UPDATE: A change in policy… the Federal Aviation Administration has put a hold on this new mandate. As of now knives of most all types are banned on U.S. commercial air flights. (Allowed are “plastic or round bladed butter knives” only, according to TSA.org.) We will monitor the situation and update on changes as they come.
In a dramatic policy change, the Federal Aviation Administration will soon allow small knives on commercial airplanes. Starting on April 25th, airline passengers can carry pocketknives with small blades. We’re not talking tactical knives. Even most Swiss Army Knives are still banned. But the new rules allow small knives with blades of 2.36 inches or shorter to come into the cabin and travel in your pocket or a carryon bag.
Fixed or locking blades are not permitted. Neither are knives with “molded grips.” The Travel Safety Administration published a document called “Changes to Prohibited Items List” that outlines the new criteria.
We contacted several knife brands this week to find TSA-compliant models in current stock. See below for 10 knives that should pass inspection in a TSA security line. —Stephen Regenold
The new TSA rules take effect on April 25th. Flight attendant associations and large airlines like Delta have expressed serious concern and opposition to the policy change.
The TSA “Prohibited Items” document is highly visual with knife examples (see above). Bullet-pointed lists reveal what is and is not allowed, including blade length, width, and knife types. But there’s room for interpretation with some points on the document. I will be nervous taking any knife on an airplane still.
Some brands, including Buck, were hesitant to recommend knife model names for this article, as the TSA criteria is low on details. A Spyderco spokesperson, Joyce Laituri, said the brand “manufactures no knife models that fall within the carry parameters released by the TSA.”
Laituri continued, “We have spoken internally about creating a model but are waiting for TSA to further define the requirements before committing to the cost and time involved in tooling up a new knife design.”
SOG sells a knife, the Micron (above), which has a 1.5-inch blade. It looks like a mini tactical knife, including saw teeth and a tanto-point tip. Most likely TSA would allow it, but I would double check with an agent before trying to pass through with the Micron’s aggressive look and hand-contouring grip.
“SOG advises everybody to follow the TSA rules,” said Matt Crawford, a representative for the Washington knife brand. “We’re certainly not on a promotional campaign to encourage folks to carry-on knives. If there’s ever a doubt, check it.”
—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.GearJunkie.com.