You finally get to take that biking vacation in Hawaii that you always dreamed of, so you start packing all of your gear. You will definitely need to bring your bike lock, but are you allowed to take one on the plane?
Bicycle locks are not on the list of prohibited items to take on an airplane. However, because they are heavy items that could be used to injure others, airport security may confiscate your lock if you pack it in your carry-on instead of checked baggage.
To prevent this from happening, pack the bike lock in your checked luggage or leave it at home and buy a temporary lock when you arrive at your destination. At least you can be sure that your sturdiest lock won’t be taken from you!
In this article, we will elaborate on what the TSA states in terms of allowing bike locks on a plane, and what kind of bike locks may or may not pass airport security. We will also cover what other bike tools you can bring on a plane—and advise you on which type of bag is better to pack your bike lock in.
Does Airport Security Let You Bring a Bike Lock on a Plane?
According to the Transportation Security Administration’s website, you can bring bicycle chains with you, whether in your carry-on or checked-in luggage. However, the final decision rests with the TSA officer.
You can probably assume that bike locks fall in this category. But if you want to make absolutely sure before you leave, especially if the lock is expensive, contact airport security for clarification.
For example, some flyers report that their bike locks have been confiscated from them by airport security, both domestically and internationally, when they tried to pack it in their carry-on bags.
What Kind of Bike Locks Might Not Pass Airport Security?
Although there is no written rule prohibiting the possession of bike locks on a plane, some people have not been allowed to bring their bike locks at the discretion of the TSA agent who checked them into security.
If you want to avoid having your bike lock confiscated, there are certain locks you might just want to leave at home. Heavy-duty locks that are meant to withstand the assault of would-be bike thieves may not pass airport security.
They could be viewed as blunt objects that could cause serious harm to other passengers on the flight (and for good reason). Most of the time, these types of locks are pretty expensive, so it may be best to hedge your bets instead of losing a pricey piece of equipment.
Although bicycle chains have been given the all-clear, chains and cable locks may also be questionable items on a plane.
Anything that can be used as a weapon is usually discouraged for carry-on bags. If you have an expensive bike chain or cable, it may be best to pack it in the checked luggage or just leave it at home.
Is It Better to Put My Bike Lock in a Carry-On or Checked Bag?
While bike locks are not on the list of prohibited items for luggage on an airplane, it is probably safer to pack your bike lock in your checked bag.
While these bags are still scanned—and oftentimes manually checked by TSA—they are usually less scrutinized than carry-on bags that you keep with you inside the cabin at all times.
Even in checked baggage, there is no guarantee that your bike lock will not be confiscated. In order to avoid the headache and hassle of potentially losing your bike lock, the best course of action may be not to pack one at all.
Instead, plan to buy one at your destination, or if you have an address where you will be staying, ship it there so it arrives before you do.
What Other Bike Tools Are Allowed on a Plane?
If you are an avid cyclist and you are traveling on a plane, you know that you will need more than just your bike and bike lock when you get to your destination.
There are certain tools that are essential to have for emergencies and maintenance. Which ones are worth taking and which are better to leave at home?
For example, the TSA will allow you bring bike pumps on a plane. Other tools that are okay to put in your carry-on include extra pedals and your helmet. Some tools may not be approved by TSA, however, even if they aren’t strictly listed on the TSA website.
Allen keys and bike tools that measure over seven inches will usually get confiscated. Once again, anything that looks like or could be used as a weapon will most likely be taken as well. This may include hammers, wrenches, chain whips, and saws.
When in doubt, leave it out.
Also, contact your airline before you fly to make sure you know the proper procedure for carrying on or checking your bike. Each airline has a different set of rules so it’s best to be prepared before you get to the airport.
The Bottom Line
Bike locks are essential for securing your bike, especially in places you’ve never been to before.
If you have to fly to get to your destination, the TSA will allow you to bring your bike chain, and presumably bike lock, on the plane. However, some people have reported that their bike locks were confiscated.
Ultimately, the decision is up to the TSA agent who is checking your bag.
Bike locks that look like they could be used as potential weapons may not clear security. Usually, really heavy duty locks can be expensive, so it may be best to put those in your checked baggage or not bring them at all.
Other bike tools may also not be approved by the TSA, so be sure to check their website or call ahead and ask so that you don’t lose any valuable equipment. It’s best to pack your bike lock in your checked bag, especially if you can’t be sure whether it will pass the inspection.
If all else fails, you can always purchase a new bike lock at your destination.