Can You Take a Metal Detector on a Plane


If you’re going somewhere exotic like Hawaii, there’s no better place to find treasure than at the beach. Metal detectors are portable devices used to detect metal objects buried underground. They work well in the sand and water, but it’s vital to be careful around coral reefs to avoid damaging the environment. So, before heading off to paradise, check out these tips on packing your detector and getting ready to hunt.

If you’re planning to take a metal detector on board a flight, here are the details you’ll need to follow. Metal detectors aren’t allowed in carry-on bags but can travel as checked luggage.

Checked baggage must meet these requirements:

  • Be packed in a hard plastic case
  • Have no sharp edges or protruding parts
  • Not exceed 13 inches long, 8 inches wide, and 4 inches tall
  • Must weigh at least 10 pounds
  • May only contain items purchased before arriving at the airport
  • Include identification tags and documentation proving ownership of equipment
  • Can’t include firearms, ammunition, explosives, fireworks, illegal drugs, tobacco, alcohol, knives, or other prohibited items.

If you are unsure what the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations are or if they will apply to you, contact your airline directly. Additionally, please note that this topical summary is not official; you should always consult the TSA website and the airline for the latest guidance, as it may change over time.

What Can You Bring Onto A Flight?

Metal Detector

TSA says it has no idea why they put a double exclamation point after their statement. They just do.

Headphones

If you plan to listen to music through earbuds or wear headphones while metal detecting, ensure they’re compatible with your device. Headphones should plug into any standard headphone jack; however, several types of plugs are available today.

Check the manual provided with your device to see which kind of connector you’ll need. For example, Apple devices usually include a Lightning port or a 30-pin dock connector. Both connect via a cable, but the former requires no adapter, whereas the latter needs an adaptor.

Another option is Bluetooth wireless headphones, which transmit audio wirelessly over short distances using radio waves. They work well indoors and outdoors, although many models don’t provide adequate sound clarity. Most metal detectors will have an option to purchase a compatible set of headphones when making your detector purchase to make pairing easier.

Shovel

According to TSA regulations, “tools” must be packed separately from checked baggage. They cannot exceed 14 inches long, 8 inches wide, and 4 ounces in weight. Anything longer than these dimensions requires separate screening.

For example, a folding saw would count as a single item instead of being split into parts. So, don’t pack scissors, knives, screwdrivers, pliers, hammers, wrenches, or anything else that could be used as a weapon. Also, check the list of prohibited items at TSA.gov/ProhibitedItems before packing your bag.

PinPointer

There should be no issues flying with lithium-ion batteries. However, if there are any concerns, contact your airline before traveling. They’ll likely ask questions like these: Is my device compatible? Do I need to remove the battery at the airport?

What kind of charger do I need? Can I charge it during the flight? How long must I wait after takeoff/landing? Will I receive a receipt for charging? Does it matter if I plug into AC power versus USB? Are there any special considerations for international flights? Most pinpointers will not require unique charging, so these questions will be simple to answer.

Flashlight

An LED flashlight has become the standard tool for inspecting cracks, crevices, and underground areas. They’re compact enough to take anywhere, don’t run down batteries, and emit bright white light rather than a yellowish glow like traditional flashlights do. And plenty of options are available today, including rechargeable models that won’t die after just a few uses.

MultiTool

This one’s interesting; TSA specifies that “without blades” are okay.

TSA Says

Long tools like hammers, axes, saws, drills, etc., cannot be carried aboard your flight due to safety concerns. These long objects should be placed into checked luggage instead.

“Small tools like screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, etc., measuring no longer than seven inches long, are permitted in checked bags.”

If you decide to take your detector on board, you’ll have to consider a couple of things before doing so.

  • Consider breaking your detector into multiple pieces, so it fits better inside your backpack or case.
  • Store your batteries safely away from contact with other things, so they don’t short circuit
  • Protect your electronic devices
  • Cover the sharp edge of a shovel so as not to hurt yourself when using it.

Jason Smith

I am a Marine who now works as a Web Developer. I have five US States left to visit. I like whiskey, wine, and coffee, soaking in hot springs or in my hot tub.

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