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How to Safely Pack Knives in Checked Baggage?

Discussion in 'FEEDBACK: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!' started by hayes31, Jun 11, 2012.

  1. hayes31


    Jun 5, 2012
    I'll be going backpacking on the other side of the country this summer, and I can't wait. However, that distance means I will be flying... so how do I safely pack a few knives into my checked bag so that they don't get confiscated, searched through, tossed around, etc.?

    Does anybody have a trick or tip for packing knives (and not only knives, other stuff like backpacks and stoves too) they'd like to share? I'm fine with following any regulations the airlines may have, I just want to keep my knives safe and sound inside my bag!
  2. jkwithawave

    jkwithawave ..... Platinum Member

    Sep 8, 2011
    A locked hard case of some kind in your luggage might work. I've never flown with knives or anything like that yet but it would be harder to get to like that I think.
  3. A.P.F.


    Mar 3, 2006
    Wrap them in some peanut butter covered underware in a plastic bag and no, I am not kidding.
  4. Jaxx

    Jaxx Moderator Moderator

    Jan 18, 2006
    After yesterday's experience with an unknown Atlanta/Hartsfield Intl. airport TSA inspector, I'm not sure that I'll pack a knife again. Never had a problem before...

    Nothing was taken or confiscated. I figure that I should start with this...but...the inspector was pretty damned unkind with my contents. After playing with my knives (he must have removed a glove because he left a perfect fingerprint on one), he threw everything back in that he had to take out to get to my knives with little regard, and then broke the zipper all to hell on my inner lining when he attempted to zip it closed. :grumpy: (I have an Eagle Creek bag that has a zipper at one end of the inner lining for shoes and such. I also keep my knives in a small lockable bag under this lining with any shoes as it keeps them all separated from my clothes, and is harder to get to without completely opening the bag.)

    I called and will be filing a claim. I also have discovered that I wasn't the only one with this same issue flying out of Hartsfield yesterday. Again, nothing missing... Just a ransacked bag and the same feeling of abuse by authority with no respect for the owner...

    If you use a locked case, be sure to use a TSA lock or it will be cut off if they want to see the contents. My knives were in one, but I do use a TSA lock on this as well.
    Wrap a rubber band around your folders to keep them from opening up. I'm pretty sure I read this on the TSA site somewhere.
    Sheath your sheath knives with their sheaths or at least a blade protector of some type. This was in the same paragraph I read about the folder and rubber band thing.
    Bury them deep and as far away from the outer zipper to make it hard for anyone not supposed to be in your bag to try just reaching in and coming out with it if the zipper breaks or is forced apart.

    ...And most of all...
    Pack knives that you won't lose your head over if they do go missing.
    After yesterday, I'd say... Ship them ahead to your destination if ya can.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2012
  5. fatherhudson


    Apr 3, 2012
    No offense Jaxx but do you fly very often? That doesn't sound like a very big deal compared to what TSA does to a lot of peoples luggage . . my stuff is always ransacked to some degree and i've had expensive electronics and binoculars stolen on several different occasions.

    OP: don't put em in a locked box, the guy that suggested that obviously isn't a traveler. Your knives won't get confiscated unless possibly they're illegal and then TSA would have to call the cops to confiscate them (i've never heard of this happening with knives). I was bringing a couple switchblades back from central america one time and i had a layover in a state that didn't allow automatics so i taped them open. probably unnecessary but it'll keep TSA from messing with em too bad and could prevent an idiot lawsuit "I was minding my own business playing with other peoples belongings and it just opened in my hand and cut me". Things get stolen a lot, although less so in the last few years, consider disassembling the knife and just putting the blade in your checked luggage and carry the rest with you. a plain blade is less tempting than a full knife. When i travel i put things TSA doesn't want to touch in the top of my bag (like dirty underwear and other things that shouldn't be mentioned on the general forum) this seems to keep the luggage tampering to a minimum.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2012
  6. Skimo


    Mar 28, 2009
    Depending on the type of knife, if they have lanyard holes, I tie them together with braided wire and through the frame of the suitcase. My reason, look all you want, but it won't be easy to steal the knives.
  7. Tim616


    Sep 13, 2011
    Whilst traveling to some location that I know knives are legal to carry, I do the following.

    1. Place knife in a pull-string pouch, wrap in .3 inch thick layer of paper towels.
    2. Place that into a small tin filled with balled-up tissues.
    3. make sure it is packed in a way that the tin will not move around much if at all.

    If they are going to take the knife it does not matter how secure it is, if it's in a strong box, they will simply take the strong box if they want to take it.

