Last Updated on August 28, 2022
One of the best things about the Nintendo Switch is that it’s so portable.
But can you take a Switch on a plane? And what do you need to know about flying with a Switch?
Let’s find out.
Nintendo Switch TSA Rules
The Transportation Security Administration runs the airport security checkpoint. They screen every bag before boarding to look for prohibited items.
While they mention full size games consoles on their website they don’t specifically mention any rules about traveling with a Nintendo Switch.
I checked Twitter to get a definitive answer and a passenger called Rod had already asked:
Handheld gaming systems like the Nintendo Switch are allowed in both carry-on & checked bags.
But the best place to pack a nintendo switch is in carry-on bags. Valuables that are packed in checked luggage can potentially be lost, damaged, or stolen.
Some airlines allow you to bring two types of hand luggage. The carry-on bag and the personal item bag.
You can pack your Switch in either of those bags. Or, in fact, if you have a carrying case for your Switch that carrying case could be your personal item rather than say a handbag or purse.
Budget airlines like Spirit or Frontier usually only allow passengers to bring one bag. That means your Switch needs to be packed inside your suitcase when boarding the flight and walking past the airline staff at the boarding gate.
But you’ll need to take it out of your bag at security screening.
Taking A Nintendo Switch Through Airport Security
You will be asked to remove personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone from your carry-on bag and place them into a bin with nothing placed on or under them for X-ray screening.
The Nintendo Switch is considered “larger than a cell phone” by the TSA.
That means your Nintendo Switch needs to be removed from any bag or carrying case and placed in a separate bin at the TSA security checkpoint.
This is so that your Switch will not obstruct the view of your luggage taken by the x-ray machine.
You don’t need to remove controllers or chargers from your bag at the security checkpoint, only the Switch console itself.
Be careful not to lose your Switch at this point. Some travelers forget to put their Switch back into their luggage after going through security.
Can You Play Your Nintendo Switch On A Plane?
You can use your switch on a plane but you need to activate flight mode.
That means that you won’t be able to play online games or to buy any new games.
Switching on flight mode means that cellular data is disabled and also bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
It’s only cellular data that needs to be disabled during the flight.
So if you want to connect to in-flight Wi-Fi during your flight your are permitted to do so.
You just need to go back into the flight mode settings and turn WiFi back on.
Connecting to inflight Wi-Fi will get you back online but don’t expect the service to be stable enough for low latency gaming.
Similarly you are allowed to re-enable Bluetooth after you have turned airplane mode on.
You’ll need to do that if you want to use your joy-con controllers in tabletop mode since they need Bluetooth to work.
Likewise, you can use Bluetooth headphones on a plane, so if you want to use them with your Switch you’ll need to re-enable Bluetooth.
Noise cancelling headphones might make your experience on the flight more enjoyable.
You might not be able to charge your Switch during the flight. You could bring a usb c cable and with luck your might have an outlet on your plane seat but it will charge slowly.
So it’s best to bring a power bank on on the plane with you especially if you are taking a long flight.
Flying Internationally With A Nintendo Switch
Keep in mind that if you are flying internationally with a Switch the airport security rules of your departure country will apply.
They are likely to be similar to the TSA rules but if in doubt check the local information.
The Bottom Line
Portable devices like Nintendo Switches are allowed on planes, but when using them flight mode must be enabled.
Lastly, remember not to leave your Switch behind on the plane!
Lots of passengers put their Switch into a seat pocket on the plane and forget to take it with them when leaving.
If you check Twitter you’ll see lots of frantic calls out to United, Delta, American Airlines etc from passengers asking how to get their Switch back that they left behind on the flight.
So try to remember to take it with you when you land!
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