Rules for Flights in the USA
United States authorities don’t list dumbbells specifically as a banned item from cabin baggage. However, TSA recommends packing them in checked baggage only. Most heavy objects in carry-on bags represent a security concern as they could be used as a bludgeoning weapon. There have been cases when dumbbells are allowed through security at one airport and then confiscated at another.
This concern applies to dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, weight plates, medicine balls, weight vests with weights on, and sandbells. Small ankle weights filled with granular material might be an exemption if they have less than 12 ounces / 350 milliliters. If the security agent believes they could intentionally or accidentally hurt someone, they won’t be allowed in the cabin.
Overall, it’s best practice to pack your dumbbells in the checked baggage only and strap them securely, so they don’t damage your other belongings.
Rules for Flights in Other Countries
Canadian authorities allow dumbbells in carry-on and checked baggage when traveling. Yet, passengers should contact their airline before traveling, as the policy changes according to the airline. If the weights have any granular material and are traveling in cabin baggage, they can’t be over 12 ounces / 350 milliliters in total.
Europe, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, China, and, India
In Europe, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, China, and India the rules for traveling with dumbbells in carry-on or checked baggage aren’t specified. However, they follow similar rules to the United States – heavy objects that could be used as a weapon are allowed only in checked baggage. Dumbbells potentially fall within this category, so it’s advised to pack them in checked luggage only, otherwise, the security agent might confiscate them.
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 dumbbells on planes always rests on the security officer. Some airlines also have additional rules that may be different.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bringing Dumbbells on Planes
What are the weight and size restrictions for hand and checked luggage?
The weight and size restrictions for hand and checked luggage in the United States vary per airline. The usual size restriction for carry-on is around 22 x 14 x 9 in (56 x 36 x 23 cm) and their weight allowance is usually under 22 lbs (10 kg).
For checked baggage, most airlines only specify a 62 in (158 cm) size restriction (height + width + depth) and a weight of 50 lbs (23 kg). However, passengers should check their individual airline’s requirements before traveling, because they vary between airlines.
Are dumbbells considered dangerous items on airplanes?
In general, dumbbells are considered dangerous items on planes in the United States. Dumbbells aren’t specifically listed as a dangerous good or a banned item from cabin baggage by TSA. Yet, for their form and weight, dumbbells are usually considered potential bludgeon weapons that could be used to harm other passengers. As a result, most security agents will prevent dumbells over a certain weight from going through security.
Can I bring dumbbells through airport security?
Generally, you can’t bring dumbbells through airport security in the United States. Dumbbells aren’t listed as a banned item by TSA, but dumbbells in carry-on often classify as a possible bludgeon weapon. All objects that could harm a passenger if they get hit with them are confiscated by security. Sandbells and ankle weights are more likely to be allowed through security depending on their weight and if their total granulated content doesn’t exceed 12 ounces / 350 milliliters. Weight vests are allowed depending on their weight and the security agent’s judgment. Water-fillable dumbbells can go through security without any problem as long as they are completely empty. But again, because they aren’t mentioned in the restrictions, it really depends on each security officer.
Is it better to pack dumbbells in hand or checked luggage?
It’s best to pack dumbbells in checked baggage when traveling in the United States. Technically, dumbbells aren’t banned from carry-on luggage. However, dumbbells are often perceived as a threat to passengers’ safety and are confiscated when going through airport security. Sandbells might get through security depending on their weight, but overall, it’s best to pack all weights in checked baggage and pack them safely so they won’t damage any objects on the bag.
Are all workout weights allowed on planes?
For the most part, workout weights are allowed on planes in the United States with certain restrictions. Kettlebells, medicine balls, and weight plates might be allowed on carry-on if they are light enough (usually under 5 lbs / 2 kg), but generally, weights are considered dangerous and must travel in checked baggage. TSA doesn’t mention barbells specifically, but since they might be a bludgeoning weapon they must travel in cargo baggage. Ankle weights and sandbells might be permitted on cabin baggage if they are light and the granular content is under 12 oz / 350 ml. But, if they are heavy or have more than 12 oz / 350 ml of granulated content inside, it’s best to pack them in checked baggage. Weight vests are overall allowed in carry-on baggage, but the security agent at the airport has the final call.
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Can I check in dumbbells in a cardboard box?
In theory, you can check dumbbells in a cardboard box on flights in the United States, but it isn’t the most convenient way to travel with weights. Checking items on a cardboard box is allowed, however, a cardboard box is likely to break open due to the weight and can also hurt airport employees handling the box. It’s best to use a hard case with padded dividers to pack your weights.
What’s the best alternative to typical dumbbells for traveling?
The best alternative to traveling with typical dumbbells is water-fillable dumbbells or weights. This type of dumbbell can go through security without any problem as long as it’s empty, and you can fill it up later at your destination.
For example, this Hydropower chamber aqua bag is collapsible and when filled, can reach up to 20 lbs. Other alternatives to typical dumbbells are resistance bands. Ankle weights and weighted vests might be allowed in cabin baggage depending on their weight. For those vests that use granular material, they must comply with the 12-ounce / 350-milliliter limit in cabin baggage too.
Are resistance bands also allowed on planes?
Yes, resistance bands are allowed in carry-on and cargo baggage in the United States. However, security agents at the airport might consider resistance bands dangerous, as they could theoretically be used as a weapon. Although allowed, the security agent at the airport always makes the final call.