Many people in the US, particularly women, feel safer if they can bring pepper sprays with them to use should they be attacked. But if you are traveling by air, particularly overseas, can you bring pepper spray on a plane with you?
The TSA and the FAA do not permit passengers to bring pepper spray or any other kind of self-defense spray through a security checkpoint in carry-on bags. One container of pepper spray per passenger, no larger than 4 fluid ounces, can be packed in checked baggage.
All of the regulations regarding taking pepper spray with you on a plane can be found below.
Can you bring pepper spray through airport security
It should really be no surprise to people that you cannot take mace or pepper spray on a plane or through the security checkpoint. 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 then surprised when they are confiscated by security.
So if you want to have 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 security checkpoint.
Unfortunately, pepper spray can sometimes be missed in a passenger’s hand luggage by airport security so can 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 offers a very good service on Twitter and Facebook where you can ask a specific question about Tsa pepper spray rules or whether you can take something else 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 luggage:
This person asked if her daughter could bring pepper spray in her checked luggage:
FAA rregulations regarding carrying pepper spray
The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) have a “Pack Safe” policy which specifically details which types of spray used for defence can be carried on aircraft in checked bags which specifies the following:
- Only one defense spray (including taking pepper spray on a plane) is allowed in checked luggage 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 bring 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 bring pepper spray on a plane in your carry on bag either.
You will not be able to purchase pepper spray in any of the stores at the airport after passing through the security checkpoint either as they are not permitted to sell them.
Can you bring pepper spray in checked luggage?
As with many things, even items that are potentially contentious from a security point of view, are often permitted in checked baggage as you will have no access to them during the flight.
Pepper spray, mace, tear gas, cs or cn, etc are no exception so you can bring pepper spray in checked baggage if you wish.
There are still some restrictions though which are that:
- only one spray can per passenger is permitted
- it must be in one 4 fl oz (118 ml) container or smaller
- must contain no more than 2 percent by mass of tear gas
- the spray can must be protected for accidental discharge while in your baggage by being equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge or some other device.
Do airlines allow pepper spray on flights?
Although when it comes to pepper spray airlines largely follow the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules regarding bringing pepper spray and other self-defense sprays, occasionally they operate their own, much stricter, rules.
A few domestic US airlines will not allow passengers to carry pepper spray or any other kind of spray or weapon to be carried in checked baggage (and obviously not in carry-on baggage either).
I am not sure how they enforce these rules though since it is not the airlines that 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 Items. Also Southwest Airlines prohibits self defense sprays of all kinds in both carry on and checked bags.
Many international airlines would not permit passengers to carry pepper spray on a flight in either cabin baggage or checked luggage, where they are illegal to be carried in their country. See next section.
Can you take any self defense sprays on a plane?
The same rules that apply to pepper sprays also apply to other forms of spray that are used for self-defense.
In other words, you cannot take it in hand luggage, only one spray is allowed in checked bags provided it does not exceed 4 fluid ounces (118 ml), if it has no more than 2% CS or CN and the mechanism that prevents accidental discharge is properly fitted.
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 or any form of self-defense weapon in public is illegal as it is considered a form of firearm.
In fact, I was a police officer (a Special Constable) 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, and then only when on duty.
Before you pack mace or 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 manufactures many such sprays, has an article detailing the regulations for whether or not they can be carried by citizens or visitors in public in various European counties.
These countries include:
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
Mace website – EU pepper spray laws.
The British government site in its article hand luggage restrictions – chemicals and toxic substances states that “Self defense or disabling sprays (for example mace, pepper spray)” cannot be taken on board as hand luggage or in checked baggage. This is no surprise really since it is illegal to carry pepper spray or any other type of spray used for defense in the UK.
If you are in any doubt about bringing pepper spray then leave it at home.
Why is pepper spray banned on planes?
The reason why they do not allow pepper spray through the security checkpoint is pretty obvious to most people but not to all.
Some argue that they should be allowed to carry pepper spray or some form of tear gas in hand luggage in case there is a terrorist attack. But if you allow these then potential terrorists can also take it on board!
Occasionally TSA agents have missed pepper spray in bags and on at least one occasion this caused a problem.
For example, a can of pepper spray was discharged in the cabin on a United flight to Newark, NJ when the safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge was not correctly used. Unsurprisingly, that caused breathing difficulties for many passengers.
Can you bring bear spray on a plane?
Bear spray is not permitted to be taken onboad an aircraft at all, either in hand luggage or in checked bags. If you do take pepper spray TSA agents will confiscate it (and you will not get it back).
You are advised to buy some at your destination if you are traveling anywhere where bear spray may be needed for your personal safety.
Hopefully we have answered your question fully regarding can you bring pepper spray on a plane. In conclusion:
Do not attempt to take pepper spray or any form of tear gas in the cabin with you in your carry-on luggage, 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 hand luggage 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 people carry for 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, a container of mace is effectively the same since 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.