Can you bring magnets on a plane? We’ve got everything you need to know right here.
Unless you are a very frequent flyer, there are many things that you cannot bring on an airplane that you might not know. Due to the intricate process of getting an aircraft off the ground and flying in the air, many hazardous materials can interfere with an airplane's functionality. We must follow many safety and security regulations to be safe.
Can You Bring Magnets on a Plane?
While there is no cut-and-dry answer, the answer relies on the type of magnet you are trying to bring on the airplane. We unknowingly bring many magnets on a plane almost every time we fly. The size and field strength of the magnet determines if it will be allowed on the plane.
Common Magnetic Items
Familiar devices such as headphones, portable speakers, jewelry, power banks, cell phones, hard drives, and even laptop computers have small magnets within them. Passengers can bring these familiar items on the plane with no issues.
Magnets Going Through the Security Checkpoint
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) enforces airport security and regulations. According to the TSA website, magnets are allowed through the security checkpoint in airport security. Although they do not mention the different types of magnets, they include a disclaimer: “The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.”
Types of Forbidden Magnets on Planes
Although TSA allows magnets through the security checkpoint, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has rules about magnets specific to plane and pilot safety.
According to the FAA, “material is considered to be magnetized when it has a magnetic field strength greater than 0.00525 gausses at a distance of 15 feet from any point on the surface of the package, or which is of such mass that it could affect aircraft instrumentation, particularly magnetic compasses. Such material must be shielded to reduce the readings to a level that is no greater than 0.00525 gausses before being offered for transportation by aircraft.“
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) categorizes magnets in the dangerous goods category, so dangerous goods regulations (DGR) must be followed. DGR are precise guidelines relating to the applicability, limitations, classification, packing and packaging specifications, documentation, and handling of air cargo.
Their restrictions are: Flux measurements of all packages containing magnets must measure less than 0.00525 gausses 15′ from the package. If flux measurements are less than 0.002 gausses when measured 7′ from the package, the package is not considered to contain magnetic material and hence is not classified as Dangerous Goods.
The previous statement barely makes sense unless you are a physicist or magnet specialist. In standard terms, weak magnets are allowed, and strong magnets and magnetic assemblies are prohibited.
These types of magnets are forbidden on planes in hand luggage and checked luggage.
- Strong Rare Earth Magnets (including Neodymium Magnets)
- Industrial Magnets
- Magnetic Assemblies
This list is not the exhaustive list of forbidden magnets allowed on planes. If you need clarification on your specific magnet, email email@example.com. The team at the FAA will help you determine the strength of your magnet and give any further clarification that you may need.
Type of Allowed Magnets on Planes
Many everyday items contain magnets that are allowed on planes.
These types of magnets are allowed on planes:
- Souvenir magnets from the beach or any other destination
- Refrigerator magnets
- Personal Electronic Devices
- Magnetic Chess Boards
Magnets in Carry-on Baggage and Personal Items
Magnets are allowed in your carry-on luggage as long are they meet FAA and IATA guidelines. If your magnet is on the stronger end of the spectrum, you should package it securely so it is not attracted to the metal in the aircraft.
Magnets in Checked Baggage
Magnets are allowed in your checked baggage as long as it meets FAA and IATA guidelines. Do not try to bring a magnet in your checked bag that goes against safety regulations. If it has a strong magnetic field, it can still cause problems for the plane even though it is in the belly of the aircraft.
Why Are Some Magnets Forbidden?
Some magnets are forbidden because they can interfere with the magnetic compass of the plane. The compass is the base of the plane's navigational equipment, and with a navigation compass, it will be easier for the plane to make it to the final destination.
In addition to interfering with navigation, having strong magnets on a plane is a safety hazard. A strong magnet could be attracted to something in the aircraft and fly toward it and hit someone during the process. With strong magnets, the force could cause potentially fatal injuries. It poses a safety threat to the aircraft and airline workers handling the baggage/magnet during the boarding process.
For reference, the following items are prohibited on flights: pepper spray, radioactive material, dry ice (in large quantities and within the aircraft), stun guns, Lithium-ion batteries (in the belly of the plane)
How to Take Magnets on a Plane
If you are taking a magnet on a plane and are worried, you should follow a few steps to ensure everything goes smoothly.
- Pack strong magnets in a secure box. Making sure that the magnet is secured will ensure that the magnet does not get attracted to metal surfaces within the plane.
- Ensure the magnet strength is not over the threshold set by the FAA (greater than 0.00525 gauss at a distance of 15 feet from any point on the surface of the package).
Transportation of Powerful Magnets
There are a few ways to transport powerful magnets. The FAA and IATA magnet regulations still apply to the transportation of magnets via air. Some ground
How to Determine Magnet Strength
Some devices and methods will help you determine the strength of a magnet.
1. Use a basic compass:
Compasses work based on the magnetic pull of the Earth. If you put a magnet stronger than the Earth's magnetic pull close to the compass, the magnet will cause magnetic interferences and move the compass's needle. The degree of the movement of the hand is directly comparable to the strength of the magnet. For more information and an exact methodology, check out the video below:
2. Use a magnetometer:
A magnetometer is a device that measures magnetic fields and their strength and direction of pull. This device can easily calculate the power of your magnet.
3. Check the manufacturer's information.
If the magnet was recently purchased or you remember where you got it from and the make and model of the magnet, you can look up the magnet's strength.
Can You Bring Magnets on a Plane FAQs
Q: Can I wear magnetic lashes on a plane?
A: Yes, you can wear magnetic lashes on a plane.
Q: Will magnetic lashes set off metal detectors?
A: No. Magnetic lashes will not set off metal detectors. While other magnets may set metal detectors off, the magnets on magnetic lashes are too small.
Q: Will magnets set off the metal detector at the airport?
A: Magnet can set off metal detectors in the airport, but it depends on the size of the magnet and the thresholds set on the metal detector itself.
Q: Can you bring magnets on a plane?
A: Yes and No. Specific magnets can go on planes based on their strength.
Q: Can I take a magnet through airport security?
A: Yes, you can take a magnet through airport security.
Q: Are fridge magnets allowed on planes?
A: Yes, refrigerator magnets are allowed on planes.
Q: Why are magnets not allowed on planes?
A: Magnets are not allowed on planes because they have strong magnetic fields that interfere with the aircraft's compass readings and electronic equipment. That means that the plane will not be able to navigate to its destination (there are no road signs in the air) and that some vital equipment on the aircraft may not work correctly.
Q: Can I bring neodymium magnets on a plane?
A: No. Passengers cannot bring neodymium magnets on passenger planes. They are too strong. (Neodymium magnets can be shipped on freight air shipments, but they require special packaging (steel-lined boxes) to reduce their magnetic flux during shipment.)
Q: Will magnets set off the metal detector at the airport?
A: Magnet can set off metal detectors in the airport, but it depends on the size and type of magnet. Metallic magnets of iron or iron alloyed with neodymium or cobalt have large conductivities and will set off the detector. On the other hand, Ceramic-ferrite magnets have almost no conductivity and thus won't set it off.
Q: What items are prohibited on planes?
A: Pepper spray, radioactive material, dry ice (less than 5.5 pounds allowed), stun guns, lithium-ion batteries (only allowed in the cabin of the plane; not beneath)