Frequent flier Rob Pincus is often asked what items can and cannot be taken as carry-ons on flights. Not because people want to sneak things onto flights, but because there are some gray areas with the way TSA enforces different rules, and they vary from airport to airport.
In this video, Rob talks about a personal-protection device that can be very useful to have during a flight: a rescue hook, also known as a safety cutter. He has a Benchmade 5 Hook, though many other good rescue hooks are available.
Safety Cutter as Part of Medical Kit
Rob has been wearing an ankle medical kit full-time for several months. It contains a tourniquet, hemostatic agent, pressure dressing, chest seals, and a safety cutter.
The safety cutter is an emergency tool and a medical device designed to cut away clothing or a seat belt. On an airplane, you may need to cut away a seat belt in the event of a hard landing. If someone has an injury, you can use the safety cutter to cleanly cut away clothing and expose the wound.
Going Through Security
The Benchmade 5 Hook is relatively small, making it easy to fit in the ankle med kit. Rob has taken it, and several other rescue hooks he has tested, on many flights. The rescue hooks have occasionally been challenged by security staff, both domestically and internationally, but never confiscated.
Rob believes this is not just luck or that TSA is missing it. He has seen it on the video screens as his carry-on baggage was being screened and noted TSA staff sometimes discussing it. Bottom line, it’s not a pointy object that can be used to stab or attack someone. It’s what it says it is: a safety cutter. And especially seeing it in the context of the medical kit indicates that it is an emergency tool.