Can you bring Swiss Army Knife on a plane?

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Swiss Army Knives are a very common piece of arm in possession of countless U.S. citizens. If you belong to the league, and it is your first time traveling with your Swiss Army Knife in the picture – it is absolutely inevitable to ask yourself, “Can you bring Swiss Army Knife on a plane?”

To answer your question and all the other doubts attached to it here is a ‘sharp’ post on the same.

What is a Swiss Army Knife?

A Swiss Army Knife is actually a multi-purpose pocket knife that has a spear point blade; it can also serve the purpose of other tools like screwdrivers, a can opener, a scissor, and many more, other than a knife.

It was in late 1891 in Switzerland when the Swiss Army knife was produced for the first time by the Karl Elsener company, which is now known as Victorinox. 

During World War II, when the American soldiers were unable to pronounce “Offiziersmesser,” a German word that means “officer’s knife,” they later coined the term “Swiss Army knife.”

Today we can find Swiss Army knives in different colors, shapes, and sizes, but initially, the traditional color of a Swiss Army knife was Red with Victorinox “cross” logo on it.

Can you bring a Swiss Army Knife on a plane?

Yes, you can bring a Swiss Army Knife on a plane, provided that you keep it in the checked-in luggage. Technically, you can not bring a Swiss Army Knife on a plane WITH YOU in the cabin baggage. 

If you are found sneaking in a knife in your cabin baggage on any flight, either domestic or international, it will not only be confiscated, but you may also be liable for a fine, besides being unboarded from the plane. 

Thus, if you are looking to bring a Swiss Army Knife on a plane, pack it carefully in the checked-in luggage, and you will not have any problems, nor will the customs officers.

In carry-on/ hand baggage:

In 2013, TSA announced that knives could soon be brought in carry-ons, which included small pocket knives as well as tactical knives. However, the announcement never took up the form of a rule after contradiction with the airlines, unions, and government officials. 

After a while, TSA made a few changes, and the new rule that is followed to date goes as follows: You can not bring your Swiss Army Knife in cabin baggage. You can only carry plastic knives or butter knives that are no more than 2.36 inches in length, 0.5 inches in width. These knives should also not have a blade lock or a molded handle. 

Since Swiss Army Knives do not fall in this criteria, you can not carry them in your carry-on, but you can carry them in your checked-in baggage.

If you are found carrying a knife in your carry-on luggage that does not meet the TSA standards, you could be hit up with a hefty fine while also being prevented from boarding the plane.

In checked-in luggage:

TSA allows a wide variety of sharp objects in the checked-in luggage, from Swiss Army Knives to swords and even death stars. While there is a strict restriction on the blade length, curvature, and other characteristics of a knife when it comes to carrying a knife in the cabin baggage, the TSA does not specify any limits on the same in the checked-in baggage.

If you are carrying a Swiss Army Knife in your checked-in baggage, you need to oblige by the rules TSA has laid ground to, i.e., all sharp objects must be safely packed and ‘sheathed’ to avoid injury. This translates to your responsibility of packing the blade in such a way that it does not accidentally cause any injury or harm to the officers while they are inspecting your baggage. 

In case of any bodily harm caused to the customs officials at any point during the whole flight duration, from entering into the airport to leaving it at your end destination, you are vulnerable to legal action.

However, it is not always about the TSA. Why? Because TSA is only a single regulator on restricting items in the luggage, which means that as long as you are in the airport, you are fine. But, when you leave the airport, it is possible that you may be charged with a civil fine for carrying an illegal knife to the destination.

For example, TSA approves carrying butterfly knives in checked-in baggage. However, butterfly knives are illegal in most U.S. States. This could translate to charges and even penalties by the local bodies (since they operate independently of TSA).

Thus, it is best to know about the legalities regarding which sharp objects are allowed on your end destination. When it comes to a Swiss Army Knife, most countries allow possession of Swiss Army Knives, but always check with the local bodies and communities before carrying it on a plane, even if it is approved by the TSA.

How to pack a Swiss Army Knife in checked-in luggage?

Here are a few important tips on packing a Swiss Army Knife in your checked-in baggage:

  • The Swiss Army Knife should have as little room as possible. It must be ensured by the traveler that its movement is very limited in the luggage.
  • Upon performing an investigation, the customs officer must not be at any risk by the knife. It is recommended to label the knife container with a warning so that while inspecting the container, the officer is attentive.
  • The tip and the cutting edge of your Swiss Army Knife should be secured so that it is unable to cause any cutting or stabbing effect when being inspected by the security personnel.
  • It is always advisable to carry your Swiss Army Knife or any sharp object in a metal/wooden container with a lock that complies with TSA’s approved locking standards. 
  • If you do not have a lock on the container, you should try taping it. In case you are solely using tape to ‘sheath’ the knife, use scotch or duct tape to ensure enough safety.
  • Of course, you will be packing boots or shoes with you when traveling; in this case, you can wrap the knife in your socks and stuff them in the boots or shoes. If you are running out of space,
  • You can always use a DIY container to pack your Swiss Army Knife by cutting two pieces of cardboard, placing the knife in between, and taping it with a duct or scotch tape.

Do You Have to Declare Swiss Army Knife in Checked Luggage?

