Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane? Travel Rules in 2023

Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane?

Can you bring pepper spray on a plane? Have you ever wondered if self-defense sprays like pepper spray could be your traveling companion on your next flight? If so, let’s navigate the ins and outs of this topic together.

Air Travel with Self-Defense Sprays: A Balancing Act

Traveling with self-defense sprays raises concerns for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and individual airlines. It’s a balancing act between personal safety and ensuring a safe, accident-free flight for everyone on board.

Can You Bring Pepper Spray on a Plane in Your Carry-On Baggage?

It’s natural to want to keep self-defense items close at hand, particularly when traveling to unfamiliar places. However, the TSA rules are clear –self-defense sprays cannot be in your carry-on baggage. This includes common self-defense weapons like stun guns, sharp objects, and certain aerosol forms.

self defense pepper spray 1

Pepper Spray and the TSA

According to the TSA guidelines, a pepper spray canister can be in your checked baggage, but there are conditions. It must be less than 4 fluid ounces (118 ml) and have a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge. So if you have a 4-ounce container of pepper spray with a recessed button or some other safety device, you can pack it in your checked-in luggage.

This rule doesn’t just apply to regular pepper spray. Bear spray, a popular self-defense item, falls under the same rules, though its size often exceeds the TSA’s liquid rule, making it a less convenient travel companion.

Still, even if you comply with all these rules, remember: the final decision rests with the TSA officer at the security checkpoint.

AskTSA Twitter Answers

Here’s TSA’s answer on the official TSA Twitter channel:

Pepper Spray and Individual Airlines

Regarding pepper spray, the best way to avoid surprises at the airport is to check with your airline.

Most major airlines in the United States, such as American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Airlines, and Alaska Airlines, generally follow TSA pepper spray rules. However, some may have their own rules, especially regarding international travel.

Don’t assume that because the TSA allows it, your airline will. Better safe than sorry!

Pepper Spray: A Hot Topic in International Travel

If planning an international flight, be aware that different rules might apply. While the TSA and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) govern flights within the United States, other nations have their regulatory bodies. For instance, the European Union (EU) has rules regarding what can be brought aboard an aircraft cabin that might differ from those in the U.S.

So, Is Bringing Pepper Spray a Good Idea?

While it’s a great way to ensure personal safety, it comes with risks. Aside from the potential for an accidental discharge, another significant concern is whether a pepper spray canister could explode under pressure changes in the aircraft cabin.

The good news? If your can of pepper spray meets the required criteria, and you’ve checked the rules for your specific airlines and final destinations, it can be a good idea.

However, remember that plenty of other less risky self-defense items in your carry-on might be a better fit for your trip.

Other Common Item Questions

  • Hockey Sticks, Baseball Bats, and Pool Cues are allowed in checked-in baggage. Although bulky, they can be useful for personal defense in dangerous situations.

A Note About Lithium Batteries

Lithium-ion and lithium batteries, often used in stun guns and other self-defense devices, are restricted in carry-on and checked baggage. So, if your self-defense device requires such a battery, it’s best to leave it at home.

Enhanced Airport Security and TSA Measures

In recent years, airport security has been significantly enhanced, and TSA agents have been trained to be more vigilant in detecting hazardous materials in checked and hand luggage. This vigilance extends to items such as metal detectors and certain self-defense sprays.

This is particularly true for items like pepper spray and tear gas. According to federal law, passengers are prohibited from carrying more than a certain mass of tear gas in their luggage. The same rules apply to the amount of tear gas transported on a flight.

TSA Website: A Comprehensive List of Items

For a comprehensive list of items permitted and prohibited on domestic and international flights, passengers are advised to visit the TSA website. This resource outlines rules related to golf clubs, lithium-ion batteries, oleoresin capsicum (the active ingredient in pepper spray), and even aerosol forms of various substances.

Liquid Rule and Aerosol Forms

It’s crucial to note that even for allowed items, the TSA’s liquids rule is enforced, which means that such items must be transported in a quart-sized, clear plastic bag. This rule applies to liquids, gels, aerosols, creams, and pastes. While pepper spray and other self-defense sprays aren’t typically considered liquids, they fall under this category if they are in aerosol form.

Pepper Spray: A Risk Onboard?

An important question that often arises is whether pepper spray could explode under the conditions of a flight. Airlines, including JetBlue and United, prioritize the safety of their passengers, and any item that could potentially cause an emergency landing is strictly monitored.

Flight Attendants and Hazardous Materials

Flight attendants are trained to handle situations involving hazardous materials, including the accidental discharge of self-defense sprays. They know that such items, even when allowed in small quantities per FAA rules, can cause discomfort or harm to fellow passengers. Therefore, airlines may have strict policies about using pepper spray and other similar items onboard.

Self-Defense Sprays and State Lines

It’s worth mentioning that while carrying self-defense sprays may be legal under federal law and TSA guidelines, different states have their own rules about the possession and use of these items. Therefore, before carrying such items across state lines, you should check the specific regulations in your destination state.

Can Pepper Spray Be Purchased At Destination?

If you don’t want to navigate the complexities of flying with pepper spray, another option might be purchasing it at your destination’s retail store. However, remember that some states have specific laws regarding selling and possessing pepper spray.

In Addition to the Pepper Spray

In addition to the pepper spray, consider packing an additional device for your safety. This could be simple as a personal alarm or a door stopper to secure your hotel room.

pepper spray


Q: How much pepper spray is allowed on a plane?

A: As per TSA rules, you can pack a pepper spray canister of up to 4 fluid ounces in your checked-in luggage, provided it has a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge.

Q: Is bringing pepper spray on a domestic flight a good idea?

A: While allowed, it’s essential to consider factors such as the risk of accidental discharge and the specific airline’s rules. Alternative self-defense items might be more convenient.

Q: Do the same rules apply for international flights?

A: While the TSA provides guidelines, the final rules for international flights will depend on the specific airline and the destination country’s regulations.

Q: Can I bring a stun gun on the plane?

A: Stun guns are allowed in checked luggage but prohibited in carry-on luggage.

Q: Are there restrictions on lithium batteries in self-defense devices?

A: There are restrictions on carrying lithium-ion and lithium batteries, often used in self-defense devices.

Concluding Thoughts

To wrap things up, while you can bring pepper spray on a plane, it’s crucial to follow TSA guidelines, understand the rules of your airline, and respect the laws of your destination country. When in doubt, relying on alternative defensive items less likely to cause an issue during security checks is safer.