Can You Bring Metal On A Plane in Carry-On/Checked Luggage?

Nearly 2.5 million passengers fly in and out of U.S. airports every day, with many carrying items constructed of or containing metal – from laptops and jewelry to tools and sports equipment. Navigating the rules about what metal items can be brought onto a plane in carry-on and checked luggage has become a crucial aspect of modern travel, particularly in the post-9/11 era where security measures have dramatically increased.

Changes in regulations began evolving rapidly in response to security threats and have continued to adapt. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), established in 2001, alongside international security agencies, plays a pivotal role in determining what can and cannot be transported onboard an aircraft. Metal items have particularly come under scrutiny due to their potential use as weapons or their ability to conceal prohibited items. These regulations are crucial to preserving the safety of passengers and crew alike, all while seeking to balance the need for security with the practicality of traveling with personal items and equipment. Today’s travelers must stay informed about current guidelines, which may differ by country and can alter in response to new security threats, to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted passage through airport security checkpoints.

can you bring metal on a plane

Can You Take Metal On A Plane in Carry-On/Checked Luggage?

Travelers often wonder about the rules for taking metal objects on a plane, especially when it comes to what is allowed in carry-on and checked luggage. Generally, metal items are permitted on a plane, but there are restrictions based on the type, size, and purpose of the metal object. For instance, sharp metal objects such as knives or large tools are typically not allowed in carry-on bags due to security concerns but can be placed in checked luggage. Smaller metal items like keys, jewelry, and coins can usually be taken in carry-on luggage without issue. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has specific guidelines that passengers should review before packing to ensure a smooth security checkpoint experience. In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the regulations and provide detailed information on what metal items you can take on a plane, helping you prepare for your journey without any unexpected hiccups at the airport.

Understanding TSA Guidelines for Metal on USA Domestic Flights

When preparing for air travel within the United States, it’s essential to understand the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) guidelines regarding carrying metal objects. These standards are established to ensure the safety of all passengers while minimizing potential security risks during flight.

The information provided here is drawn from the official TSA website, which is the definitive source for security-related inquiries. For the most specific and current guidelines, travelers should always check the TSA website before packing.

Metal Items Allowed in Carry-On and Checked Luggage

  • Electronic devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets)
  • Household tools less than 7 inches in length
  • Jewelry and watches
  • Coins and other small metal items
  • Kitchen utensils (non-sharp)
  • Personal care items (tweezers, nail clippers)

Items Requiring Special Consideration

Certain metal items are subject to special consideration or additional screening. Travelers may bring these items in their carry-on or checked luggage, but they should prepare for potential additional security measures.

  • Sporting goods with metal components
  • Medical devices with metal parts
  • Musical instruments
  • Tools longer than 7 inches (must be checked)
  • Batteries with metallic casing

Prohibited Metal Items

Some metal objects are entirely forbidden from being transported on domestic flights due to their potential use as weapons. These items must not be packed in either carry-on or checked luggage.

  • Firearms and ammunition
  • Sharp objects (knives, large scissors, box cutters)
  • Explosives and flammable objects
  • Self-defense items (pepper spray, brass knuckles)

TSA PreCheck and Metal Items

Travelers enrolled in TSA PreCheck may experience expedited screening. However, they must still comply with regulations concerning metal items. Ensuring that metal items are packed properly can reduce the likelihood of delays during the screening process.

Tips for Traveling with Metal Items

To facilitate a smooth security checkpoint experience, travelers should consider the following tips when packing metal objects:

  • Separate electronics and large metal items from other belongings in bins during screening.
  • Place small metal items in your carry-on bag, rather than in pockets, to reduce alarms during screening.
  • Be aware of the undergarment restrictions, as some may contain enough metal to trigger an alarm.
  • Declare any medical devices or implants that may set off metal detectors to TSA officers beforehand.

Packing Firearms and Ammunition

For those who must travel with firearms or ammunition, the TSA has strict regulations to follow:

  • Firearms must be unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container.
  • The container must be declared to the airline at the check-in counter.
  • Ammunition should be securely packed in the original container or a hard-sided box.
  • Only certain quantities of ammunition are permitted and must also be declared.

For comprehensive details on traveling with firearms and ammunition, travelers should refer to the TSA and their airline’s specific policies.

Contacting TSA for Clarification

As policies and procedures can change, travelers with questions about specific items should contact the TSA directly through their contact center, via Twitter (@AskTSA), or by checking the TSA website for the latest information on prohibited items and security procedures.

