Answering Readers’ Questions: Knitting needles on flights

a close-up of a knitting needlesI recently received a question from Reader M:

Like you, I’m a knitter. Is TSA allowing knitting items through now?

Great question!

After 9-11, there was some pushback about carrying knitting needles onto planes. However, a few years ago the regulations relaxed and knitters are once again allowed to work on their projects while flying. According to the TSA blog, there are no restrictions on what kind of needles you can bring through—bamboo, plastic, metal, circular, etc. Also, scissors with blades shorter than four inches are allowed. I would advise printing out the page from the TSA blog and TSA website where it says these are okay, just in case you get a TSO who doesn’t know what the rules are. If in the rare case that a TSO still won’t let them through, I would be prepared with some scrap yarn and a plastic needle so you can save your work. (Pictured: Lion Brand Speed Stix Size 50 knitting needles, available at Joann for $10.99.)

My own personal experience: I have never had anyone even ask me a question about my knitting needles, and have traveled hundreds of times in the US, and several times internationally, with them. Once, in Cozumel, it was posted that knitting needles had to go in checked baggage so that’s where they went. Other than that, it’s never been an issue. And it’s a good thing, because without my knitting to keep me busy I would not be a happy traveler!

Readers, have you ever had an issue with your knitting items? What about stuff for other crafty endeavors?


  1. I had too much trouble in Florence with metal crochet hooks, so I purchased a set of plastic hooks to avoid the hassle.

  2. I did have a problem with my embroidery scissors. I flew to Italy last year and the problem I encountered was flying home. The Italians would not let me carry on my little scissors. I think it is important to know the rules for all the countries that you have to go through security with. USA may allow it but they may not.

  3. The TSA aren’t worried about you carrying needles on board, they just scared you’ll knit an afghan!

  4. Any kind of needles are allowed in the US, even super-pointy dpns or circulars. BUT beware overseas, as some have noted. Many many countries will not allow any kind of needle in carry-on luggage, even plastic. The rules vary and enforcement seems almost random, regardless of the rules. Better to bring a book or two for intl travel.

  5. I haven’t had problems with domestic or international but have only done one international trip in recent years with knitting needles.

    What has been weird is different flight attendants letting me knit the whole time and others who want it stowed away during take off and landing.

  6. If you can’t take scissors on board, the cutter on a pack of dental floss works well to cut either threads or wool 🙂

  7. This has been the subject of extensive discussion on travel related groups on Ravelry. The consensus, which is consistent with my experience, is that within the U.S., there are no hassles with bamboo circular needles, but can be with straight needles, especially metal ones.

    Latin American airports almost uniformly confiscate all needles in carry-ons.

    In any case, it is best to use a lifeline in one’s knitting while traveling (i.e. a piece of other yarn threaded through the loops) so you won’t lose your work if you do lose your needles.

    By the way, I put crochet hooks in with my pens and pencils and nobody has ever noticed them.

  8. In Rome two years ago you could take needles into Rome with you onto the plane, but not out of Rome. They had to be stowed in the luggage compartment. Go figure. Don’t know if this has changed.

  9. I have those little rubber toppers that go on the ends of my needles and I didn’t have an issue going to London with them on my person.

  10. I had problem flying home from Florence last year with my small embroidery scissors. I also had problems last month. I flew from SFO to ICN with my small embroidery scissors. They were fine going into ICN but not fine (on same airline – Asiana_ flying into SYD.

  11. My suitcase wasn’t delivered to my cabin on a cruise ship a couple of years ago – I had to report to Security, claim the bag and explain why I had a teeny tiny pair of scissors in it. They let me take the scissors with me after I explained that I needed them for knitting but you would have thought I’d tried to bring a machete on board. This was a cruise in Hawaii on Norwegian so I assumed scissors were okay. Certainly there was nothing on the list of forbidden items that would have given me a clue.

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