Can you take a magnet on a plane is asked quite frequently by passengers who do not wish to fall foul of the security regulations.
The Quick Answer: According to the TSA there are no restrictions on taking magnets with you in either carry on or checked baggage. However, this is not strictly true for very strong magnets as there are some restrictions imposed by the FAA on taking anything with a particularly strong magnetic pull.
See below for details of what types of magnets can be carried.
- 1 Can you take magnets through airport security
- 2 Can you use magnets while on board?
- 3 Can you take magnets in your checked bags?
- 4 Conclusion
- 5 FAQs
Can you take magnets through airport security
The Transportation Security Administration website states that there are no restrictions on taking magnets through a security checkpoint at the airport. They can normally be left in your carry on when the bag goes through the x-ray machine so you do not need to remove them and place them in a tray.
If you have any magnets in your pockets you should remove them and place them in a tray for screening as the airport metal detectors will certainly be set off by any on your person.
As with anything the final decision on what can or cannot be taken through the checkpoint rests with the TSA officer.
The sort of magnets you can definitely take through airport security include:
- magnetic toys
- refrigerator magnets
- a magnetic compass
- a magnetic chessboard
- a magnetic knife rack (but not the knives as these would have to go in checked bags as they are not allowed in carry on bags)
- most other small magnets with relatively low powered magnetic fields
As most magnets, especially fridge magnets etc, are small and light there is really no restriction on the quantity you can take through airport security either.
This is a response from the TSA on Twitter to a passenger’s question can you take fridge magnets on a plane:
Taking strong magnets on a plane
If you intend to take any kind of strong magnet on a plane in either carry on or checked luggage then you should contact the FAA before doing so (perhaps using Twitter – @FAASafetyBrief).
These strong magnets may include:
- industrial magnets
- rare earth magnets which include:
- neodymium magnets
- samarium–cobalt magnets
The FAA state that you cannot take magnets on board an aircraft if the magnet’s magnetic field is more than 0.00525 gauss (measured at 15 feet from any surface of its packaging).
No, that doesn’t mean much to me either, but I guess it may make more sense to anyone planning on taking strong magnets on a plane with them or to a physicist.
Here is the TSA’s response to a passenger can I bring neodymium magnets on a plane:
This is the FAA’s response to another passenger’s question providing the set precise guidelines:
You could also check with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as they also impose rules on which types and strength of magnets can be taken on a plane.
The reason why there is this restriction on the strength of magnets allowed on a plane is that there is a risk that they could cause interference with the navigational equipment of the aircraft. I imagine this risk is lower now than in the past as aircraft no longer rely on magnetic compasses for navigation as navigation is mostly GPS based now.
Can you use magnets while on board?
I can’t think of many instances where you may want to use a magnet on a plane (unless you want to visit the galley and put a magnet on the aircraft’s refrigerator).
I guess if you have a child’s magnetic game with you to keep the child entertained during the flight then maybe that might happen but in any case it wouldn’t be a problem as you can use them on board.
Can you take magnets in your checked bags?
As with many things, even items that are potentially contentious from an airport security point of view, you can often carry in your checked luggage. Magnets are no exception so you can put them in your checked baggage if you are taking any rather than in your carry on.
This is the TSA confirming this, even for this passenger’s inquiry regarding taking rare earth magnets in his checked bags.
You should have no problems taking magnets of most kinds, and in any quantity, with you when traveling in your carry on bag or your checked bag. Have a good and stress free flight.
Can you bring magnetic things on a plane?
All low-powered magnetized material can be taken on a plane, such as a magnetic toy and refrigerator magnet. The exception might be a very strong rare earth magnet or industrial magnet.
Do magnets set off metal detectors?
Magnets are very likely to set off metal detectors, particularly if they are made of magnetized iron or are a neodymium magnet. It would be advisable to place them in a security tray for screening.
Are magnets allowed in check in baggage?
All but the most powerful types of rare earth magnet are allowed in hold bags by the TSA.
Can magnetic eyelashes go through airport security?
You can take magnetic eyelashes through security at the airport although there is a possibility that you may set off the metal detector if you wear them. It may be best to place them in a tray.
I have been traveling around the world by air since the early 70s and living overseas too. I worked for British Airways for a number of years and I am also a private pilot.