National or international flights: Can you take knitting needles on a plane as part of your carry-on bags? What’s allowed and what isn’t.
So, you are about to embark on an epic trip, perhaps even going overseas? And now you are wondering: Can you bring knitting needles on a plane, right? It would be the perfect way to while away those endless hours in the air, eh? Well, then you came to the right place.
As an avid traveler (I visited +60 countries) and a knitter with experience of more than 30 years, I can answer all your questions. Because I have been in the same situation countless times. So, in this guide, I’ll take a very close look at all the national and international regulations.
Contrary to some other articles I read online, the answer is not as easy as some would make it seem. I’ll share my personal experiences with you and give you some important pointers you might not be aware of.
Still, the easy answer ahead: Yes, in most cases you can bring knitting needles on a plane in both your carry-on or checked baggage.
But, let’s dive right into the (k)nitty-gritty, eh?
Knitting on an airplane: The legal basis
More or less everything that happens up in the air is regulated by a law or a regulation. But here comes the very first important thing you need to know: Chances are high the trip you want to knit on will take you to a different country. And different countries have different regulations.
This means, while you might be able to bring your knitting needles on the plane as you board in the US, you actually might not be able to do the same on your return flight from, say Istanbul in Turkey. I will try to give you a good overview here but if you pick a destination that is off the beaten track I urge you to do some further research.
The good news ahead.
Knitting needles on domestic flights within the US
The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) clearly says you are allowed to bring knitting needles in your carry on bags or your checked backs. The same applies to crochet hooks.
If you take a close look at their list of sharp-objects then you will quickly find out that you can even bring scissors as long as there are less than 4 inches from the pivot point and securely wrapped.
Can you take knitting needles on a plane in Europe / international flights?
Yes you can. Attachment 4-C (c) of the Regulation (EU) 2015/1998 of 5 November 2015 laying down detailed measures for the implementation of the common basic standards on aviation security (find it here) clearly does not list knitting needles among the objects prohibited to bring onboard an aircraft. Scissors, however, can only be 6 cm (2.3 inches) long.
There is one caveat: The legal text excludes “objects with a sharp point or sharp edge capable of being used to cause serious injury“. It is up to the security officer on duty to determine if your stiletto sharp metal needles size 10 actually fall within that category.
Also, please also bear in mind that not all countries in Europe are actually part of the European Union and different rules may apply. Though Switzerland and Norway (to name two) have more or less the exact same regulations – at least when it comes to knitting needles.
The Australian home affairs department has a similar distinction. Here, knitting needles and crochet hooks are listed among the permitted items. They still mentioned that “Sharp items that are not weapons but are capable (with or without modification) of causing harm by penetration” are not allowed. Among them bodkins or metal scissors.
Sadly, from here on it gets a bit more complicated.
On top of the official regulations, most airlines have a ToS as well. While they will never list anything as allowed that the law prohibits the opposite is not true. The reasons are probably insurance issues.
Eurowings, for example, clearly says that you may not carry knitting needles in your hand luggage. British Airways, on the other hand, explicitly allows you to bring knitting needles and crochet hooks. All the middle eastern carriers (like Ethihad) don’t even mention knitting needles.
Turkish Airlines, on the other hand, is a lot stricter when it comes to sharp objects and has not even an exception for small scissors.
Obviously, I cannot go through all the hundreds of airlines on this planet in this article. Most US American airlines (like United Airlines) basically copy the TSA regulations word by word, so you should be safe when flying with these. Still, before your flight, it might be a good idea and visit the official website of your carrier and quickly look up the prohibited items for your carry-on luggage.
Last, but not least, no airlines and no country I am aware of lists knitting needles among the prohibited items in your checked luggage. So, that will always be an option.
My personal experience with knitting needles
After all the legalese, I want to share my own personal experience with bringing knitting needles on a plane. As I said before, I am quite a veteran traveler and knitter. So far, I was never prohibited from taking them onboard.
At the same time, I don’t bring my knitting with me on each trip. Sometimes it’s due to practical reasons and sometimes I am indeed afraid of them being confiscated. So, here are some suggestions for you:
1.Can you bring metal knitting needles on a plane?
As a rule of thumb, I wouldn’t take metal knitting needles on a plane. All metal objects show prominently on the security scans and it will just invite questions. As I said, in a lot of countries knitting needles are allowed, but threatening sharp objects aren’t. Instead, pick wooden or plastic needles over metal.
