Thursday, August 31, 2006

Needles on a plane

One of life’s little ironies: I’m a sucker for really cool aircraft. Stealth bombers race my jets. (Okay, that was a terrible pun but who could resist? Not me!) My favorite vacation was at a resort in Phoenix that was so near Luke Air Force base I could spend my time by the pool watching the trainee pilots flying wingtip to wingtip in their F-16s before they peeled off to land.

But I’m terrified of flying in a big old commercial airliner. I’ve tried everything to overcome this irrational phobia: drugs, alcohol, hypnosis, deep breathing, reading a really gripping book. Nothing works. As soon as the plane hits the smallest pocket of turbulence or makes one strange noise, total panic sets in.

In my quest for airborne relaxation, I thought of taking my latest knitting project with me because we all know nothing’s more relaxing than the gentle click of bamboo needles.

However, in these post-9/11 days, it occurred to me that knitting needles are long sharp implements which might be construed as dangerous to a pilot’s health if put in the hands of evildoers. The last thing I wanted was to have my half-finished shawl made of very, very expensive yarn tossed in the security garbage bin at the airport. So I left my soothing pastime at home.

My question for this well-traveled group is: has anyone here taken their knitting on a commercial aircraft? Did you have any problem doing so?


Blogger Jean Brashear said...

Nancy, I wasn't sure and am going to be flying myself soon, so I went to the TSA site, and they say knitting needles and crochet hooks, plus scissors less than 4 inches, are okay.

If you want to check it out:

2:51 PM  
Blogger georg said...

Call the airline before you fly- ideally the day before- and ask first.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Teej said...

I've flown with needles (metal, bamboo, straights, circs, dpns) several times since 9/11 (all domestic flights) and not had a problem. I'd check with your airline to be sure, especially if you're flying internationally, but so far I've never had a problem.

One suggestion I've heard frequently, though, is to take with you a stamped-self-addressed envelope large enough for your needles and some waste yarn in case you need to pull your project off needles (you can still fly with the yarn even if they make you leave the needles and it'll mean you'll need a smaller SASE). If they tell you no, you should be able to duck out of line to drop the needles in a postage slot and send them back to yourself.

3:37 PM  
Blogger LauraP said...

teej - great idea!

I've always brought circs or dpns so I didn't poke the poor soul next to me. But I haven't flown since the restrictions tightened up, and the restrictions list does seem to change frequently now. (Who'd have thought gel bras would become a flying no-no?)

3:44 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

I haven't flown with knitting, but I did fly with crochet. I worked on an afghan with a large plastic hook, and one of those pendant yarn cutters that don't have exposed blades. It worked for that trip, though I wouldn't want to have to use huge needles every time I fly.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My plastic 5 or 6" sock needles made it through security, a year or so ago.


3:55 PM  
Blogger Holly in CT said...

I have taken my Denise needles on many a plane flight with no difficulty. Love that plastic! The only time I had a problem was right after 9/11 and Delta wouldn't let me take my bamboo circulars on a flight from JFK to Venice, Italy. Luckily I was able to stash the sweater in my checked baggage. Some people bring a self addressed envelope with them to mail the needles back home. The other option would be to make sure you have a lifeline in your work so if the take the needles you don't lose the progress you have made. On a long flight I REALLY need my knitting, like you commercial flights scare me to death and knitting helps. I made a flight to China only because I had my knitting with me both ways. Otherwise I would have been a basket case.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Knitting needles of all types are fine on planes - I fly an average of once a month and have never had a problem, even when being searched at security. I just flew to Anaheim and back with a fistful of metal double points. Once, I had my cheap scissors confiscated, but that's the only problem I've ever had. The Yarn Harlot flys repeatedly from Canada to all points in the US, and has never reported a problem.

That said, I have a flying phobia too, and take drugs to fly. I've found that earplugs and sunglasses help a lot. They add a layer of sensory deprivation that helps me ignore the fact that I'm in a plane.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

Wow, you guys have all sorts of great ideas! That mailing envelope would sure be useful if you got a really picky security guard.

I'm glad to hear that most people haven't had a problem. I'll remember to have something on circular needles rather than long bamboo ones, just to make things easier.

Holly, I cant' believe you flew all the way to China and back! That makes me break out in a cold sweat just thinking about it. Re: your experience flying to Italy--they're probably more worried about international flights. Wouldn't want a crazed knitter taking the airliner hostage over the ocean, would we?

Lisa, the earphones would eliminate my "weird noise" panic but do they help when the plane starts bouncing up and down (so hard that the wings clearly are going to break off at any minute--or so my phobic brain tells me)?

BTW, for all those who have confessed to flying phobias, I once read that people who suffer from that particular fear are "highly intelligent and highly imaginative". My husband just laughed when I read that to him.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Cindi Myers said...

Nancy, I haven't tried knitting during a flight because like you, I was worried about having my needles confiscated. Glad to hear that's not so. But I also am a terrible flyer -- not so much because of fear, but because I get horribly airsick. Thus, I have to be drugged up to fly, which makes it not much fun.

9:12 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Nancy, you know, it's funny - between the Xanax and earplugs and the sunglasses and a good book... I sort of forget I'm even on a plane. I feel more like I'm riding the bus, and minor turbulence adds to that sensation. Most of the time I don't really notice it. Of course, it may help that I ride public transit everywhere, so my brain has a familar explanation for the jouncing. The trick, I think, is to distract yourself as much as possible. I do this by blocking out my surroundings - I sit by the window and close the shades, so I have a wall next to me and am away from people moving up and down the aisles, and I cannot see out the window. I talk to no one, read a bit, and sleep as much as possible. I'm a rather antisocial flyer, but it helps me manage my fear and allows me to fly as much as I need to for business. I still hate every freaking second of it, but I can do it.

4:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I alaways print this sheet out and put with my needles. I never had any problems carrying any type of needle on the plane. They had more issues with my finger cymbals!

Erin B

9:55 AM  

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