Are Scissors Allowed On Planes? What Sharps Make The Cut For TSA

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Bins passing through the x-ray at an airport TSA checkpoint.

Given the sometimes wishy-washy nature of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules from airport to airport, it can be tricky to know what can or cannot be brought onto a plane. Things like weapons cannot be carried onto the airplane and must be in checked luggage (with even more rules), but what about less dangerous items?

Are scissors allowed on planes? Short answer: yes. Long answer: although scissors can be considered sharp objects, they’re frequently not considered too dangerous to bring onto a plane. That said, not all scissors are treated equally.

If you’re traveling with scissors for crafting, grooming, or any other reason, It’s vital to know what kind of whether or not they can be brought into your carry-on luggage or need to be packed in checked baggage. We’re here to help deduce the differences to avoid airport security confiscating your items.

Can You Bring Scissors Through TSA Checkpoints?

Bins passing through the x-ray at an airport TSA checkpoint.
Mihail / Adobe Stock

For TSA rules, scissors are treated like any knife or item with a blade. In that regard, TSA regulations dictate that only blades shorter than four inches can be brought onto a plane in carry-on luggage.

Regardless of the type of scissors, if the blade portion is longer than four inches, you must keep it in checked luggage or leave it at home. Grab a ruler or a measuring tape and the scissors you’d like to bring along. Then, find the pivot point.

A pivot point is where the two blades come together with the handle. Measuring from the pivot point, the blades must be less than four inches long to be brought onboard in carry-on bags. That’s actually… not all that small!

See Related: Clear vs TSA Precheck: What’s Better?

What Types of Scissors Can Be Taken Onto A Plane?

Person holding scissors
LoloStock / Adobe Stock

Although the type of scissors is not as important as the length of their blade, there are some generally TSA-approved scissors. For example, a pair of nail scissors is not going to be over the four-inch blade regulation. Whereas if you want to bring hair-cutting scissors, you have to be more careful as they have longer blades.

A few other types of scissors likely to be fine for carry-on bags include:

  • Small medical scissors
  • Embroidery scissors
  • Folding scissors
  • Safety scissors
  • Child safety scissors
  • Manicure scissors or cuticle scissors

What Other Sharp Objects Are Allowed In A Carry-on Bag?

Woman packing clothes on a luggage
K Abrahams/peopleimages.com / Adobe Stock

Having scissors on a plane is not necessarily the most common occurrence for many travelers. There are a lot of other items that one would put in checked baggage or carry-on bags instead.

Some of these items fall under similar conditions of the TSA scissors rules, though they are considered non-weapons despite their potential sharpness. Some of the other sharp objects that can be put in carry-on bags include:

  • Nail clippers
  • Nail file
  • Safety pins
  • Disposable razors
  • Crochet hooks
  • Knitting needles
  • Lock picks (of all things)

What Other Sharp Objects Are Only Allowed In Checked Bags?

Checked bags on a caousel
Aris Suwanmalee / Adobe Stock

Carrying scissors on a plane longer than four inches is not allowed, that’s clear. But what about other sharp items? Regardless of blade length, some items must always be placed in checked bags. These potentially dangerous items are listed in part by the TSA as:

  • Items with serrated blades
  • Swiss Army Knives or other pocket knives
  • Box cutters
  • Safety razors with blades
  • Utility knives
  • Straight razors
  • Heavy-duty scissors
  • Switchblade shears

How to Pack Scissors for Checked Luggage

Child scissors with a sheath
wichientep / Adobe Stock

When packing scissors, it’s vital that you pack them safely in your checked bag. Particularly if you bring scissors over four inches, make sure the blade is securely wrapped or taped up, or use a scissor sheath.

Packing scissors safely is both to protect the blades and also to protect any baggage handlers taking care of your checked baggage. The last thing you want is for your scissors to cut someone on the job.

See Related: The Ultimate Vacation Packing List (+ Printable PDF)

Can I Take Scissors on International Flights?

Child holds KLM patch aboard flight at Schiphol Airport
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

If you bring scissors on a plane for international flights you may encounter issues, even with blades less than four inches. You could even have a problem with blades in checked baggage.

While you may be fine departing your home airport with sharp objects, it’s possible you’ll have them confiscated overseas. Confiscation can occur after checked luggage is processed or as you go through airport security.

For example, while traveling in China, security almost confiscated my two-inch rounded nail file. Every country will have its own regulations around perceived sharp items, even brow tweezers or scissors, which will determine whether or not you can bring them onto a plane.

Flying internationally always introduces specific rules that may not apply to you back home. Even if your initial research doesn’t indicate issues with carrying sharp objects onto a plane, you may still get in trouble. The final decision rests with security at each individual airport, so look into the airport and airline rules before departure.

Can I Use Scissors on a Plane?

Child using scissors
Kanthita / Adobe Stock

There isn’t a definitive answer on this one. TSA guidelines dictate the size of scissors on a plane but not whether or not passengers can use them. Like other items in your carry-on luggage, you should be able to safely assume that you can use the scissors while on the plane.

If you bring scissors on a plane and want to use them, just be mindful of other people around you. Like with nail clippers and things like that, don’t engage in personal grooming at your seat. The last thing your seatmate wants is to get a snip of cuticle to the face as it flies off your nail — it sounds gross, and I’ve seen it happen.

If you have small scissors to help with a knitting project or you have kiddie scissors for your young traveler’s crafting, you’re probably fine to use them. Just be mindful of your environment, and if the crew asks you to put them away, you’ll have to comply.

See Related: Best TSA-Approved Locks for Travel

Travel Scissor Recommendations for Your Carry-on Bag

3 Swords Germany
 Manicure set
3 Swords Germany / Amazon

If you need to bring scissors in your carry-on bag, you may not have a pair with a suitable blade length. You may need to invest in a pair of small scissors to get through a security checkpoint with them in your carry-on baggage.

Here are a few options for appropriate-sized accessories to avoid having your scissors confiscated:

  • Twiggy Scissors: These handy, small scissors fold together into a sheath. If you want to bring scissors in your carry-on, these are a terrific multi-use option.
  • 3 Swords Germany Manicure Set: A travel manicure set is a good investment for any traveler, especially if it comes with a carrying case to keep everything organized. This set from 3 Swords comes with small nail scissors and fits neatly in hand luggage.
  • Fiskars Folding Scissors: Folding scissors are welcome in your hand luggage, and because they fold up, they take up less space. These scissors also don’t have pointed tips. Instead, they have rounded tips, which is also safer.

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Amanda Finn
WRITTEN BY

Amanda Finn

Amanda (she/they) is a Chicago-based queer travel, arts, and lifestyle writer who is passionate about exploring the world. Their work has been featured in Newcity Stage, The Chicago Reader, Huffington Post, and Yahoo, as well as the November 2022 book, "Chicago Like a Local" and other travel journals available on Amazon. Amanda's favorite destinations include Costa Rica, Prague, Dublin, Hong Kong, and every Disney park they've visited.

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