ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What Kind of Knife Does TSA Allow on Planes

Updated on July 1, 2013
Soon, you will be able to stow knives in your carry on luggage.  There are important regulations on what kind of cutting tool you can carry with you.  I don't believe that medieval hunting knives, like the trousse pictured here, are allowed.
Soon, you will be able to stow knives in your carry on luggage. There are important regulations on what kind of cutting tool you can carry with you. I don't believe that medieval hunting knives, like the trousse pictured here, are allowed. | Source

When Does the Rule Take Effect?

Though TSA originally planned for knife carry to begin on April 25, 2013, that date has been pushed back. TSA spoke of the delay in saying, "This timing will enable TSA to incorporate the feedback about the changes to the Prohibited Items List and continue workforce training."

After caving to the pressure from public outcry, well at least the ones who cry the loudest, the TSA has scrapped the idea of carrying a knife on a plane like the rest of the world.

Can I Carry a Knife on a Plane?

As someone who has carried a knife for most of their life, I feel naked when I board a plane. It is a feeling of nudity not only because the TSA agent manning the body scanner knows what I look like in my birthday suit, but because a knife is a daily companion in my pocket. Without it, I am incomplete, for being prepared is part of who I am.

Though knife carry was previously regulated, after September 11th all knives were banned from carry-on luggage on all airplanes. This prohibition was not without warrant, given that the despicable hijackers used simple box cutters to cause the tragedy on that day.

Since the United States felt the bite of terror, many things changed. Locked doors were added to airplane cockpits and long security check points became the norm. The myriad of banned items stretched from hockey sticks to shampoo. We did what we had to, but now nearly twelve years later, things have changed.

Faced with the reality of limited manpower and a desire to expedite the security process,TSA management looked at modifying carry-on item regulations. Deciding to concentrate on threats, like explosives that could bring down a plane, in early 2013 the administration announced its plans to modify its "Prohibited Items List" (PIL). Besides some previously banned sporting equipment like golf clubs, small knives would be allowed back into the airplane cabin.

Though for many knife users, the skies are a little friendlier, there has been significant push back amongst airline employees, law enforcement and concerned citizens. This debate has caused delay in implementing a modification in the PIL as TSA officials consider more options for training. Originally the change was to take place on April 25th, 2013; however, TSA's release date has been modified to "changes effective in the near future."

Check back on this page for when these regulations go into effect.

UPDATE JUNE 25, 2013

With increased pressure from the flight attendant union, politicians and citizens, the TSA decided not to change the PIL after all. It doesn't look like we'll be able to carry knives on planes for the foreseeable future.

Can You Carry this Knife on a Plane?

view quiz statistics

Characteristics of Approved Knives

According to TSA's "Changes to Prohibited Items List" (March 2013), knives in carry-on luggage must have the following characteristics.

  • Must be folding.
  • Knife must be non-locking.
  • Blade length must be no longer than 2.36 inches (6 centimeters).
  • Blade width must be no wider than one half inch at its widest point.
  • Non-molded grip.
  • Razor blades and box cutters are not allowed.

Locking knives are prohibited by TSA on planes.
Locking knives are prohibited by TSA on planes. | Source

Bladeless Pocket Tools

Gerber 7-in-1 Shard Keychain Solid State Tool
Gerber 7-in-1 Shard Keychain Solid State Tool

The bladeless Shard from Gerber fits great on a keychain, is inexpensive and has a great screwdriver.


Why Do You Need to Carry a Knife on a Plane?

Read through forums on the issue and people ask, "why do you need to carry a knife on a plane in the first place?" Let us examine the many uses of a small pocket knife in daily use:

  • Opening letters and boxes
  • Cutting security tags and zip ties
  • Removing slivers and stingers
  • Shortening rope and string
  • First aid and minor surgery
  • Sharpening pencils
  • Facilitating emergency release from seat belts
  • Cutting stubborn pieces of broccoli
  • Opening packages
  • Swiss Army-style knives with can openers, scissors and screwdrivers have a myriad of uses.
  • Just in case you find yourself in an unlikely Cast Away situation, a knife is a valuable survival tool (much better than an ice skate.)

Outdoor addicts that hit the trails where ever they travel know the necessity of carrying a knife. Those of you who have read my work on The Ten Essentials, know that I don't venture outdoors without a trusty blade. For flyers without checked bags, or for those not relying on the efficiency of the baggage handling system, a knife in carry-on is essential.

