Tuesday March 31st 2015

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Flying with Knitting Needles

airplaneOkay, here’s what I’ve been able to find so far that’s officially official (as of 2 July 2010) on flying with knitting needles, and I’ll be updating as I find more info. These are only the official rules and do not necessarily guarantee that you will or won’t get your knitting onto the airplane.

Keep in mind that these rules and regs are subject to change at any time. Before flying, click through to the links and double-check that the regs for that country/countries are correct at time of your flight. If the agency responsible for safety in the country of origin for the flight have recently raised the current security level, expect closer scrutiny of your luggage and your person. (Srsly. Check. It may have changed and I haven’t caught up yet.)

While looking for information on security for any airport, make sure that you are looking at the official website for the airport. There are many “gateway” websites that look like official websites but are not.

If you have further information, please do add it in the comments below and I’ll add it to the main article.

Remember: if you flew out of a country secured by an agency that allowed your needles, it does not mean that your return trip will allow your needles. The rules of the country your flight is departing from apply, not those of the country you originally flew from.

Wooden, resin and plastic needles seem to have a better chance of getting on board than do metal pins of any sort.

If you would like to try to get your knitting on-board despite the needles being specifically prohibited, you can try the interchangeable trick. Do not use your very best interchangeables for this, as they may still be taken from you. Unscrew the tips from the cable and put caps on the cable to hold your knitting. (If you are nervous about having the knitting itself taken from you or dropped stitches if they insist the cable is a problem, try putting the knitting itself on yarn rather than putting end caps on the cables and leaving the knitting on the cable. In which case you might try putting the cable itself with computer cables.) Put the tips with your pens and pencils. (One Raveler suggests using the tips as hair ornaments or picks.)

It’s important to know that if an airline allows knitting needles, it does not necessarily mean that a civil security organization allows knitting needles and vice versa. An international airline may fly into and out of many different airports in different countries, some of which may allow knitting needles and some of which may not. It is always up to the discretion of the screening officer examining your luggage whether to allow your needles, regardless of what rules and regulations state, and then it’s possible that your airline may prohibit needles on their planes.

I have found several mentions online that EU regulations made in the late 80′s prohibit knitting needles. I can find no mention of this regulation being changed since. UPDATE: I have recently seen news that EU security authorities are currently looking at ways to streamline and otherwise make security measures less draconian…by about 2013. This is mainly about the liquids ban, but who knows, maybe we’ll see knitting needles finally come off the prohibited list!

If  security does take your knitting needles, best advice is not to cry, throw a temper tantrum, or threaten. Security forces all over the world take a fairly dim view of these activities, and the reaction you will receive will probably not help you to have a nice day.

Australia: Government announces change of rules, including allowing knitting needles. Recent flyers report no problems with knitting needles.

Canada: CATSA says knitting needles allowed on flights.

Czech Republic, possibly EU: The Prague Ruzyně Airport website prohibits “knives, pointed / edged weapons and sharp objects” and “pointed or bladed articles capable of causing injury” but does not mention knitting needles specifically. Recent travelers (see comments, thanks KSDixon!) have had needles (and project!) confiscated with prohibitions against knitting needles cited.

Finland: TraFi, the Finnish Civil Aviation Authority, states (in English) that knitting needles in checked luggage only. However, reader Velena (thanks Velena!) has let us know that wooden and plastic needles are stated (in Finnish!) as being allowed in your carry on luggage!

Greece, possibly EU: Both Aegean and Olympic specifically prohibit knitting needles on their airplanes, mentioning “current comprehensive prohibition” against them but not giving the citation.

India: Have not seen official site stating any rules, but recent travelers have said that all airports but one have signs up that specifically prohibit knitting needles.

Ireland, possibly EU: Citizens Information website states that knitting needles are prohibited on flights throughout the EU.

Italy, possibly EU: Pisa International Airport states knitting needles are prohibited on flights in Italy

Mexico: Mexicana’s website does not specifically prohibit knitting needles, but reported conversations with personnel in Mexican airports suggest that the national policy is “no knitting needles.”

