Many people prefer to keep a knife around as they go about their day, whether for convenience, for protection or both. You might even be in the habit of slipping a pocketknife into your pocket each morning, regardless of your plans for the day. However, if your day’s plans include air travel, you might want to think twice; generally, travelers aren’t allowed to bring knives on airplanes.

Flying With Knives

According to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines, travelers can pack knives, pocketknives and Swiss army knives in their checked bags if necessary, but they may not bring them onboard the plane in their carry-on luggage. The only exception is made for plastic or round-bladed butter knives, which are permitted in carry-on bags. In 2013, the TSA actually repealed the small knife ban on airplanes, announcing that passengers could carry their pocketknives and other small knives onboard. After the public and the Association of Flight Attendants pushed back against the new guidelines, the repeal was short-lived.

Knives at TSA Security Checkpoints

If you’re in the habit of carrying your pocketknife with you everywhere, you may forget to remove it from your pocket before heading to the airport, which means that TSA will encounter your pocketknife during security screening. At this point, you have a few options:

  • Leave security and place your knife in a checked bag.
  • If someone is seeing you off at the airport, leave your knife with them.
  • Take the knife to your car and leave it there.
  • Mail your knife somewhere, as TSA usually keeps mailing supplies at security.

If you’re strapped for time, or for some other reason you can’t use one of the above options, you could simply leave your knife at airport security. In this case, the administration either destroys it or donates it to a non-profit or relief agency. Keep in mind that while the TSA classifies knives as prohibited items, they are not unlawful, so you won’t get arrested or charged with anything if you’re caught with one at security. You’ll just have to get rid of the knife before you fly.

Other Prohibited Items

Before heading to your security screening, check your person for any of the following TSA-prohibited items and make sure to leave them somewhere else:

  • Liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces, per the TSA’s “3-1-1” rule
  • Box cutters
  • Scissors (if they are metal with pointed tips and blades longer than 4inches)
  • Ammunition
  • Firearms or realistic replicas of firearms