Wherever you’re flying to, a Swiss Army knife can be an invaluable tool to bring with you.
Unfortunately, while you can bring a Swiss Army knife on a plane, it must only be packed in your checked bag – i.e. you will not be able to pack it in your carry-on and pass through airport security.
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The Size of the Blade Makes No Difference
While the TSA allow you to bring an item like scissors in your carry-on as long as the blade is less than 4 inches, this doesn’t apply to Swiss Army knives.
So if you were thinking that you can bring something like one of the smaller Victorinox Swiss Army knifes or any other brand, you still won’t be able to in your carry-on.
The TSA and airlines are closely aligned – and there is no exception for passengers who want to bring a Swiss Army knife.
So while no airline, including both major and regional air carriers, like Delta, Southwest, United, American Airlines etc. will have a problem letting you pack your knife in your checked bag, you won’t be able to carry it on and your board a plane
Bringing a Swiss Army Knife on International Flights
Here are the rules on the length of blades when flying to popular international destinations:
- EU: Knives with blades no longer than 6 cm (2.36 inches) are allowed in your carry on bags.
- UK: Knives with blades no longer than 6 cm (2.36 inches) are allowed in your carry on bags.
- Canada: Knives with blades no longer than 6 cm (2.36 inches) are allowed in your carry on bags.
- Australia: Pocket knifes are forbidden in your carry on bags.
- China: Pocket knifes are forbidden in your carry on bags.
However, there’s still a possibility that your Swiss Army knife will be confiscated because the final decision will rest with the security officer at the checkpoint.
If they think your Swiss Army knife poses a threat, they won’t allow you to pass through with it.
It just isn’t worth the hassle and risk of confiscation to pack your Swiss Army knife in your carry-on, so to be on the safe side, pack it in your checked bag when flying both domestically and internationally.
How to Pack a Swiss Army Knife for Flying
As you now know, the only way you will be able to bring a Swiss Army Knife on a plane is if you pack it in your checked bag.
You shouldn’t just throw the knife in your bag and pick your bag up at your destination, though.
The TSA state that any sharp objects that you pack in your checked bags, including a Swiss Army knife, should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers or in case your bag needs to be inspected.
If you don’t have a case, you can wrap any sharp objects in bubble wrap, or simply in layers of clothing, a towel, or anything else that is soft and thick.
Pocket Knives, Multi-Tools and Other Sharp Objects
Only plastic or round-bladed butter knives are allowed in your carry on bags. All other type of knives aren’t allowed, including pocket knives, and other multi-tools with a blade.
Some types of knives and other sharp objects aren’t even allowed to be packed in your checked bag, including flick knives, butterfly knives, throwing stars, death stars, throwing knives, and push daggers.
Scissors with a blade that is under 4 inches are allowed in your carry-on bag for U.S. flights, but this changes to 2.36 inches for international flights.
Other sharp items that you can bring on a plane include:
- Box Cutters: Only in your checked bags
- Disposable Razor: Only in your checked bags
- Electric Razor: Yes, in both your carry on and checked bags
- Ice Axes/Ice Picks: Only in your checked bags
- Razor-Type Blades: Only in your checked bags
- Sabers: Only in your checked bags
- Saws: Only in your checked bags
- Scissors: You can bring scissors on a plane in both your carry on bags and checked bags. But if packed in your carry-on, the blade must be less than 4 inches from the pivot point
- Sewing Needles: Yes, in both your carry on and checked bags
- Swords: Only in your checked bags
Consequences of Bringing a Swiss Army
If you attempt to bring a Swiss Army knife in your carry-on, it will simply be confiscated, as you will not be able to pass through airport security with one in your possession.
A Swiss Army knife isn’t particularly dangerous, so no further action will be taken against you.
According to the TSA, only if you bring any of the following sharp objects are you subject to a fine, which can be between $390 – $2,250:
Axes and hatchets; bows and/or arrows; ice axes and ice picks; knives with blades that open automatically (such as switchblades); knives with blades that open via gravity (such as butterfly knives); any double-edge knives or daggers; meat cleavers; sabers; swords; fencing foils;machetes; throwing stars.
If you forgot that you were traveling with a Swiss Army knife and really don’t want it to be confiscated, you can mail it to yourself before you pass through airport security.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).