While reading an article about an angry individual getting in a fight over a mask, I wondered, can you bring pepper spray on a plane? Is it horrible to wonder about self-defense?
Consequently, I have done hours of research and about traveling with pepper spray. The short answer is yes you can, but with restrictions and not on every airline.
Read below, and you will understand the dos and don’ts of bringing pepper spray on a plane.
TSA Rules on Pepper Spray and Self-Defense Sprays
The TSA Rule on Pepper Spray and Self-Defense Sprays state that you pack one 4 fl. oz. (118 ml) container of mace or pepper spray in a checked bag.
Secondly, it must be equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge.
Finally, any self-defense sprays containing more than 2 percent by mass of tear gas (CS or CN) are prohibited in checked baggage.
These can NOT be packed in a carry-on bag. They must be carried in a checked bag.
Additionally, TSA Rule on Pepper Spray and Self-Defense Sprays covers Mace. Mace and pepper spray are two different self-defense products.
Traditional chemical mace (CN) is classified as an irritant similar to tear gas. Pepper spray is classified as an inflammatory agent and will immediately incapacitate an assailant.
Why is Pepper Spray Restricted on Planes?
Pepper spray and mace are hazardous materials. TSA and FAA do not allow passengers to pack hazardous materials.
While these are used for self-defense, they can be used offensively. They can be used by hijackers or, worse, terrorists. They can be used against passengers and the airplane staff. So, better safe than sorry.
Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane?
Generally speaking, you can bring pepper spray on a plane with restrictions (see TSA Rule on Pepper Spray and Self-Defense Sprays above). Let’s review the limits in more detail below.
Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane in Your Carry-on?
I don’t know about you, but I have a rigorous packing list to fly with in my carry-on bag. I wouldn’t say I like the hassle of checking a bag and then waiting for it at baggage claim—what a waste of time.
If you are someone that carries self-defense spray, such as pepper spray, you want to know if you can bring pepper spray on a plane in your carry-on bag?
Unfortunately, you can not pack pepper spray or mace in a carry-on or handbag. It does not matter the size of the canister or the brand; it is simply a no in your carry-on. And you do not want to make the mistake of sneaking a canister on a plane in your carry-on.
How would you like to be the passenger on this Hawaiian Airlines flight that snuck a can on with ~1.5 ounces of pepper spray? The pepper spray exploded and sent passengers “coughing and panicking.” The flight made an emergency landing. Yes, there was a fine that had to be paid.
Will Pepper Spray Set Off the Metal Detector?
Yes, it will. Most pepper spray containers are made of aircraft-grade aluminum that will set off the metal detectors. Then your pepper spray will be confiscated, and you will get a nice close and personal interview with a friendly TSA agent. This will happen after they go through your carry-on more thoroughly than you had intended.
Familiarize yourself with the TSA rules regarding carry-on items. You do not want to be seen as trying to sneak anything past the TSA security checkpoint.
Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane in Your Checked Luggage?
After reviewing the TSA rules, you would think the answer is yes. But, there are TSA restrictions. Then, there are FAA guidelines. Additionally, there are airline rules.
Let’s review the TSA Rules to pack pepper spray and other defense sprays in your checked bag.
The TSA Rule on Pepper Spray and Self-Defense Sprays are for Checked Luggage:
- One spray can per passenger
- Maximum 4 fluid ounces (118 ml)
- It must be equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge
- It cannot contain more than 2 percent by mass of tear gas (CS or CN)
As you decide to pack your pepper spray in your checked bag, ensure the safety mechanism is locked. Then pack the spray in a sealable plastic bag as an extra precaution. The last thing you want is to get to your destination with spray on your clothes.
FAA Regulations Regarding Carrying Pepper Spray and Self Defense Sprays
In the same way, the TSA has “What Can I Bring on a Plane” Rules, the Federal Aviation Administration has Pack Safe Rules. Let’s review their rules and see how they may differ from the TSA rules.
The FAA Pack Safe Self Defense Spray Rules cover Pepper Spray and Mace:
- One spray can per passenger
- One self-defense spray, not exceeding 4 fluid ounces (118 ml)
- Self-defense sprays containing more than 2% by mass of tear gas (CS or CN) are prohibited
- The device must include a positive means to prevent accidental discharge (a recessed button can’t be the only safety feature; an additional device such as a cap that flips up) must be added
- The device and ingredients must meet the specifications of a self-defense spray as described in 49 CFR 171.8
All-in-all, the FAA rules align with the TSA rules.
