Increasing Altitude and Rows
September 29, 2010 7:32 AM   Subscribe

I'm flying from BOS to BWI tonight after work. The TSA website explicitly says knitting needles are okay in carry-on. I am only bringing carry-on. I plan on printing this page and bringing it with me, but should I still expect some grief?
posted by zizzle to Travel & Transportation (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There is always a chance of grief from the TSA. Having the printout with you and remaining calm and polite is the best thing you can do.
posted by Behemoth at 7:35 AM on September 29, 2010

I haven't had any issue with knitting needles from the TSA since about 2007.

Other passengers will be bewildered that you can bring them on. I just ignore them.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 7:38 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Straight needles or circulars? Bamboo or metal?

As a general rule I have never had a problem with bamboo circulars. No one has ever even blinked. Bamboo straights have had an eyebrow raised, but passed through. Metal straights I had to pull out my print out and show them the project.

If at all possible, take along a set of stitch holders or waste yarn and be prepared to discard the needles and keep the project. I'm the type to be better safe than sorry on that accord. I have never had a project taken from me, but having a back up plan makes me stress less (I am not a good, depsite being a frequent, flyer).
posted by librarianamy at 7:39 AM on September 29, 2010

I have flown a few times in the past year with no problem.
But I never travel with expensive needles, just in case. I'm OK throwing out the cheap stuff, but wouldn't want to lose something I've paid a lot of money for.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:43 AM on September 29, 2010

just fyi, i had many knitting needles (bamboo and metal, all straight) confiscated from me in 2008. i was on my way back from cancun and only had a carry on. they made me throw them in the garbage; they wouldn't even let me check my bag! and on the way there (out of jfk) they let me carry them on, no problem.
posted by sabh at 7:45 AM on September 29, 2010

I've never had a problem with metal needles, straight or circular. Make sure you leave your scissors out of the bag. Although I think I heard that scissors under a certain length are fine... no data to back that up. I would rather just leave them at home.
posted by purpletangerine at 7:45 AM on September 29, 2010

I would only bring bamboo or plastic circs or the straight ones that have cable at the end instead of being full-length. Can't remember what those are called.
posted by elpea at 7:46 AM on September 29, 2010

FWIW I find Logan to be shockingly easy to get through, security-wise. I've taken stuff on there that they haven't blinked at, while other airports confiscate my deodorant and stuff. (They also don't make me take out my toiletries or, for that matter, put them in a plastic baggie) If anyone's going to give you crap, it's probably not at Logan. A smaller airport that doesn't see as many travelers, I'd worry more.
posted by olinerd at 7:58 AM on September 29, 2010

I have flown domestically (USA) a bunch of times since 9/11 (including to and from BOS) and almost always have carried knitting on board. I've never had any problem, no mention of knitting being in my bag, no raised eyebrows, nothing. I've flown mostly with metal circulars, metal double pointed needles, and plastic circulars. I've flown with metal yarn needles even. I've flown with projects on the needles and with just the needles themselves.

That said, there is always, always a chance that you'll get a TSA agent that will give you a hard time about anything. If you want to be cautious, bring plastic or wood/bamboo needles, short circulars, and bring waste yarn and a crochet hook and SASE if they do take away the needles.
posted by radioaction at 7:59 AM on September 29, 2010

A quick forum search for "TSA needles" at Ravelry turned up several hits in regional forums that indicate you're smart to print the TSA's own page about allowing knitting needles. Other advice was to bring stitch counters/stitch holders in case you're bringing a project in progress and have to ditch the needles, and not bringing expensive needles.
posted by booksherpa at 8:05 AM on September 29, 2010

We've flown many times with knitting needles. In fact, one time when Mrs. zsazsa forgot her needles, while laying over in MSP we found a knitting starter set being sold in one of the gift shops (inside the secure area)!
posted by zsazsa at 8:22 AM on September 29, 2010

I have never ever had a problem with knitting needles of any size and material in my carry-on luggage, including Logan. Circulars are best, but I've been ok even with doublepoints. Having a work in progress probably looks better than carrying naked needles. (If you want to really be a dork about it, knit while you're standing in the security line and plop the knitting in the bin at the last second.)

