Pocket Knives and Airports - TSA Knife Rules

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There are few things more handy or functional to carry on your person than a pocket knife.  Whether you need to slice open a package, cut a fishing line or peel an apple, a pocket knife is a stellar tool. But what happens when you're heading to the airport with your pocket knife?

Security Regulations for Pocket Knives

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After 9/11, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) drastically increased the number of prohibited carry-on items at airports, including the pocket knife. And, despite an attempt by the TSA to remove the ban, pocket knives remain on the list of prohibited carry-on items.

I thought the pocket knife ban was repealed

It was. In early 2013, the TSA made a historic announcement that small knives were once again going to be allowed on planes. However, after receiving blowback from the public and strong resistance from the Association of Flight Attendants, the TSA decided to abandon the plan to allow small knives onboard. You can read more about the saga in our blog post detailing the whole incident.

In short, regardless of how small it is, you are not allowed to carry any knife into the cabin of a plane.

There is still some good news, though. You are allowed to check a knife in your luggage. Of course, if you're in the habit of putting your pocket knife in your pocket, there's a good chance you'll forget and end up walking through security.

What happens if my pocket knife doesn't meet the requirements at security?

Don't worry, you won't be arrested or charged with breaking any law. TSA classifies banned items in two different sections, prohibited and unlawful. Prohibited items, such as pocket knives, are items that are completely legal outside of the airport. If you accidentally go through security with your pocket knife, you'll likely be given four options:

  1. Take the item back and check it in your luggage
  2. Give the item to someone who is seeing you off, if they are still at the airport.
  3. Take the item to your car
  4. Mail the item; TSA often has mailing supplies at security.

If I just leave my knife at security, what will happen to it?

Interesting question.  Check out this post from the TSA blog, which was the result of a report by CNN that some discarded items were being sold on eBay.

According to TSA, this would only occur if the items were donated to a non-profit, which then sold them.  TSA regulations deem all items left at security property of the federal government.  Items are either destroyed or distributed to various non-profit or relief agencies.

What if I don't have a pocket knife?

Well, then you clearly don't have much inclination to taste or handiness.  Luckily, Knife Depot carries a huge inventory of pocket knives, all backed with a 60-day money-back guarantee. And if you're not convinced you need a pocket knife, read this article about 6 things a pocket knife is handy for.