Last Updated on February 21, 2022
Flying with rocks usually is pretty simple.
But there are some rocks that wouldn’t be permitted in carry-on luggage and would better be packed in checked luggage.
Let’s dig into the rules.
TSA Rocks Rules
The Transportation Security Administration publishes information about what can and can’t be brought through airport security on their website.
Here’s what they had to say about bringing rocks on a plane on the TSA website:
You can bring rocks on a plane in both carry-on bags and checked bags, but the final decision about whether a rock is allowed on the flight is taken by the TSA officer at the checkpoint.
There are some rocks that wouldn’t be permitted to be brought into the airplane cabin.
If any rock is large enough that it could be used as a weapon it won’t be allowed on the flight in a carry-on bag.
Instead, it would need to be packed in checked baggage.
Here’s an example. Danielle asked the TSA if she could take this large rock on her flight:
The TSA replied, “Although small rocks are allowed in carry-on bags, large rocks must be packed in checked bags”.
It’s not only heavy rocks that might not be allowed on planes.
Any rock that seems like it could be used as a weapon won’t be allowed on the flight.
To illustrate I asked the TSA if I would bring a sharp rock on the plane in hand luggage:
The TSA recommended that I packed that rock in checked luggage because it could be used to cause injury to other passengers or flight crew.
You should clean any rocks that you are bringing on flights across international borders. Customs don’t always like dirt coming into the country since they don’t want foreign microbes to get in.
Still Unsure? Ask The TSA
You can send a question to the TSA on Twitter or Facebook and they’ll get back to you pretty quickly.
Tessa asked the TSA about packing fossils in her carry-on luggage:
The TSA replied, “Fossils are allowed in carry-on bags with no quantity limitations”.
Simon asked about taking a flint knife:
Flint is a type of rock, but even though rocks are generally permitted rocks with blades are only allowed in checked luggage.
And Drew was advised to pack these flint arrowheads in a checked bag:
Patrick wanted to bring a brick on the plane, which he thought was just the same as a rock:
But it’s unlikely that any TSA agent would allow bricks to pass through airport security.
Dianne had her rock hammer confiscated by airport security:
This traveler wanted to bring a granite slab on the plane:
Because of the weight, the TSA advised packing it in checked luggage.
Jodi was told that this painted slate would be permitted in hand luggage:
Lane was given the go-ahead for a mineral called iron pyrite in limestone:
This passenger wanted to bring a massive sandstone address marker and was prepared to purchase a seat for it:
The TSA advised packing it in a checked bag because the security officer might not let it past the checkpoint.
Lastly, even though The Rock, aka Dwayne Johnson, is big and can be used as a weapon, he’s definitely allowed on the plane.
I mean… who’s going to argue with him!
The Bottom Line
Joking aside, here’s the takeaway.
You can pack small rocks and mineral samples in hand luggage if they are not considered by the TSA security agent to be a potential weapon.
Large rocks that could be used as a bludgeon, or any rocks with sharp edges making them a blade are considered to be a security threat and should be packed only in checked luggage.