u lock or u don't lock?
March 13, 2007 10:28 PM   Subscribe

can you bring a bike lock (u-lock style) on a plane in your carryon?

i've checked TSA, google, etc. anyone had any experience with this?
posted by Hat Maui to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
I'm guessing that a blunt heavy object would fall under "Tools (greater than seven inches in length)" and would be prohibited for the same reasons that crowbars, bats, and hammers are.

Complete TSA list here
posted by chrisamiller at 10:43 PM on March 13, 2007

Anecdotal, but I have done it a few times over the past few years when I've forgotten to remove my bike lock from my backpack before flying.

Application of the rules at the checkpoint is rather arbitrary, though, so if you have a choice you're better off to check it through, or mail it to yourself if you don't want to waste time retrieving checked baggage.
posted by killdevil at 10:56 PM on March 13, 2007

posted by frieze at 11:32 PM on March 13, 2007

thanks. care to shed a bit more light, there, frieze? "no" is not really helpful.
posted by Hat Maui at 2:18 AM on March 14, 2007

Officially, not explicitly listed.

Actuality -- large and heavy enough that a screener is likely to say "no."

If it is a good lock, and you must carry it with you, check it. Otherwise, ship it or don't bring it.
posted by eriko at 4:37 AM on March 14, 2007

Twice now I have had to hurry back through the security to check in my bronze statue of Ganesh, no amount of begging and pleading would allow me to take my blunt heavy object into the cabin. I assume a big bike lock would be similar.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:24 AM on March 14, 2007

Screening is completely arbitrary. When I flew in the U.S. last summer (out of Buffalo) I did so with a full-sized tripod in my carry-on. On the way down, my bag was flagged, but their concern was for the "screwdriver-like objects" that turned out to be the two adjustment handles on the tripod head. Once it was proven that that's what these were, they let me take it through without problems, even though the handles are quite removable (the inspector probably didn't realize this), and as weaponable as a Robertson head screwdriver might be.

For my return flights, I packed everything exactly the same way (head removed from tripod because that was the only way I could get it into my bag), and didn't get flagged by the scanner at all.

YMMV, and I certainly wouldn't try it again myself.
posted by kowalski at 5:42 AM on March 14, 2007

No, my boyfriend left his lock in his backpack by mistake and they made him check the whole bag. It's luck whether you get away with it or not, but if you want to avoid the added inconvenience don't do it.
posted by puffin at 5:48 AM on March 14, 2007

Big blunt objects are at the discretion of the supervisor of the *individual* checkpoint.

Anecdote: I was okay'd through the security checkpoint with a large metal rolling pin at the U.S. Air counter in Boston (it was a left-behind wedding gift -- still in the packaging). Then our flight was canceled so we got rebooked onto Delta. At the Delta counter, the supervisor didn't like it. So that was that. It had to be checked. On that flight, both my wife and I were flagged with the dread "SSSS" (super secondary security screening!) so perhaps this had something to do with it. But it was explained that nearly every TSA regulation is a guideline and pretty much anything the supervisor says goes in terms of interpreting the guidelines. This seems arbitrary and kinda zany, but I actually believe that giving the screener's discretion to look at the entire situation to be a good thing. Even if it meant an annoying trip back through the security line after checking my bag with a *fraking* rolling pin in it.
posted by zpousman at 8:39 AM on March 14, 2007

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