For all its virtues, one of my favorite things about knitting is its portability. I spend a lot of time traveling, and being able to take my knitting with me means I always have something to keep my hands busy. Flight delay? No problem; at least I can knit. But can we really take our knitting everywhere?
Knitting needles are technically allowed on domestic flights in the United States, though the latest TSA guidelines recommend that needles be “sheathed” for the safety of inspectors (this wording makes them sound more weapon-like, don’t you think?). Sometimes smaller airports (and by “smaller” I mean really small) will do an extra search of my carry-on bag after it’s gone through the screening process, and while I can’t say for certain, the common denominator seems to be that they are looking for those sharp pointy things they saw in the scanner. (More than once they’ve asked about sharp objects.) After a quick search of my bag – and my explanation about being a knitter – they let me go on my way without issue. They do, however, reserve the right to take away anything that seems unsafe, so just don’t run around brandishing your knitting needles at anyone. (I would also recommend not traveling with long, straight metal needles – the kind longer than 12 inches. There’s no reason to tempt fate.)
While flying into Mexico with knitting needles isn’t a problem, it can be difficult to bring them back home. Airports in Mexico have strict guidelines and warnings about searches and, unfortunately, they don’t have detailed information available online about what isn’t allowed in your carry on. You can find this information posted at the airport in more detail (and it may vary from airport to airport), but this may be of little use to you once you’re already in the security screening line. (Often it’s the smaller airports that have more rigid guidelines about carry-on items.)
Posted signs at San Jose del Cabo Airport in Mexico indicated no knitting needles were allowed. Frankly, I’ve never NOT had my knitting with me on a flight, so the thought of traveling without them was unsettling. (Sure, I can make it through one brief flight… but what about the layover? and the next flight? what if we end up stranded on a layover and I have no knitting with me? AHH!!!!)
Guidelines are absolutely important for the safety of everyone who travels, but I can’t help but wonder… do they mean literally ANY knitting needles (signage would indicate yes, but seriously… what about a 9″ circular)? If you’re willing to risk it, you may have success with small wooden double point needles or potentially even a very small circular (or interchangeable needles taken apart). I might know someone who has managed to get through security with one or more of those items. *wink* BUT there’s no guarantee and if you’re unsure, don’t risk it. (Definitely don’t take any needles in your carry on that you can’t afford to lose.) And if you want to be 100% sure, don’t take your knitting in your carry on for the flight out of Mexico – take a book.
England, Ireland, France, Australia
I’ve flown with my knitting needles in and out of Australia, England, France and Ireland without issue. Friends of mine have traveled back and forth in many countries around Europe (Scotland, Amsterdam, Norway, Iceland, Italy…) and have taken their knitting needles with them every step of the way. From what I can tell, most countries in
What About Everywhere Else? (The world is a big place!)
I wanted to speak specifically about the countries where I have personal experience, but I spent some time searching airport guidelines for many countries around the world and found that – in general – knitting needles are either specifically listed as approved, or just not mentioned in the list of banned items. It appears that in many instances, banned items may be determined by the discretion of the staff doing the screening, or may only be available in posted signs at the airport. Be sure to always check the airport guidelines for the place you plan to visit (some suggest you call them to inquire about specific items).
Note: Some airports/airlines have restrictions based on cultural and religious practices in their country. Always take time to ensure that whatever you bring in your carry on bag (and checked baggage) is considered safe and appropriate for the country in which you are traveling.
This may not specifically apply to knitting needles, but being an informed traveler is always important.
In general, it seems that knitting needles are usually okay when you travel. Just be careful not to brandish them like weapons (not that you would), keep them safely stowed in your carry on bag, and maybe tuck an extra set of DPNs in with your pencils, just in case.