You can only bring a Swiss Army Knife on a plane if you pack it in a checked bag. If you are not checking a bag, you will not be permitted to bring any knives, except for plastic and rounded butter knives.
According to the TSA website, you can’t bring knives in carry-on bags:
“Except for plastic or round bladed butter knives.
Any sharp objects in checked bags should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors.“
Most sharp objects will need to be placed in a checked bag since they are not allowed to be on planes.
If you are going to bring a knife on a plane, be sure to pack it properly. The next section has details on how to pack sharp objects when flying. Here is a recent comment from @AskTSA about Swiss Army Knifes:
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How to Pack Sharp Objects When Flying
Properly packing your sharp objects will not only protect them during your flight but will also keep you and any baggage handlers safe from injury.
For Swiss Army knives, make sure all tools are inside the handle/case before placing them in your bag. If you have a knife or other sharp object, you should place it in a case before packing it.
If your sharp object does not have a case, you can buy one or wrap it in something else. Bubble or plastic wrap is the best option for both safety and protection.
You can also use clothing, a towel, or anything else soft and thick. Make sure to secure the clothing or other item around the sharp object using string or rubber bands so that the sharp object does not come loose in your bag.
Not only should you protect any sharp objects in your bag, but you should also protect your bag itself. Read about how to protect your luggage and fly safely.
What Happens if the TSA Finds a Knife?
If the TSA finds a knife or other prohibited items in your bag, there are a few consequences that you may face. The best case is that they take the prohibited item, log your name in their system, and let you on your way.
There are also fines that TSA can impose for people with prohibited items at the airport. These fines range from $360 – $13,910 per violation, according to the TSA website. The fines are in place for the security checkpoints, the area of airports past the checkpoint, and on airplanes.
Higher fines are given to people with repeat occurrences of prohibited items. You will also have to leave any prohibited items with the security team, and they will not return them to you.
You should be sure to have any knives packed safely in your checked bags before reaching the security checkpoint to avoid any fines or risk of losing your items.
If you have a long flight or layover, read our tips and tricks for checking bags on a long flight to make your trip go smoothly.
What if You Accidentally Bring a Prohibited Item to the Airport?
Sometimes, you may go to the airport but forget that you have a prohibited item in your possession.
It is important to check your bag before reaching the security checkpoint to ensure that you do not have a prohibited item. If you do, there are a few options that you have.
The best option is to place the item in your checked bag if you still have it. You just need to make sure that the item is not prohibited in checked bags too. If you place it in your checked bag, ensure that it is wrapped up properly if it is sharp and that it does not put your checked bag over any weight limits.
If you are not checking a bag or already checked it in, you have a few other options. If you happen to park your car at the airport, you can return to it and place the item there.
Similarly, you can call a friend to pick the item up from you. These two options are best if you have plenty of time before your flight.
If you are about to get in line at security, there is usually a kiosk to mail yourself certain items. You can ask any security or airport worker to direct you to the airport’s post office. Like putting a prohibited item in a checked bag, you need to make sure that the item can be mailed so you do not get into any trouble.
Lastly, you can throw away the item before you enter the security line. There are always trash cans by the security checkpoint. If you do not think your item is safe to throw away, turn it into a security officer before you reach the front of the line.
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Other Prohibited Items
There are other prohibited items that you may have questions about. We have listed other common sharp objects in two categories per the TSA Website: allowed in carry-on bags and not allowed in carry-on bags.
All items listed are allowed in checked baggage, but similar to Swiss Army Knives, you need to wrap them properly to prevent injury to baggage handlers and security.
Allowed in Carry-on Bags:
- Cigar cutters (these are usually permitted, but the final decision is up to the security officers at the airport. It is recommended that you pack them in a checked bag.)
- Disposable razors
- Nail clippers
- Safety pins
- Scissors (must be four inches or shorter from the pivot point)
Not Allowed in Carry-on Bags:
- Box cutters
- Other knives (pocket knives, etc.)
If you have questions about a specific item that may be prohibited on airplanes, you can check the TSA website for common items.
It is worth checking your bags for prohibited items before you arrive at the airport. If you have a Swiss Army Knife, make sure it is wrapped properly and placed in a checked bag. If you forget to put a knife in your checked bag, you will need to dispose of it, mail it to yourself, or place it in your checked baggage or car before going through security.