✔ Pros ✘ Cons

Allows you to carry essential tools or metal items needed upon arrival.

Sharp metal objects in carry-on are not allowed and can cause security delays.

No additional wait time at the baggage claim if kept in carry-on luggage.

Checked luggage is susceptible to theft or loss, risking valuable metal items.

Keeping metal items in checked luggage complies with TSA regulations for sharp objects.

Weight restrictions for metal objects can incur extra baggage fees.

Avoid the possibility of checked bags being opened for inspection when following guidelines.

Transportation of large or heavy metal objects may be restricted or prohibited.

Flying with Metal Internationally

Traveling internationally with metal objects requires awareness of various regulations set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and individual countries. These rules are in place to ensure the safety and security of all passengers. It’s crucial to be informed about these guidelines to avoid any inconvenience or disruption to your travel plans.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Guidelines

  • Metal items are subject to security screening and must comply with IATA’s Dangerous Goods Regulations.
  • Sharp metal objects should be packed in checked luggage and are not allowed in carry-on bags.
  • Personal items such as metal jewelry and watches are typically allowed but may need to be removed for security checks.
  • Tools and other metal items that could be used as weapons must be securely packed in checked baggage.
  • Battery-powered devices containing metal must meet IATA’s guidelines for the carriage of batteries.

For more detailed information, please refer to the IATA website pages for metal (IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations).

Country Specific Regulations

Each country may have additional rules and restrictions when it comes to flying with metal objects. It’s essential to check the regulations of your destination country as well as any countries you may transit through.

United Kingdom

  • Sharp metal objects are not permitted in hand luggage and must be placed in checked baggage.
  • Visit the UK government website for specific guidelines (UK Hand Luggage Restrictions).


  • The European Union has strict regulations on metal objects in carry-on bags, particularly sharp items.
  • For more information, consult the European Commission’s mobility and transport page (EU Aviation Security Policy).



  • The Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs provides guidelines for metal objects in luggage.
  • Refer to their website for more information (Australian Aviation Security).

New Zealand


  • Asian countries may have varying regulations; it’s important to check with the local civil aviation authority.


  • The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has regulations for metal items in both carry-on and checked luggage.
  • Find out more on the CAAS website (CAAS Baggage Information).

10 Airline-Specific Regulations for Flying with Metal

Individual airlines also have their own set of rules when it comes to transporting metal items. It’s advisable to review the airline’s baggage policy before flying to ensure compliance with their specific regulations.

American Airlines

Delta Air Lines

  • Tools and other potential weapons made of metal should be placed in checked luggage.
  • For more details, refer to Delta’s prohibited items list (Delta Prohibited Items).

United Airlines



  • Carriage of metal items is subject to Lufthansa’s safety regulations.
  • Visit Lufthansa’s baggage information page (Lufthansa Baggage Regulations).

Air France

  • Sharp metal objects are not permitted in the cabin and must be checked in.
  • Find more information on Air France’s website (Air France Baggage Regulations).


  • Metal items with a blade or sharp edge are restricted from carry-on luggage.
  • Review Qantas’ dangerous goods policy (Qantas Dangerous Goods).

British Airways

Cathay Pacific

Singapore Airlines

Packing Metal in Your Carry-On Luggage

When traveling by air, packing metal items in your carry-on luggage requires careful consideration due to security regulations. It’s essential to know what is permitted in your carry-on bag and how to pack it to avoid delays during the security check process.

  • Check Airline and TSA Guidelines: Before packing, always check the latest regulations from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and your airline, as rules can change frequently.
  • Small Metal Items: Small items such as watches, keys, and small tools can be packed in your carry-on. Place them in a separate tray when going through security checks.
  • Electronics: Laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices contain metal components and should be easily accessible, as you’ll need to remove them from your bag at the security checkpoint.
  • Sharp Metal Objects: Sharp items such as scissors or knives are typically not allowed in carry-on luggage. If they are permitted, pack them so they are sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury when the bag is opened.

taking metal through airport security

Packing Metal in Your Hold Luggage

Metal in hold luggage (checked luggage) is generally subject to fewer restrictions than carry-on bags. However, it’s still important to pack wisely to ensure the safety and security of your belongings and to adhere to airline guidelines.