No, you do not have to declare Swiss Army Knives (or any legally allowed knives) in the checked-in luggage if you are traveling within the U.S., since the TSA gives full approval to the passengers to carry knives in the checked-in baggage. However, that does not mean you should not declare knives.

There have been reports that on multiple instances, checked-in baggage carrying knives were not loaded in the cargo hold since they contained undeclared knives. Although you are not obliged to declare knives, you need to understand that knives are a gray area. If customs officers consider your undeclared Swiss Army Knife a threat for one or multiple reasons, they will confiscate it, or worse, not board your checked-in luggage on the plane.

Thus, we recommend voluntarily declaring knives, just as you would firearms or large quantities of medications and other sharp objects. If you are traveling internationally, it is more strongly advised to declare Swiss Army Knives or any other knife or sharp objects. It is possible that the airline employees may forget the rule, or some countries might require the declaration of any or all sharp objects, including your Swiss Army Knife; thus, declare them to avoid the hassle.

Which knives are illegal to be carried on a plane?

As much as you’d like to get fancy with your knives, the TSA just won’t approve. Although it does permit bringing even a SWORD (with exaggeration) on a plane, there are a few knives and sharp objects that it considers illegal:

All knives with blades that can be opened with one hand, disregarding the fact that the one-hand opening mechanism has been removed, switchblades also known as automatic-opening knives, gravity knives, butterfly knives or knives with two parted handles, disguised knives, i.e., knives that do not look like knives such as belt-buckle knives, neck-knife, etc., push daggers, and knives that have ready access by the wearer such as boot knives and neck or belt knives.

It is worth noting that it is not just the TSA but the Knife Legislation (a body of statutory or case law in regards to knives) that strictly prohibits the ownership and possession of any of these knives mentioned above. 

Thus, it is safe to say that these knives are not only banned by the TSA but also in most countries, including the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, India, etc.

5 Pocket-Friendly Knives allowed in Carry-On

Although you can not carry Swiss Army Knives with you in the cabin baggage/ carry-on, here are five pocket-friendly, TSA-complying knives that will most likely be allowed in the carry-on by the customs officials:

1. Victorinox Jetsetter 3

Victorinox is a brand that is known for manufacturing Swiss Army Knives with high-quality steel. It also produces other tools with essential features precisely for particular applications. 

The Victorinox Jetsetter 3 is a unique model that has no blade, which makes it flight-friendly, and you can freely carry it everywhere you go. It is just 2 ¼ in length, but it’s very productive, and some of its essential functions include its ability to be used as scissors, wire stripper, and bottle opener. 

It comes with a lifetime warranty, and the company also offers a money-back guarantee, so you can rely on it for years to come.

2. Leatherman Style PS

Leatherman Style P.S. is one of those multi-purpose tools that you can carry along, and it can go through airport security. It is a unique, travel-friendly tool that can easily fit in your pocket, and you won’t be able to realize that you are carrying it. 

Plastic material is used in the Leatherman Style P.S. to keep it lightweight and free from corrosion.

You can use it as a spring-action wire cutter, scissor, screwdriver, combination carabiner, and more. The manufacturer offers a 25 years warranty, so you can be confident and use the product for a long period of time.

3. Gerber Shard

The Gerber Shard keychain tool comes with a simple design, and it can be an ideal keychain companion. It is an airline-safe tool that comes with seven functions, including a bottle opener, pry bar, wire stripper, and lanyard hole. 

It is built with stainless steel material which makes it sturdy, and the titanium coating makes it corrosion-free. This compact tool weighs around 15 g, and its total length is 2.75″, which makes it pocket-friendly and easy to carry. 

Cross driver, pry bar, wire stripper, bottle opener, and more functions can be performed by the Gerber Shard. 

This simple yet functional and handy tool comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

4. Gerber Dime Travel

Gerber Dime Travel is a mini multi-purpose tool that comes with a bladeless version and multiple colors to choose from. It has butterfly openings for easy access, and it is a great companion for your day-to-day tasks. 

This keychain tool offers you 12 useful tools in a compact and lightweight design that fits perfectly in your pocket. Here are some of the functions that the tool provides you with are steel pliers, wire cutters, spring-loaded scissors, flathead screwdriver, crosshead driver, tweezers, and file. 

The stainless steel material of the tool ensures long and corrosion-free life, and it comes with an additional limited lifetime warranty. It weighs around 65 g and has an 11 cm total length.

5. CRKT Viva

CRKT Viva tool has been designed by world-class designers who intend to make a keychain tool that acts like a toolbox when needed. 

Due to its compact design, you can hook it onto your belt or bag loops and use it whenever you need it. It’s just 3.99″ in length and weighs around 30 g, but it can work as a flat screwdriver, pry bar, a hex wrench, and a bottle opener.

It comes with a matt finish texture, and it is corrosion-resistant. The CRKT company offers a limited lifetime warranty against manufacturing and defects.

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Author - Willa Carson
Happywayfarer author Willa Carson
Hi, I'm Willa Carson, a passionate traveler who has been exploring the world for 7 years. Whether it's trekking through the Himalayas, exploring ancient ruins in South America, or simply savoring a cup of coffee at a local cafe, I believe that travel has the power to enrich our lives in countless ways. So join me on my journey and let's discover the world together!
Read more about me here.

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