Travel regulations set forth by the Transportation Security Administration are designed to protect domestic and international travelers in a time when terrorist attacks are a real and present concern. The TSA regulates the items travelers are permitted to carry through security checkpoints and on airplanes and provides an extensive list of permitted and prohibited items including jewelry, sharp objects and special items.
TSA Rules: Sharp Objects
TSA.gov lists a variety of sharp objects permitted aboard airplanes as both checked and carry-on items. The only sharp object explicitly approved for carry-on is “metal scissors with pointed tips and blades shorter than four inches.” Other sharp items, including ice picks, must be “sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors.” Because items such as hat pins are not directly addressed in either a prohibitive or permissive manner, contacting TSA via the website or phone number is the best way to verify proper travel with such an item. The site also provides a contact form.
Transportation Security Administration: Contact Us TSA.gov TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov 866-289-9673
TSA Rules: Special Items
Each airline has its own rules regarding permissions and restrictions on items allowed on board but from the perspective of the TSA, knitting needles, needlepoint/needlework and sewing items are considered special items that are permitted in carry-on baggage or checked baggage. Items needed for needlepoint projects are permitted in your carry-on baggage or checked baggage with the exception of circular thread cutters or any cutter with a blade contained inside. Those must go in your checked baggage. However, the absence of hat pins on the list of permitted special items suggests that contacting TSA directly is the best course of action, via telephone, email or the contact form at TSA.gov.
TSA: Security Checkpoint
The TSA website encourages travelers to “Dress the Part” of safe airline travel, noting that “certain clothing and accessories can set off an alarm on the metal detector and slow you down. Avoid wearing clothing, jewelry or other accessories that contain metal when traveling through the security checkpoints.” The site lists “heavy jewelry (including pins…)” and “metal hair barrettes or other hair decoration” as items that must be removed and placed in bins to be sent through the x-ray machine if they are not packed in checked luggage.
Metal that is left on your person and detected by the machines will lead to individual screening by a TSA Security Officer with a hand wand, pat-down inspection and potential for further inspection, according to the website. TSA.gov recommends “saving time by not wearing metal items or by placing them in your carry-on baggage before getting in line.”
If you are unsure of the safety of travel with a hat pin, pack it in checked luggage or contact the TSA.