TSA Regulations and Knitting Needles

Written by jen anderson
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TSA Regulations and Knitting Needles
Knitting needles are allowed on aeroplanes. (Knitting image by Maria Vtyurina from Fotolia.com)

Will I be allowed to take my knitting needles on board the aeroplane with me? It's the question every knitter asks themselves before going on a trip. Knitting calms nervous flyers and keeps their hands busy during long flights. During the years after the September 11th attacks, some knitters had their needles confiscated during security screening. But, as of April 2010, the Transportation Security Administration allows knitting needles on aeroplanes.

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TSA Regulations

According to the official website of the Transportation Security Administration, you may pack knitting needles in your carry-on luggage as well as your checked luggage. This applies to both domestic and international flights. However, on your return flight back into the United States, the security rules of the departure country apply. Check with your airline for the rules that will apply to your return flight.

Other Knitting Items

You'll still have to sort through your knitting bag before heading to airport. The TSA doesn't allow sharp scissors or circular yarn cutters to be packed in carry-on luggage. Pack these items in your checked luggage. If you need to cut your yarn while you're on the plane, bring along a container of dental floss. The dental floss cutter will cut your yarn and is too dull to cause any security risk. TSA's regulations will allow you to bring sewing needles with you, so you can weave in the yarn ends on your project.

Extra Precautions

The Transportation Security Officers who work at airport security checkpoints are the final authority on what you're allowed to bring through the checkpoint. If you're worried that a Transportation Security Officers may not allow your knitting needles to pass through, come prepared. Print out a copy of the TSA's regulations (see References) to show the officer. You can also bring a self-addressed, stamped envelope, large enough to hold your needles, or your entire project. In the unlikely event that you're not allowed to bring your knitting needles through the security checkpoint, you can mail them to yourself instead of throwing them out.

Needle Material

Metal needles can seem more threatening or dangerous to non-knitting security officers, so you might have less issues with plastic, wood or bamboo knitting needles. Overly cautious security officers might perceive straight knitting needles of any material as a threat due to their size. Also, aeroplane seats are so close together that you'll keep bumping your neighbours with the dull ends of your needles. Double-pointed needles are small, and appear as nonthreatening as pencils. But if your double-pointed needles are made from a slippery material, they could slip out of your project and roll down the aisle of the plane. Circular needles don't take up much space when they're in use and don't roll away when dropped.

Alternatives

Although the TSA allows knitting needles to pass through security checkpoints, some knitters choose to leave their needles behind rather than take the slightest risk of losing their knitting needles. This may seem like excessive concern, but once a knitter pulls the yarn off the needles, the project can unravel, destroying all her hard work. However, alternative methods for knitting exist. Pens and pencils can act as knitting needle stand-ins. Finger knitting only requires yarn and your hands. Crochet hooks can be taken through security, and knitters can use flights as an opportunity to crochet edgings on their knitted projects.

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