I've only ever sent items by air in suitcases accompanying me in passenger flights. But - I'm about to send some items on a cargo-only flight in a few days. I've been told:

Make sure that there are no dangerous goods in the shipment please (batteries, aerosols, perfume etc.)

while on passenger flights, you can definitely have batteries, aerosols and perfume in your hold luggage. You can even have that in the cabin under certain limitations.

So, my question is: What is the specification of which materials are forbidden for air transport in cargo flights as opposed to passenger flights? And is there a globally-accepted standard for this, or is it airline-by-airline?

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    $\begingroup$ You cannot have Li-on in your hold luggage. $\endgroup$
    – vasin1987
    Jun 16, 2018 at 12:18
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    $\begingroup$ It is generally frowned upon tho ship people on cargo flights though I'm not sure that it is forbidden. $\endgroup$
    – acpilot
    Jun 16, 2018 at 22:03
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    $\begingroup$ @acpilot: When I wrote "items" I wasn't talking about people... :-) $\endgroup$
    – einpoklum
    Jun 16, 2018 at 22:29
  • $\begingroup$ Lithium-metal batteries are prohibited, full stop, in any form, on cargo flights, but are permitted inside personal electronic devices on passenger flights (for instance, the little coin cell in your laptop that lets it remember its CMOS settings, what day and time it is, that sort of stuff). $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Feb 17, 2019 at 4:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Sean Lithium metal batteries contained in a device are fine in cargo aircraft. When shipped by themselves, not in a device the packaging requires pre-approval, but they can be shipped on cargo flights. $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Feb 17, 2019 at 5:24

1 Answer 1


I don't know of anything that is prohibited on a cargo flight but not on a passenger flight. There are some things that are the other way around.

On a cargo flight you must declare any dangerous goods and usually pay a DG surcharge. Certain types of DG require seperation from other types. Some need to be segregated into a container that is accessible to the crew in an emergency or has a fire-suppression equipment.

Each country has its own laws as to what is acceptible and the proper documentation required. And each company will have their own set of rules. At my employer we use the slightly more stringent IATA guidelines. This ensures compliance with each country.

The passenger airlines are also required to follow these rules. Passenger luggage is contained in class C cargo holds which are required (at least in the US) to have a fire suppression system as well as a smoke detection system. In an all-cargo aircraft much of the plane is a class E hold, which must have smoke detection, but not a fire suppression system. Therefore certain types of DG have to be segregated into a class B or C area.

So, you can carry perfume in your luggage because the holds on a passenger plane are all class C, where there is fire suppression. But if you send a box of perfume in a cargo flight without declaring it, then it will most likely be loaded in a class E hold where it won't be compliant.

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    $\begingroup$ @Sean Perfume almost always contain volatile solvents, therefore they are a flammable liquid. To install fire suppression equipment for the entire upper deck of a large cargo plane would involve a lot of piping and suppression chemical. So lots of cost and weight. Additionally it would have a limited effectiveness due to such a large space. Generally halon is used to snuff flames, but a huge area would require a very large amount of it. Since there aren't a large number of people susceptible to the effects of a fire they leave more leeway for the operators. $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Jun 17, 2018 at 0:29
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    $\begingroup$ Did you mean "Class E" instead of "Class F" here, or has FedEx gone to Class F for all their main deck cargo (what with per-ULD fire containment/suppression and all)? $\endgroup$ Jun 17, 2018 at 4:39
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    $\begingroup$ @UnrecognizedFallingObject I did mean class E. Thanks. I think the HazMat cans might be considered class F, but I'm not sure. They have their own fire suppression system separate from the rest of the cans. But they're always loaded in the front, right behind the net, so they might be class B. $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Jun 17, 2018 at 6:52
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    $\begingroup$ @TomMcW -- ah. it's still a class E then -- the designation applies to the hold as a whole. $\endgroup$ Jun 17, 2018 at 7:27
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    $\begingroup$ Also -- fire suppression in Class E holds is accomplished through depressurization of the hold (although that's not always workable) $\endgroup$ Jun 17, 2018 at 7:27

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