Last week in the blog I looked at what knitting projects were portable and good for taking on my holiday to Madeira. I managed to narrow down my five favourite summer knitting projects that would make for good social knitting that was both portable and interesting enough so I could keep my hands busy without taxing my brain too much!
I'd also like to have the chance to knit whilst I’m waiting around at the airport and when I’m actually on board the plane because for me this is prime knitting time! So I started to look at what the rules were regarding taking knitting needles and crochet hooks on a flight. It appears that here in the UK is not so black and white.
I’m flying with Jet2, so I asked them if I would be permitted to travelling with my knitting needles. Jet2 response was:
You can imagine my disappointment right? For me, time sitting doing nothing is valuable knitting time wasted!
I also asked four other of the main airlines. Thomas Cook was in agreement with Jet2, strictly no knitting needles in your hand luggage but they could be packed into your suitcase in the hold. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Easyjet are all happy for you to carry knitting needles and crochet hooks in your hand luggage, they did say though that the final decision is with the airport so do check ahead before you fly. The best thing to do is to contact the airline directly or check their website.
I'm flying out Manchester Airport, I have checked their website and knitting needles aren't listed specifically in their prohibited items list. Every airport is different though as there is no central governing body who are responsible for airport security unlike in the US where the TSA oversees security. For our knitting friends in the US, it would appear they are permitted to travel with knitting needles in both carry-on baggage and checked-in baggage. TSA has a great search function on their website where you type in your chosen item, saying knitting needles and it will clearly indicate whether they can be carried in your hand luggage or checked-in luggage.
Some airports do have very informative websites like Heathrow who do clearly say that knitting needles are permitted in your hand luggage. I've also tweeted a couple of the other popular airport's that will be inundated this summer with travellers. Both Gatwick and Liverpool airports have no problem with you taking your knitting onboard but did advise that you still need to check with your airline first.
Unless you've checked with both the airline and the airport before travelling you are taking the risk that your knitting will be confiscated. They may see your knitting needles as a dangerous, well they are quite pointy! Minimise your chances they see your needles as a threat by taking wooden knitting needles over metal ones and circular needles instead of straights.
If they do see your knitting needles as potentially dangerous and you asked to hand it over it’s best to do so without making a fuss. If it does come down to you having to hand over your prized project, perhaps take a self-addressed envelope and post your knitting home. Have a backup plan though and pack a second project in your checked-in luggage.
I wanted to update this post as last year I was lucky to travel outside the UK on two separate occasions. I flew on a scheduled flight to Madeira with Jet2 and on a charter flight to Miami with Air France. I flew both times from Manchester Airport and wasn't questioned regarding my knitting as I went through passport control, so I was able to knit whilst waiting for my flights. I was also able to knit on the planes and nobody bat an eyelid!
My advice would be to check before you fly with the airline if you are going to chance it though use interchangeable needles, wooden ones as I mentioned before and pop you needle tips in your pencil case, put spares in your checked-in luggage just in case the tips are confiscated. Make sure you're started your knitting project makes it easier to see what your intention is. I have to say being able to knit made flying so much more enjoyable!
I would love to hear what your experiences have been, so please do share them in the comments