Tuesday, November 19, 2013

TSA Travel Tips Tuesday – Knitting Needles and Needlepoint



Knitting needles and yarn.
Along with books and electronic gadgets, knitting is a very popular soother and a great way to pass the time. With the holiday travel season right around the corner, I’m sure some of you are wondering if you can travel with knitting needles.

Well, let me get to the point here. I’m not spinning a yarn when I tell you that knitting needles and needlepoint items including scissors under four-inches are permitted in your carry-on bags. However, circular thread cutters, or any cutter with a blade must be packed in your checked baggage.

If you are traveling for the holidays this year, be sure to check out our Holiday Travel Tips, as well as our Holiday Travel Checklist.

See you next Wednesday with more travel tips!

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57 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting on this topic. As a TSO I am routinely asked about knitting needles. I would like to add that crochet hooks are also ok. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

How about a picture of a circular cutter since many of us do not knit.
Tk-U

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to wrap my head around the concept that a four inch scissor blade is somehow less lethal than the 2.5 inch blade on a multi-tool. Or, a knitting needle is less lethal than the same multi-tool. Any idiot intent on doing harm will be able to figure out how to use most anything as a weapon. Does anyone in this government have any common sense??

Nikki said...

How do you cut the yarn then? Will they allow plastic scissors?

Anonymous said...

Please don't be upset about being confused. You have to understand that a good number of items that are prohibited in carryon bags are politically motivated as opposed to actual security issues.
But also don't fault TSA. They have to do their job as defined by those that pay the bills.
Hey wait a minute....that's us! Write your representative in congress and don't waste your time complaining about TSA.

Anonymous said...

Fingernail clippers

Susan Richart said...

Here's a picture of an oh-so-very dangerous circular thread cutter:

http://www.amazon.com/Clover-Thread-Cutter-Pendant-Antique/sim/B001DEJM8I/2

And here's a comment on a web site about the Clover Thread Cutter Pendant's ability to get through the checkpoint:

"The Clover is technically considered a circular cutter, although it is often allowed to pass through security, and often overlooked if you're actually wearing it as a pendant. But there's still a risk of losing your nifty Clover if you try.

- A nail clipper would suffice, and they're supposed to be allowed, but there's still a chance it could get confiscated depending on the airport (and the mood of the agent, probably!)."

Now, what about circular needles? A size 10 knitting needle on a 40" cord could make a formidable weapon.

screen shot/DHS OIG statement

Anonymous said...

In case some of you forgot, TSA fought the good fight earlier this year to start allowing knives on planes. It was the backlash from congress, the airlines, and the general public that killed it. They tried to start making sense and the world freaked out.

Anonymous said...

"Write your representative in congress and don't waste your time complaining about TSA."

Writing congress is another waste of time. They get voted in regardless of your opinion. Better yet, get with the program, obey the rules and don't make any jokes about TSA. You think the TSA searches are bad, try a prison.

Anonymous said...

The retraction of allowing small knives on board is frustrating. Nobody is taking over a plane with a knife anymore.

Allowing knitting needles and scissors (basically two knives riveted together) while prohibiting small knives makes no sense. It makes as much sense as allowing a pie to be taken on board, but prohibiting peanut butter or frosted cupcakes. Another case is a 6' tall 12 year old doesn't have to remove shoes but a 5' tall 30 year old does.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he was meaning a "rotary cutter" and not a "circular thread cutter?"

Susan Richart said...

"Better yet, get with the program, obey the rules and don't make any jokes about TSA. You think the TSA searches are bad, try a prison."

As I posted a few days ago, we'd still be under control of the Brits if we'd obeyed the rules; we'd still be a segregated society if we'd obeyed the rules.

Worthless rules are not worthy of obedience.

Further, we are not convicted felons in prison. We are trying to get on an airplane.

screen shot/DHS OIG statement

Anonymous said...

"They tried to start making sense and the world freaked out."

And for some reason they tried to make sense, for the very first time since August of 2006, by focusing on something that people reasonable people could be concerned about.

Anonymous said...

"Worthless rules are not worthy of obedience."

Very brave, also very unrealistic. I don't see anyone standing up for their rights in any line I've been in. People only do what they are told and are grateful to be allowed travel.

Been a long time since this was "the land of the free and the home of the brave." So get with the program and line up with everyone else.

Anonymous said...

