FAA and max blade length

Oct 3, 1998
Hi gang - I know the area of knives and airline travel is always "gray matter", as there are no rules etched in stone. I am interested in finding out the maximum legal blade length allowable to get past the security checkpoint at airports. In the past when I have researched this topic, some sources say that it's 3", others say 4". In the past I have flown with knives like the Benchmade Pardue 850, Spyderco Calypso Jr, SAK's, and in my crazier days - a Spydie Goddard C16PS
I know there are exceptions to every rule, and that the rules are subject to change as time passes. What is the general consensus out there in terms of maximum, legal blade lengths and airline travel? TIA for the feedback.

Dexter Ewing
Knife Reviews Moderator

"The keystroke is mightier than the sword"

Hi Dex...
I have been to the Faa site, and their stuff says that any pocket knife with a blade of 4" or less is fine. Aparently what the FAA says does not mean squat, and I can only hope that otherFAA regulations a re followed a bit more closely. At Anchorage International airport, it isn't a good idea to carry anything over 2.5", and serratons are a no-no. Leathermen and locking blades are out too. I would assume that there is a great deal of confusion dealing with passenger security regulations among the employees at our airport because of several factors. One, they are not fluent in English. Two, Airport Security starts new hires at $6.50 and hour.

I must admit that it is kinda fun when my parents and I goto the airport. The process of emptying our pockets takes on a comedic appearance as knives, leathermen and other things get stashed in the car.
Hi Yekim - I have also read that the way you're dressed and demeanor at the actual checkpoint can also have a bearing on whether or not security will let you by with no hassles. So it pays to be well groomed and well behaved!

I know what you mean by the pocket-emptying. When I go to pick relatives up at the airport, I'm always careful to "check the weapons" and leave 'em in the glove box
I don't want to go through the checkpoint with any knives on me - cause with my dang luck, when I pass through there as a passenger, those same guys will probably remember me and will search me good. LOL.

Dexter Ewing
Knife Reviews Moderator

"The keystroke is mightier than the sword"

[This message has been edited by Dexter Ewing (edited 23 January 1999).]
The Federal Aviation Regulations specify 4".

However, "they" give airport security significant latitude to enforce a tighter standard, which one could only describe as arbitrary.

I recently traveled with a Buck Ranger, which measures between 2.75" and 3.25" depending upon how one defines the word blade.

I have read an account of a security person who measured the blade from the pivot, and of others who measure only the sharpened edge.

In my most recent travels, I only had trouble in Redmond, Oregon, and that amounted to a suggestion to put the knife in my checked baggage, and then considerable huffing and rolled-eyes when I kept it on my person.

Some years ago I had an extremely unpleasant experience departing Salt Lake on United, even after calling ahead and following all of United's instructions to the letter.
Don't get me started.

I would like to see a published industry standard to which all airlines and airports
I don't expect it to happen.

I have given thought to traveling with a pre-addressed, pre-stamped, pre-insured bubble-pack envelope so I can mail my knife to myself from Atlanta or wherever; and I need to check with the post office to see if I can do that (pre-stamp and pre-insure) with an unsealed envelope.
Well, I have never had a problem at the airlines until 1 month ago, when the LA airport security tried to tell me that my serrated 2.5 inch, stainless delica was a no no. I said that I never had a problem before. I told them that there was no way I was giving up the knife and they let me pass with a warning. From now on I carr the FAA rules with me. At least I can threaten them with law suit and I bet they will backoff, expecially if I make a lot of noise saying how in the event of a crash I may need to cut myself and others out of the seats. Loud voices, saying crash and putting the FAA rules in their face should do it.
Hi Folks -- FYI, there's a thread on this same topic over in Tactical Talk.

Thanks for the heads-up, Brian. Just read the thread - lotsa good info.

Dexter Ewing
Knife Reviews Moderator

"The keystroke is mightier than the sword"

If you are travelling from a UK airport they are now saying that no locking blades are allowed at all on board a plane as carry on or on the person no matter how small the blade.

I am just waiting for them to tell me I cant take my Leatherman Micra on my key ring next.

Harvey Wareham

Live Long & Prosper, so you can buy more knives :)