I travel often all around the US in a variety of ways and flying is always a hassle for people like me who like to be prepared. I can't tell you how many knives, magazines, and other types of gear I've lost to the all-powerful TSA when trying to get through airport security.
The primary goal of TSA (supposedly) is to prevent the hijacking of any more airplanes after the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers. All the lengthy procedures of navigating security are for our safety.
And I’ll admit that I don’t relish the idea of being in a tight metal tube traveling through the air hundreds of feet above the ground with a crazy person armed with a screw driver, so I don’t necessarily hate the security protocols onboard flights.
I am dubious about the actual effectiveness of the security procedures against someone who is determined to create chaos, but it certainly reduces the number of incidents with your average idiot with poor self-regulation.
And for sure, they don’t catch everything…
I’ve had friends in the EOD (Explosives Ordinance Disposal) community who’ve told me stories about forgetting they left a ½ stick of C4 in their cargo pocket and then flew home for leave only to find the explosives after their travel and realized they’d just flown home with something decidedly against the rules.
While they might not catch everything, there are a few items that I’ve noticed TSA might swipe if you try to bring them through.
While totally ineffective in a fight, strap cutters are seldom allowed through because of one horrible reason. It has a blade. You could try and explain to the bored and surly TSA agent that you can’t actually hurt someone with a strap cutter, but they aren’t likely to listen, or care.
If it looks scary, whether it is or not, it won’t be allowed through.
Shears are an important medical tool for cutting away clothing and exposing the wound so it can be properly identified and treated with the appropriate procedure, and I often have pairs of shears in various locations depending on where I’m going and what I’m doing.
Usually, these do not get taken since shears are easily recognizable as a medical tool, but I have lost them before to the occasional uninformed and overzealous TSA agent.
Then there’s the higher end, more professional trauma shears, such as the Leatherman Raptor shears, which suffer a glaring problem in that they don’t look like a standard set of emergency scissors.
Terrifyingly, they fold up similar to a knife to reduce space, and this makes the Raptor shears appear a little too scary for TSA to feel comfortable letting them through. With a price tag of around $90, the Raptors, and other types of higher end trauma shears should be stowed in your checked baggage, rather than your carry-on luggage so you don’t lose them.
This is why I prefer to travel with a set of standard shears, so if they do get confiscated, I’m only out $10. Additionally, the smaller the shears, the less frightening they will be and more likely to be overlooked by security.
Other types of sharp implements, such as the DART (Needle Decompression) might be taken as well since TSA knows little about trauma gear, and only sees a potential stabbing tool. Never mind the lack of actual usefulness for such a thing.
This isn’t a big deal, however, as I have yet to hear of someone receiving a penetrating chest wound and developing a tension pneumothorax while in transit aboard a plane. While possible, it’s unlikely, so I don’t sweat the DART not being in my kit.
How You Carry It
You can’t go wrong with the standard IFAK bag for your trauma kit. This is never looked at by TSA as a problem, unless you decide to go with an Ankle Kit.
The ankle kit as a great way to keep trauma gear easily accessible, while freeing up pocket space, but of course you’ll want to take it off (along with your shoes while you’re at it) before going through security at the airport since it will likely cause a pat down as they wonder what you’re hiding under your pant leg.
But this is a simple fix to just reattach the kit while you put on your shoes and continue your travels.
For your convenience, I'll drop the link to the TSA site HERE detailing what medical items are allowed, but there's no mention of trauma gear…