Bringing A Nail Clipper On The Plane: It Can Cut Both Ways

I’m sure you, like us, are familiar with small yet embarrassing accidents. You probably already had something in your mind. When was the last time you got something in your teeth? Or tripped over your own shoelaces? 

Yes, these things happen, but they are quick fixes. 

What is not is a dirty fingernail. Scarier, a dirty fingernail can be contagious if your solution is to pick it by another finger. Do you know what you need? A nail clipper!

We know it sounds like a sale copy for nail clippers. No, we just want to let you know we understand why you want to carry that clipper on the plane. Now, let us show you whether the airlines are on the same page about it.

Caution: The information in this article will be mostly about the regulation of The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and The Transportation Security Directorate (TSD). 

However, some information about The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulation will also be mentioned in this article, just to make sure we get you cover. 

If you have already checked other sources or plan to do so, make sure you know which government agency is being referred to ( usually it is TSA, so please careful).

For people who are already familiar with the TSA regulation, we think it would be easier for you to have a frame of reference. 

Will TSA Confiscate Nail Clippers?

No. Generally, you can carry your nail clippers, along with other belongings in both carry-on and checked bags. However, there are certain rules and restrictions you must follow.

On their website, only one regulation is written: “Any sharp objects in checked bags should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors”.

However, we think what they are referring to as nail clippers are the ones like in the picture below – a normal-looking ones that you can buy basically everywhere.

Can you bring nail clippers on a plane? - CabinZero

Not an attractive option but is an allowed one. Photo by Andrey Matveev on Unsplash

The allowed length of the scissors’ blades is under 4 inches (10.16 cm). There are no regulations specifically for nail clippers. However, if you are using nail scissors or a clipper with sharp blades, it might be applied to you. 

Tip: If the nail clipper you are using is not the super generic one, you should consult the TSA, they have an official Twitter account where they answer people’s questions.

One thing we can be sure of is that pointed-ends nail scissors are not allowed in your carry-ons, but are permitted in your checked baggage. The same applies to your favorite multitool.

It might have the perfect nail clipper but also some sharp knives that the airlines are not really fond of.

Usually, the multitool will be in your pocket. Remember to double-check and put it in your checked baggage before it gets confiscated, we all know how expensive this thing can be.

Can you bring nail clippers on a plane? - CabinZero

Want to have beautiful and trimmed nails on the go? Yes, you can.

Photo by Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash

Weird-looking nail clippers should be avoided. Actually, not only nail clippers, avoid weird-looking everything if you are traveling by plane. You don’t want to risk it as the airline rules are strict.

If polishing nails is your favorite activity to kill the time, you are lucky. Both the nail polishing and the remover can be brought on the plane, either carry-on or checked baggage.

Just make sure you don’t carry too much of them. For carry-ons, you can only carry a tiny amount of 100ml.

If you decide to put them into checked baggage, the total amount of carried liquid can not exceed 2 kilograms. And each container must be smaller than 0.5 kg.

One thing is that the TSA has a note that says “The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint”. Therefore, make sure to check with them beforehand. If the TSA officer does not accept your items, maybe you can ask your friends or family to bring the items home. 

CAA Regulations For Nail Clippers

Similar to the TSA regulations, nail clippers are allowed in both carry-on and checked baggage. Along with disposable razors and tweezers, nail clippers are safe to pack in a personal item bag.

If we apply the same way of thinking about the allowed length, your nail clippers should be shorter than 6 cm, or 2.3 inches. 

Unfortunately, The CAA does not have a Twitter account for inquiries. However, you can check some of their contact information here if needed. 

Fact: Canadian also only allows under-6-cm nail clippers. If you think that is short, Japanese airlines only accept nail clippers under 4 cm. 

However, if you have some medical conditions like diabetes, arthritis, or other hand impairments and need to have a specialized with longer blades to properly trim your nail, worry not.

Bring a note or any paper that confirms your conditions, you will probably be permitted to bring your clippers in your carry-on. 