    I myself have had no problems, but I always check to make sure I am indeed following all laws of that area.
  8. viper89

    viper89 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 8, 2011
    I recently came back from a trip and I have my knives zip tied, wrapped in a plastic bag, put in a case with my first aid kit, and store in the bag immediately surrounded with underwear and socks then everything else piled on top of it. My bag was inspected on the return flight home and all knives were still there with zip ties still on them. No issues for me...yet.
  9. fatherhudson


    Apr 3, 2012
    Once *cough* someone i used to know was traveling with something illegal in his luggage he wrapped it in Christmas paper and addressed it to "My favorite niece". TSA would be of rights to unwrap and search the box but unless they suspect something (and are heartless :) ) they'll most likely leave it alone. Just an idea. Can't speak to it's effectiveness.
  10. Esav Benyamin

    Esav Benyamin MidniteSuperMod

    Apr 6, 2000
    I recall that Mr. Gollnick mentioned the TSA will pre-inspect your bag before check-in and put their seal on it. Then it goes onto the plane with no further sticky fingers entering it.

    Perhaps you could ask him to look at this thread. He has much more experience than I.
  11. Jestersinthemoon


    Apr 6, 2008
    I'm not sure if you've read my post from a few weeks back, but I went on my honeymoon to French Polynesia. On the flight to Tahiti from LAX, one of my checked bags was completely DESTROYED.

    Destroyed Bag

    Now, normally when a bag is ripped open, you see the stuff that fell out coming down the line on the Baggage Claim. Well, none of mine did. I lost some nice clothes and grooming products, a nice watch, some expensive cologne, THREE nice knives, a pair of shoes, and plenty more. I easily lost over $2000 worth of stuff, and I probably don't remember everything that was packed in there.

    In fact, I'm still waiting on the claim with Air Tahiti Nui and the Travel Insurance.

    I will think really hard about what I put into my checked baggage again.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2012
  12. orca8589


    Jan 27, 2007
    For small items that are sentimental or valuable, I ship ahead, by UPS or FedEx. You get delivery confirmation, you can insure it, and it'll pretty much be guaranteed to be there when you need it. If it is taken or lost, you at least have the financial claim from the insurance.

    When my grandmother died in 2005, I talked to two airlines, and neither would tell me what I could do to make sure the heirlooms I had to pack would get home safely - basically, they didn't want any liability. A United Airlines rep actually suggested, "off the record", that I ship it UPS.

    And after what happened to Ken Onion in 2006, and the way they treated him, I won't trust either the airlines or TSA.

    There were reports for years about the thievery going on at SFO, and nothing was done about it.

  13. hayes31


    Jun 5, 2012
    Thanks for the suggestions everybody!

    Jaxx, that's awful, at least nothing went missing. But still, having someone take bad care of your things is always nervewracking. It's exactly that scenario that I'm worrying about.

    Esav, I'll do just that- thanks for the suggestion.
  14. Esav Benyamin

    Esav Benyamin MidniteSuperMod

    Apr 6, 2000
    I was going to move this when I first saw it but distracted myself by posting! :)
    It really is the sort of topic we cover in FEEDBACK. (No foul, though!)
  15. cosmophonic12


    Jan 2, 2009
    I always carry my Sig pistol when I travel so I always pack it in my checked bag. Took about half dozen of my large camping knives along with gun magazines and 100 rounds of JHP ammo one time. TSA only needes to know about my Sig and ammo. Didn't bother to declare the knives.
  16. hayes31


    Jun 5, 2012
    Got it! :thumbup:
  17. fatherhudson


    Apr 3, 2012
    Don't quote me on this but i was told that checking a gun is one of the best ways to make sure your baggage isn't lost. apparently they take extra measures to track your bag and if they do lose it they have to immediately call the police because they've lost a gun. I talked to a guy who said he always traveled with a starter pistol because it counted as a gun but was legal in all 50 states. Maybe someone more knowledgeable can confirm whether this is true or not?
  18. JGarrison Knives

    JGarrison Knives KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 28, 2005
    We checked a frame with our knives and had our own locks on it. Just took a couple extra minutes each way dealing with the TSA but all went well.
  19. Jaxx

    Jaxx Moderator Moderator

    Jan 18, 2006
    As little as possible. :D

    Look, I don't expect a repack as well as I packed the bag, but a little courtesy in how they return everything would go a long way. I don't mind (much) if my bag has to be inspected, but I DO expect a little cooperation just as they expect from us travelers. I DON'T expect them to damage my bag. Ya know? :)

    The TSA fella that I called did say that they do appreciate calls when problems are experienced. I asked him how they can determine who the responsible agent was and was told that if you provide the approximate check-in/baggage drop off time, date, and your bag number (which is on the sticker, destination tag and bag claim check provided by the airline) then they can zero in on who inspected the bag. Just like the US Postal inspectors say, patterns help to catch the ones not doing their job well...so if you have a problem, give them a call at the number on the TSA card left in your bag (TSA Contact Center- 866.289.9673 or 571.227.2900) and wait through the recording to be connected to a live person.
  20. Kevin Wilkins

    Kevin Wilkins

    Oct 7, 1998
    There is no way to "safely" pack knives or any other item in checked baggage. All you can do is make sure you have external travel insurance on the contents and if the item - or knives - are irreplaceable, leave 'em home. Otherwise you pays your money and rolls the dice. The contents may come through and they may be lost, damaged or stolen. Most times everything comes through OK ... like the old joke, "I'm planning to live forever and so far my plan is working!"

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