Why Are Nail Clippers Banned from Planes?



When I started flying as a passenger, admittedly many years ago, there was no such thing as airport security checkpoints. You just showed your boarding card and then off to the plane.

You didn’t have to worry whether you could take nail clippers or other seemingly harmless items with you as you do today, sadly.

Just like other sharp items that might possibly be used as a weapon, nail clippers are covered under the TSA rules which govern carrying any sharp object.

These rules are, understandably, quite strict and at times of heightened security might be more rigorously imposed than at others.

Can You Bring Nail Clippers on a Plane

The Quick Answer: Why are nail clippers banned from planes? Actually they aren’t. Stupidly, they were for a while after 9-11 but no longer. The TSA sharp object rules state that you can bring nail clippers on a plane in carry on baggage or in checked bags. Any of the different types of nail clippers are allowed on board with you in the cabin.


Can you take nail clippers through airport security

You are permitted to take nail clippers through a security checkpoint at the airport in your hand luggage or your purse.

You can leave nail clippers in your hand luggage when they go through the x-ray machine without putting them in a separate tray. If a security officer wants to examine them in closer detail then your bag may be put aside for extra security screening.

Likewise, if you leave nail clippers in your pocket then they will set off the metal-detecting machine when you walk through it.

You will then be pulled aside for further checking by the TSA agent using a metal-detecting wand and probably a pat down. When the scissors are found they will be confiscated if too large and you will probably be taken to be screened in a full-body scanner.

The Transportation Security Administration sharp object rules are very strictly enforced.

The final decision and interpretation of TSA nail clippers rules rest with the TSA officer about whether you can take anything with you. It isn’t impossible that they may confiscate something which you often take through without a problem. Different TSA officers can have different interpretations of the rules.

The TSA states that if you have nail clippers then, like any sharp object, they should be sheathed or wrapped securely in your luggage to prevent injury to luggage handlers and inspectors if they were to search your bag.

For up to the minute information you can check the rules on the TSA website or the UK website.

Ridiculously, immediately after 911 and for a few years afterward, airport security was so strict that nail clippers and many other small sharp items were banned and could not be taken through the security checkpoint. Fortunately these rules were relaxed in 2005. You can read an interview with a director of TSA about this back in 2005 – Previously Banned Items Now Allowed on Planes.

The TSA offers 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 answer to a passenger’s question regarding carrying nail clippers in carry on luggage:

tsa nail clippers

Can you bring nail clippers in carry on luggage?

As stated above, you can take fingernail clippers on a plane through the security checkpoint in carry on luggage.

You may also be able to purchase nail clippers in airport stores after you pass through the security checkpoint.

If you won’t need them while waiting for your flight or while onboard then save some space and weight in your cabin bag by packing them in your checked luggage.

Can you use nail clippers on a flight?

As you are permitted to take them onboard by the sharp object rules then you can also use the nail clippers during the flight.

There are no specific rules that state you can or cannot actually use them on board. However, while it might be acceptable to use a pair to cut a broken nail I would suggest that sitting in your seat clipping your nails, with the pieces of fingernail flying around, would be totally unacceptable to other passengers.

Can you bring nail clippers in your checked baggage?

Fingernail clippers of any size can be packed in your checked luggage should you need to take them with you on a trip.

If you pack any object in your checked bags that might cause injury if it was to poke through, including clippers (particularly with a fold-out nail file) and nail scissors then you must make sure they are securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors.

This is the TSA confirming via their #AskTSA service on Twitter that they can be packed in a checked bag:

can i take fingernail clippers on a plane

Can you bring a nail file on a plane?

TSA rules state that you can bring nail files in your carry on bag or in your checked luggage and this also applies to nail clippers with file attached. They also say that “Any sharp objects in checked bags should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors.”

can you bring a nail file on a plane

Can you take nail clippers on a plane internationally?

The same rules apply to whether you can bring a nail clipper on an international flight as they do when flying on a domestic flight as I can find no overseas authorities or any airline in the world that prohibit them. So they can be packed in cabin bags or in checked luggage.

Can you carry other manicure tools and products?

Can you carry other manicure tools and products?

As stated above you can also take nail files in carry on or checked bags. In addition, you can take other nail tools such as small nail scissors, emery boards, nail cleaners, tweezers, cuticle pushers and cuticle cutters.

Other items used in nail care are slightly more complicated as they tend to be liquids:

  • You can take nail polish in hand luggage provided it is smaller than 3.4 ounces (100ml) but as most are smaller than that it often isn’t an issue. Read more on my post Can you take nail polish on a plane?
  • Nail glue to stick your false nails on is also permitted but with the same liquid size restrictions as nail polish above. Read more in my post Can you bring nail glue on a plane?
  • As well as these you can bring nail polish remover too but as this is often in larger containers than 3.4 ounces then it is probably best carried in your checked baggage. You can bring nail polish remover wipes in any quantity in the cabin with you.

I can find no reference to taking larger toenail nippers (clippers) on a plane so it is safe to assume these are also permitted.

What sharp objects can you bring in carry on?

You are permitted to take the following sharp objects through security at the airport in carry on baggage:

Knives (including swiss army knives), pocket knives, straight razors, safety razors or spare blades are not allowed in your carry on bag but they can be packed in a checked bag.

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