Can You Bring A Knife In Checked Luggage Or Carry On?

Last Updated on September 14, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • According to the TSA, most knives can only be packed in checked luggage
  • Knives are prohibited from carry-on luggage
  • But you can bring a plastic or rounded butter knife without a serrated edge in carry-on luggage

So you are packing for your upcoming flight and you are wondering.. how can you bring a knife on a plane safely and legally?

This post will explain all the TSA knives rules and everything else you need to think about.

In The US You Can Only Take A Knife On A Plane In Checked Luggage

Well not exactly… you can take a plastic or round bladed butter knife on a plane in your carry on bag. You know… for those times when you really need to spread butter with your own personal knife at 38,000 feet.

For all other knives here is the relevant TSA knives rule:

TSA – All knives must be packed in checked luggage! You cannot take knives in carry on luggage. Any sharp objects in checked bags should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors. The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.

To be honest, I don’t advise taking a flat rounded metal butter knife even if the TSA say that you can.

It’s just asking for trouble and delays when you go through security. I’m quite sure the agents will want to investigate that knife to check that it is not sharp or dangerous. Packing a butter knife in hand luggage will probably mean it takes more time to get through airport security.

And then you’ll have to stand there and explain how how you really prefer spreading butter with a good flat rounded metal butter knife. I think it’s better to just leave it at home or take a plastic butter knife if you must.

These rules are obviously designed to stop people carrying dangerous weapons into the aircraft cabin. I hope you’ll agree that this minor inconvenience is sensible for everyone.

Flying With Knives Legal Issues

You need to make sure that the knife you will be carrying is legal in the jurisdiction where you are going.

It may be legal to put the knife in your checked luggage, and it may be legal to carry the knife in your home state, but as soon as you collect your luggage at the destination you could be carrying an illegal concealed knife.

Make sure it’s legal where you are going!!

Ask yourself. What is the purpose of this knife? Is it a weapon like these:

  • Automatic knives
  • Flick Knives
  • Balisongs
  • Folding knives
  • Ballistic knives

If your knife is a dangerous or deadly weapon then make sure you check the knife laws in the state you plan to travel to. Knife Up have produced this guide that is really helpful.

Also if you are traveling internationally check the knife laws in your destination country. Many countries around the world are not as relaxed about carrying weapons as the US.

Now that you know you need to take your pack any knife in checked luggage then you might be wondering if you need to declare the knife when you check your baggage.

Do You Have to Declare Knives in Checked Luggage?

In the US you don’t need to declare a properly wrapped knife that you have in checked luggage. The rules are different for firearms, which always need to be declared.

Just make sure that you pack your knife safely and securely so that anyone searching your bag will not injure themselves.

What! Surely A Pocket Knife Is Allowed on Airplanes?

Small pocket knifes, pen knifes, exacto knives, utility knives, or Swiss army knifes are not currently allowed inside the cabin on flights in the US. It’s simple. It’s a butter knife or nothing.

In 2013 the TSA planned to allow pocket knifes with blades under 2.36 inches in carry on luggage. This plan was stopped by a campaign by the Association of Flight Attendants in 2013 and a bill was passed in 2017 to stop the TSA from ever allowing knives in the aircraft cabin again.

While checking your bag because of a small knife is an inconvenience the hijacking of a planes is a little more serious than that. We support this decision to ban all knives on planes. Heck… we’d even ban the butter knife too!

Pro Tip – Consider Shipping Your Knife To Your Destination

With most airlines now charging $20 or $30 for checked baggage it may be more economical, safe, and convenient to ship your knife to your destination rather than carrying it with you.

That way you can avoid the check bags fees and travel carry on only. It also removes the concern that your knife may be stolen from the checked bag. Also you won’t need to worry that the entire checked bag gets lost.

You can save money by shipping your knife and make your life a whole lot easier.

Regardless if you intend to ship your knife it’s always a good idea to travel with a pre-paid self-addressed padded envelope with you. That way if you forget to remove your knife from your carry on luggage you can ship it back to yourself.

Can You Bring a Knife in a Checked Bag Internationally?

The rules are different in each country and you need to check with the airline you are flying with. Here are some examples for common international destinations for US travelers.

Can You Bring a Knife on a Plane in Canada?

Knives must go in checked luggage.

However, you can bring knives with blades less than 6 cm such as a swiss army knife onto a flight in Canada.

You cannot bring box cutters, utility knives, and safety razor blades into the cabin.

Can You Bring a Knife on a Plane in the UK?

The UK follows the same rules as Canada. Knives with small blades under 6 cm are permitted in hand luggage. All knives with longer blades must go inside a checked bag.

Can You Bring a Knife on a Plane in Europe?

The European Union also has the rule permitting knives under 6 cm inside the cabin.


You should have no trouble traveling with a knife packed safely and securely inside checked luggage.

The more dangerous your knife is the more careful you need to be about local laws. Use your common sense.

If you are flying in Canada or Europe you may be able to take a small pocket knife on the plane with you.

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