Flights in the USA (Regulated by TSA and FAA)
Ice axes are not allowed in carry-on baggage on flights in the United States, but travelers can pack them in checked baggage. Ice axes, ice picks, and nut tools should be wrapped safely to prevent any incidents during the handling of the checked suitcase. Other rock climbing equipment that isn’t sharp or heavy enough to be a blunt weapon, is allowed both on carry-on and checked baggage.
Flights in Canada (Regulated by CATSA)
Ice axes, ice picks, and pitons are forbidden in carry-on baggage on Canadian flights, but they are allowed in checked baggage as long as they are wrapped safely. Non-sharp climbing equipment like carabiners and quickdraws is allowed in carry-on and checked baggage. Objects that could inflict damage like hammers and nut tools should also be packed in the checked baggage.
Flights in Europe (Regulated by IATA and EASA)
Ice axes and ice picks are banned from hand luggage on European flights, but they are allowed in the cargo luggage. Other climbing equipment such as rope is allowed both in carry-on and checked baggage. Nut tools might be considered blunt-force weapons and pitons a sharp object, so it’s best to also pack those in the checked luggage.
Flights in the United Kingdom (Regulated by CAA)
In United Kingdom flights ice picks and ice axes are prohibited in cabin luggage. Although not specified, similar climbing gear like pitons, climbing knives, and picks are considered sharp objects that could potentially harm passengers, and they should travel in checked luggage. Climbing gear like ropes, quickdraws, and groves are allowed in carry-on baggage but could be subject to additional inspection.
Flights in Australia (Regulated by CASA)
Both ice axes and ice picks are banned from hand luggage on flights in Australia but are allowed in checked suitcases. Other climbing gear like pitons, hooks, hammers, and bolts are banned from hand luggage as well. Only non-blunt objects and non-sharp climbing gear like ropes and carabiners are allowed inside the cabin.
Flights in New Zealand (Regulated by CAA)
Ice axes and ice picks are forbidden in hand luggage on New Zealand flights but are allowed in the cargo baggage. While it’s not specified for other climbing gear, any sports equipment that is sharp or could turn into a potential bludgeoning weapon is not allowed in hand suitcases. Pitons, nut tools, hooks, hammers, and crampons should travel in checked baggage only.
Flights in China (Regulated by CAAC)
Ice picks are banned by Chinese authorities in hand luggage when traveling. Other climbing equipment isn’t banned specifically, but pitons, axes, crampons, and hooks are considered bladed objects and should travel in checked baggage. Hammers and nut tools could be used as blunt weapons and are allowed in the cargo baggage only.
Flights in India (Regulated by AAI)
Ice picks and axes are prohibited in cabin baggage on flights in India. In general, sharp and blunt objects are banned from hand luggage in the country and so most climbing gear including pitons, drill bits, hammers, hooks, and climbing knives should be packed exclusively in the cargo baggage.
Disclaimer: The final decision of whether you can bring X onboard airplanes always rests on the security officer. Some airlines also have additional rules that may be different.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bringing Ice Axes and Ice Climbing Gear on Planes
Can I take ice climbing tools, whippets, ice picks, or trekking poles on planes?
Travelers can take climbing tools and equipment on planes in the United States with certain restrictions. Whippets, ice picks, and trekking poles are sharp objects and therefore aren’t allowed in carry-on luggage, but they can travel in cargo baggage. Climbing equipment like helmets, rope, carabiners, quickdraws, and gloves are permitted both in carry-on and checked luggage.
Can I bring ice climbing screws, pitons, and draws on planes?
Passengers can’t travel with pitons and climbing screws in carry-on luggage in the United States as they are considered sharp objects that could be potential weapons. Overall, quickdraws are accepted in carry-on and checked luggage, but the security agent in the airport makes the last decision whether they’re safe to take in the cabin or not.
How should I pack ice axes in my luggage?
Travelers should pack ice axes in checked luggage when traveling on planes in the United States. Axes should be wrapped safely to prevent any harm to anyone handling the baggage. Some of the ways to pack an ice axe in luggage include using an axe rubber protector, putting it inside cardboard, and using the elastic cords in the suitcase to prevent it from moving around.
Do I have to declare ice axes when packed in checked luggage?
You don’t have to declare your ice axes if you own them already and are traveling with them. You should only declare ice axes to customs when you buy them at a destination outside the United States and you intend to return with them to the country. If you buy any other climbing equipment while on a trip, you need to declare it once you return to the United States.
Can I take crampons, microspikes, or Yaktrax ice cleats on planes?
Theoretically, crampons and Yaktrax are allowed in carry-on luggage when traveling in the United States. But, TSA recommends packing them in a checked suitcase, as the TSA agent at the airport might deem them as dangerous objects. According to TSA, snow spikes are not allowed in carry-on luggage in the United States.
Can I bring climbing harnesses and helmets on planes?
Overall, you can bring climbing harnesses and helmets both in hand and checked baggage on planes in the United States. Still, your baggage might be subject to additional inspection, so be prepared to answer questions about your equipment.
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