A hand holding nail clippers at an airport security checkpoint before bringing nail clippers on the plane

Can You Bring Nail Clippers on a Plane? (Yes, but …)

If you are wondering “can you bring nail clippers on a plane?”, here is the answer:

You are allowed to bring nail clippers on a plane. Much like most other nail care products, nail clippers can be brought on in both your carry-on and checked baggage.

Since 9/11, TSA has prohibited numerous “dangerous” items ranging from common sense items like guns and knives to more frustrating things like certain food products, most types of sports equipment, and even many medicines. 

In this guide, I’ll help you navigate the weird world of bringing nail care products onto planes and even how you can use them onboard!

Can I Bring Nail Clippers on a Plane?

As laid out in the TSA’s Permitted and Prohibited Items List, you may bring nail clippers on a plane in either your carry-on or checked baggage. 

For the safety of TSA agents, as well as your own belongings, the TSA highly recommends that any blades – such as those on nail clippers – be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury or damage. 

What Other Nail Care Products Can You Take on a Plane?

Like nail clippers, most other nail care products can be taken on a plane in both carry-on and checked baggage, though this is not always the case. 

The table below will help you find in which bags you can take the most common nail care products: 

 Carry-OnChecked Luggage
Nail ClippersYesYes
TweezersYesYes
Nail File (Glass and Metal)YesYes
Cuticle PusherYesYes
NippersYesYes
Nail Polish Yes, up to 3.4 oz (100 ml)Yes
Nail Polish RemoverYes, up to 3.4 oz (100 ml)Yes
UV Nail LampYesYes
Finger Nail DrillNoYes

For more details, see the TSA’s Permitted and Prohibited Items List.

Can You Bring Nail Clippers in Checked Luggage?

A stand here sign on a floor in an airport

You can take your nail clippers in your checked luggage, just as you can in your carry-on luggage. 

Just as with packing your carry-on luggage, the TSA recommends that your fingernail clippers should be sheathed or wrapped securely to prevent them from accidentally cutting a TSA agent (or especially for checked baggage, a baggage handler). 

Can I Bring Nail Clippers Through TSA Security?

Nail clippers can be taken through TSA security, in either your carry-on or checked luggage. 

That being said, however, if they are metal, they will show up when passed through the X-ray. If in your carry-on, and your TSA agent can’t easily identify what they are (possibly because of how you’ve packed your bag and the things around it) they may want to search your bags. 

Usually, the TSA agent will go through your entire bag, both to follow protocol and because the X-ray machines in airports don’t differentiate between the different layers in your suitcase, and will inspect your nail clippers. 

Once they’ve ascertained that the metal they saw on their screen is a set of nail clippers and not anything more nefarious, your nail clippers will be returned to you so you can continue with your journey. 

They may, however, decide that they are a danger to other passengers (typically if they have a particularly sharp edge or an exposed corner) and confiscate your nail clippers. However, this is only really the case if your TSA agent is overly picky.

Can I Use Nail Clippers on a Plane? 

Although you can legally take your nail clippers on a plane, whether you should actually use nail clippers on a plane is a completely different ballgame. 

Things like turbulence aside, it’s highly likely the person sitting next to you will be happy with you having a mid-flight manicure. Just put yourself in their shoes; how would you feel if a stranger was doing that next to you? 

Whilst they cannot legally force you to put your nail clippers away, things could easily escalate if you insist on your mid-flight manicure. If things get too out of hand, the crew may have to intervene which may result in them asking you to put your nail clippers away. 

At the end of the day, think about others, not just yourself. If you really must clip your nails during the flight, politely ask the person next to you if it’s alright with them and try to work around the problem if it’s not, always remaining calm and collected in the process. 

But personally, I’d recommend that if it can wait, don’t use your nail clippers (or really any other nail care products) whilst on the plane. 

There are better ways to pass time while on a plane!

Tips for Using Nail Clippers on a Plane

If you really must have that in-flight manicure and the passengers around you are happy with you doing it, you might find the following tips helpful:

Don’t Use Nail Clippers During Takeoff or Landing

Pilots are taught that takeoffs and landings are the two most dangerous parts of the flight for a variety of reasons. 

Chiefly, this is because as the plane is ascending/descending, the air pressure changes (which is why your ears pop as they equalize) which means the plane may wobble ever so slightly from side to side as the aircraft adjusts to the different air pressure. 

What this means for your manicure is that if the wobble is quite sharp (as is often the case), your nail clippers may end up clipping more off than you’d like which would lead to an array of other issues which I’m sure you’d rather avoid!

Never Use Nail Clippers During Meal Time

Even if you are not eating, the people around you may be and do not want to keep having to check their food for your nail clippings whilst they eat. 

Aside from just being polite, this will also prevent any arguments, as finding someone else’s nail in your food is likely to send tensions through the roof!

Do it in the Bathroom

The twitter logo and an information board on an airport
(photo: Arne Beruldsen / Shutterstock)

Although the people around you may be happy with you doing your in-flight manicure around them, common courtesy dictates that you should still do it in the bathroom. 

Though not glamorous, doing it in the bathroom prevents most of the potential issues mentioned earlier, even if the people around you are seemingly alright with it. 

By doing it in the bathroom, you also arguably get more privacy and can take more time to get everything perfect, allowing you to use the mirror in the bathroom to you another angle should you need it, easy access to a bin for your nail clippings and the ability to quickly wash your hands when you’re done.

FAQs About Nail Clippers and Air Travel

Can Airlines Stop me From Bringing my Nail Clippers Onboard?

As a general rule, airlines will not stop you from taking something onboard in a carry on bag that’s expressly approved by TSA, such as nail clippers. However, once in the air, the crew has the right to confiscate anything until the end of the flight at their discretion. 

What If I’m Unsure About my Nail Clippers?

Whilst you should be alright, you may choose to contact the TSA directly for an answer before your flight. This can be done via social media, by calling their help number, or by filling in the contact form on their website. Providing pictures is a great way to get a firm answer as the TSA will know exactly what you’re talking about! They do, however, recommend that you ask at least 72 hours before your flight to ensure you get a response.

What happens if TSA confiscates my nail clippers?

If you are unfortunate enough to have your nail clippers confiscated by the TSA (for whatever reason), it is never a good idea to argue with them. They are simply doing their job and following the rules; so try to stay as calm as possible. 
For personal hygiene products like nail clippers, TSA will generally throw them away, meaning they’re lost forever. 

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I hope I’ve answered the question “can you bring nail clippers on a plane?”