To many travelers, getting through airport security without having to fork over any of your belongings could be considered an Olympic achievement. And for such a calming activity, crafting sure does require some potentially questionable tools when it comes to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines.
More often than not, what is really comes down to is the size of your tool as opposed to the actual function of it. Even still, it's best to check if your item is approved for travel by the TSA—either in a carry-on or checked bag—before heading to the airport. Luckily for all of us traveling crafters, the MyTSA App has a special function called "Can I Bring?" And, as you have probably already guessed, it's a helpful resource to reference for what you can and cannot bring on an airplane with you. It also breaks down the rules for items with carry-on exceptions like scissors (more on that to come).
In the name of safety and crafting while on vacation, we did some digging into what you can and cannot pack in your carry-on bag, from knitting needles to crochet hooks. But remember: Each TSA location is given full jurisdiction on what can and can't make it on the plane, so have some patience if you're asked to dig out your tools or assemble them for inspection. And always check the TSA website before you pack—it's an incredible resource that could save you a lot of time at the security checkpoint.
You can pack knitting needles in both your carry-on or checked baggage. According to the app and the TSA website, there are no restrictions on size, but multiple forums have mentioned that you may have an easier time with wooden or plastic varieties at the security checkpoint; alternatively, a set of metal needles (or circular needles with a metal joining cable) will set off the detectors.
Yes, crochet hooks are allowed on airplanes (in both your carry-on or checked) by the TSA. One note: The app does notes that "sharp objects in checked bags should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors." That would go for knitting needles, as well. Therefore, it's a good idea to carry them in a roll-up case or bundle the pointed ends of your tool with fabric and an elastic.
While you can pack a pair of scissors in your checked baggage with no issues, there is a rule for bringing them through security. If your scissors are longer than four inches from the pivot point, you can't bring them through. Instead, check them in your bag. Any pair smaller than four inches should be permissible. Just make sure to remove them from your carry-on bag and place them in the TSA bin as you pass through; that way, security personnel won't have to rummage through your bag to find them.
Although always allowed in checked baggage, there are some restrictions for traveling with pliers in carry-on bags. If your pliers—or any similar tool—are longer than seven inches when fully assembled, they have to travel in your checked luggage. Anything smaller than seven inches can be carried in a carry-on, but be prepared to assemble it for TSA.
The big question here is will your sewing machine fit in the overhead bin of an airplane. If the answer is yes, the TSA is okay with you bringing your machine on the airplane with you. Giggle all you want, but this could come in handy if you're coming from a crafting conference or event where you spotted a deal that you just couldn't miss out on.
And if something is confiscated? Not all is lost. Confirm ahead of your trip that the airport has mail facilities, and you may be able to send the item home instead of losing it for good. You may want to carry a padded envelope—self-addressed with proper postage—just in case you are not permitted to bring something on board.