Scissors have not been a problem for me, either, but I'd recommend leaving them at home just in case.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:24 AM on September 29, 2010

I flew from Rochester to Greensboro in February and did not have trouble flying with them.

To be on the safe side, you might want to thread a lifeline in on your needles, and carry a postage-prepaid envelope addressed to yourself. That way, if they threaten to take your needles, you can quickly zip them off your work, pop them in the envelope and get them back. (Some airlines have post office boxes right at security.)
posted by Lucinda at 8:24 AM on September 29, 2010

I just flew from phila to seattle and back through Phoenix with multiple projects (metal circular needles, size 8/9) in 2 carry-ons -- no one even looked twice.
posted by MeiraV at 8:26 AM on September 29, 2010

I've taken bamboo double-pointed needles through several airports in the US--one of which was Logan, actually--with absolutely no problems. I've never even been questioned about them (by security agents; my fellow passengers are usually flabbergasted that I am allowed to bring such sharp, pointy little skewers on board). That said, you never know when someone will raise a fuss, so I recommend what others are saying above about printing out the guidelines, bringing less-loved needles, and using a lifeline to save your project if necessary.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:28 AM on September 29, 2010

This is a constant, constant question on just about every knitting forum (including the one that KathrynT and I manage on LiveJournal). The short answer, as stated in the comments above, is that nearly nobody has had problems BUT of course you should plan for the worst. There's no guarantee that you won't run into someone on their first day of trying to be a hardass, or that some incident or other won't have raised their hackles. radioaction and Lucinda are absolutely correct about bringing a SASE (padded mailer is best), particularly since most airports I've been in don't have easily (and quickly) accessible facilities selling those types of packing materials.

Bamboo circs with a short cord are a pretty safe bet. I wouldn't even attempt metal dpns, particularly the smaller ones, but that's just me.
posted by Madamina at 8:31 AM on September 29, 2010

I've never experienced a problem flying domestically with knitting needles--including metal circs and DPNs--in the past several years. I do make sure to have a project already cast-on so it's evident I'm actually a knitter. I also carry my knitting and any spare needles or tools in clear ziplocks so they can easily be inspected on request, but I've never had a TSA agent ask to look.
posted by weebil at 8:32 AM on September 29, 2010

I have seen bins at security at domestic (US) airports (intermittently) for depositing self-addressed stamped envelopes, if you are not permitted to take something with you through security. I've never used them, but you might consider carrying a SASE with you, in case that is an option to prevent losing property to the TSA.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:34 AM on September 29, 2010

Give yourself enough time to get through security, bring the printout if you're questioned about it. If you are questioned, look confused and say that you thought they were allowed because the TSA website said so. If they don't back down, calmly and politely ask to speak to a supervisor.
posted by inturnaround at 8:46 AM on September 29, 2010

Nthing that I have not had any trouble domestically in the US and I fly fairly frequently. I've never even been asked about it, and I usually have metal DPNs or circs with me.

International travel (originating outside the US) is another matter.
posted by cabingirl at 9:23 AM on September 29, 2010

This may seem obvious to you, especially based on what everyone else has said, but I haven't seen it said explicitly. Recently, me and mine have had absolutely no trouble with things (medications, liquids, shampoo, shaving cream, knitting needles, basically everything you hear about except breast milk - which won't ever be an issue unless things REALLY change) on our flights out of Chicago, but in smaller airports on the return, the same stuff has caused trouble.

