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Mother's day in my family always involves a bouquet of balloons. Mom wanted to take the balloons we gave her home on the plane but in this hyper security aware atmosphere we doubted it was possible.

Getting them through security checkpoints would be a hassle at best. As carry on's they'd fit overhead but likely wouldn't play well with other luggage.

We considered checking them but doubts ranged from air pressure changes to the baggage handler getting across the tarmac without accidently causing an air space violation.

The most practical solution is of course to just buy Mom more balloons when she returns home but Mom is sentimental.

Is there any guidance for this or was Mom crazy for even thinking we could do it?

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    Inflated I presume? I'd be worried about them bursting as cabin pressure drops, but I don't think there are any rules against it. Where are you trying to fly? – CMaster May 11 '16 at 8:07
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    loks like MTS removed the tag for those they felt were more relevant. Also, "Domestic" wouldn't tell me which country it was domestic within. – CMaster May 11 '16 at 8:12
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    Would security allow, considering you can inflate the balloons with poisonous gases or something which might cause harm if it burst ? – DumbCoder May 11 '16 at 8:13
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    what a great question! one issue is a balloon bouquet is plain too big on length/width for cabin baggage. I'm very sure your Mom will understand that it would be impractical on an airplane (think og the hassles for her, too, even if "legal"). – Fattie May 11 '16 at 14:39
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    Note that the cabin and cargo hold on almost all planes are at the same pressure, so checked vs unchecked isn't an issue from a pressure point of view. – David Richerby May 11 '16 at 17:30
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The TSA Can I Bring?, impressively, has entries for both Balloons (inflated) and Balloon (uninflated).

For Balloon (inflated) it says:

You may transport this items in carry-on or 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.

So airport security won't stop you. I can see the airline having some concerns however - one is that a bouqet of balloons is probably bigger than your carry-on allowance, especially if your mother is attempting to take carry on luggage as well. Of course, some airlines largley ignore these rules.

The other concern may be about the balloons popping and disrupting other passengers as the cabin pressure drops. You mention "lighter than air" in your question though, implying these are probably helium-filled balloons. If they are of the "foil" type, then I imagine those are a bit stronger. If plastic/latex, then the pressure change may just cause a faster leak rate than normal, rather than popping.

Anyway, it seems your mother shouldn't get in any trouble for trying it - just don't try it if someone at a later point asking to take them away will cause too much upset.

In the event that your mother does take the balloon onboard with her, and is unable/unwilling to stow them in the overhead lockers, she should probably be aware of the somewhat counterintuitive physics of lighter-than-air objects in a moving vehicle, when attempting to keep control of them.

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    What do the EU regulations say about balloons? Let's make this a general question to avoid near-duplicates asking about other non-US flights. – JoErNanO May 11 '16 at 15:30

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