Even if your clipper is permitted according to the regulation of the TSA or of the CAA, it might not be accepted by your airlines. It is not uncommon for airlines to have their own regulations and policies, make sure to consider that as well. 

Can You Use Nail Clippers On The Plane?

Yes, you can, but you might want to reconsider doing so. While it is not illegal to trim your nails on board, it might bother other passengers. 

You might be familiar with this scenario: A person on board, who doesn’t do something too bad, gets into an argument either with other passengers or flight crews. Then they get escorted off the plane, even arrested sometimes. 

If you really want to use your clippers, it is a good idea to first ask the passengers around you, and then notice the flight crew. Who knows? Maybe they will give you some type of tray to place your clippings.

Alternatives To Nail Clippers

Nail scissors

Even though you might need to be more careful carrying this sharp object, nail scissors work better in terms of cutting your nails. The curve blades following the shape of your nails allow better reach. 

Also, the regulations for scissors are clear for both TSA and CAA. While the TSA allows under-4-inch (10.16 cm) scissors, the CAA accepts scissors with blades no longer than 2.3 inches (6 cm). You might not need to contact them for further consultation. You are busy enough preparing for the trip. 

Another benefit is that if you have medical conditions and want to have a more precise tool, carrying nail scissors does not require you to submit any notes or certification from the hospitals.

Nail files

Nail files are thin, small, lightweight, and very easy to carry, you can even put them in your pocket. But remember to avoid any nail files with pointed ends.

If you want to cut your nails and only have a nail file available, it would take a while. But, on the flip side, you will not have clippings flying around and hitting other passengers.

Opt for rounded ones. Photo by Douglas Thayer on Flickr

What To Do When Your Clippers Are Not Allowed

Or you just forget it at home. Fortunately, nail clippers are relatively easy to buy wherever you are.

Down here will be some lists of where you get a new pair of clippers. But if your plane is heading toward either pole, a nail clipper might not be available.

In the United States:

  • Drugstores and pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid
  • Supermarkets such as Walmart, Target, and Kroger
  • Beauty supply stores such as Ulta and Sally Beauty
  • Online retailers such as Amazon and eBay

In Europe:

  • Drugstores and pharmacies such as Boots in the UK and Apoteket in Scandinavia
  • Supermarkets such as Tesco and Carrefour
  • Beauty supply stores such as Sephora and Douglas
  • Local markets and shops in smaller towns

In Asia:

  • Drugstores and pharmacies such as Watsons in Southeast Asia and Matsumoto Kiyoshi in Japan
  • Supermarkets such as Aeon and Lotte Mart
  • Beauty supply stores such as Sasa and Innisfree
  • Street markets and small shops in tourist areas

In Africa:

  • Local markets and shops in most cities and towns
  • Drugstores and pharmacies such as Clicks in South Africa and Pharmacy Plus in Nigeria
  • Supermarkets such as Shoprite and Game
  • Beauty supply stores such as Signature Cosmetics and Beauty World

In Australia and New Zealand:

  • Drugstores and pharmacies such as Chemist Warehouse and Priceline
  • Supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths
  • Beauty supply stores such as Mecca and Sephora
  • Online retailers such as Amazon and eBay

One thing to be careful about is shopping in local markets. No matter what glamorous city you are in, local markets can be very shady.

Important: Pickpockets don't care about nail clippers, but you might lose the money you need to purchase one.

Will you bring a clipper on the plane? Or buy one later? 

So can you bring nail clippers on a plane? Yes, but there are regulations you need to be aware of. If you forget something for your trip, even your favorite clipper, don’t panic too much, enjoy the experience!

Hope the article is good enough to help you with your decision. If we missed any particular information or you still have some questions to ask, please let us know in the comment section below. We would love to answer or write an article about it if necessary. 

Before you leave and go to other sources, just want to remind you again to check the government agency on which the information is based. 

Bui Hoang Hai

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