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Motivated by the recent question on blankets, I was wondering which ones among the supplies that one gets on a plane I am allowed to take with me. For instance:

  • sleeping mask
  • earplugs
  • earphones
  • cutlery
  • ...

I imagine that some of the cheapest items are simply thrown away at the end of the flight if opened, so if that is the case I would not feel bad in taking them away. I suppose that earplugs are a "yes" and metal cutlery is a "no", but I am unsure where to draw the line in the middle. Especially in the case of the fancier items that one may get in business class (or so I am told --- I have never flown in business on a long-distance flight).

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    According to Wikipedia, "There are over 5000 airlines with ICAO codes." – CGCampbell Oct 25 '17 at 18:33
  • @CGCampbell I don't understand what you mean with this remark. – Federico Poloni Oct 25 '17 at 18:46
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    @FedericoPoloni , what makes you assume that all those 5000 would have agreed on the same policies? The obvious point is it depends on the airline. – Aganju Oct 25 '17 at 18:59
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    Those 5000 airlines are likely to have 4000+ different sets of rules for taking things from planes. – Willeke Oct 25 '17 at 18:59
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    Wouldn't this remark apply to most of the questions tagged aircraft? I don't think they are all pointless questions. (And I think there were clearer and more polite ways to make this remark, by the way.) – Federico Poloni Oct 25 '17 at 19:07
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Simple: Disposable items are yours to keep.. In particular, if there's a little amenity bag with earplugs, sleeping mask, socks etc handed out, the contents are all fair game, and in business class and above these can be quite elaborate (name-brand cosmetics etc). You're also welcome to take the in-flight magazine, and it will often say so on the cover.

In addition, while the airline won't care if you take home food items, on international flights Customs at your destination may object, particularly to fresh fruit etc. Stricter countries like Australia will explicitly instruct you to not bring any food from the plane. Squirreling away any unopened alcohol is also usually against licensing rules, but typically crew open the containers before handing them over.

What's not OK is everything else: blankets, pillows, reusable (metal) cutlery, big bottles from the bathroom, etc. Headphones are a bit of a grey zone, and some airlines are OK with you keeping the really cheap/crappy earbud type, but if there's staff going around collecting them or giving instructions on where to leave them, that's a pretty obvious clue that you should not take them.

  • During my travels I always assumed that whatever the crew doesn't take back at the end of the flight, is yours to keep. Though I have never tried it out except for an earbud type headphones. I have seen crew collect various types headphones at the end of flights. – Newton Oct 25 '17 at 19:37
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    @Newton Sometimes headphones aren't collected, but the airline wants them back, especially in first and business (these are often models that don't work off the plane anyway). Pillows and blankets also may not be collected by the crew, but aren't yours to keep. – Zach Lipton Oct 25 '17 at 19:56
  • Airline magazine in the seat pocket is usually ok to take, unless it says otherwise. not sure about LCCs.. – Nean Der Thal Oct 25 '17 at 20:03

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