I am still waiting for TSA comment on the following topics:

- TSA's response to the latest GAO report that found that the SPOT program is not effective
- Why dollar bills were seized at a TSA checkpoint several weeks ago (and by whom)

Thank you.

JK Jones said...

I use fingernail clippers to snip yarn. they work perfectly.

@SkyWayManAz said...

If all you go by is this blog you wouldn't know TSA backed off on allowing small knives. Bob had a lengthy post on what would and would not be allowed when the new rules went into effect. The freakout happened and the rollback got scrapped but Bob has never addressed that in any blog article since. We may disagree with the rules but we're required to follow them. There shouldn't be such a glaring hole in informing the public of a change of that magnitude.

Anonymous said...

You can carry an ordinary or small sample case of
dental floss. These cut yarn nicely. I only carry wooden or bamboo needles. I don't want to ask for trouble.

Anonymous said...

I took a pair of mini (2"), blunt scissors with me to Costa Rica ... along with my knitting needles and yarn.
They pulled me out of line, searched me and took my scissors. They said they were giving them to our "Guide" who was taking us to another plane.
I asked five different times for my scissors. As I boarded the plane, they said I could not have them back.
SO ... it all depends on the Airlines, the person working and the country you are in.

Wintermute said...

Anonymous said...
"They tried to start making sense and the world freaked out."

I submit that they knew the general public would freak out and hoped the backlash would detract people from submitting comments on the naked scanners.

Krystyn said...

I've been taking my circular cutter on planes since all this mess started. haven't been stopped yet. They are actually LESS of an issue than small scissors or the needles themselves if you think about it as it is nearly impossible to get the blade out

Anonymous said...

To the people who think that knitting needles are ACTUALLY NEEDLES, you are incorrect. They are quite dull, and attempting to stab someone with one would require the same amount of force as doing so with a pencil or pen. So unless we're going to outlaw writing implements on planes, knitting needles should be allowed. And as for the cords on a circular needle, they are plastic and easily break from the needle itself (like if one was attempting to use it as a garotte). Anyone crazy enough and determined enough will find something to use as a weapon. Knitting needles pose little to no risk.

Anonymous said...

the circular thread cutters have a blade inside of them which, if removed, is perceived to be more dangerous than scissors.

I am a knitter and bring small scissors on planes. I was really upset when the public freaked out about TSA allowing small knives and it was retracted. You can basically already bring a 4" knife on a plane, as long as it's scissors that is.

Lisa Bentz said...

I'm glad to read this. I've been flying with my bamboo needles and tiny foldaway scissors for years. There was a time when my 14" long metal needles were not allowed, and one time I actually was asked to knit a little on my project to prove... something. But I have never had my knitting confiscated. TSA is just trying to do a job -- and some of them are even knitters!

Anonymous said...

I understand this is TSA writing this blog, so it's natural for it to feature its own rules, however travellers should remember that their trip may have one or more foreign destinations where the rules may be different. If you have to go through security in those places on your return trip, make sure you know what their rules are lest your fav knitting needles be confiscated because you assumed (wrongly) that TSA's rules applied there too. Sadly, btdt!

Audrey said...

If you don't want to deal with the possibility of losing your nail clippers, nifty crane scissors, foldy scissors, or your clover cutter, then I find that good, old fashioned TEETH will also do the job on yarn and thread just fine. You may have to chew it a little.

Anonymous said...

I am trying to understand what the
heck anyone would do with a knitting needle only 4 inches long! I
don't think there is such a thing.

What about plastic knitting needles or
the little plastic scissors
Could bamboo needles be used?

All this makes me wonder why any person would be intimidated by a nail clipper, knitting needle or one of those cutters that are for cutting fabric - like a pizza cutter.

Lastly, does anyone answer our
questions?

Anonymous said...

Scissors and nail clippers were never an issue on planes. Seriously if they were then pencils, pens, paper, hair ties etc...could be used. It really is up to the motivation of the person behind the object they have with them. FYI I've brought yarn, needles, and scissors on flights over 2 years ago and they were OK with it because no one who knits or crochets goes crazy.

James Elsea said...

I no longer fly because I can't take the security check. I stood by this country during the Vietnam war when many others ran to Canada. Now I am treated like a terrorist and a possible killer. Us old men in our 60's wearing a USMC jackets are very dangerous you know.!! I'll stay home and never fly again.
Jim, United States Marine Corp.

Anonymous said...

Lamest. Blog post. Ever, Bob.

