Tweezers and other sharp items fall under the TSA airport security rules which govern carrying any sharp object that might potentially be used as a weapon. These rules are, quite understandably, quite strict.
TSA knives rules state that you cannot bring a pocket knife in carry on baggage so it should be packed in your checked baggage if you need to take it with you. Only plastic or round-bladed butter knives are permitted in carry on bags.
Also, if you are putting things such as knives in your checked bags please do the same so that they cannot end up poking through your luggage and injuring a baggage handler.
Can you take a pocket knife through airport security
You are not permitted to take a pocket knife through a security checkpoint at the airport in either your carry on baggage or on your person in your pocket. It makes no difference whether it is a small pocket knife or if it has small blades or not.
If you leave a pocket knife in your hand luggage when it goes through the x-ray machine then you can be sure that the security officer operating the machine will spot it. Your bag will then be put aside for extra screening and the pocket knife will be confiscated when it is found.
Likewise, if you leave it in your pocket then it will set off the metal detecting machine when you walk through it. You will then be pulled aside for further checking using a metal detecting wand and probably a pat down. When the knife is found it will be confiscated and you will probably be taken to be screened in a full-body scanner.
The final decision rests with the TSA officer about whether you can take anything with you.
The Transportation Security Administration sharp objects rules are very strictly enforced.
This is a quote from a TSA newsletter:
“If we had a nickel for every knife we see in a carry-on bag, well, we’d all be retired and off living on some beautiful island by now. Only butter knives without serrated edges are good to travel in your carry-on luggage. Let’s be as clear as we can possibly be: Sharp knives including pocket butterfly knives cannot go in your carry-on. If you’re travelling with any sharp items, please securely wrap them and pack them in your checked bag.”
You are permitted to take a plastic knife, plastic butter knife or a round-bladed butter knife through security but I have no idea why someone would feel the need to take a butter knife with them on a trip.
British airport security allows knives with blades shorter than 4 inches (6cm) which is surprising as it is illegal to carry a knife in the UK with a blade longer than 3 inches. The TSA regulations were relaxed on smaller knives for a while but then reinstated.
The TSA offer a very good service on Twitter and Facebook where you can ask a specific question about whether you can take something through the security checkpoint and they will respond quickly.
This is an example response to a passenger’s question regarding carrying a small pocket knife:
Can you bring a pocket knife on a plane in carry on luggage?
The TSA does not allow pocket knives in hand luggage at all. This is the current regulation on the TSA website relating to knives.
This applies to taking small knives onboard or pen knives, Swiss army knives, leatherman, modeling knives, kitchen knives, throwing stars, box cutters and even scissors with a blade longer than 6 cms from the pivot point.
You are allowed to carry plastic or round-bladed butter knives in your carry on – but again, why would you want to?
If in doubt pack it in your checked luggage.
Can you bring pocket knives in your checked baggage?
As with many things, even items that are potentially contentious from an airport security point of view, you can often carry in your checked baggage. Pocket knives are no exception so you should put them in your checked luggage should you need to take any with you.
Please spare a thought for the baggage handlers. If you pack knives in your checked baggage then make sure they are either in a sheath or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors.
This is the TSA confirming via their #AskTSA service on Twitter that a pocket knife can be packed in a checked bag:
Can you take pocket knives on an international flight?
The same rules apply to where you can bring knives, including pocket knives, on international flights as they do on international flights. So they must be packed on checked baggage.
In addition, you must also take into consideration whether a particular type of pocket knife is allowed under the knife laws of the county you are visiting.
For example, in the UK, flick knives (switchblades) are totally banned along with butterfly knives, zombie knives, belt buckle knives and some other knives.
Can you retrieve a confiscated knife later?
If you have a pocket knife confiscated (or any other item) there is no way of retrieving it, as this passenger found out:
What sharp objects can you bring in carry on?
You are permitted to take the following sharp objects through airport security in carry on baggage:
- Scissors (the blades must be less than 4 inches from the pivot point)
- nail clippers
- tweezers (see Can you take tweezers on a plane)
- knitting needles (See Can you take knitting needles on a plane)
- crochet hooks (See Can you take crochet hooks on a plane)
- bottle opener
Can you take a Swiss Army Knife on a plane?
Do you have to declare knives in checked luggage?
Generally you do not have to declare if you have knives in your checked luggage, even if traveling internationally. However, you cannot pack illegal knives.
What knives are TSA approved?
There are no such things as TSA approved knives, with the exception of plastic and butter knives which are allowed rather than approved.
I am a chef so can I take my kitchen knives in my carry on?
No matter what your profession, you cannot take knives in your carry on. They must be packed in checked luggage. You should ensure the knives are sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers.