View Full Version : Knife on an airplane

05-09-2005, 14:55
Last week I flew from Atlanta to Dulles. I carried on two bags, including a day pack, as I intended to hike while staying at the Blackburn Center.

Imagine my surprise when my daypack was flagged on the return flight from Dulles to Atlanta. The screener went through my pack, and found a swiss army knife. The one that I carried the length of the trail in 2000. The knife was confiscated.

Now... shame on me for not realizing I had the knife in my pack. What really surprised me is that the knife made it through the screening at the Atlanta airport on the first leg of my journey! Kinda makes me wonder what kind of accuracy rate they have for detecting knives & such.

05-09-2005, 15:41
A couple of years ago my son and completed our scheduled hiking trip but our ground transporation fell through.

So we bought some one-way airline tickets on the spur of the moment to get home. When we checked in with our backpacks, the airline lady said "Both of you have been "randomly" selected for a full search...etc etc "

They were actually very nice to us, considering. Got "special" treatment at security and was waved through the line. They sat us down and went through everything (I mean every thing), even looked at my toothbrush and toothpaste. I didn't believe that "random selection" thing for a moment, but I was so relaxed after the hike that I didn't care if they wanted to try out my toothpaste! Please, have at the smelly socks all you want! I talked camping/hiking with one of the guards and it was no big deal (maybe they were just questioning?). I offered to set up my SD light year on the carpet but they said no thanks. Packed everything up and we were on our way.

My point is that if you have nothing to hide, relax, but if you do have something to hide, be assured they will likely find it!:)

05-09-2005, 16:08
So we bought some one-way airline tickets on the spur of the moment to get home. When we checked in with our backpacks, the airline lady said "Both of you have been "randomly" selected for a full search...etc etc "

Funny..when I had my beard (with normal length hair, nearly trimmed beard), was "randomly'" selected everytime I flew. Of course, this was during 2001-2002, so people were a bit more nervous than now.

Now that I have no beard, I am never selected. :-?

05-09-2005, 16:10
Knives of any size have been illegal for some time on airlines. Do what i do, check the pack into the cargo hold. Yeah it is a little inconvenient, but at least your favorite pocket knife will not get confiscated.

Screening accuracy, well according to reports I have seen on CNN, I guess it really depends on the on whether the screener is worth 2 cents or not. Really they all go throught the same training now and pretty much are using the same equipment. Some people just should not be screeners at our air ports, the problem being screeners are not always the cream of the crop.

The Solemates
05-09-2005, 16:10
I forgot that I had a Spyderco 3-inch serrated knife in my carry-on during a trip out west to go skiiing. I just keep it in my pack because it is the same one I take dayhiking. I wrapped it up in a jacket and stuck in the bottom of my pack when going thru security because it was a $70 knife that was a gift and I didnt want to lose it. It passed thru ATL security unnoticed. Makes you wander how well security really does.... Needless to say, I put it in my checked baggage when I headed home.

so, I had something to hide, and they didnt find it! :-?

The Solemates
05-09-2005, 16:13
its funny....seems I always get randomly selected when I have my hiking boots on and a weeks growth of beard. but i have never gotten selected when travelling in casual work clothes.

05-09-2005, 16:19
On the rando selection thing, it is amazing now that you mention it. Because I have only flown a few times since 9/11, and each time I was in a business suit, going to a meeting carrying a briefcase, cell phone and never got selected.

05-09-2005, 16:25
A goatee seems to mean you're evil or something to those guys. I had about a 90% chance of getting "randomly selected" every time I flew. Now they have stopped doing those screens as much.

As an aside, if you go out on Ebay you can buy confiscated knives. Apparently some places have rules that stay they have to sell them - they cannot keep them. Some places are nice enough to mail the item back to you. I have seen numerous lots of knives on ebay that stated they were confiscated at airport checkpoints.

05-09-2005, 17:09
My beard is also black and I tend to have a slightly tan complexion year 'round.


I always make sure to check my knife in my baggage. Don't need any more hassle than needed when flying.

At the Denver airport that have a nice system. Many people honestly forget they are carryin a pocket knife/leatherman. They let you go to the PO in the airport to mail it wherever. Then they let you get back in line so you don't lose your spot. That is what happened to my room mate in any case.

05-09-2005, 19:58
Atlanta found a Leatherman tool I'd left in a shaving kit accidentally. I was given the choice of confiscation - and they really didn't want to do it - or go to the post office around the corner and mail it, or have the bag declared as checked baggage.

This was on a trip to NYC.

I understand that destination has much to do with selection and strictness of searches.

Pencil Pusher
05-09-2005, 20:10
Well I think any moron that attempts to hijack a plane with a knife alone is going to get ripped to shreds barehanded by all the passengers that remember 9/11. Now whether a screener is "worth two cents" based upon this... well I think that opinion is based more on idealism than reality.