Sweden: SAS expressly allows knitting needles on board, however, the Swedish Transport Agency states that EU regulations apply in Sweden. Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport states that all pointed articles that could be used as weapons should be checked and refers readers to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Switzerland: Swiss International Air specifically prohibits knitting needles in carry-on luggage. Thanks to reader CarrollB for providing an English translation of the German FOCA baggage restrictions: no knitting needles allowed in carry-on, but allowed in checked luggage (along with knives, pocketknives, scissors, and files…as items that could be misused as weapons).

Turkey: There is no mention of knitting needles specifically on the Turkish Airlines website. Sun Express expressly forbids knitting needles.

UK: BAA says knitting needles are now allowed in carry-ons for flights out of Heathrow, Aberdeen, Stansted, Glasgow, and Southampton. (Yippeee! Many thanks to Brooke for pointing out this change in security rules!) It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that, as always, the screening security officer may confiscate your needles at their discretion. BAA’s Edinburgh and Naples airport websites make no mention of knitting needles, however, travelers recently going through Naples say that knitting needles are no longer mentioned on the prohibited items list. (GatwickManchester AirportLeeds Bradford, and London City, which are not run by BAA, still list knitting needles on the prohibited list.) Stay tuned for breaking news.

USA: TSA says knitting needles allowed on flights. TSA officers may of course confiscate your needles at their discretion.

Reader Feedback

29 Responses to “Flying with Knitting Needles”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Knitting with Rats, Lorenda Dowdey. Lorenda Dowdey said: Another Long Yarn » Tools » Flying with Knitting Needles: If you would like to try to get your knitting on-board d… http://bit.ly/4SJPtZ [...]

  2. That always cracks me up.. The cables would make much more effective weapons, as garrotes! (yes, I have an odd sense of humor)

    • Zina says:

      Yes, in my more dramatic nightmares I now know that I need to stealthily get behind some terrorist with my knitting, so I can wrap my latest project on it’s cable around his neck and choke him into the ground. Take that, scum!

  3. Steffi says:

    Thanks for the info! I might just try the hair stick trick. With a dpn? It could work.

    • Zina says:

      I guess I’d personally be more comfy (somewhat literally) with dpn’s in my hair if they were over a certain size — I wouldn’t want some of my 2mm anywhere near my head, pointy as they are!

  4. velena says:

    Finland: wooden or plastic needles are OK in carry-on. (That info is in Finnish)

  5. Jasmine says:

    Thanks for the information! I’m flying to Australia in three weeks and couldn’t find any good information until now.

    • Zina says:

      Ooh, have fun! I loved Australia, and would love to get back there again — let us know how your trip went!

      • Rob says:

        I would be careful with wood needles and Australia. They have a very strict ban on any wood items coming in. I would go with plastic or cheap wood ones that you just may need to give up in customs control.
        Just say nothing and then act surprised if they find them at the customs counter. Don’t as, don’t tell and then play stupid is the best at any customs counter I find.

        • Zina says:

          Well, now, that’s a first — usually it’s the other way around, with everyone saying wood is easier to get in than metal, but that’s def something to keep in mind for Aus, certainly. I do know people have been saying no problems in Aus with needles since the beginning of the year.

  6. Kristina says:

    This is VERY helpful information and I wish I’d had it before I went to Mexico with my knitting needles. I’ve flown many times domestically and know that knitting needles are allowed, so I didn’t think anything of it – especially when I was allowed into Mexico with my knitting needles. On the way out they confiscated my “baby” blunt end scissors, my blunt yarn needles, and my size 0 circular needles on which I was knitting a sock but thankfully hadn’t gotten very far. I asked to speak to a manager and was told again they were not allowed. So I took the needles and threw them in the trash and used the blunt scissors to cut my circular needles into peices. There was no way I was going to let my $12 needles end up in Aunt Margarita’s hands – petty I know – but very irritating. The irony is that when I boarded my plane – a lady in first class was knitting!!! Just shoot me.

    Thanks for the site.

    • Zina says:

      Oh, what a bummer. Especially the lady in first class thing. Grrr.

