringing a curling iron carry on is the only way to go.

Let’s break things down.

What Type of Curling Iron Can You Bring in a Carry On Bag?

While you might be concerned about the barrel size, material and other details of your curling irons, the Transportation Security Administration is only concerned about one thing.

The TSA wants to know how your curling irons get their power. See, the power source for a curling iron affects whether it can go carry on or not.

Back in the day, and by back in the day, we mean 2010, the TSA was pretty firmly set against letting butane curling irons carry on. Butane curling irons don’t have conventional batteries or cords.

Instead, they get their power from a removable and (in some cases) refillable butane cartridge.

Although in 2010, the TSA wasn’t going to let butane curling irons hitch a ride in carry on luggage, it’s seemed to have changed its tune.

As of 2018, butane curling irons can go in carry on luggage. In fact, according to the title 49 of the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, butane curling irons can only fly carry on these days. No more checked luggage for them.

There are a few more rules to know if you’re planning on packing a butane cartridge curling iron carry on. First, you have to make sure there’s a safety cover for the heating element.

You don’t want the curling iron to switch on mid-flight and start a fire in the cabin.

Second, you can only bring the one cartridge for the curling iron, no spares. So, you better make sure your cartridge is sufficiently full, as you can’t pack a refill.

Finally, you’ll only allowed to bring one butane cartridge curling iron per person.

Now that we’ve established the rules for a butane curling iron, what about your classic, corded style?

The TSA doesn’t restrict corded curling irons. You can bring one in your carry on luggage, or you can bring one in your checked luggage.

Since corded curling irons aren’t going to cause a fire or explosion potentially, there’s less of a risk in letting people pack them.

Do You Need to Bring Your Curling Iron Along?

Along with figuring out whether you’re allowed to bring a curling iron carry on or not, it helps to figure out whether you need to bring your curling iron with you on your next flight.

Some people are firmly in the “don’t bring your curling iron carry on (or in any luggage)” camp. We’re going to assume that these people either don’t have hair or don’t care what their hair looks like.

Look, it’s fine if you don’t use a curling iron on a day to day basis. You can probably get away with not packing one on your next trip.

But if you typically curl your hair daily or nearly daily, going for an entire vacation without getting to style your hair is going to be a weird experience. If you’re a daily curling iron user, go ahead and make room in your carry on for your tool.

On the other hand, if your curling iron is a once in a while tool or something you only break out for special occasions, you’ll probably make it through your trip without needing one.

If space is tight in your luggage or you know that you’re creeping up on the weight limit and want to lighten your load, it can be worth seeing if a curling iron will be available at your destination.

While curling irons aren’t as frequently found at hotels as hair dryers or tiny travel bottles of shampoo, some places do offer them.

Another option is to double up with a friend or traveling companion. Maybe you can pack the hair care products, and she can bring the curling iron.

If you’re staying in the same room or on the same floor, it’s easy enough to share supplies.

How Can You Protect Your Carry On Luggage from Your Curling Iron?

Curling irons can get pretty hot, hot enough to burn things. If your flights are in the middle of the day, a curling iron will probably have plenty of time to cool down after you use it in the morning and before you pack it.

But what if you have to curl your hair, toss your curling iron in your bag and dash out the door?

You don’t want the heating element of the curling iron to melt your clothes or burn through your other gear. You don’t want to be the person who shows up at the airport with smoking or flaming luggage.

Don’t worry — you can always put a protective cover on your curling iron to keep it from burning other stuff. If you’re bringing along a portable, butane cartridge curling iron, the TSA is going to require you to have that cover.

But even if you’ve got a basic, corded model, a cover can come in handy.

What Can You Do If the TSA Gives You Trouble?

One complaint we’ve noticed that travelers often have is that the rules listed by the TSA and the expectations of the officers at security sometimes don’t seem to line up.

If you get to security and a TSA agent wants to you to take your butane cartridge or even your corded curling iron out of your carry on luggage, then that just happens to be the way the dice have landed.

You can’t argue with the agents (and you don’t want to argue with them!) Although the TSA’s rules allow curling irons, the agents at security end up getting the final say.

That said, if you’re going to bring along a curling iron on your trip, don’t pack your best model. You don’t want to risk having TSA toss out your $200 + curling iron. Choose a less expensive version to bring along.

Final Thoughts

For plenty of travelers, carry on luggage only is the way to go. Although only bringing carry on has its limits, it can also speed up your trip and leave you spending less time at the airport. The airline isn’t going to lose your bags when you only fly carry on.

Although people often assume that checked luggage is where certain things belong, other items, like butane curling irons, are restricted to carry on bags.

No matter where you’re going, if you want to bring a curling iron, carry on is often the only way to travel. Always double check to make sure the rules haven’t changed on you before you start packing for a trip.