Efficient travelers who fly without checked baggage (and hopefully without unmanageable carry-on luggage that they can't shlep down the aisle) haven't had the ability to carry such a simple and useful tool as the knife. As one of these travelers myself, I'd duck into a hardware store once I reached my destination and buy an inexpensive utility knife. After visiting the area for a few days, I'd have to ditch this knife before reaching the metal detectors at airport security.

I guess you could just keep the knife in the vast underbelly of the plane in checked baggage and get it out once you arrived. It isn't like the airport has ever lost anyone's luggage before.

After new regulations take effect, the third (Victorinox Classic) and fifth (Buck 309) knife would be allowed within the cabin of a plane.
After new regulations take effect, the third (Victorinox Classic) and fifth (Buck 309) knife would be allowed within the cabin of a plane. | Source

Tips on Carrying a Knife on a Plane

  1. If the knife is or looks "tactical," with blackened blades and a swing hilt for example, leave it at home.
  2. Never travel with an heirloom or expensive knife. You never know how a TSA agent will interpret the law.
  3. Even though they may not have traditional locks, the blades on many Leatherman-type tools can be locked open while the handle is closed. You may want to leave it at home.
  4. If you have doubts whether the knife is allowed, don't bring it at all or pack it in your checked baggage.
  5. Leave the knife in your pocket or carry-on luggage; avoid using it on the plane as it may make some people nervous.

A few knives that would be allowed on planes.
A few knives that would be allowed on planes. | Source
Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife, Red
Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife, Red

The Victorinox Classic is a handy tool with multiple functions.

The Victorinox Classic and Wenger Esquire are perfect knives to carry with you onto the plane.
The Victorinox Classic and Wenger Esquire are perfect knives to carry with you onto the plane. | Source
CRKT Congress Pocket Classic Four Blade Folding Pocket Knife, Plain Edge 6062
CRKT Congress Pocket Classic Four Blade Folding Pocket Knife, Plain Edge 6062

CRKT lists their Classic Congress as TSA compliant - best of all it has four blades.


What Would Be a Good Knife to Carry on a Plane?

Looking at the knife market today, you'll find countless variations of man's oldest tool. As one peruses the online catalogs of dozens of makers, you may find yourself overwhelmed at the variety. So what is a good knife for an airline traveler to carry?

  • First, make sure that the knife fits all of TSA's criteria - this easily eliminates 75% of the knife market.
  • Second, look through the tips listed above for advice on what types of knives not to carry.
  • Third, consider your own needs and how the knife will met them.

If you are looking for a TSA compliant knife with lots of tools, consider carrying a Swiss Army Knife. Just be sure that the blade length is under six centimeters and does not lock.

For example, the one-handed series from Victorinox Swiss Army would be prohibited, given it's blade that is too long and too wide, molded handles, and locking mechanism.

An excellent choice would be a Victorinox Swiss Army Classic-series knife. At less than one ounce, this lightweight knife has been in backpackers' arsenals for years. Besides a quality blade, this handy tool boasts the following items: nail file, screwdriver, scissors, toothpick, tweezers, and keyring.

The traditional pocket knife, kind of like your grandfather carried, is another excellent option for carry while flying. Modern traditional knives mimic the simple styling and utilitarian nature of their predecessors; however, modern steel and precision craftsmanship make these knives better than ever. Within the traditional market look at popular brands like Case, Buck and CRKT for quality knives.

Here are a few models you may wish to consider:

  • Case Peanut
  • Buck Solo
  • Shrade Old Timer Minute Man
  • CRKT Classic Congress

The Leatherman Stylus CS is a great TSA compliant knife.
The Leatherman Stylus CS is a great TSA compliant knife. | Source
How to use the bottle opener on the Leatherman Stylus CS.
How to use the bottle opener on the Leatherman Stylus CS. | Source
Outside accessible tools make the Stylus handier than some other small multitools.
Outside accessible tools make the Stylus handier than some other small multitools. | Source

My Favorite TSA Compliant Knife

Going through my knife collection, I found a couple dozen knives which meet TSA's standard for carry in an aircraft cabin. Which one is my favorite? For now, I'll give that honor to the Leatherman Style CS mini-multitool.

The Style CS is the close relative of the bladeless Style PS, which was designed specifically for air travel. The PS lacks a blade, but does add spring-action needlenose pliers with wire cutters.

So what tools does the Style CS have?

  • 1.6-inch 420HC knife blade
  • Spring-action sissors
  • Phillips/ flathead screwdriver
  • Nail file
  • Carabiner/bottle opener
  • Tweezers

At only 1.4 ounces, this tool boasts quite a few features at under 3-inches long. This multiple uses of this tool are why it ended up in my favorites list. I like handy things, and the Style is very handy.

