Can You Bring a Pocket Knife On a Plane? (Complete Research)

We’re heading for a trip across the country later this year and I always have my trusty Leatherman with me. During Covid, we’ve done all our travelling by car but, with our next trip a bit further afield, it got me thinking, can you bring a pocket knife on a plane?

The short answer is yes, you can bring a pocket knife on a plane, but only if it is in checked baggage and the blade is wrapped securely so it cannot injure a baggage handler or customs inspector. No knives are allowed in hand luggage or on your person other than a small exception for plastic butter knives.

The rest of this article goes into a bit more detail on taking knives on a plane and makes some great recommendations on knives for travel.

Can You Take a Pocket Knife on a Plane?

There are two ways for carrying a pocket knife on a plane, either by packing it in your checked luggage or carrying it with you in on your person or hand luggage. The Travel Security Agency (TSA) and most airline regulators are very sensitive to sharp items such as knives on board a plane in hand luggage, so you will not be able to take a pocket knife with you this way. 

Fortunately, almost all airlines allow you to carry a pocket knife in checked luggage with no restrictions, except for wrapping the blade safely in the luggage. 

You should also be aware that not every type of pocket knife is legal in the country you are travelling to. For instance, in most US states, butterfly knives are illegal. So, you might be cleared in your home state only to face arrest upon your arrival. 

In what follows, we’ll answer the most common questions surrounding pocket knives so that you are well prepared for your next adventure.

Can You Bring a Pocket Knife in Your Checked Baggage?

The short answer here is, yes. 

According to the TSA, you can carry any knife in your checked baggage, including Swiss army knives, death stars, and chef knives. There is no limitation in the blade type (concealed or curved) and blade length. You are only required to securely wrap or sheath the knives for safe handling by baggage handlers and inspectors. 

You can be sued if baggage handlers or inspectors get injured because you didn’t safely secure the knife in the package. Therefore, it’s in your own self-interest to safely wrap the knife in your luggage.  

Furthermore, you have to abide by the laws of the jurisdiction you are traveling to.

For instance, the TSA might clear you to carry a particular knife only to be grounded by other airline customs, regulators, and authorities. The TSA doesn’t enforce knife laws, but if they recognize you are carrying an illegal type, they will call the police to arrest you. 

Can You Bring a Knife Onto a Plane in Hand Luggage?

The short answer here is, no. 

You are not allowed to bring any sharp objects, including knives, into a plane in hand luggage. This is one way in which the TSA enhances security in the plane as knives can easily be used as a weapon. 

However, there is no limitation when it comes to plastic or round-bladed butter knives. You can pack these types of knives in hand luggage, a personal item, or even in your clothes pockets as you go through the security points. Plus, you can carry as many as you want without packing or concealing them, as long as they are plastic or round blade butter knives. 

There was an attempt in 2013 by the TSA to allow small-bladed knives such as small tactical knives and pocket knives in the carry-on baggage, but it was never implemented. Therefore, as per current regulations, you can only carry plastic or round-bladed butter knives in hand luggage. 

READ NEXT: Can You Take Glass On a Plane?

Which are the TSA regulations around knives?

The TSA, an airline control operator in the US, requires that all types of knives, except plastic or round-bladed butter knives, be packed safely in checked luggage. The exempted knives, i.e., plastic or rounded butter knives, can be packed in carry-on luggage without the need for sheathing or wrapping. 

However, the TSA doesn’t overrule the laws of your travel destination. The laws of each country vary; it is best to check the knife laws before you pack for your travel. 

What types of knife around allowed on a plane?

Knife TypeIn Hand Luggage?In Checked Luggage?
Pocket KnifeNoYes
Swiss Army KnifeNoYes
Plastic Butter KnifeYesYes
Regular Utensil KnifeNoYes
Chef’s KnifeNoYes
Flick KnifeNoNo
Butterfly KnifeNoNo

What Sized Pocket Knife Can You Take on a Plane?

The notion that small knives below 6 cm (2.36 inches) are allowed in a plane is not true. This idea was coined by the TSA in 2013 but was never implemented. 

As of right now, all types of knives except plastic or round-bladed butter knives (without a serrated edge) are prohibited in hand luggage. Some security officers may even remove the butter knives from hand luggage as they are the final decision-makers. 

Do All Airlines Have the Same Rules for Taking Knives on a Plane?

If it’s not clear by now, the TSA is the US entity responsible for protecting the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce. As such, airlines and any other means of transportation are subjected to the regulations imposed by the TSA. This is also why you don’t see any airline staff member checking your hand luggage and pockets as you go through the security check. 

With this in mind, yes, all airlines follow the same rules for carrying knives on a plane. This means that again, only plastic or round-bladed butter knives are allowed in carry-on luggage or your pocket without any restriction. All other types of knives are to be wrapped safely and packed in your checked baggage. 

