Okay, 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.
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!
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.
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).
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. (Gatwick, Manchester Airport, Leeds 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.