    • speattle says:

      I would do the same thing. I would be sure to break any needles before handing them over. My normal flying knitting project is to make a dishcloth. I use the cheap throwaway freebie chopsticks from our favorite restaurant. I taper the ends very slightly with sandpaper. Whatever size they are, they work well for a dishcloth and if lost or confiscated, no monetary loss for me.

      I also take a medium size cheap plastic crochet hook and a plastic (from a child’s needlepoint kit) tapestry needle and a container of dental floss. The floss container makes a handy cutter for the yarn. Not quite as efficient as a scissor of course, but it gets the job done.

  7. carrollb says:

    From FOCA (so Swiss International Air): no knitting needles allowed in carry-on, but allowed in checked luggage (along with knives, pocketknives, scissors, and files…as items that could be misused as weapons).
    (Im Handgepäck verboten aber im aufgegebenen Gepäck erlaubt…Gegenstände, die als Waffe missbraucht werden können (wie z.B. Messer, Taschenmesser, Scheren, Feilen, Stricknadeln) sind nicht erlaubt im Handgepäck. Diese Gegenstände können aber im aufgegebenen Gepäck mitgenommen werden.)

  8. KSDixon says:

    Just had an unpleasant time in Czech Republic – no knitting needles of any kind are allowed in carry on baggage. I was fortunate that the Czech Air employees were able to retrieve my confiscated circular needles and put them in my carry on bag, which they then checked and stowed under the aircraft. I was not about to lose over a foot of lace shawl!

    • Zina says:

      Oh phew…how awful, and what a close call! Sooo glad they were able to help you.

      I’ll add the info on the Czech Republic regs tomorrow — thanks for that!

  9. Bonnie says:

    Mexico – no “needles” of any kind allowed. They made me cut them and turn them over to security. The last time I tried this went to the security line to confirm before checking my luggage because I brought bamboo instead of metal. Even the bamboo ones they wouldn’t allow. No amount of arguing in Spanish helped either :)

  10. Kristin says:

    Hi, I’ve flown through Iceland, Sweden and Finland with plastic and wooden needles in my carry-on and had no problems whatsoever (I even had a conversation about knitting with one of the male security officers in Keflavík airport!). It appears to be similar to Canada and the US, in that, it really depends on security, but I don’t know anyone else in Sweden who’s had any problems (recently).

  11. Jessica says:

    Just found this post and had to add that, in Mexico, crochet hooks are not allowed, either. I had a rather large (not sharp at all) crochet hook confiscated in the Cancun airport – after it had already made it through security. I had pulled out my project while I was waiting for my flight and the guard took it from me. Apparently, no needles or hooks whatsoever are allowed, no matter the size. Let me tell you, I feel soooo much safer.

  12. GreenBee says:

    I just flew out of Mexico and the security screening took 2 metal DPNs and one pair of short scissors and one metal crochet hook. They let me keep my bamboo DPNs my bamboo crochet hook as well as all my circular needles. One 12″ Addi turbo, 2 16″ Circs one was Boye brand the other was from Walmart along with my other pair of scissors.

    No rhyme or reason to their method there. This was Dec 17, 2011 that they took my stuff.

  13. Kiera-oona says:

    In Canada, from what I read on their list of craftables aboard planes, they said that plastic, rounded tipped needles are allowed on flights.

  14. [...] TSA: Transporting Knitting Needles & NeedlepointKnitting on a Plane – Can I Knit on a Plane?Twisted » Blog Archive » Flying with knitting needlesCan you carry knitting needles on an airplaneAre knitting needles allowed on airplanes? – Yahoo! AnswersTravelling knitter – knitty.comAnother Long Yarn » Tools » Flying with Knitting Needles [...]

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  17. Anna says:

    Very interesting and useful resource.

    I’m flying from France to the UK tomorrow and there are strikes planned so I want something to occupy me.

    I’m not confident enough to risk having needles confiscated but I plan to use chunky yarn and pens/mechanical pencils to swatch. I’d love them to try and confiscate my needs… only to discover that they are in fact stationery! Would they then insist that anything that aids knitting is banned?

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