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Airline Travel Rules For Knitters and Crocheters

This time of year many of us will be traveling for the holidays.  It's a stressful time and we need our knitting needles and crochet hooks now more than ever.  The time you spend at airports waiting for your flight and on the plane won't be wasted if you've got your yarn with you to make gifts or to simply enjoy the meditative feeling you get when you knit or crochet.  One thing you don't need is to worry about whether you can take the tools you need a plane.   Here are some frequently asked questions on the subject so you can be in the know about what you are permitted to take on the plane.

Are knitting needles and crochet hooks allowed in carry-on luggage?
On domestic flights in the US, knitting needles and crochet hooks are permitted by the TSA in carry-on luggage. The TSA suggests that you carry wooden or plastic needles over metal. Circular knitting needles are preferred over straight. Each country is different, though. If you are travelling internationally be sure to check the guidelines of your airline and security agencies abroad. You may be allowed to fly into a country with knitting needles in your carry-on but be required to check them on your return flight.

What about scissors?
Scissors with blades shorter than four inches are permitted in carry-on luggage on domestic flights. Although they may seem innocuous, thread cutter pendants like these are prohibited by the TSA and should be kept in checked luggage. Nail clippers are a good, travel-sized alternative for cutting yarn and are permitted in carry-ons. If you have questions about other items, the TSA has made a handy search tool.

What if my knitting needles are confiscated?
It’s always handy to carry a print-out of the TSA policies but keep in mind, screeners can confiscate any items they do not feel are safe regardless of these guidelines. If you're able to confirm ahead of your trip that the airport has mail facilities or a service such as Airport Mailers, you may be able to send prohibited items home instead of losing them for good. You may want to carry a padded, self-addressed, stamped envelope just in case you are not permitted to bring your needles or scissors on board. It's best to leave supplies that are costly to replace or hold sentimental value at home in case you have to part with them. Carry dental floss in your carry-on. You can use the blade to cut yarn and the floss is great for holding stitches in a pinch if you're asked to surrender your needles.

While it can be frustrating, remember that this season can be stressful for everyone. It’s helpful to have a back up plan and always be courteous!

What's your experience been? Have you ever had trouble with your knitting or crochet at the airport?

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  • AIR

    In Houston TX my small VICTORINOX SWISS CARD CLASSIC was confiscated by their TSA. Armed solders were everywhere in the airport. It must have been a high alert day.

  • Laura

    Peruvian authorities insisted that I cut the tips off all my small plastic sock needles. They haven't been the same since, though I used a nail file to round them off -- the nail file and clippers were OK, but these harmless knitting needles weren't allowed!

  • Kathy

    Jury duty guard went nuts over crochet hook until I asked for supervisor who told him "crochet hooks OK, knitting needles no"

  • rnmba

    So far I have not had a problem, but I am always prepared with removable tips on circular needles or a "lifeline" in the knitting on straight needles or double pointed needles. Always have an extra set of needles in my checked luggage that way I can still enjoy my knitting when I arrive

  • Amy

    I had my round tipped (Kindergarten) scissors confiscated by Greyhound in Houston, TX. Apparently they were doing some kind of a safety sweep at only a select few cities across the country and that day just happened to be Houston's turn. The thing was, my scissors were not even in my carry-on but were in a locked footlocker going under the bus. They also took a can of shaving cream from the foot locker as well. For $10 they offered to mail them home for me, but I declined but I could just buy new for a couple of bucks. I just thought it was crazy they were confiscating stuff that TSA allowed in your carry-on.

  • Elizabeth Sheehy

    This insanity is one of the reasons I refuse to fly! To surrender such basic freedoms in the name of ephemeral "security" ultimately means we'll have neither, IMHO.

  • Wendy Christensen

    It's not security, it's "security theater." Just another power play.

  • Fran

    I really needed to finish a beach tote on the plane to Aruba, so I took the crochet project and an old almost useless pair of round nosed kiddie scissors to cut the various ends. The scissors weren't sharp, but with enough pressure they would cut the yarn (I pretested them). I got them through our TSA, but almost didn't get them through on the return trip. I then bought the Clover cutter for trips, and that is now against the TSA rules??? Why, can anyone explain that to me?

  • Missladyhawke ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    I don't understand why my Clover thread cutter is not allowed. I can't even get my fingernail in there. They don't exactly give an explanation, does anyone know why?

  • Danielle Baines

    Flew from Canada to Vietnam this summer. Went through Hong Kong on the way there and through Tokyo on the way home. For both trips I had a sock on 16" wooden circular needles and a scarf on a 24" wooden circular needle. The needles made it through security in Halifax, Toronto (both ways), Hong Kong, Saigon, and Tokyo. Folding scissors made it through security in Halifax and Toronto but were confiscated by a very apologetic airport security employee in our first foreign airport (Hong Kong).

  • Vicki K.

    Flying out of Chile, even my small needlepoint needles were confiscated - making me unthread them from the middle of my project. Long plane ride back to US and nothing to work on! not happy!

  • Grammapat

    I don't fly that often but I would be so upset if my needles were taken away - forget it!! Take a book, they won't take that away!!

  • sevp

    I've traveled for years both in the US and abroad with crochet hooks, circular needles, and blunt darning needles. Also a small seam ripper and a mini container of tooth floss. All very visible in my carry on luggage. Never had any problems! Also helped a flight attendant once with her knitting project. She had big fat straight needles!

  • rntravelgnome

    I have never had any problems myself but another knitter I know told me how she went straight through, no problems only to have her traveling companion stopped and searched and the EXACT same needles seized from her that my co worker had just cleared through. I don't think the problem is so much the regulations as it is the screeners they hire to enforce them. Some of these people are just bummed about working and love taking it out on the passengers at their mercy.

  • kcmomof2

    I travel almost weekly for my job. Mostly domestic but some international to UK and Europe once or twice a year. I have knit on planes for 10 years and never had a single thing taken or really even questioned until two weeks ago. I was on a flight from Charlotte to Columbia, South Carolina and the stewardess on the plane flipped out because I was knitting while we were taxiing down the jet way. She was an older women who gave me the totally "you'll put your eye out" speech like I was some 7 year old kid. I was knitting with a pair of Kollage Squares with the 40 inch soft cable and she was positive I was a danger to myself and my seat mate because I was knitting and there could be turbulence. It was a short 40 minute flight so I humored her but seriously I fly 70-90 segments a year and have never heard such nonsense in all my life!

  • Cheryl C Hockham

    I travelled to the USA last year and emailed the company to see if I could take knitting to do. Was told NO. However, when I got to the airport I showed customs the plastic needles I was taking to do a tapestry and commented on what I had been told about my knitting and was told" Oh you could have brought knitting to do that's not a problem". Think it depends on who you see

  • Lifelong Learner

    I was able to fly into Puerto Vallarta with my Addi Rockets but Mexican TSA wanted to confiscate them outbound to the US. I was able to retrieve my luggage and check then in along with an almost completed piece. This happened on December 23, 2014.

  • Amayita

    http://blog.tsa.gov/2009/05/tsa-urban-legends-nail-clippers.html

  • Henrietta

    Did anyone else click on the link to the circular cutters? When I did, it says there that the are "airport safe". Really!!

  • April

    I flew with Bamboo straight needles & a crochet hook. They made me knit to prove it was mine.

  • BB

    I didn't know anything about the thread cutters not being allowed and bought one specifically to use 'on board'. I had no problems with carrying it - to Czech and Spain very recently.

  • Marla Lynn McGlone Leverett

    I do not understand about the circular thread/yarn cutter!!!! I mean really?!?!