The festive treats on the no-fly list for Christmas

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Weather brings Christmas nightmare

The challenge of packing for a trip over Christmas is hard enough. Somehow you need to be able to squeeze all your presents in. Then you'll need to find room for the food and drink, and before you know it you're left wearing all the clothes you need for the trip onto the plane - because there's just no room left in the suitcase.

Now Southampton Airport has warned that this is the least of your worries when you're packing your bags for Christmas - because a number of everyday items for the big day are on a no-fly list.


Banned

The big no-no is Christmas crackers. The vast majority of airlines won't allow these anywhere near the plane - even if you try to check them into the hold. The unusual exception is Flybe, which will let you have up to 12 crackers in a sealed box in your suitcase. The other things to watch for is party poppers, which no airlines will allow on board at all.

For crackers the issue is that you cannot see what's inside. To check that the contents are safe to travel with, the airline would have to take the crackers apart - which would defeat the object. And for both crackers and party poppers there's also the risk that someone could set them off on the plane. There are few places where a small bang could set off a dangerous level of panic - but a plane is one of them.

Then there are liquid accompaniments to Christmas dinner - from a bottle of whisky to custard or cream. They will need to be checked into the hold, because the usual rules apply about not having liquids in your hand luggage. This also applies to things which are more like pastes - including pate and brandy butter.

The only things you can have in your hand luggage are solid festive favourites like Christmas cakes, Christmas puddings and mince pies. And as usual you will be able to include any of the liquids you buy in the Duty Free store in the airport.

Another thing to watch for is the presents. Anything that could be considered a weapon must go into the hold - even if it is wrapped. This includes anything from toy guns to water pistols and cricket bats. Also consider gifts containing liquids - such as snow globes - which need to go into the hold. If you're keeping food cold with an ice pack while you fly, then you'll need to put it in the hold too, because ice packs count as liquids.

Why?

It's particularly important that you consider all of this before you get to the airport, because once you have checked in your luggage, if you try to take any of the forbidden items onto the plane in your hand luggage, you will end up being forced to leave it behind in the airport.

It seems like a harsh line to be taking at the festive season, but security experts point out that there have been a number of attacks around Christmas, including the Shoe Bomber's attempt to blow up a plane three days before Christmas in 2001.

And if you do fall foul of the rules, then it may come as some comfort that things could be worse. In 1997 Manchester Airport's baggage scanner system couldn't tell the difference between Christmas puddings and plastic explosives. Apparently it was foxed by the high density of puddings, so thousands of suitcases had to be unpacked and checked at the airport before people were able to fly.

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