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GUIDE: Taking Knife On A Plane (Carry On & Checked Luggage)

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Traveling with knives on a plane is becoming more difficult as stricter security measures are implemented in different countries and across airlines. You must ensure you know the regulations for taking a knife on a plane before you arrive at the airport and risk having your favorite knife confiscated, never to be seen again!

Carrying a knife on a plane on your person or in carry-on luggage is prohibited in most instances. Legal knives are allowed to be packaged securely and packed in your checked luggage to be stowed in the plane’s cargo hold. The TSA’s rules for carrying knives supersede the airline’s travel rules.

The rules for taking a knife or a set of knives on a plane can be like negotiating a minefield. Not only are there general TSA rules that must be considered, but also the rules of the departure and arrival state or country and the rules of the airline itself!

Can You Take Any Knives On A Plane
Can You Take Any Knives On A Plane

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Can You Take Any Knives On A Plane

Many people who do not carry knives on them daily or use knives in their work or hobbies have the mindset, “why do you want to travel with a knife anyway?” Simply leave it at home.

People carry knives for different reasons, some because they like having a readily available useful tool on hand, while others use knives in their hobbies or careers.

Knives are very personal items; people become familiar with their knives and are most comfortable using a knife they know, so no other knife will do!

It is important to know the rules regarding taking knives on a plane before starting your journey!

What Knives Can You Take On A Plane?

Many people think there are regulations on the type and size of a knife that can be carried on a plane, but this is not technically true!

We will take a look at the most common knives that people may want to take on a plane and look at the regulations relating to these knives.

Can You Take Hunting Knives On A Plane?

Avid hunters travel far and wide to hunt a variety of games in different areas, and many take their preferred hunting knives along to process the game they shoot.

Hunters may travel across state lines or internationally to pursue their hunting and may want to take their favorite game processing for the hinting trip. These knives have come to be trusted companions in the field, and the owners may want to take these knives on a plane to their hunting destination.

The good news for hunters is that you can take your knife on a plane for your hunting trip, but you cannot take it in your carry-on luggage. You can take your hunting knife in your checked-in luggage, ensuring it is packaged safely and will not cause harm to baggage handlers.

Can You Take Pocket Knives (Swiss Army Knives) On A Plane?

If you are an average Joe who carries a Swiss army pocket knife in their pocket as an EDC tool, you may put your knife in your pocket out of habit. Many people put these knives in their pockets as part of getting dressed in the morning. 

What are your options if you arrive at an airport for a flight and realize you put your Swiss Army knife in your pocket that morning? 

The biggest problem with pocket knives is the tendency to forget they are in your pocket when you go through the TSA checkpoint. No knives of any sort are allowed to be taken aboard the plane on your person or in your carry-on luggage.

You will be stopped at the TSA checkpoint and not prevented from progressing if you have a knife on you. If you have not checked your checked-in luggage yet, you can remove your pocket knife and place it in your luggage that will be checked in.

Pocket knives are allowed to be taken on board if they are packed in your checked-in luggage that will be stowed in the cargo hold of the aircraft.

If you have already checked your luggage in, you may be in a predicament, and your knife may be confiscated. Confiscated knives are not generally held for the traveler to collect on their return, but they are typically destroyed.

Can You Take Kitchen Knives On A Plane?

Knives are part of the tools of the trade for a chef, and chefs become familiar with their knives and prefer using their own set of knives for their cooking.

For example, a chef with a set of expensive Japanese kitchen knives traveling to another city to cook will want to take their best and most familiar knife set with them. These knives are the ones they are most comfortable using and can affect how they perform their work.

You may not be a professional chef, but you enjoy using good knives in your home kitchen. If you buy a quality set of kitchen knives on a trip, can you take these knives on a plane when you fly home?

Kitchen knives are not allowed in your carry-on luggage but can be packed in your checked-in luggage. Pack the knives safely so that baggage inspectors will not be injured by the knives when they check your bags and so no baggage handlers will be injured transporting your luggage.

TIP: Transporting knives requires some planning which involves the safety of the packer, the transporter, the unpacker, and the knife itself! Check out the complete guide in the article below:
Packing Kitchen Knives For Moving (7 Proven & Safe TIPS)

Taking Knives On A Plane In Checked Luggage

Taking Knives On A Plane In Checked Luggage
Taking Knives On A Plane In Checked Luggage

It is possible to take most knives on a plane in checked luggage, but you must take certain precautions to ensure the knife is packed to prevent injury to any airport or security personnel.

If you do not package your knife correctly and someone is injured, you may find yourself facing a lawsuit!

If you are traveling interstate on your flight, you need to check whether your destination state allows you to have such a knife in your possession.

Certain knives, such as butterfly knives and knives typically associated with crimes or gang activity, may be deemed illegal in certain states.

There is no TSA regulation limiting the type of knife you may pack in your checked baggage, so you can take small knives, swords, or switchblades, but you must check the regulations for your destination to avoid trouble with authorities when you land.

The best way to pack a knife in your checked luggage is to package the knife carefully. If the knife has a sheath, keep the blade in the sheath, wrap the knife in bubble wrap and place it in a hard, puncture-proof case or box.

Can You Bring A Knife In A Checked Bag Internationally

International flights have very similar rules for traveling with a knife as the TSA in the USA. You can take knives of any sort onto a plane as long as it is packaged safely and securely and stored in your luggage that will be stowed in the cargo hold.

You are not allowed to take any knife onto an international flight on your person or in your carry-on luggage. Attempting to do so will result in the knife being confiscated and not being allowed on the plane. 

If you are not willing to lose the knife through confiscation, you must leave the security area and make arrangements for the knife to be picked up by a family member or friend or reschedule your flight, which may have financial consequences.

