Can You Bring Handcuffs and Zip Ties on a Plane?

In this article, you will find everything you need to know about bringing metal handcuffs and zip ties onto a commercial flight.

According to TSA, metal handcuffs can be brought onto an airplane in either your carry-on or checked luggage. You don’t need to be a member of a security agency to bring them on board. 

Plastic zip ties can also be brought onto commercial flights without restrictions. Since handcuffs and zip ties are not mentioned on the TSA prohibited items list, even a minor can fly with them.

I have a friend who deals in antiques and travels with handcuffs in his carry-on. These are vintage handcuffs purchased from all over the United States. However, he explained that TSA agents don’t allow all types of metal handcuffs onto commercial flights.

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In his opinion, these are the types of metal handcuffs that TSA agents may not allow onto a commercial flight based on their judgment:

1. Metal handcuffs with long chain

Some TSA agents consider this type of handcuff a weapon. Unfortunately, I think that TSA agents are right on this one. You could use long-chain handcuffs to choke someone, or you could seriously hurt someone if you spin them with force.

2. Vintage iron handcuffs

TSA agents could claim that these handcuffs could be used as brass knuckles.

3. Metal handcuffs that split into multiple parts

These handcuffs usually look weird, but this is not why airport security will stop you. Instead, they may believe that some parts of the handcuffs can be used as a weapon, especially if they are sharp or pointy.

If you want to travel with one of the above items and are unsure if you can bring them, I suggest arriving early at the airport.

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Then, if the airport security does not allow them in your carry-on, at least you will have enough time to repack them in your checked luggage.

How many pairs of metal handcuffs can you bring onto the airplane?

The TSA doesn’t mention a maximum number of handcuffs you can take on a plane. In theory, you could bring as many as you can carry.

However, airport security might not like a passenger with enough handcuffs to restrain all passengers on the flight. Therefore, I advise you to transport them in your checked luggage if you plan to bring a lot of pieces.

How many zip ties can you bring with you onto the airplane?

Again, since the TSA doesn’t mention any zip ties restriction, you can bring as much as you can carry on a plane.

You can zip-tie your luggage if you want, but remember that TSA will cut the zip tie if they want to inspect your luggage.

Can you bring toy handcuffs onto a commercial flight?

Yes, plastic toy handcuffs can be brought onto a commercial flight without any restrictions.

However, TSA doesn’t allow realistic toy guns onboard airliners, so if you have a police play set for kids, you will be forced to store the toy gun in the checked luggage.

Can you use your handcuffs on a plane to make a citizen’s arrest?

If you fly domestically, you can use your handcuffs to restrain a violent passenger.

I advise you never to act first since the flight crew is in charge of making this decision.

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In the past, there have been many instances where passengers helped flight attendants restrain unruly individuals by using zip ties or duct tape.

Remember that every commercial airplane has a few pairs of handcuffs and zip ties on board, and the pilots and flight attendants are trained on how and when to use them.

If they need help, they will ask for it after trying everything in their power to de-escalate the situation.

The crew does not need a vigilante to step in. Not to mention that you could end up facing charges even though you only wanted to help.

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If you fly internationally, it would be better to abstain from using handcuffs. Legislation is different around the globe, and you risk being accused of assault.

The person who disturbs the flight might receive only a fine, but the local law might not be so kind towards you.

Can you fly overseas with handcuffs?

Truthfully, you can fly from the United States to any country in the world with a pair of handcuffs in your carry-on.

The issue is when you are trying to go back to the U.S. Every country has its own rules about bringing them on board. 

You should avoid bringing them into Muslim countries since some of them ban all sex toys, and you will have a hard time explaining to them that you plan to make a citizen’s arrest in a country where crime rates are meager.

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Most people who travel internationally with handcuffs advise placing them only in a checked bag and never in a carry-on. This way, you will avoid the handcuffs being confiscated from you.

How much do handcuffs weigh?

If you are wondering how much weight your handcuffs will add to your luggage, you should know that typical handcuffs weigh around nine ounces.

All police-issue handcuffs must weigh no more than fifteen ounces. –source.

There are lightweight options available if weight concerns you. However, keep in mind that lighter handcuffs might not be able to restrain stronger individuals effectively.


As you can see, you can bring metal handcuffs without restrictions on a commercial flight since handcuffs are not even mentioned on the TSA’s banned items list.

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Sorin Susanu
Sorin, the primary writer for this site, launched it in 2019 as a hobby and a means to refine his English. With a passion for travel ignited by a trip to Italy at age twelve, Sorin has been exploring the world and sharing his adventures ever since.