Whether you want to bring a pen on a plane to solve a Sudoku or crossword puzzle, to fill out an immigration form, or for any other reason, there are a few things to know.
In short, you can bring pens on a plane in both your carry on and checked bags in unlimited quantities.
But it’s important to know if the type of pen matters, what will happen if you want to bring ink, if you can also bring pencils, and what to do if you’re worried the pen will explode in-flight.
Table of Contents
- 1 Pens in Your Carry on Bags
- 2 Pens in Your Checked Bags
- 3 Domestic vs. International Flights
- 4 By Airline
- 5 Type of Pen
- 6 You Can Bring Ink on a Plane
- 7 You Can Bring Pencils on a Plane
- 8 And Markers and Highlighters Too
- 9 Pens May Explode or Leak on a Plane
- 10 How to Fly With a Fountain Pen
Pens in Your Carry on Bags
The TSA state that you can bring pens on a plane in your carry on bags without any restrictions.
This means that you can pack as many pens as you want in your carry on bags.
Pens in Your Checked Bags
Again, the TSA state that you can bring pens on a plane in your checked bags without any restrictions.
There are also no restrictions to how many pens you can pack in your carry on bags.
Domestic vs. International Flights
It makes no difference if you’re flying domestically within the USA or internationally to anywhere else in the world.
You are allowed to bring pens in both your carry on and checked bags.
All airlines follow TSA regulations.
What this means is that it doesn’t matter if you’re flying with a major or regional air carrier in the USA, like United, Southwest, or American Airlines, or anywhere else in the world.
All airlines will allow you to bring pens on a plane in both your carry on and checked bags.
Type of Pen
The TSA state that you can bring fountain pens on a plane in both your carry on and checked bags.
The only thing to be aware of is that there is a limit on how much ink you can bring.
The fountain pen itself, as most usually only contain 1-2ml of ink, will be fine to travel with, but if you want to travel with a container of ink, there will be restrictions.
The TSA state that it is fine to bring colored pens on a plane in both your carry on and checked bags.
You can bring gel pens on a plane in both your checked and carry on bags.
While gel substances are part of TSA’s 3-1-1 Rule that have quantity limitations, gel pens usually only contain 1-2ml of gel, so will be fine to bring with you.
Again, there will be no problem packing mechanical pens in either your carry on or checked bags and bringing them on your next flight.
You Can Bring Ink on a Plane
You are allowed to bring ink on a plane in both your carry on and checked bags.
However, if the ink is in a container that is larger than 3.4oz/100ml, you will not be allowed to bring it in your carry on bags.
This is because of the TSA’s 3-1-1 Rule that forbids any liquids, gels or aerosols being transported in your carry on bags if the container exceeds 3.4oz/100ml.
You Can Bring Pencils on a Plane
You will have no problem bringing pencils on a plane in either your carry on or checked bags.
This applies to all types of pencils, whether they be graphite, carbon, watercolor etc.
And Markers and Highlighters Too
You can bring pack both markers and highlighters in your carry on or checked bags without running into any issues.
Pens May Explode or Leak on a Plane
While most pens you fly with will be fine and won’t explode or leak on a plane, it’s still a possibility.
This is especially true for roller ball pens that use liquid ink in a reservoir instead of a wick to store the ink.
How to Fly With a Fountain Pen
If you want to fly with a fountain pen and reduce the risk of it leaking due to cabin pressure changes in flight, you should:
- Remove the fountain pen ink and clean the pen
Fly with a pen full of ink (a partially filled pen is more likely to leak)
- Keep the nib upward
Only use your pen during the normal cruising altitude – not during descent or ascent
- Place the pen inside a ziplock bag
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).