Some say, you should bring an envelope with you, so you could send the needles back home. I never saw the need and I think it’s not worth your time. Just stay friendly, comply with the questions and directions of the airport staff and you should be fine. I’d stay away from asking active questions as you pass through the security check. It just increases the chance of an inexperienced officer making a different decision on a whim.
2. Bring spare needles in your checked-luggage
In the unlikely case that, despite all research in advance, you still are not allowed to bring your knitting needles into the cabin you might want to take some precautions. First of all: A lifeline will save your projects from unraveling. And of course, spare needles in your checked luggage (where there are definitely allowed in all countries I know) will enable you to pick things up once you arrived.
The easiest precaution: Use interchangeable knitting needles where you can simply unscrew the needle tips and put your project on hold with cable stoppers.
3. Only take small projects / knitting needles
Neither the TSA nor the European Union provides any further details regarding the size of the knitting needles. That being said, if you are flying economy your personal space will be quite limited. I’m not entirely sure your neighbor(s) will approve of your knitting needles or your cozy queen-sized blanket invading their space.
So kindly consider how much space your knitting will take up and then apply some common sense if it’s feasible or not. Respect the privacy of other passengers at all times.
4. Be careful in truly exotic countries
Most travelers don’t end up in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, or Lybia as I do. But if you plan to visit these countries off the beaten path with interesting political structures, I’d be very careful. In a lot of these countries, it often depends a lot more on luck and the officer on duty if they classify an item as dangerous.
To give you an inkling of what I’m talking about: In Uzbekistan, I had to pass 5 consecutive security scans before I was able to board the airplane and one officer probably kept me waiting for 20 minutes because he was toying around with my binoculars.
5. Don’t knit during take-off or landing
It’s probably pretty obvious but I’ll mention it nevertheless: During take-off or landing, you really shouldn’t start knitting. The same applies to strong turbulences. Nobody wants to have needles flying around the cabin in case of an emergency, eh?
Since these sections of your flights are usually a bit bumpier, you will probably not be all that inclined to knit anyway.
6. Don’t bring too complicated a knitting project
The light onboard an aircraft can often be a bit tricky. Likewise, your seat neighbor might want to see the toilet, dinner might get served or turbulence can occur. On top of that, a baby crying one row behind might prevent you from concentrating – the list of why your knitting can be interrupted is quite long.
An easy pattern, like my ribbed beanie, will keep you entertained and doesn’t risk dropping or missing stitches of a repeat. I also had good experiences with simple socks. You should also be aware that the limited space also means you can’t spread your big lace chart all over the place. So, a simple pattern where you don’t need to look up every stitch is much better, in my opinion.
7. Put everything in a little project bag
Following that line of thought, it really pays off to invest in a nice project bag that allows you to store your work in progress in a fast, efficient, and secure way.
8. Don’t bring needles and yarn on trips where knitting has no place
If you’ve ever been on the Maldives or, say, the Baltic Sea then you might know that the fine sand will end up everywhere and will trickle out of the most unlikely corner even months after you returned. Likewise, the humidity in the Amazon Rain Forest will wreak havoc on natural fibers, while the sheer heat in Dubai or Egypt might keep you from knitting altogether.
So, apply some common sense before you bring your knitting needles on your trip. There are other ways to spend the time on board an aircraft as well. You could also read a nice knitting book (<- click on the link for some inspiration) after all, eh?
29 thoughts on “Can you bring knitting needles on a plane?”
Great article! Thanks for sharing all of your knowledge and great tips on traveling with knitting needles. I would not want mine confiscated so I will either crochet, read or maybe work a sock in a 9 inch circular, lol! Thanks again!
I do have to say that never happened to me, though.
Thanks so much for this informative article! It’s a question I have been pondering even though I’m not flying anywhere at the moment….it’s good to be prepared though for when the world opens up again and we can get on a plane again.
Based on my travel experience, take a project on a circular needle. That way, you can’t drop one and have to crawl down the aisle to recover that rolling DP!
This is a great overview. I’d add Cozumel and Cancún to the list of airports NOT to put knitting needles in your carry-on luggage.
I’ve flown back and forth to Oaxaca from Tijuana, no problem for the knitting. I flew to Australia and back from Fiji in 2002, just 1 year after 9/11… no problem. To Prague, back from Spain. No problem.