  • Wrap Well: Use bubble wrap, clothes, or towels to wrap metal objects securely. This will prevent them from moving around and causing damage to your luggage or other items.
  • Place Strategically: Place heavier metal items at the bottom of your suitcase to prevent them from shifting during transit and causing imbalance or damage to more delicate items.
  • Secure Loose Parts: If you’re packing items with removable metal parts, tighten the screws or secure the parts to avoid loss or damage.
  • Battery-Powered Devices: For items with lithium batteries, it’s often required to carry them with you or pack them in a way that prevents them from turning on accidentally.
  • Tools and Sharps: If you need to pack tools or other sharp objects, ensure they are well-protected and comply with airline regulations, as some items may still be prohibited.
  • Declare Valuables: If you’re packing valuable metal items, such as jewelry, it’s advisable to declare these at check-in for appropriate handling and insurance.

Other Items Similar to Metal to Bring on a Plane

When traveling by plane, in addition to metal items, passengers often consider bringing electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones, which contain metal components and are subject to security screening. Personal care items like hair straighteners and electric razors are also commonly packed. Tools, including small screwdrivers and wrenches under 7 inches, may be allowed in carry-on luggage. For those who enjoy crafting, knitting needles and crochet hooks are typically permitted onboard. Additionally, travelers might carry metal-containing medical devices such as pacemakers or metal implants, which should be declared at security checkpoints. Jewelry, watches, and belts with metal buckles can be worn but may need to be removed for screening. Lastly, coins and keys are everyday metal items that should be placed in the trays provided during the security check to avoid setting off metal detectors.

FAQ’s About Can You Bring Metal On A Plane

Traveling by plane comes with a set of rules and regulations regarding what can and cannot be packed in your luggage. When it comes to metal objects, the restrictions can sometimes be confusing. This section aims to clarify common questions related to carrying metal items aboard an aircraft, whether in checked luggage or as carry-on. The FAQs below cover a wide range of metal items and the specific rules that apply to them to help make your travel experience as smooth and trouble-free as possible.

Can I bring metal cutlery in my carry-on luggage?

Metal cutlery is typically not allowed in carry-on luggage due to security concerns, although plastic or bamboo cutlery is often permitted.

Are metal water bottles permitted on a plane?

Yes, metal water bottles are allowed, but they must be empty when going through airport security and can be refilled afterwards.

Is it okay to pack my metal hair dryer in checked luggage?

Yes, metal hair dryers can be packed in either your checked luggage or your carry-on without issue.

Might my jewelry set off the metal detector during screening?

Small jewelry pieces typically won’t set off metal detectors, but it’s recommended to remove larger items and place them in a screening bin to avoid potential delays.

Can I carry my metallic laptop case onboard?

Yes, metallic laptop cases are allowed in carry-on luggage. Your laptop will need to be removed and scanned separately during security checks.

Will I be allowed to bring tools like screwdrivers or hammers in my carry-on?

Tools that are 7 inches in length or shorter are generally permitted in carry-on luggage, while longer tools should be securely packed in checked luggage.

Are there restrictions on the amount of coins I can bring in my carry-on?

There aren’t typically restrictions on the quantity of coins; however, they might add significant weight to your bag, and large quantities might warrant additional screening.

Is it possible to travel with a metal tripod in my carry-on?

Metal tripods are allowed in carry-on bags as long as they comply with the airline’s size and weight restrictions for carry-ons. Otherwise, place them in checked baggage.

Can I bring a metal belt buckle on a plane?

Yes, metal belt buckles are permissible. However, they might set off the metal detector, so it’s a good idea to remove them and put them through the x-ray machine separately.

Are steel-toed boots allowed in my carry-on luggage?

Steel-toed boots can be transported in carry-on luggage. However, like with belt buckles, it’s advisable to wear easy-to-remove footwear to expedite the security process.

Packing It All Up

In summary, travelers are permitted to bring metal items in both carry-on and checked luggage when flying, but they need to abide by specific rules and regulations set forth by aviation authorities like the TSA. For carry-on luggage, metal objects must pass through security checkpoints and are subject to size and shape restrictions to ensure they are not potential weapons. Items like scissors with blades shorter than 4 inches, keys, and small tools can typically be included in your carry-on baggage without issue. However, all passengers are encouraged to double-check current guidelines as security protocols can change.

Regarding checked luggage, passengers can pack larger and heavier metal items, as these are stowed away in the aircraft’s cargo area. This includes tools, sporting goods, and other larger metal objects that might be necessary for your trip. Nevertheless, it is always crucial to consider the airline’s weight limits to avoid additional fees. Sharp objects should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors. Keep in mind that while metal items are often allowed, they can trigger additional inspections, so packing them in accessible locations within your luggage can help expedite the screening process. Remember that regulations can vary by country and airline, so it’s wise to consult your airline and review international policies if traveling abroad.