Last Updated on March 19, 2023
- Tennis rackets are allowed through the TSA airport security checkpoint
- But each airline regulates the size, weight, and number of items each traveler is allowed to carry on a plane
- A standard tennis racket is too large to fit inside a carry-on suitcase
- Airlines that allow the linear inches method of measuring carry-on bags may allow passengers to carry tennis rackets
- Depending on how strict your airline is you may be able to bring a tennis racket as a personal item to store under the seat in front of you
- You can always pack a tennis racket inside checked luggage but checked bags may involve additional fees
TSA Tennis Racket Rules
It’s the task of the Transportation Security Administration to prevent dangerous items from bring brought on to plane. They are mainly interested in limiting liquids and preventing passengers from bringing weapons with them when they fly.
Case in point, you can’t bring a baseball bat on a plane in hand luggage since baseball bats are too useful in a fight.
But most modern tennis are lightweight enough that the TSA doesn’t consider them to be a weapon. Although it should be said that the final decision is always taken by the TSA officer that inspects your luggage.
Here’s a screengrab from the TSA website:
Unfortunately, individual airlines also have rules about the size of hand luggage that you can bring with you when you fly.
Bringing A Tennis Racket As Carry-On Luggage
And the standard length of a tennis racket is 27 inches meaning that it won’t fit inside your carry-on luggage even if packed diagonally in your suitcase. The maximum length allowed in professional tennis is 29 inches.
So your problem when trying to bring a tennis racket on the plane is complying with airline hand luggage size rules and getting it past airline boarding agents.
Also, check-in agents who need to make sure everything fits in the overhead bin sometimes force gate-check items.
The likelihood of you being able to bring a tennis racquet on a plane depends on which airline you are flying with.
There are two different hand luggage measuring methods that airlines sometimes use.
The Set Dimensions Method – Suppose the carry-on size limit is written as 22 x 14 x 9 inches. If any of those dimensions are exceeded then your tennis racket will not permitted to be brought on to the plane.
The linear inches method – If the airline writes that the carry-on luggage size limit is 45 linear inches then it’s the total sum of the three dimensions that is important. Suppose you have a tennis bag that is 29 inches long, 13 inches wide and 2 inches high. The sum of those 3 dimensions is 44 inches. Since that is under the 45 linear inches limit then it would qualify to be brought on the plane as hand luggage as a carry-on bag.
Bringing A Tennis Racket As A Personal Item
Depending on what airline you are flying with they might allow you to bring a tennis racket on the plane as your personal item.
The personal item is hand baggage that should be stowed under the seat in front of you. Usually this is a handbag or a briefcase but a more relaxed airline might permit you to bring a tennis racket.
Low-cost airlines usually have much stricter carry-on luggage policies since this is where a lot of their profits come from.
Legacy airlines have a little more flexibility. Their ticket prices are higher so they don’t need to nickel and dime you with luggage charges to turn a profit.
Bringing A Tennis Racket In Checked Baggage
You can pack a tennis racket inside your checked luggage no problem.
Keep in mind, overweight items can lead to extra fees so use a luggage scale to check your weight.
There are often fees for checked luggage and there is also the risk that items could be lost, stolen, or damaged.
If you do go down this route then extra padding or a good tennis racket bag are a good way to protect checked rackets from damage by baggage handlers.
Airline Policies On Carrying Rackets Onboard
Here’s what some of the major airlines in the US say about flying with tennis rackets.
Most airlines don’t specifically mention tennis rackets on their websites so I was researching using Twitter.
So according to this Tweet by AA you can bring tennis rackets on a plane if the bag is within 45 linear inches.
Delta Air Lines
Check out this conversation Delta had about an oversize item of hand luggage:
Bringing tennis rackets is possible on Delta flights but you would use up your carry-on allowance. You’d then need to pack your clothes in your personal item bag that fits under the seat.
As Paul discovered, what you probably can’t do is bring a tennis racket as a third carry-on bag.
Frontier charged a fee for this passenger to bring a tennis racket:
Frontier don’t usually allow you to bring a regular carry-on size suitcase on the plane anyway. They expect most passengers to pack their clothes in their personal item bag.
So it seems like it is possible to bring tennis luggage on a Frontier flight but you’ll need to pay extra for it.
There were some tweets suggesting that you can bring a single tennis racket on a JetBlue flight but they were old and the rules might have changed.
Tennis bags containing multiple rackets would need to be carried as a checked luggage.
Contact JetBlue for their current policy.
Southwest usually have a generous luggage policy but Nancy wasn’t able to bring her tennis racket on the plane:
No big surprises here. Feech was hit with an $80 charge to bring a tennis racket on a Spirit flight.
Deborah asked United if she could bring her tennis racket on to her flight:
This time it seemed like a positive response.
The bottom line is that you need to contact the airline that you are flying with to see if they permit it.
Even then the rules might change depending on the gate agent you deal with at the airport.
Expect that you might need to check your tennis racket when you fly.