You couldn't come up with anything helpful? How about newsworthy? There's the murderer screener, the dead drug and counterfeit purse screener (not Hernandez), the child porn screener, or the thieving screener...just this week!

How about instead of regurgitating "holiday tips" and spending how many hours scribbling a few "funny" jokes about knitting needles, you actually talk to the American public about important aviation security issues?

I can't believe our tax dollars are paying for this tripe.

Screen shot.

Anonymous said...

knitting needles are okay, but a maxi-pad will get you a full on rub down. Go Figure :)

Anonymous said...

Be aware that just because TSO allows it, doesn't mean that other countries will. I travelled to Canada with my tiny scissors and needles, but when I came back, Canadian officials confiscated them.

Next week when I travel out of country, I am taking a pair of the round ended scissors you use to trim babies' nails and a cheap pair of plastic needles.

Anonymous said...

I have a large needlepoint piece on a frame (very sentimental) that I am working on. I carry the piece on the plane with me, but the two end pieces of the frame are packed in luggage. I wrote "needlepoint frame" in marker on them, because EVERY SINGLE TIME I travel with them, TSA goes thru mu luggage!!!

Anonymous said...

a trained person can kill with a pen or a pencil give them knitting needels and watch out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Dental floss, has a small cutter, useful for cutting the yarn!

Anonymous said...

I always pack dental floss in my yarn bag when traveling. It not only keeps my teeth clean and fresh between brushings when I travel, but the little metal cutter in there does a great job of the cutting yarn. It has NEVER been questioned by TSA.

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "Fingernail clippers"

I have heard that many knitters use fingernail clippers to cut their yarn with, this is a good suggestion for those that may be questioning what to use - added bonus, they are allowed as long as they don't have an attached knife blade.

Anon asked - "I am trying to understand what the
heck anyone would do with a knitting needle only 4 inches long! I
don't think there is such a thing.

What about plastic knitting needles or
the little plastic scissors
Could bamboo needles be used?

Lastly, does anyone answer our
questions?"

Yes 4" knitting needles are evidently most used for items like socks and some assorted smaller items:

http://www.knitpicks.com/needles/4_Harmony_Wood_Double_Pointed_Knitting_Needle_Set__D90411.html

Plastic and bamboo needles are also acceptable to carry on with you.

We do try to answer questions, but we do not always succeed in that endeavor.

Anon sez - "Dental floss, has a small cutter, useful for cutting the yarn!"

Another suggestion that I have heard and seen quite often for knitters. Thanks for popping this one into the discussion!

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

You can carry scissors that are small and not pointed. School kids scissors are fine. Have traveled with them many times on planes, even overseas.

Anonymous said...

I've flown with my bamboo crochet hook and yarn for the last several years - no problem. But an officer nearly confiscated my grandmother's knitting needles. So, she switched to chop sticks.

And my circular thread cutter is on my keychain instead of with my yard or as a pendant. No one has ever batted an eye.

Susan Richart said...

"knitting needles are okay, but a maxi-pad will get you a full on rub down. Go Figure :)"

But a mini-pad that could harbor explosives, doesn't get a rub down. Nor do adult incontinence products most of the time. You could still put a weapon between that maxi-pad (or incontinence product) and your body and it would not be found by the NBS.

Quite illogical, isn't it?

"And my circular thread cutter is on my keychain instead of with my yard or as a pendant. No one has ever batted an eye."

and

"I've been taking my circular cutter on planes since all this mess started. haven't been stopped yet."

Right here we read of two people who are disobeying meaningless rules. Two thumbs up to you both!

And to the person who says knitting needles can't kill, I say "Google is your friend."

screen shot/DHS OIG statement

@SkyWayManAz said...

GSOLTSO said...

"I have heard that many knitters use fingernail clippers to cut their yarn with, this is a good suggestion for those that may be questioning what to use - added bonus, they are allowed as long as they don't have an attached knife blade."

I've owned several nail clippers and they all have an attached nail file. Is this what you are calling a "knife blade”? I've never seen a nail clipper without one as they are used to file down the nail after it is cut. You seem to be confirming that people have indeed had their nail clippers confiscated. Bob has stated numerous times on this blog nail clippers were never a banned item and repeatedly stated news stories claiming they were taken are false. The tsa.gov search and TSA app both neglect to mention anything about the nail file or "knife" when you search permitted items for “nail clipper”. Respectfully it is hard for us to follow the rules when screeners enforce rules not made available to the public. As written to the public nail clippers are allowed period but I’ll try not to carry one in my bag until the subject is clarified.