TIP: Taking a knife on a bus in the United States is not recommended due to the varying rules and regulations. Find out more in the article below:
Complete Guide: Taking Knife on a Bus in the United States

Taking Knives On A Plane In Carry-On

Taking Knives On A Plane In Carry-On
Taking Knives On A Plane In Carry-On

The TSA has banned all knives for carry-on luggage in the United States. You may be boarding an airline for a different country that may allow small knives in carry-on luggage, but the TSA will stop you at the checkpoint and not allow you through.

Even if an airline allows certain items, the TSA regulations supersede the airline’s regulations. Thus, if you are boarding a flight from Europe where the airline may allow you to carry a small pocket knife on your person or carry-on, you can safely carry the knife.

However, when boarding the same European airline from a United States departure point, you must follow the TSA regulations for carrying knives on a plane.

The only knives the TSA allows to be taken aboard a plane on your person or in your carry-on are plastic knives or round pointed butter knives. No other knives or sharp or pointed objects are permitted as carry-on.

How Big Can A Knife Be To Carry On A Plane

You cannot take knives of any size aboard a plane as a carry-on or on your person in the United States. Some international airlines allow small pocket knives with blades less than 2.3-inches or 6cm to be taken aboard, but you will not be allowed to do this departing the United States.

You can take a knife of any size in your checked baggage whether flying in the United States or Internationally. However, it is your responsibility to check whether the knife you are transporting is considered legal to carry at your destination.

TIP: Ocean cruises and river cruises are run by cruise operators that may pose additional restrictions on taking a knife aboard. Find out more in the article below:
GUIDE: Taking A Knife On A Ship (Ocean & River Cruises)

TSA Rules For Knives On Planes

The TSA is a governing body that only has jurisdiction over travel rules in the USA. The TSA stipulates the minimum guidelines for carrying certain items on a plane, including knives. Individual states and airlines can implement stricter measures than the TSA prescribes.

While the TSA does not limit the type of knife or size of knife that you can take on a plane in your checked luggage, certain states do not allow certain types of knives to be carried by the public.

These regulations must be checked for each state you pass through as well as your departure and destination state.

Flying internationally also has implications since the TSA rules are irrelevant to your destination country. As soon as you land at your destination, that country’s rules regarding items that can be brought through customs will apply.

Rules For Different Airlines

Airlines in the United States can enforce stricter rules for their flights than those imposed by the TSA, but they are not allowed to relax any of the TSA’s laid-down minimum rules.

Some international airlines have less strict rules for carrying knives, especially small pocket knives, as carry-on. However, when these flights leave the USA, they must comply with the minimum rules stipulated by the TSA.

The table below shows the rules for knives on different airlines.

AirlineKnives In Carry-onKnives in Checked Baggage
SouthwestProhibitedKnives, dress sabers, pocket knives, and swords are allowed.
DeltaProhibitedKnives and scissors are allowed in checked baggage only
JetblueProhibitedAll knives are allowed in checked luggage.
KLMKnives with a blade less than 2.3-inches or 6cm are allowed.Knives with blades longer than 2.3-inches or 6cm must be placed in checked luggage.
LufthansaProhibitedAllowed in checked baggage
Virgin AirlinesProhibitedAllowed in checked luggage
British AirwaysProhibitedAllowed in checked luggage
WestjetProhibitedAllowed in checked baggage
EmiratesKnives with blades less than 2.3-inches or 6cm are permitted.Knives with blades of more than 6 cm or 2.3-inches can be stowed in checked baggage.
Qatar AirlinesProhibitedAllowed in checked luggage
United AirlinesProhibitedAllowed in checked luggage
American AirlinesProhibitedAllowed in checked luggage
Rules For Knives On Different Airlines

The trend that can be seen from this table is that all airlines allow knives to be transported in checked luggage, and the majority prohibit knives as carry-on.

What Happens When TSA Finds A Knife?

If you are stopped at a TSA checkpoint and a knife is found in your carry-on luggage or on your person, there are several possible results.

  • You could be arrested. You may be arrested and charged with an offense if the knife is not legal to carry in that state.
  • Place the knife in a checked bag. The TSA agent may allow you to pack the knife in your checked luggage to transport it in the cargo hold of the plane.
  • Give the knife to someone seeing you off at the airport. If a friend or relative drops you off at the airport and is seeing you off, you can give the knife to them for safekeeping until your return.
  • Ship the knife. Most airports have courier or shipping services. You can approach one of these companies and ship the knife to your destination or your home.
  • Leave your knife in your car. If you drive to the airport, take your knife back to your car and lock it in your car, where it will be safe until you return.

TIP: Traveling with a knife on any public transport can be a complicated affair and train travel in the United States is no different. Find out more in the article below:
Complete Guide: Taking Knife On A Train In The United States

How To Get A Knife On A Plane

There is only one method to get a knife on a plane, which is to do it legally, as stipulated by the TSA or the airline you are using to travel.

The best way to travel with a knife on a plane is to package the knife correctly in your checked luggage and declare to the TSA that you have a knife in your bag.

Packaging the knife to prevent injury and warning the TSA agent that there is a sharp object in your bag will prevent injury if your bag is searched.

Trying to sneak a knife aboard on your person or in your carry-on is not a good idea and can result in facing legal action or arrest.

Conclusion

The rules put in place for traveling with knives and other potentially dangerous items on a plane are there for your safety and the safety of all travelers and the staff at the airport.

Planning ahead to travel with your knives safely packed in checked luggage is best for knife owners when traveling by air.

TIP: Choosing the right kitchen knives will give you the best use of the knives and the best value for the price. Find out the complete guide on buying kitchen knives in the article below:
Buyer’s Guide: How To Choose The Best Kitchen Knife For You

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Sharpy_-_Stainless_knives