So just remember to bring the print out with you for the return flight as well, even if you have no issues leaving Boston.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:26 AM on September 29, 2010

My wife and I flew with circular metal needles in 2008, no problem. She was really nervous about it, so we called the airport we were flying out of to make sure.
posted by schyler523 at 9:29 AM on September 29, 2010

I have never had any problem with bringing knitting needles on board a plane, even when the length of circulars and needle material was subject to limits in the past. Strategies:

- If you use interchangeable circulars and can remove the tips and put end caps on the cable, do that, or at least bring the end caps.

- Put your needles either with other cable-y equipment (e.g. folded neatly in laptop bag) or in a purse with pens and pencils. (My hypothesis is that metal DPNs or circs look more like pens to the X-ray this way ... no idea if this is true, but my bag was never searched when I did this.)

- Do not put your needles in a bag with any other questionable things: borderline-large toiletry items, giant swirling tangles of electronics cables, food (did you know many cheeses look exactly like plastic explosive under x-ray?), etc.

- Unless you are going to be waiting at the gate a while, wait until you've boarded to break the knitting out (sometimes other fliers get weirded out by your sharp things ... better to wait until the option to confiscate them before boarding has passed).

- If you may need a cutting implement, skip your forbidden razor thingie and just bring a nail clipper.
posted by amber_dale at 9:47 AM on September 29, 2010

Thanks, everyone.

I'm leaving work at 3 for a 5:30 flight. I should be at Logan about 4.

I have metal straights and metal circs. The metal circs are buried deep in my bag and are in the plastic bag they came in because I have not used them yet. The metal straights have 60% of a baby blanket on them.

I do not have scissors or any other cutting implement with me.

The only toiletries I have are deodorant and the toddler toothpaste Dr.Enormous forgot to grab when we left yesterday.

I don't have time to head to the post office (though I was there this morning, d'oh), but I'll see if our mail services guys will be nice enough to give me a padded envelope in case.

I'll update the thread with how it went once I've landed, hugged my family, and have a chance to get back on the computer.
posted by zizzle at 9:57 AM on September 29, 2010

*he left, not we left
posted by zizzle at 9:57 AM on September 29, 2010

Have a good trip!

By the way, if you do want to bring a cutting implement you won't be hassled over, I picked up a great tip on a knitting forum when Canadian security was still confiscating nail clippers: one of those tiny travel dental floss things works well for cutting yarn just like you would cut floss. I always have one in my purse and no one's ever asked me about it.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:23 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

i had many knitting needles (bamboo and metal, all straight) confiscated from me in 2008. i was on my way back from cancun and only had a carry on. they made me throw them in the garbage; they wouldn't even let me check my bag! and on the way there (out of jfk) they let me carry them on, no problem.

Big market for second hand knitting needles in Cancun?
posted by IndigoJones at 12:14 PM on September 29, 2010

I've had trouble intermittently over the past few years with bamboo circs and straight needles, and even had to check my knitting once (in Sydney, which made for a long flight to LA). I eventually started putting my project on a stitch holder and wearing the needles in my hair, like hair sticks, as I go through security, which works a treat. If you have long enough hair, I highly recommend it.
posted by girl scientist at 12:24 PM on September 29, 2010

Thanks, everyone.

I arrived at the airport super early, waited about an hour to get to security (where was everyone going on a Wednesday night???), and no one said a word about the needles.

Amusingly enough, when I arrived at my gate, there were two other knitters sitting there with their work out, so I happily joined them.
posted by zizzle at 3:23 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've been on 7 flights in the past 5 months, both domestic and international, and only once was there any issue at all - flying from DC to NYC they noticed them in my bag through the x-ray machine, and opened up my bag to see what the pointy metal object was. When they saw it was my needles (with a project on them), they waved me through. Every other time there was no problem at all.

I have heard (I think on Ravelry) that the yarn cutter pendant, which has been advertised as being airline-safe, will be confiscated if they see it because it can be disassembled and the blades removed from the cover.
posted by Gordafarin at 5:25 AM on October 1, 2010

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