Rules for Flights in the USA
On US flights, you’re allowed to pack extension cords and electrical wires in your hand and checked luggage. The only requirement is that all cords must be securely wrapped to expedite the screening process. That said, this rule is rarely enforced, and most of the time, the TSA agents won’t bat an eye if your cords are dangling loosely in your luggage.
However, there’s a specific type of item banned in hand luggage called “Tools that could cause serious injury or threaten the safety of aircraft“. Depending on the security agent’s interpretation, a wire could theoretically be used to strangle someone, which means they wouldn’t be allowed in hand luggage. However, the chances of that happening are incredibly slim, because most security officers wouldn’t classify an electrical wire as a weapon. Nowadays, pretty much everyone is traveling with chargers and wires, and nobody usually has any issues with them.
Rules for Flights in Other Countries
Canada, Europe, United Kingdom, New Zealand, China, and India
On Canadian, European, UK, New Zealand, Chinese, and Indian flights, extension cords and electrical wires aren’t mentioned specifically in the list of banned and allowed items. That said, most travelers don’t have any issues there when flying with electrical wires. So we can assume that the rules are very similar to the US – they’re allowed in hand and checked luggage without any additional restrictions.
In Australian flights, electrical, mains-powered appliances are not considered dangerous goods. This means that power strips and electrical wires are allowed in hand and checked baggage without any restrictions.
Sources: For writing this article, we took information only from official sources, like airline regulators, government websites, and major airlines. If you want to confirm that our information is accurate and up to date, click on any of the links mentioned above. We linked out to where we found this information for each country.
Disclaimer: The final decision of whether you can bring electrical wires onboard airplanes always rests on the security officer. Some airlines also have additional rules that may be different.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bringing Electrical Wires and Cords on Planes
Can I bring HDMI, USB, USB Type-C, Micro USB, and ethernet cables, on planes?
Generally, all types of electrical wires are allowed on planes. That said, there is one requirement. Because wires clutter the images on X-ray scanners, they should be securely wrapped, in case they need to be removed from the bag for repeated screening. You can do that with re-usable velcro cable fasteners.
Electrical wires are allowed because by themselves, they don’t cause any issues with the electronic equipment in aircraft. When no electricity is flowing through them, they’re completely harmless.
Can I bring metal wires on planes (copper, soldering, etc.)?
Theoretically, metal wires are allowed on aircraft both in hand and checked luggage. However, when packed in hand luggage, sometimes the security agents might confiscate them because they theoretically could be used as weapons to strangle someone. Compared to plastic-coated electrical wires, exposed metal wires are considered more dangerous. That said, this completely depends on each individual security agent, and most of the time, you won’t have any issues with this.
How do I pack electric cords and wires for air travel?
Most airline regulators and airports don’t require you to pack electric wires and extension cords in any certain way, except for TSA. They ask you to securely wrap your wires so that they can be easily removed from your hand or checked bag in case the bag requires additional inspection. However, even TSA doesn’t enforce this rule too strictly, so unless you’re carrying a large number of wires and chargers, you should be good.
The best way to pack your wires, cords, and cables are to use an electronics organizer, where you can neatly pack all of your chargers and wires in one place without making a mess. Another option would be to tie all of your wires and chargers separately with re-usable velcro cable fasteners so that they aren’t dangling around in your luggage.
Do I need to take electrical cables out of my bag when going through security?
Theoretically, you don’t need to remove cables and wires from your hand luggage when going through security. TSA has even reassured its passengers many times that all cables and wires can stay inside their bags. However, a lot of passengers have reported that quite often, the security agents have asked them to remove their cords and cables for additional screening.
That’s because wires tend to clutter the x-ray screening machine images. If it’s just one or two wires, it’s usually okay, but with anything more than that, you’ll probably be asked to remove them when going through security. If you’re traveling with several USB cables, chargers, wired earphones, and so on, a good idea would be to pack it all in an electronics organizer, which you can easily remove during security and put it back in when you’re done.
Can I use an extension cord or a power splitter on an airplane?
We haven’t found any rules from airline regulators that would ban the use of extension cords during flights. However, one passenger complained that American Airlines staff started yelling at him for doing that. Most likely, this was only a made-up rule by the AA employee, but we can see why some might think using power splitters might be dangerous. In case of emergency, having loose wires in the airplane probably isn’t a good thing, and cheap power strips sometimes tend to overheat and become safety hazards. So if you want to use your power strip during a flight, it’s probably a good idea to ask the flight attendant for permission first.
Also check out: Can you take a skateboard helmet on a plane?
Should I pack my extension cords in hand or checked luggage?
If you have the option, definitely pack power strips inside your checked luggage. Although the rules don’t prohibit you from bringing them in hand luggage, several airlines have different rules that ban them from hand luggage. Also, the security officers always have the final say, and we’ve heard that sometimes (although pretty rarely), they’ll confiscate wires and power strips because they could be used as a weapon during the flight.