Two military knives laying on a bag

Can You Bring Knives in Your Checked Luggage?

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When it comes to traveling with knives, or any sharp items, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a chef, or simply need a knife for your job, there are certain rules that you need to follow to pack your knife in your checked luggage.

Broadly speaking, you’re allowed to bring knives in your checked luggage.

However, regulations are subject to change and airlines are free to apply further restrictions if they choose to.

Also, it’s important to pack these potentially dangerous items safely in your luggage to avoid harm to you or others.

In this post, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about the regulations that apply to packing a knife in your checked bag. We’ll also explain how to pack knives in your checked luggage. Finally, we’ll also cover the rules and regulations for packing sharp implements in carry-on bags.

TSA Regulations

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the agency responsible for screening you and your luggage at the airport. Its primary goal is to ensure the safety of all travelers and prevent any dangerous objects from making their way onto airplanes. As such, they have strict rules in place when it comes to carrying knives in your luggage.

According to the TSA, knives are allowed in checked bags. So, is that the end of the story? Not so fast.

Airline Policies

Airlines can have their own policies on knives and other sharp objects. Some airlines may have stricter rules than the TSA, so it’s a good idea to check with your airline before packing a knife in your luggage. You can find this information on your airline’s website.

We checked the 11 largest U.S. airlines for their policies on packing knives in checked baggage and, at the time of writing, all followed the TSA’s regulations without further restrictions.

Airline policies reviewed:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Allegiant Air
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Spirit Airlines
  • Sun Country Airlines
  • United Airlines

Packing Knives in Checked Luggage

Risks Associated with Improper Packing

Packing a knife improperly in checked luggage can result in a number of risks.

Injury to Yourself or Others

One of the most common risks is injury to yourself or others. A sharp knife blade can easily cut through a bag or packaging material and cause injury to anyone who comes into contact with it:

  • TSA may select your luggage for manual inspection. Although rubber gloves are worn when the TSA inspects baggage, this will provide little protection from an unprotected blade.
  • Your checked bag is transported to and from aircraft by baggage handlers. An exposed and unsecured knife blade can easily pierce your luggage, causing harm.
  • You may arrive at your destination fatigued and bleary-eyed. You could forget about the sharp objects that you packed and inadvertently injure yourself.
  • Other family members or travel companions may access your luggage and accidentally injure themselves.

Damage to Your Knives

Another risk associated with improper packing is damage to the knives themselves. Knives that are packed loosely in checked luggage can become damaged during transit. The damage may not be immediately apparent, potentially making them dangerous to use.

How to Pack Knives in Checked Luggage

Although we have established that knives are allowed in your checked luggage, how they are packed in your checked bag is an important factor:

Choose the Right Type of Luggage

When packing knives in checked luggage, it’s important to choose the right type of luggage. A hard-sided suitcase or a plastic case specifically designed for knives is the best option. This will help prevent damage to your knives during transit and will also protect other items in your luggage from any sharp edges.

Check for Knives Packed with Other Equipment

If you are traveling with sports equipment, double check if it contains knives or any other sharp implements. It can be easy to overlook that some equipment bags may include knives. For example, camping equipment, scuba gear, or fishing equipment may include a knife or two. So, consider these items as you continue reading this guide.

Clean Your Knives

Before packing your knives, make sure they are clean and dry. This will help prevent any rust or damage to the blades during transit. If your knives are dirty, they can soil your belongings or cause them to smell.

Securely Wrap the Blades in Bubble Wrap or Cardboard

The next step is to wrap the blades in cardboard or bubble wrap to prevent them from getting damaged during transit. Make sure the blades are completely covered and secured to avoid any accidents. Then, wrap the knives in a layer of heavy-duty tape, making sure that the edges of the tape are well-sealed.

Place the Knives in a Sheath or Secure Them in a Hard-Sided Container

Once you’ve wrapped the blades, place the knives in a sheath or secure them in a hard-sided container to prevent any accidental injuries. Make sure the container is labeled as “sharp objects” or “knives” to alert baggage handlers.

Pack the Knives in Your Luggage

Finally, pack the knives in your checked luggage. Make sure they are placed in a position where they will not move around during transit. You can also place them in between clothes or other soft items to cushion them during transit.

Knives in Carry On Bags

For the sake of completeness, let’s discuss bringing knives on board in your carry-on baggage. As you can imagine, the rules are far more restrictive.

Generally, knives are not allowed in carry-on bags. However, there are some cutting tools that you can bring on board with you, such as scissors and disposable razors.

However, TSA regulations can seem a little arbitrary. For example, if you plan to pack a cigar cutter in your carry-on bag:

“While cigar cutters are generally permitted, we recommend that you pack them in your checked baggage. TSA officers have the discretion to prohibit any item through the screening checkpoint if they believe it poses a security threat.”.

Transport Security Administration
Cigars and cigar cutter on a tray
Photo by Yohan Cho on Unsplash

So, if you decide to travel with an ornate cigar cutter that you bought from that trip to Cuba, there is a chance that TSA security may confiscate it.

If your luggage includes a checked bag, seriously consider whether you need to bring a sharp object with you in your carry-on. Reasons why you may still decide to bring it on board rather than packing it in a checked bag include:

  • You need to use it during your flight.
  • The item is of significant value (monetary or sentimental) that you don’t want to risk losing it.

The following table contains a list of sharp items, cutting tools, and other items that include blades, and whether they are allowed to be brought on board. This list is gleaned from the TSA’ website.

ItemCheckedCarry On
BlenderYesYes, if the blade is removed
Box CuttersYesNo
Cigar CuttersYesProbably
Corkscrews with a bladeYesNo
Corkscrews without a bladeYesYes
Crochet HooksYesYes
Disposable RazorYesYes
Fishing tackleYesYes
Hand ToolYesYes, if no longer than 7 inches
Ice AxeYesNo
Ice PickYesNo
Knitting NeedlesYesYes
Knives, MetalYesNo, but round-bladed butter knives allowed
Knives, PlasticYesYes
Lock PicksYesYes, if no longer than 7 inches
Meat CleaverYesNo
Multi-tools with KnivesYesNo
Multi-tools with ScissorsYesYes, if scissors are less than 4 inches long
Nail ClippersYesYes
Nail File, MetalYesYes
Pencil SharpenerYesYes
Pocket KnifeYesYes
Power Saw, CordlessYesNo
Razor-Type BladesYesNo
Safety Razor with BladesYesNo
Safety Razor without BladesYesYes
ScissorsYesYes, if the cutting edge is no longer than 4 inches long
Small Fishing LuresYesYes
Swiss Army KnifeYesNo
Tent SpikesYesNo
Throwing StarsYesNo
Unused SyringesYesYes, if they are with injectable medication, but must be declared at the TSA security checkpoint
Used SyringesYesYes, but must be transported in a sharps disposal container
Utility KnifeYesNo
Sharp Items in Luggage

Final Thoughts

You can pack a knife in your checked luggage, but there are guidelines that you must follow to ensure that it is transported safely. We all bear a responsibility to keep ourselves and others safe.

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