The FAA and TSA rules align on whether you can bring pepper spray on a plane. However, after reviewing individual airline guidelines, there can be confusion when you ask an airline agent the question. So come prepared with the TSA and FFA rules in hand.
Let’s look at what the major airlines have to say about whether you can bring pepper spray on a plane?
Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane – Airline Rules
The airlines have additional guidelines for carrying hazardous items in the planes. For that reason, we have added the major airline regulations below.
Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane – Alaska Airlines
According to the Alaska Airlines website, firearms, ammunition, mace, tear gas, or pepper spray may be transported as checked baggage only. (With restrictions)
Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane – American Airlines
According to the American Airlines site, mace, tear gas, and pepper spray are restricted and cannot be carried on the plane.
Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane – Delta Airlines
Per the Delta site: Gunpowder like Pyrodex, black powder, mace, and pepper spray or bear deterrent are not allowed at any time: they cannot be packed in a checked bag.
Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane – Frontier Airlines
Frontier allows pepper spray, bear spray, mace, or any item containing an irritant or incapacitating substance in limited quantities. In a Checked Bag Only. One item is 4 ounces or less with a locking cap that prevents accidental discharge.
Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane – JetBlue Airlines
Both mace and pepper spray are prohibited by JetBlue.
Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane – Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines currently prohibits self-defense sprays on any flight regardless of if it is checked or carried on.
Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane – United Airlines
Defense sprays like mace, pepper sprays, and tear gas are not allowed on board. They cannot be packed in checked luggage or in a carry-on bag.
United has not been without its pepper spray incidents.
Answering the question, can you bring pepper spray on a plane is not as simple as looking at TSA Rules. In short, it is best to call the airline before you check any pepper spray or self-defense spray in a checked bag.
Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane – International Flights?
As we have seen, you can bring pepper spray on a plane depending on the airline and as long as you follow TSA and FAA Restrictions.
That being said, other countries have their own customs rules upon entry. They also have their regulations on self-defense laws. There are rules regarding what you can and cannot carry for self-defense.
Countries With Strict Rules
Pepper spray is almost entirely banned in the UK. Ordinary citizens’ ownership, carry, and use is prohibited under Section 5(1)(b) of the Firearms Act 1968.
In the Czech Republic, Spain, Austria, Poland, and Russ, most civilians’ possession of pepper spray is legal.
In Australia and New Zealand, you can not bring your pepper spray.
Before you pack your self-defense spray, check and see if you can legally carry it in the country you will be traveling to.
Can You Bring Bear Spray on a Plane?
Standard pepper sprays have around 1 million SHUs, while bear sprays pack 3 million SHUs. So it’s about three times as potent as the self-defense products.
Bear spray’s active ingredients must be 1%-2% Capsaicin and related Capsaicinoids, a derivative of Oleoresin Capsicum found in pepper sprays. The EPA requires bear spray labels to clearly state it is for deterring or repelling bears or for use on attacking bears.
Because of the ingredients in bear spray, you can not bring bear spray on a plane, not in a carry-on or in a checked bag.
If you are traveling on a hike to a location known for its bear population, call ahead and find a store to purchase bear stray.
Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane – Pepper Spray Travel Size
Once you have determined, you can bring pepper spray on a plane, and you might consider a smaller size spray or gel. There are many smaller options.
There are 20 ml and 30 ml sprays, ring pepper gel accessories, and self-defense spray in a lipstick form.
Flight-Safe Alternatives to Pepper Spray
Alternatives to self-defense spray are limited but available for travel. Examples are hair spray, tasers, stun guns, and safety whistles.
Hair spray is an alternative to bringing in a carry-on or checked bag. Follow the TSA 3-1-1 Liquid Rules if you want that in your carry-on bag.
Tasers and stun guns are OK to pack in your checked luggage. However, just as with pepper spray, the legality of carrying a stun gun may be questionable in some foreign countries. Be sure to research your destination country before you go.
Lastly, you can carry a safety whistle on a plane in your carry-on or checked bag. And I do not believe there are any international restrictions on whistles.
Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane? Yes, in limited circumstances.
If you are concerned about safety and feel the need to carry mace or pepper spray on your trip, be sure to follow the guidelines so you avoid any hassle at the airport.
You also may find it easier and about as effective to use an alternative with less restrictions such as a travel sized hairspray or even cologne.