05-09-2005, 20:21
As we approached the check in counter on a trip from Phoenix to Dulles, my wife wanted a Tylenol, and that was in myfirst aid kit. I took my first aid kit out of my backpack just before I checked the pack, and put the first aid kit in my carry on bag. I had forgotten that a 3" serrated blade folding knife was also in the first aid kit, and now in my carry on. Anyway, the X Ray at the passenger screening point picked up the knife, and my carry on got all sorts of special attention. I did too. But somehow, three different screeners couldn't find the knife in the bag, because it had nested down among some sheets of moleskin and was hard to visually identify. They knew from the X Ray it was there, but couldn't find it. I was taken to a different area and virtually strip searched, etc. Meanwhile I was the picture of perfect innocence, because I honestly didn't realize the knife was there, or know what the fuss was all about. Finally they let me go through. We got to the departure gate, my wife said "how about that Tylenol" and I went into the first aid kit. When I opened it I saw the knife almost immediately and said "Holy *****." Funny thing is, TSA screeners had to decide what to trust, an X Ray machine or a person, and they chose the person. To me that says a lot.


05-09-2005, 22:38
One time I was in line and about to walk thru the metal detector and suddenly realized that I had my swiss army knife in my pocket. When it was my trun to walk thru the detector the guard handed me a basket to put my pocket things in. I put my wallet, car keys, change and swiss army knife in the basket and walked thru the detector. After reaching the other side the woman handed me the basket without ever looking in it. I got my knife and other things and got on board the plane.


05-10-2005, 07:36
Well, since this seems to be the knife thread I'll add my own tale of flying with pocket knives. Several years ago I was stopped because I was carrying a swiss army knife that my daughter bought for me when we she went to Switzerland. I didn't have time to go back home, the bags were already checked and it was too early to find an open post office. Trusting in the minimal housekeeping at Hartsfield, I went into a mens room and shoved my knife under the sink counter. Upon my return flight I went back to the mens room and reclaimed my knife where it had rested unmolested for a week.

05-10-2005, 11:05
Some things (ok most things) regarding airline screening do not make sense. I guess the success/failure rate depends on the person(s) conducting the search.

Here are some of my experiences:

One screener asked me to either take a drink (from a baby bottle no less) of my daughter's apple juice to prove it was apple juice (I guess the logic here was if it were gas or something hazardous I would not drink it) or X-ray it. Huh? What will an X-Ray do to prove what is inside it? The bottle was clear, so it was plain to see nothing was in the liquid. I let them X-Ray it, and walked away shaking my head.

One gentleman in Birmingham, AL I thought was going to have me strip searched. I have metal plates in my arm from a childhood injury, and it kept setting off the hand wand. I told him about it, and he was fine but then EVERY part of my body started setting it off. He kept asking did I have metal in other body parts. Finally (fortunately) he called a supervisor over to see what to do, who recognized that he was physically touching me with the wand, which in turn set it off (they should pass the wand over you, not rub in on you)

My favorite is this, they do not want knives on an airplane, but many things may be used as an improvised knife. I recall when they would not allow plastic knives (eating utensils) onboard, but they would allow 20oz glass bottles (still do) onboard. Hmm, plastic knife - glass shard - you decide. Don't carry a nail file onboard, but bring a huge glass bottle on - we're cool with that. Duh.

The reality is just about anything can be used as a weapon, so banning leatherman micras from an airplane cabin is just about the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. Now I hear they have banned lighters but allow matches. Nice. Real nice....

05-10-2005, 13:37
when did you see 'em ban a pencil? I've also heard, but can't confirm, that knitting needles usually get the wave.

But seriously folks, had it mattered to the 9-11 hijackers, they could have bought X-rayable ceramic-blade knives that'll sever limbs, for under $50 then and now for about $10.

05-10-2005, 22:37
nail files are ok now!

05-11-2005, 22:04
nail files are ok now!
Depends ?? Once on my travels thru the airport I saw them take a woman's
cosmetic kit because it had a nail file and eyebrow plyers (I guess that's what
ya call them ??) They told her these could be used as weapons. I have been on flights where they serve soda pop along with a cup of ice. If you ask for the can
they will give it to you. Basically the soda can could be flattened , torn in half to make a sharp ! Now you have a weapon of sorts. I always wondered why they
don't ban soda cans as well?? :datz

05-11-2005, 22:12
WASHINGTON - Forgetfulness isn’t a crime, but these days it could get you fined and your name placed on a government security database.

The fines are being handed out at airports across the country to travelers caught trying to pass through security with banned items in their carry-on baggage. Fines can range as high as $10,000 and a criminal referral, according to the penalty guidelines established by the Transportation Security Administration.

