After 9/11, air travel security restrictions became so tight, airport security wouldn’t let you through with even a sharp wit. But nearly 20 years later, things have relaxed and a surprising number of items are allowed in your carry-on bags.
Disclaimer: This information comes from the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) app/website. This information is subject to change. In our experience, what you’re able to bring through security is ultimately at the discretion of the individual officer you encounter.
Corkscrews (with no blade)
This is actually the item that inspired this post. You have to open your rosé with something, right? The trick here is to bring one without the little foil cutting blade. Here’s one with clever TSA-compliant foil cutting wheels.
Another surprising find. This one may be subject to the discretion of the officer though.
(From the TSA website: “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. Any sharp objects in checked bags should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors.”)
Crochet Hooks, Knitting Needles, and Sewing Needles
Attention crafty types: You’re all clear here. Just make sure to mention it to the TSA officer if they need to search your bags.
Curling Irons and Flat Irons
Curling irons and flat irons are fine, but an aircraft lavatory really is no place to do your hair. Save it for your destination.
Electronic Cigarettes and Vaping Devices – (Carry-on only)
Airlines actually prefer that you bring these in your carry-on for fear that the lithium batteries could ignite. This seems easier to deal with in the cabin than it is below decks in the checked luggage compartment. NO vaping or smoking is allowed on board the aircraft though.
Fishing Poles (check with airline for size limitations)
This was another surprise. As long as your fishing pole can break down to a size small enough to suit your airline, you are allowed to bring it aboard.
Funny right? One assumes said light saber should be in its retracted position at all times.
Lithium batteries with more than 100 watt hours may be allowed in carry-on bags with airline approval, but are limited to two spare batteries per passenger. Pro tip: Make sure your battery still has the little sticker that states it’s capacity. We had to give up a $100 battery in Beijing because we couldn’t prove that it was under the capacity restriction. Loose lithium batteries are prohibited in checked bags. For more information, see the FAA regulations on batteries.
Medicines, Medical Devices, etc.
Pretty much anything related to your immediate medical needs is allowed by the TSA in your carry-on bags. This includes:
- Insulin & diabetic supplies
- Canes, crutches, and walkers
- Blood Sugar Test Kits
- Nebulizers, CPAPs, BiPAPs and APAPs
(Please notify the TSA officer that you have diabetes and are carrying your supplies with you. Insulin pumps and supplies must be accompanied by insulin, and insulin in any form or dispenser must be clearly identified. Walkers, crutches canes or other mobility aids and devices must undergo X-ray screening. A TSA officer will inspect the item if it cannot fit through the X-ray. Notify the TSA officer if you need to be immediately reunited with the device after it is screened by X-ray.)
This one is tricky. Read (and read between) the lines below.
Marijuana and certain cannabis infused products, including some Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, remain illegal under federal law except for products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis or that are approved by FDA. (See the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334.) TSA officers are required to report any suspected violations of law to local, state or federal authorities. TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but if any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.
Multi-tools Without Blades
This is probably the most contentious item on the list as most multi-tools contain something with a sharpened edge. If questioned, this is where you may have to refer to the TSA guidelines, but understand that TSA officer usually has the final word.
These are okay by the TSA, but check with your airline’s size restrictions for carry-on items.
Stick Pins (Hat Pins)
We’re not sure how often these are used anymore, but if for some reason your corsage from the wedding is still attached with one, you are clear to pass.
As deadly as your serve might be, your tennis racquet poses no threat to modern aircraft. We regularly bring ours in a backpack.
Three Items NOT Allowed in Your Carry-On Bags
Golf clubs, ski poles, and hiking poles are no-go onboard an aircraft. You can however, store them in your checked luggage and reunite with them at your destination.
Much of this information comes from the actually-not-so-terrible MyTSA app available for iOS and Android. The app features a full compendium of items under the “What Can I Bring?” section as well as TSA checkpoint wait times for major airports.
Safe travels! –A&K