Also, while most airlines don’t necessarily need you to declare the knives in the checked baggage, some do. So ensure you check the specific airline regulations before you proceed to the checkpoints to avoid unnecessary delays.

READ NEXT: Can You Take a Lighter On a Plane? (Yes, Here’s Which Types)

The Best Pocket Knives for Travel

Now that you are aware that pocket knives are to be carried in your checked luggage, let’s review the 3 best pocket knives for camping, emergency and everyday use: 

Grand Way Spring Assisted Knife

Spring Assisted Knife - 3.66" Sharp Blade - Tactical Pocket Knife for Men with Wood Handle Glass Breaker & Clip - Best Folding Knives for EDC Camping Survival for Dad Husband - Father Day Gifts 0207
  • Pocket knife is made of high quality materials. Blade material is 440C stainless steel, handle - wood and metal. Equipped with a glass breaker. Pocket clip available. Tactical knife for men and women.
  • Rosewood and black metal handle hunting knife is a stand out design. Since the knife is comparingly small- it can be stored in the truck, car or the boat to be available for camper at any emergency...

Coming in at a closed length of 4.28 inches and weighing 0.25 lbs, this spring-assisted pocket knife can be used for any sort of travelling with a special focus on outdoor adventures.

The spring mechanism makes it possible to flip-open the knife blade with just one hand. So, if you are ever in a situation in which you fear for your safety, this pocket knife will certainly put an end to that. It also features a safety lock that prevents the knife from closing by accident while in use. 

Furthermore, the knuckle guard and finger guard prevent accidents during use. All of these features ensure that the baggage handlers and inspectors won’t get hurt when inspecting your pocket knife. 

The 3.42” stainless steel blade with black oxide coating makes this a durable rust-proof pocket knife. Also, it has a pocket clip so you can attach it to your pocket, or backpack for easy carrying. 

In summary, this pocket knife is a great choice for travelling since it’s safe enough for baggage handlers and inspectors, but also versatile. It can withstand the most intense tasks such as camping, fishing, hunting or DIY projects. So, whatever you plan on doing at your travel destination, you can rest assured that this pocket knife will be up for the task.

BlizeTec Survival Knife

If you are looking for a pocket knife that can serve as an emergency tool kit, then this is the pocket knife that you need to get. With a 5-in-1 design, it has five essential tools that you need for emergency situations; including a blade lock, magnesium fire starter, window breaker, blade saw and a small LED flashlight that comes in handy in the dark. The saw blade can cut through wood, bones, plastic and even some metals, while the seatbelt cutter can easily get you out of your car if you’re in an emergency situation.

The knife is made of 3.5” stainless steel blade with a sleek design that fits perfectly in your palm. It also comes with a nylon holder so you can easily carry it with you on your belt or in your backpack. 

This small, sleek and powerful pocket-sized 5-in-1 survival knife is the perfect companion to carry with you at all times. You never know when you might run into an unexpected situation where you need to get out of trouble and this survival knife with its other tools will help you remain calm during any emergency situation.

Kershaw Shuffle Pocket Knife

Kershaw Shuffle 2.4-Inch 8Cr13MoV Steel Pocket Knife with Black Oxide Coating and High Tech Function, 3.5 oz., Gray
  • Multifunction pocket knife includes Phillips bit, Flathead bit, bottle opener, jump ring, lanyard hole and a single fixed position removable pocketclip
  • Drop point design adds tip strength and eliminates pitch momentum, making it a perfect tactical, hunting or survival knife noted for its durability and controllability when slicing game

If you are really fond of a compact pocket knife then how about going with this 5.75” pocket knife? Weighing just 3.5 ounces, you can easily find yourself forgetting that you have this knife in your pocket. 

The knife has a liner lock, tip-up pocket clip, blade opening hole and lanyard hole. With its drop point design, this knife is great for outdoor use as well. The liner lock safely prevents the blade from closing prematurely when in use.

It also features a Phillips bit, Flathead bit and a bottle opener making it a compact multi-functional pocket knife. In short,  you never have to worry about not having something to get the job done when having this pocket knife. 

The drop point design is strong and durable and helps keep the balance steady so you can control your cuts when slicing through game or other materials. The steel is made of 8CR13MOV with titanium plating in the handle for increased durability and wear resistance. In essence, it is an excellent multipurpose pocket knife to use year-round in your home, garden or campsite or while on hunting or fishing trips. 

Final Thoughts & Takeaways

I hope that after reading this article, you are well-informed when it comes to carrying a pocket knife on board. The most important thing to remember is that pocket knives are only allowed in your checked luggage and this applies to all airlines; also keep an eye open because some destinations might not allow certain types of knives!

Lastly, though a pocket knife is more convenient for storing away and easy access, their major drawback is the hinged point. So if you plan on doing heavy work with your pocket knife there’s a chance that the knife can snap causing serious injuries. To avoid this from happening, consider going with a fixed blade knife or a pocket knife with a locking mechanism. 

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments