Dealing with the TSA and knives when you fly  

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has plenty of rules when it comes to what you can and cannot bring on a plane. Some of them are head-scratchers, but when it comes to knives and other sharp objects, the rules are pretty straightforward. If you want to bring a knife, or even anything that sort of looks like a knife, it's probably going to have to go in your checked luggage.

TSA Knife Rules

For just about any sharp object, the rule is the same: It can go on the plane, but it has to be sheathed and securely wrapped in your checked luggage, never on your person or in your carry-on. That goes for knives of all shapes and sizes, along with axes, saws, swords, machetes and pretty much anything else with a blade or a point.


The same rules apply to kitchen knives–from steak knives to cleavers. The only significant exception is butter knives; these are allowed in the airplane cabin if they have a rounded tip or are made of plastic.

Pocket Knives

In 2013, the TSA came close to allowing small knives on planes again, but backpedaled after the move met widespread opposition. As a result, even tiny knives must be packed in your checked luggage. This includes pocket knives, Swiss army knives, multi-tools with knives attached to them, razor blades, box cutters and just about any other type of blade.

Sharp Objects in Your Carry-On

While knives are strictly off-limits, a select few sharp objects are permitted in your carry-on bag. These are limited to items that could pose no significant threat to your fellow passengers, such as:

  • Crochet hooks
  • Disposable razors
  • Knitting needles
  • Nail clippers
  • Needles needed for medical purposes
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Tweezers
  • Safety razors without the blade
  • Scissors not longer than 4 inches

Toy Knives 

Even fake knives can be packed only in your checked luggage. The TSA doesn't make exceptions, whether for a plastic knife from a Halloween costume or for a foam rubber sword. If it remotely resembles a weapon, it will not be allowed in the cabin of the airplane.