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Olympics Bound? Beware of Carry-On Restrictions


Your bags are packed, your binoculars are polished, and your temperature is rising, a sure sign of Olympic fever. But Canada’s current carry-on baggage restrictions on flights to the U.S. mean that you’ll need to pack light and smart to not run into problems on the way home.

As a result of the attempted attack on Christmas Day, Canada instituted a one-carry-on policy on all flights to the U.S. And that presents a particular challenge, particularly for travelers who don’t want to check baggage.

Carry-ons include large purses or bags, suitcases, large laptop bags (see below for details about what constitutes large). So what doesn’t count as a carry-on? The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority has the full list, but here are some of the things you can take onboard in addition to a carry-on:

  • Little things: Eyeglasses, cell phones that fit in your pocket, wallets, mp3 players, e-books, newspapers, hats, jackets, travel pillows, small snacks, stuffed animals, prescription meds
  • Pets: Airline-approved pets in carrying cases.
  • Small purses: Purses/pouches/man bags/etc. smaller than 10 inches by 12 inches by 5 ½ inches. Anything larger than that counts as your one carry-on.
  • Laptop bags: “Regular” laptop bags, those over-the-shoulder jobbies, are exempt from carry-on status, but anything larger than that, say, for instance, a rolling laptop bag.
  • Medical devices: Crutches, canes, walkers, and other medically necessary devices won’t count as your one carry-on.
  • Other: Musical instruments and cameras (still and video) in “purpose-designed carrying cases.”

The carry-on restrictions are only part of what you need to consider for your return journey to the U.S. If you’re flying home, you’ll need a U.S. passport, and if you’re driving or cruising, you’ll need an approved form of enhanced identification. Read the Headed to the Olympics? Not Without a Passport blog post for details.

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