To Cozumel from the U.S…. no problem. But try to fly BACK to the U.S. from Cozumel. NO WAY… and there’s no indication of this on any websites or until AFTER you check your bag at the airport and are trying to go through security. And if you’re flying American, they’re going to want $30-$150 to check your bag, depending on how many other bags you’ve checked.
Interesting. thank you for adding that.
Thanks Norman for the wealth of information. So far I have traveled to 43 countries with knitting needles and I guess luck has been on my side. Having said that, I am very glad to have read your information.
Air France prohibits knitting needles and security officers at CDG airport looked at me like I was crazy to think I could bring knitting needles on a plane. I threw away the needles and kept the project, but felt like they might detain me. And I speak very good French.
interesting. Thx for adding this experience. I never fly from France and only stay in the international area of CDG.
KLM Airlines specificallly states *Needles and crochet hooks as prohibited under the classification of pointed or edged objects. *sigh* I was hoping for something besides reading on the flight.
Oh no! I have so many hours on the airports on my trip which includes Schiphol Airport.
But thanks a lot for mentioning it!
I’ve flown with KLM in 2019 from Amsterdam to Hong Kong and I had my knitting project with me. Circulars with plastic tips. No problem
Thanks so much for this post and the helpful comments! I too travel to far flung places and had my size 1 circulars confiscated in Istanbul when flying from Tajikistan to the US. I also know that Emirates specifically does not allow knitting needles in carry on luggage. Anyone have any intel on Ethiopian Airways policies?
I would entirely contest that. I have flown a lot with middle eastern carriers and never did someone even question my knitting needles on a plane of Etihad, Qatar Airways, Fly Dubai, or Emirates.
From Tajikistan to the US, I can understand. And the international area of Istanbul has also very vigorous scans. I guess that’s why I love the Karbonz needles so much, they don’t really show up.
Sadly, I cannot share my own experiences with Ethiopian Airways.
Recently flew from Fiji and had my knitting confiscated. It’s banned on any flight leaving from there in hand luggage
I had my knitting needles confiscated in Paraguay – along with a tiny safety pin!
Very interesting and informative, thanks
Thanks for this awesome article! I am flying to Turkey next week with Turkish Airlines. I did see that they prohibit sharp objects but don’t outright disqualify knitting needles as prohibited items. I’m not sure what to do; is the consensus that I’d have them confiscated on the return flight? I think I might die of restlessness if I can’t bring it with me…
as stated in the article, Instanbul airport can be a problem in my experience. If you want to risk it, I definitely would a) use wooden needles and b) have an easy way to put your project on hold in case they still take them away.
At the end of the day, if your airline states it’s okay, then it is okay.
You’re right, thank you Norman! I’ve stocked up on wooden needles and will hope for the best.
Thank you so much! Recently, I have had a reason to fly to Jamaica frequently 😉 I hardly ever take my knitting, as I am usually sleeping both ways. However, one of the times I did out of necessity of needing to finish a project. Carryon there – ZERO issue. Carryon back – UGH. They took my *child safe* scissors. Like literally the ones that can barely cut paper, because the officers said they were too sharp. This trip, I am planning to take my set of circulars in my checked baggage, so hopefully I will not have any issues. However, the point about sand def has me rethinking my yarn choices!
I’m not sure if this is still a question or not, but I’ve read that you are not allowed to bring knitting needles on a plane. Is this true for international flights as well as domestic flights?
I had Chiagoo cable needles (with a sock in progress) and a TSA-approved pair of children’s scissors confiscated coming back from Vietnam yesterday. Both had been carried into and out of US and European airports (Icelandair mostly) without problem many times. I cut the needles off the cables to save my work and was bereft to be without knitting for 24 hours in the return flight to the U.S. There is no information online that I can find about Vietnam or Cambodia.
I am sorry to hear that. I cannot help you there either but thank you for sharing that information!
I have a friend with long hair. She uses a wooden, fixed circular to secure her hair in a bun and then takes it out when on the plane.
The officers have never had any interest in her hairdo and since the needles are wood, they don’t alert the “beeping arc’d’triumph” when she goes through it.
That is a brilliant idea.
Knitting needles not allowed when boarding in Greece. Had to watch my new $15 needles go in the trash. Fortunately I was able to pick up all stitched when I got home.
Same happened to my chiagoo needles in Rome. So sad to throw my needles in the trash.
I’ve only had one negative experience, flying from Sydney to Den Pasar on Garuda Indonesia. I wasn’t allowed to have my needles on the plane but the crew held them up front and gave them back to me as I disembarked. Sigh.