One feature that is great, is that the knife blade and screwdriver are accessible while the tool is closed. This is unlike the popular Leatherman Micra, which must be opened to expose any of the tools. (As a side note, the Micra's blade stays in an open position when you close the handles; therefore, I don't believe that it is TSA compliant.)

Another great feature is the carabiner which also makes a great bottle opener. The biner makes it easy to attach the knife to a set of keys for inconspicuous carry. Plus, if you are a hiker, the little clip makes it easy to find your tool in a pinch.

Yet another great aspect to this tool, is that it costs under twenty dollars. Yes, you get a quality knife with a twenty-five year warranty for a mere mini portrait of Jefferson and you'll still have enough for a cup of coffee left over. Just not a cup of coffee at the airport, that will run you at least six bucks.

Will You Carry a Knife with You on a Plane?

See results

Source Material

All information regarding the new permitted items rule was gathered from the Transportation Security Administration's document, "Changes to Prohibited Item List (PIL)" dated March 2013.

Since the decision was reversed to not allow knives on planes, this document has been taken off line.

How Do You Feel About Knives Being Allowed on Planes?

Since the TSA has announced this change in their prohibited items list, numerous opponents have roared in disapproval. So, what do you think? Leave your opinion in the comment box below, just be respectful of everyone else's opinion.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 

      4 years ago from India

      Very useful information. I used to put knife in luggage but not in hand baggage.


    • Outbound Dan profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Human 

      5 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY

      This reminds of when the TSA explained to my 65-year old Lutheran-school-teacher Godmother that she couldn't carry pepper spray on an airplane. It was in her purse and she simply forgot it was even there. For many of us, you included, having a knife handy is simply a part of everyday life. When I place a knife in my pocket every morning, it isn't because I fear for my life or have hostile intentions, it is just because that is how I was raised and what I do.

      I am glad though that they allowed your husband to hold onto your Leatherman though, it is better than losing it to a garbage can or a box that stays in storage for the next twenty-years.

      Thanks for reading and commenting RockyMountainMom!

    • RockyMountainMom profile image


      5 years ago from Montana

      Thanks for this article! I flew frequently with my mini leatherman in my purse or carry on. Usually not intentionally. It was just habit to have it on me and I thought they were seeing it in screening and allowing it. But last fall, it was confiscated and I was informed that it had just been missed for the past couple of years (though they strongly implied I was wrong and had not flown with it previously). They said the media covered well that small blades were now allowed, but didn't cover it at all when the proposed changes were pushed back.

      Regardless of whether or not they were right about it's allowability, the outcome amused me (and is the drawn out reason for my comment).

      They didn't have much sympathy at all initially. Eventually I stated semi-jokingly that it was a bit sad and ironic that not only did the government furlough me, but they were taking away my government employee safety award. I think this struck a chord with the non-furlough government employees telling me I wouldn't be able to get back the knife. Since I got a hold of my husband (also a part time airport employee) they were willing to hand the knife out to him and let me catch my stand by flight rather than having to exit and restart the security process. It was an amusing start to my furlough. In Montana I'm less unique than a lot of places for habitually carrying an extra little knife in my purse.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I suppose its not a pc response but I feel another reason for carrying a knife on a plane or anywhere is personal defense. I understand a 6cm knife doesn't make the best pdw , but just in case something is better than nothing. I'm a proponent of concealed carry of many forms. But I have to say on this topic if the crew is against it I would reluctantly honor their wishes.It seems after 9/11 anyone acting up on a flight gets dogpiled so fast it wouldn't matter what they had. I'm not advocating paronioa but I pray we never forget and let complacency take hold again.

    • Outbound Dan profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Human 

      6 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY

      Many of us knife nuts have been glued to the news since this proposition was released MsDora. The research was indeed fun to do and I hope people find it useful.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Outbound Dan profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Human 

      6 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY

      I've pretty much always carried a knife with me since about the age of seven. Heck, I had a finely honed spyderco in my pocket when I got married. As you said summerberrie, the knife can by an extension of the self. Somehow, a call to our primal ways and somehow reassuring.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for doing such a thorough job on the research and the presentation. Just as I began to wonder "Why Do You Need to Carry a Knife on a Plane?" you answered it. Good job. Voted Up and Useful.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      The men in my family carry knives. I just had my son unclip his from his pocket (going on a job interview). My husband forgot he had his in his pocket as we tried to board a cruise ship (one of his favorites). This is a useful hub and I'm glad the regulation has been relaxed. Like you they feel naked without their pocket knife on their person. My sons have been carrying them since they were twelve and they are like an extension of themselves.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)