Lightsabers, TSA and Air Travel: What You Should Know
What are the Transport Security Administration (TSA) guidelines for traveling with a lightsaber on an airplane? Many lightsaber enthusiasts, especially after visiting Disney’s Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, wonder how navigate an airport in the United States with their Savi’s Workshop lightsaber, legacy lightsaber, or custom lightsaber. Let’s go over some travel tips for flying with a lightsaber.
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What are the rules for flying with lightsabers?
TSA Guidelines for Lightsabers
Although the TSA organization writes that “you can pack a toy lightsaber in your carry-on or checked bag” consider that the TSA also emphasizes that “the final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint”. The TSA reportedly OFTEN allows lightsabers as carry-on items, however, it’s possible the TSA will require the traveler to pack the lightsaber in their checked luggage instead.
Traveling with Lithium Batteries
Some lightsabers run on lithium batteries. The FAA requires that spare lithium batteries must be included with carry-on luggage only. Additionally, the FAA advises that “[d]evices containing lithium metal or lithium ion batteries…should be carried in carry-on baggage when possible.” If the item must be included in checked luggage, then the device “should be turned completely off, protected from accidental activation, and packed so they are protected from damage.”
Lightsabers as Carry-On Items
Many travelers safely and successfully pack a metal-hilt lightsaber in their carry on luggage. A TSA officer may wish to inspect the lightsaber, question you about the item, or ask you to turn it on, so pack the lightsaber in an easily accessible section of your bag.
If you do plan to travel with the lightsaber as a carry-on, arrive at the airport early and formulate a backup plan for packing the lightsaber in your checked luggage, in the event that the individual TSA officer does not allow your lightsaber as a carry-on item. Occasionally, TSA officers have reportedly denied lightsabers as a carry-ons due to the item’s resemblance to a “bludgeon” or “club-like object” or deeming the lightsaber a “tool longer than 7 inches”. Lightsaber hilts with claws or sharp edges may be more likely to get flagged by security as well.
Check your individual airline’s carry-on requirements and size restrictions in advance. If the lightsaber is allowed through the security checkpoint, the lightsaber is often allowed to be stored up in the overhead bin as a personal item or carry on item, much like a musical instrument. Travelers may separate the lightsaber hilts from the blades, sometimes packing the blades separately in checked luggage. Make sure you pack the lightsaber securely in a box or bag with extra padding because the bags inside the overhead bins shift around during the flight.
Lightsabers as Checked Luggage
The TSA allows lightsabers as checked luggage. Consider that checked luggage is frequently handled more roughly than carry on items so make sure you pack the lightsaber securely with extra padding, whenever possible, in order to minimize the risk of the lightsaber getting damaged in transit. Some travelers check their lightsaber blades and pack their lightsaber hilts in their carry-on luggage.
Mailing a Lightsaber Home
As an alternative to flying with a lightsaber, you may consider shipping your lightsaber home or to your destination through the USPS. Shipping the lightsaber is sometimes cheaper than checking it, although a lightsaber hilt and its blade often require a long box. Make sure you pack the lightsaber in the box securely with extra padding/packing material in order to help prevent damage during transit.
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What is your experience flying with a lightsaber?