Dealing with the TSA and knives when you fly
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has plenty of rules when it comes to what you can and cannot bring on a plane. Some of them are head-scratchers, but when it comes to knives and other sharp objects, the rules are pretty straightforward. If you want to bring a knife, or even anything that sort of looks like a knife, it's probably going to have to go in your checked luggage.
TSA Knife Rules
For just about any sharp object, the rule is the same: It can go on the plane, but it has to be sheathed and securely wrapped in your checked luggage, never on your person or in your carry-on. That goes for knives of all shapes and sizes, along with axes, saws, swords, machetes and pretty much anything else with a blade or a point.
The same rules apply to kitchen knives–from steak knives to cleavers. The only significant exception is butter knives; these are allowed in the airplane cabin if they have a rounded tip or are made of plastic.
In 2013, the TSA came close to allowing small knives on planes again, but backpedaled after the move met widespread opposition. As a result, even tiny knives must be packed in your checked luggage. This includes pocket knives, Swiss army knives, multi-tools with knives attached to them, razor blades, box cutters and just about any other type of blade.
Sharp Objects in Your Carry-On
While knives are strictly off-limits, a select few sharp objects are permitted in your carry-on bag. These are limited to items that could pose no significant threat to your fellow passengers, such as:
- Crochet hooks
- Disposable razors
- Knitting needles
- Nail clippers
- Needles needed for medical purposes
- Pencil sharpeners
- Safety razors without the blade
- Scissors not longer than 4 inches
Even fake knives can be packed only in your checked luggage. The TSA doesn't make exceptions, whether for a plastic knife from a Halloween costume or for a foam rubber sword. If it remotely resembles a weapon, it will not be allowed in the cabin of the airplane.