Search Results For:

nail clipper

Check or Carry-on
You may transport this item in carry-on baggage or in checked baggage. For items you wish to carry-on, you should check with the airline to ensure that the item will fit in the overhead bin or underneath the seat of the airplane.

GSOLTSO said...

SkywaymanAZ sez - "I've owned several nail clippers and they all have an attached nail file. Is this what you are calling a "knife blade”? I've never seen a nail clipper without one as they are used to file down the nail after it is cut. You seem to be confirming that people have indeed had their nail clippers confiscated."

There are many forms of nail clippers that have an actual knife blade attached to it, currently, anything with a knife blade is a prohibited item in carryon luggage. Nail clippers with the attached metal nail file (which are more common than the ones with knife blades) are not prohibited. Technically speaking, the addition of the knife blade makes the item considered a knife, not a set of nail clippers. Some may argue semantics on this, however, the prohibited list is fairly clear, if it has a knife blade, it is considered prohibited (the same goes for corkscrews - many of those have knife blades attached as well). you can see some examples of nail clippers with knife blades here: http://www.wellpromo.com/Wholesale/Clippers/2-3-4--Nail-Clipper-With-Key-Chain-224283.htm

I hope that this clarified the nail clippers/knives discussion a bit for you!

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

Instead of reiterating what is already on the TSA web site regarding prohibited items, please address one or more of the following issues in a future blog entry:

- Cost-effectiveness of the body scanner program, PreCheck program, and SPOT program
- The cash confiscated with ammo several weeks ago (who confiscated it, why, and how it was detected)
- Technologies that TSA is developing/deploying to monitor exits from the secure area
- TSA's schedule/plan for responding to the public comments on the AIT NPRM of several months ago

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Why is there nothing on the TSA web site like a downloadable complaint form? I want to put my complaint in writing so I have an exact copy of what I wrote and have an exact copy to send to anyone else -- like my COngressional rep.
I do not want to talk with several different people over the phone. Remember the game "telephone"? The message changed everytime it was repeated. I want my message clear and the same no matter who I contact.

Anonymous said...

GSOLTSO said...
There are many forms of nail clippers that have an actual knife blade attached to it, currently, anything with a knife blade is a prohibited item in carryon luggage. Nail clippers with the attached metal nail file (which are more common than the ones with knife blades) are not prohibited. Technically speaking, the addition of the knife blade makes the item considered a knife, not a set of nail clippers. Some may argue semantics on this...

There are plenty of posts here on this very blog claiming that "The TSA has never confiscated nail clippers". So, by "semantics" you mean "The TSA DOES confiscate nail clippers", and that these other people have LIED.

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "So, by "semantics" you mean "The TSA DOES confiscate nail clippers", and that these other people have LIED."

Not even remotely. It means that if the item has a knife blade attached, it is prohibited and not allowed. The passenger is presented with options to keep the item if they desire. An item with a knife blade (regardless of size) is a prohibited item and will not be allowed (and has not been allowed since I came to TSA in 2005). Plain nail clippers have never been on the prohibited list to the best of my knowledge.

West
TSA Blog Team

Susan Richart said...

f"Why is there nothing on the TSA web site like a downloadable complaint form? I want to put my complaint in writing so I have an exact copy of what I wrote and have an exact copy to send to anyone else -- like my COngressional rep.
I do not want to talk with several different people over the phone. Remember the game "telephone"? The message changed everytime it was repeated. I want my message clear and the same no matter who I contact."

http://www.oig.dhs.gov/hotline/hotline.php

Complete the form with as much information as possible. PRINT IT BEFORE YOU SUBMIT IT!!!

Save it as "web page, complete.


screen shot/DHS OIG statement

Sherry Jones said...

Knitting needles allowed? Good heavens above! I've been flying for more than forty years and never seen anyone knitting on an aircraft!

Wintermute said...

GSOLTSO said...
Anon sez - "So, by "semantics" you mean "The TSA DOES confiscate nail clippers", and that these other people have LIED."

Not even remotely. It means that if the item has a knife blade attached, it is prohibited and not allowed. The passenger is presented with options to keep the item if they desire. An item with a knife blade (regardless of size) is a prohibited item and will not be allowed (and has not been allowed since I came to TSA in 2005). Plain nail clippers have never been on the prohibited list to the best of my knowledge.


