Many people in the US, particularly women, feel safer if they can take a self defense spray with them to use should they be attacked. But if you are traveling by air, particularly overseas, can you take your pepper spray on a plane with you?
The TSA and the FAA do not permit pepper spray or any other kind of self defense spray to be taken through an airport security checkpoint in carry on bags. One can of pepper spray per passenger, no larger than 4 fluid ounces, can be packed in checked baggage.
All of the rules and regulations regarding taking self defense sprays on a plane can be found below.
Can you take pepper spray through airport security
It should really be no surprise to people that you cannot take pepper spray on a plane or through airport security. But incredibly it is not only a question that the TSA is asked many times but also that so many people actually put these in their carry on bags – and are surprised when they are confiscated.
So if you want to have a pepper spray at your destination do not put it in your carry on, purse or pocket. Under no circumstances will the TSA allow you to take it through the airport security checkpoint.
Unfortunately pepper sprays are sometimes missed in a passengers hand luggage by airport security so still end up in the cabin. In February 2021 a United Airlines flight Newark from Florida had to return to the terminal as a passenger accidentally discharged their pepper spray in the cabin while it was taxiing. It was lucky the aircraft hadn’t yet taken off. Article in Travelpulse.
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 pepper spray on a plane in a carry on bag:
This person asked if her daughter could take pepper spray in her checked baggage:
The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) have a “Pack Safe” policy which specifically details which self defense sprays can be carried on aircraft in checked bags which specifies the following:
- Only one self defense spray (including taking pepper spray on a plane) is allowed in checked bags per passenger
- A self defense spray cannot exceed 4 fluid ounces (118 ml)
- Self defense spays containing tear gas cannot exceed more than 2% of CS or CN
- Pepper spray and other self defense sprays must have a way of ensuring that spray will not be accidentally discharged when packed, for example a cap that fits over the firing mechanism)
Can you take pepper spray in carry on?
Since you cannot take pepper spray or any other type of self defense spray, including mace, pava and cs, through airport security (and they will have been confiscated if you tried) then it follows that you cannot take pepper spray on a plane in your carry on bags either.
You will not be able to purchase pepper spray in any of the stores at the airport after passing through the airport security checkpoint either as they are not permitted to sell them.
Can you take pepper spray in checked bags?
As with many things, even items which are potentially contentious from an airport security point of view, you can often packed them in your checked bags as you will have no access to them during the flight. Pepper spray is no exception so you can put it in your checked bag or bags if you are taking any.
There are still some restrictions though which are that only one can per passenger, which is less than 4 ounces and containing no more than 2% CS or other active ingredients, are are permitted. Also the spray can must be protected from accidental activation while in your baggage by a lid or some other device.
Do airlines allow pepper spray on flights?
Although most airlines follow the TSA rules regarding self defense sprays, occasionally they operate their own, much stricter, rules.
A few domestic US airlines will not allow any form of self defense spray or any other kind of weapon to be carried in checked bags (and obviously not in carry on bags either). I am not sure how they enforce these rules though since it is not the airlines which scan checked bags but the TSA, who will obviously follow their own rules.
American Airlines for example are one of the airlines which do not permit any kind of defensive spray to be carried – American Airlines Restricted Airlines
Many international airlines would not permit self defense sprays to be taken on a flight in either carry on or checked bags, where they are illegal to be carried in their country. See next section.
Can you take pepper spray on an international flight?
In many countries of the world, the United Kingdom for example, carrying a self defense spray in public is illegal as it is considered a form of firearm. I was a police officer in the UK for 10 years and although I was permitted to carry a Pava spray (a type of pepper spray) I had to undergo regular training to be granted a license to carry it in public when on duty.
Before you pack a pepper spray in your suitcase you should therefore check to see if they are permitted in the country or countries you will be visiting.
Just because these may be allowed to be carried on your person for protection in the US don’t assume it is the same in other parts of the world.
Mace, the company which manufacturers many self defense sprays, has an article detailing the regulations for whether or not they can be carried in public in various European counties including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Holland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom – EU pepper spray laws.
The British government site under its article hand luggage restrictions – chemicals and toxic substances states that “Self defence or disabling sprays (for example mace, pepper spray)” cannot be taken on board as hand luggage or in the hold.
If you are in any doubt then leave the pepper spray at home.
Do not attempt to take pepper spray in the cabin with you in your carry on bag, purse or your pocket.
If you do, it will be confiscated. If you really do feel the need to have one at your destination then put it in your checked baggage.
Have a good and stress free flight.
Can you take a taser on an airplane?
The same restrictions apply to a taser as apply to pepper spray. TSA regulations will only permit a taser to be carried in checked baggage and definitely not in carry on or on your person.
Does pepper spray count as a weapon?
The simple answer is yes – because it is a weapon, albeit one which most carry for self defense, but it can also be used to attack. There are few countries in the “civilized” world that would not consider it as such.
Is pepper spray the same as mace?
Yes, it is effectively the same as mace is the brand name of an early pepper spray.
Can you travel internationally with pepper spray?
You can only travel internationally with pepper spray if it is permitted to be carried in public in the country or countries you are visiting. They cannot be carried in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden for example.