We all know that some items such as flammables and explosives are entirely prohibited on planes and in luggage. But how about knives? Does the same rule apply when you want to bring a knife you bought abroad? Is it possible to pack them in your checking luggage? And which of these knives are allowed and which are banned?
In the US, kitchen knives are not allowed in the carry on bags. However, they are permitted in checked luggage even without having to declare it. Some types of knives, such as plastic or round-bladed butter knives are permitted to take with you in carry on bags or even within your pockets.
You can find the link to the official website of the Department of Homeland Security further in the article.
Around 20 years ago, things were very different. Back then, we could bring most of the items that are forbidden today with us on the plain. But this changed in 2001 when the TSA (Transport Security Agency) decided to fortify its security.
Now all those items that are potentially considered a weapon are banned from carry on bags. You can find the official page on this link. Unfortunately included in this list are also kitchen knives (or any sharp object).
However, this does not mean all knives are banned, some types of knives you can still bring with you, such as round-bladed butter knives and plastic knives.
There is no need to throw them away or put them in your checked luggage before going through the airport security and scanners. You can take them with you inside your carry-on, or even carry them in your pocket.
When it comes to limitations on how many knives you can bring, there is also nothing to worry about, take as many as you like, and lastly, you also do not need to conceal or pack them (although I would not recommend it as it would not be hygienic). But again, this is only for butter knives or plastic knives.
So, let’s get back to sharp knives or sharp objects, in 2013, TSA had actually announced that small blade knives would be allowed in cabin baggage, such as small tactical knives or pocket knives. However, they never went through with it. If you search online, you may find articles stating differently based on that update, but today 2020, only plastic knives and butter knives are allowed in cabin luggage.
So, there is no possibility of taking your knives on your bags, but you can still put them in your checked luggage. But how should you be doing that, and what are the things you need to know before you throw them in your suitcase?
Can you take kitchen knives in checked luggage?
According to the official website of homeland security, you can bring any knife in your checked luggage, including swiss army knives, death stars, and of course, kitchen knives. There are no limitations on the blade’s length, so any kitchen knife whether it’s a small 3-inch paring knife or an 8-inch chef knife can be brought with you without any worry.
However, the TSA does require for you to do one thing if you want to bring your knife with you, is that all sharp objects must be securely wrapped, so when and if a TSA agent will check the content of your luggage, they can do it safely and without any accidents.
This means that your blade must always be secured inside your checked baggage. So nobody could accidentally get cut while conducting an inspection. If in case the TSA agent does get injured because you didn’t correctly secure your knife, you might get sued.
Do you have to declare knives in checked luggage?
Within the U.S., you officially have no obligations to declare you have kitchen knives in your luggage when traveling. And the reason for that is because kitchen knives are classified as sharp objects. The TSA only requires you to declare any type of firearms.
The same rule applies when carrying large amounts of medications, but not when with sharp objects. However, it is highly recommended to voluntarily declare knives at the check-in desk, especially if you are planning on flying internationally, I also highly recommend to check the airline rules of the country you are traveling to.
There are two reasons for this: the security officers themselves might get mixed up in the rules, or there might be some countries that require you to declare them obligatorily.
I have also read that there have been some people saying that their checked baggage was not loaded when traveling within the U.S. because it had not passed the security officers, even though they did not need to declare them. So my advice is to do what most do, always declare it so that you can avoid any problems in the future.
How to pack a knife in checked baggage?
The only thing to do is to make sure your knives are properly wrapped, so when the TSA inspectors need to screen them, they won’t require to open your bag double-check them. In case you fail doing so, and your bag does get checked, your knife might get seized, or even worse, you might get sued if the security agent accidentally gets cut.
Here are a few ways to safely pack your kitchen knife to put in checked luggage:
- Using a metal/wooden container: One of the most common and easy ways to pack your kitchen knives. You can use this kind of container and lock them with a TSA-friendly lock.
- Duck or scotch tape them: You can also tape your blades with duck or scotch tape if you do not have a container. This is the least safe technique.
- Put them in your boots: If in case you have packed boots or shoes, you can use them as a sort of “container.” Just wrap your knife in underwear or socks, and fill the contents inside the boots.
- The final solution is to make a DIY container: You can use cardboard for this or anything similar to it. Cut out two equally long pieces as your blades and put your kitchen knife in between them, and tape the two pieces together with some tape.
- You can also safely store knives in a suitcase, by purchasing a bag for cooks and kitchen knives. On Amazon, you find several such knife bags & cases.
Will my knives get stolen in checked luggage?
It is an unfortunate truth that some airport employees are looking out for easy-to-steal, high-value items, such as kitchen knives and or other items. Although I was lucky never to encounter this, most of my friends who travel a lot did. And when that happens, there is, unfortunately, nothing you can do about it, as most airlines won’t take any responsibility.
So how can you avoid having your kitchen knives stolen from your bags? The first thing I will say is probably not something you want to hear. Do not ever pack something you are not prepared to lose. If you have a knife that is valued over a hundred dollars, I’d recommend purchasing separate insurance for your bag’s contents, or you can simply send them by using FedEx, for example.
When it comes to packing, it is not possible to completely protect your kitchen knives from getting stolen. The one thing you can do is make their lives harder, which will hopefully decrease the odds of your knife getting stolen.
Here are some really nice tips on how to do it :
- If you are carrying knives with holes in them, tie your knife to the frame of the suitcase with a copper ( or something similarly hard) wire.
- This one is a little nasty but can work like a charm. Put your knife in a plastic bag full of dirty socks and underwear so that the thief won’t be going through them as he will be disgusted.
- Use a metal container and lock your knife in it, so it will be much harder for the thief to hide the stolen kitchen knife in his pocket and walk away unnoticed.
- Store your kitchen knives in a cardboard box and write in capital letters “Sharp contents inside, but safely packaged. DO NOT TOUCH” on it. This may psychologically work on the thief, because of the additional precautions you made in addition to this one.
What other options do you have?
If in case you are at the airport and do not feel confident to put your kitchen knives in your suitcase or cannot use any of the options above. You can leave them with someone who dropped you off at the airport (in case that person did not leave yet). Or in case you came by yourself, leave it in the car you came with if it’s not far away. I say this because, most of the time, I park far away and have a shuttle bring me to the airport. Lastly, as mentioned previously, you can ship them if you are spending enough time on the address you are going to or send them back to your own house.