West, you are playing word games. Let's just ignore the word "confiscate" for the moment. Has the TSA, or have they not, ever disallowed a pair of nail clippers on a flight? The answer, of course, is yes (because some have a knife blade and those are prohibited)... However, even though you admit it's a "yes," you continue to play the word games.

As for word choice, I believe "confiscate" is the proper word, because, security being the hassle it is, there really is no choice but to "voluntarily surrender" an item.

Anonymous said...

You said, "...knitting needles and needlepoint items including scissors under four-inches are permitted...". You used a floating modifier (under four inches) in that sentence and as a result your statement is unclear. Do you mean:

"...scissors (if they are under four-inches in total length), knitting needles (of any length) and other needlepoint items (of any length) are all permitted..."

or:

"...scissors, knitting needles, and other needlepoint items are all permitted as long as none are longer than four inches in total length..."?

In other words, your post is unclear whether the four-inch limit applies to scissors only, or to all sewing notions. Please clarify. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Wintermute said:
West, you are playing word games. Let's just ignore the word "confiscate" for the moment. Has the TSA, or have they not, ever disallowed a pair of nail clippers on a flight? The answer, of course, is yes (because some have a knife blade and those are prohibited)... However, even though you admit it's a "yes," you continue to play the word games.

Earlier, West said {paraphrasing here) "nail clippers with a knife blade attached are considered to be knives."

I have no great love for the policies the TSA has to enforce, nor the manner in which several of the agents choose to enforce them; however he/she isn't playing word games. Based on the definition of the item (in this case, it is defined as a knife, NOT as nail clippers.

When I was flying back in 2001/2, after spending a few weeks at Ground Zero as part of a Search & Rescue Team, I used to see a LOT of people carrying large, intricate red/white/blue beaded pins, and none were prohibited. Even though they were, essentially, 4" long safety pins. If you tried to board a flight with a 4" long safety pin on your jacket, you would have been detained.

I started carrying two Cross Pens. 6" long, metal stabby things, if I needed them, each of which had a ink cartridge I could remove and use as a Stabby Thing, if I needed to.

So yes, some of the rules are less than intelligent. Yes, some of the agents are clueless, some are belligerant, some are even criminal in their behavior - but the majority are not. They have a thankless job with silly rules,and most do the best that they can within thie guidelines.

Even if I have to take belt off at some airports, but not at others.

GSOLTSO said...

Anon sez - "You said, "...knitting needles and needlepoint items including scissors under four-inches are permitted...". You used a floating modifier (under four inches) in that sentence and as a result your statement is unclear. Do you mean:

"...scissors (if they are under four-inches in total length), knitting needles (of any length) and other needlepoint items (of any length) are all permitted..."

or:

"...scissors, knitting needles, and other needlepoint items are all permitted as long as none are longer than four inches in total length..."?

In other words, your post is unclear whether the four-inch limit applies to scissors only, or to all sewing notions. Please clarify. Thanks."

The four inch limit pertains to scissors, and is measured from the fulcrum point, meaning scissors with a 4" blade or smaller are allowed. Sorry if there was any confusion over that.

West
TSA Blog Team

Wintermute said...

Anonymous said
Earlier, West said {paraphrasing here) "nail clippers with a knife blade attached are considered to be knives."

This is exactly the point I was making. He defines these items as knives, then refuses to say "yes, we took them." Word games. He would gain much credibility if he were just to admit this fact, in plain English, instead of dancing around it without admitting it.

Anonymous said...

I don't know any knitter willing to rip their knitting out to do harm. It keeps most of us calm.

Carmen said...

I carried a small pair of scissors from the US to Africa, many layovers, etc. On the last leg of my trip from Paris to SLC security took my scissors away saying they were too large. Is it the whole scissors or the blade that needs to be 4".

ilovecoffee1962 said...

The TSA only operates in America, people. If you go to Paris, or Costa Rica, or anywhere else in the world, you are going to have to deal with the security agency operating in that foreign country when you return home to the US. Often items that are just fine in the US, like knitting needles and small scissors, are not permitted by the security agencies of foreign countries. It wont do you any good to get upset about this or argue that it's ok in America. You might want to check those items on your return trip, just to be safe.

Anonymous said...

Are crochet hooks allowed on the planes? I am going on a U.S. Airways flight and I don't want mine to be confiscated...