Last year the TSA collected $1 million in fines from just over seven million banned items it collected. The money goes into the U.S. Treasury’s general fund. The average fine was $208 with just under 150 cases seeing fines of $1,000 or more, according to TSA figures. Of those seven million items collected, 81,600 were firearms, explosives, knives with blades over three inches and box-cutters that were “artfully concealed,” according to Amy Von Walter, a TSA spokesperson.

And simple forgetfulness isn’t going to be enough to get you off the hook anymore. Just ask Jon Zetterlund from the Minneapolis area, who was fined $250 when airport security found a Swiss Army knife in his shaving kit. In haste, Zetterlund had removed the shaving kit from an overweight piece of checked luggage and stuffed it into his carry-on when TSA passenger screeners nabbed him.

“I told them I screwed up, said I was sorry,” Zetterlund told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He proffered no objection to having the knife confiscated. Yet several weeks later, he told the paper, a letter arrived demanding he pay the fine. Zetterlund was so taken aback, he thought the letter was some kind of elaborate scam; he eventually paid up after confirming the fine was for real.

'Aggravating circumstances'
“We typically don’t fine people for being forgetful,” Von Walter said. The TSA guidelines provide a broad outline for the types of fines that can be imposed and under what circumstances they can be modified, Von Walter said. “However, the guidance doesn’t require civil penalty in every incidence where a prohibited item is discovered,” she said.

And in fact, typically, with the more common items, such as small Swiss Army knives or sewing scissors, TSA won’t hand out a fine, “but we do have to look at cases where there are aggravating circumstances and typically that will influence the fee amount,” Von Walter said.

In other words, if you shoot off your mouth about being caught trying to take a banned item through airport security, be prepared to pay. It’s common sense, said Von Walter, and not unlike a situation in which you’ve been stopped for a traffic violation. “Be pleasant and apologetic and respectful and it could potentially impact your situation,” she said, meaning the difference between a hefty fine and a stern warning.

Disciplinary discretion
Federal security directors at each airport are given flexibility in deciding what offenses should be fined and for how much. “Like a judge on a bench,” has leeway to interpret the law to fit the circumstance, Von Walter said. And that includes handing down a fine that is less than the minimum $250, she said, especially in first time offenses.

This flexibility has led to questions from Congress about whether the fines are being fairly assessed. A person caught with a box-cutter at one airport may get off with a verbal warning while another person in similar circumstances might be hit with a $250 fine.

“Consistency is an issue that TSA struggles with,” Von Walter acknowledged, pointing out the agency’s somewhat confusing shoe screening that seems to differ from airport to airport. “Certainly, we want to insure greater consistency,” when it comes to fines, she said.

Ignorance is no excuse
Pleading your case in an apologetic way only goes so far, however. TSA is now three years old. The agency’s list of banned items is one of the best publicized post-9/11 government creations for no other reason than it’s often in heavy rotation of late night comedian monologues and is derided almost as much as the Department of Homeland Security’s terrorist-threat color code.

Bottom line: the TSA feels American travelers have had fair enough warning regarding the consequences of bringing a banned item through airport security.

“Certainly, we try and be as understanding as possible,” Von Walter said.

There’s another reason to keep your head clued in when traveling, beyond the annoyance of having to pay a fine: All the personal information collected during the process of being fined is stored on a government security database that doesn’t go away.

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More stories by Brock N. Meeks

“It would be safe to assume that in some cases you may be placed on a ‘selectee list,’” said a TSA source with knowledge of the process. Such lists fall short of the infamous “no fly” list, which have erroneously ensnared politicians, celebrities and other innocent travelers. But this selectee list means you’re more likely to have your ticket flagged, and that means “you would go through additional screening at airport security checkpoints,” the TSA source said.

But you don’t have to just “take it.” There is an appeal process, the TSA says. One caution though: The procedure is tedious and if you want an in-person hearing, you have to return to the place where the infraction took place.


05-12-2005, 15:08
The only personal care item you can't carry on a plane right now is metal scissors with pointed tips. These need to go in checked baggage. Fingernail clippers, fingernail files, tweezers, etc. are fine.

To find which items have to be checked or not taken at all, go to tsa.gov.

They are much less strict now than after 911.

There are very few things you can't take on a plane at all. Most can be just checked in if not allowed in carry-on.

05-12-2005, 21:52
I found out today that you cannot have a pocket knife if you want to visit the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall in Philadelphia. There are signs warning you not to try to bring in a pocket knife. Everybody is checked.


05-12-2005, 22:22
TSA guidlines actually warn you not to bring "Hand Grenades" aboard an airplane?? Duhaaaaaaaa..