a VirtualTourist member asked on Nov 26, 2015
Hi, can I take wax candles(tealights) in my hand luggage? (Heathrow to Sri Lanka). I have a box of 200 and dont want to put them in check in bags as Im trying to save my weight allowance. I really dont want them taken off me going through security.
Many thanks in advance
I would be very surprised indeed if candles fell foul of the liquids/gels rule (where you are flying *to* is irrelevant) but no-one here will be able to tell you for 100% certain, not even people who have successfully passed through Heathrow or other UK security with tealights in the past. Everything depends on the security official who deals with you on the day.
It is, imo, quite possible that the tealights will set off the scanner so your bag will be searched. That happened to a lady in front of me who was taking Cheddar cheese to friends abroad. Apparently the consistency of Cheddar (and possibly tealights) is very similar to that of plastic explosives and thus required investigation. But she didn't have the Cheddar taken off her and I very much doubt you'll have your tealights taken off you.
And if the worst comes to the worst and you do lose your tealights, it is possible that you'll be able to buy more airside....and I'm certain they're available in Sri Lanka. :-)
The American TSA says this about "glass jar candles" (the fact that tea candles probably have a metal container I don't think is relevant):
"You may transport this item in carry-on baggage or in checked baggage. For items you wish to carry-on, you should check with the airline to ensure that the item will fit in the overhead bin or underneath the seat of the airplane.
To help officers get a clear look at your bag and reduce the need for additional screening, we suggest you pack your bag in neat layers (layer of clothes, layer of electronics, layer of clothes, layer of shoes, etc.) and wrap cords tightly around electronics items.
Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns. The final decision rests with TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane."
But note two things: (1) what leics says about it's up to the screening officer is true, and (2) screening at Heathrow isn't the same as in the US (even though it ought to be). The Official Spousal Unit once had metal knitting needles taken away from her at Heathrow even after I had specifically called the airline in the US and had cleared TSA screening on the way to London. More stupidly, at Heathrow, they left her with the plastic knitting needles, which could still put an eye out...
Note that the Heathrow website says the following: "You can take solid cosmetics, such as standard lipsticks or stick deodorants, in your hand baggage." I quote this because the consistency of stick deodorants is quite similar to wax candles. If it comes up, ask for a supervisor to decide if wax candles aren't like stick deodorants, which are OK to carry onboard.
But in the final analysis, screening can be arbitrary and capricious, and all you can do is not let unduly upset you...
>screening at Heathrow isn't the same as in the US (even though it ought to be)
The basics are the same (that's the 'ought' bit) but the interpretation of those basics does vary according to the officer on duty and, to some extent, the airport concerned.
There is no issue with tealights or candles as such but, as I said, their consistency is likely to trigger a bag search. That's no big deal (and doesn't take very long) and imo it's highly unlikely you'll have the tealights taken once they have been shown to be made of wax. But there are never any guarantees with security, anywhere.
The knitting needle incident must have been some time ago, Bill, when that aspect of security was tighter? The Heathrow website specifically mentions that they are allowed in cabin baggage.
Thanks [VT member 93f85], I'm just gonna go for it and take them!
I bet it will be fine...but could you come back after your hol and tell us what happened? That would be really useful info for future questions. :-)
Yes, the knitting needles was a while ago...but it did seem pointless, as the metal needles were just as dull as the plastic ones...probably, there was no firm rule at that point so he just made it up...he was rather snarky about the whole thing...not a good intro to the UK, which, of course, I had visited several times before......
Yes, sometimes individual officials can be snarky, Anywhere, including the US. I do a lot of observing, and it's always interesting. But I am always politeness personified when dealing with any officials in all circumstances and have never encountered anything except courtesy in return. :-)
Surely, J, you do not mean to imply that I was not "politeness personified". In this case, when he started to take the metal needles, I, puzzled, politely pointed out that I had called the American Airlines Platinum desk and told them where I was going, and they had assured me that it was all right. He rudely said, "You're not in America any more," which of course, I knew, having been to far more foreign countries that he ever had...No, he was just in a mood to be rude to a visitor, or maybe he had just been reprimanded by his boss or whatever. You know, I've been to airports that actually post what is allowed (this helped in Boston when I was carrying home empty wine bottles - they looked at the list on the wall and determined that "empty" wine bottles were no problem)...but this guy wasn't interested in explaining anything or simple courtesy...my only excuse for him is that somebody else had just given him a hard time and he took it out on us...it can't be predicted, no matter how polite you are...
Nonono, Bill. I didn't mean to imply that at all! Sorry if it read that way. :-(
Like all the airports I've used, Heathrow has posters about what is/is not allowed before security, but the posters don't list all the things which will set off the scanner/look suspicious on the x-ray and thus result in the bag being checked.