Carrying VSSL on Your Next Flight
We have been asked a lot if it’s ok to travel in an airplane with your VSSL. The primary cause for concern is that they look like pipe bombs! Over the years, I’ve flown many times both domestically (Canada/USA) and internationally (Europe/Asia), and the X-Ray clearly details a VSSL’s contents (and clearly shows they are not bombs).
However, I’ve been pulled over and questioned about them three times over the years. One time it was primarily out of curiosity, another time it was to remove the razor blade (more on this later), and the third time was because the TSA agent wanted to know where he could buy one. Depending on how you’ve stocked your VSSL, you should consider whether or not to remove the razor or wire saw.
Now, about the wire saw. We did have a fascinating gentleman reach out because, while travelling internationally, he was asked to remove his. He was curious if we had a “TSA Approved” VSSL, so I went down that rabbit hole. The wire saw shouldn’t have been removed; it’s not specifically on a prohibited list. “Saws” are, but their definition of saw does not specifically include a wire saw. So, I reached out to TSA for clarification. They made it clear that the final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether any item is allowed through the checkpoint. So even if there’s a prohibited list, the process can be fairly discretionary.
Oh, and why was the aforementioned gentleman fascinating? Turns out he’s an archaeologist, like a real-life Indiana Jones and uses his VSSL for remote archeological explorations. He had traveled a lot with it and hadn’t, to that point, been asked to surrender the wire saw. Anyway, we sent him a few replacements.
So, is it ok to travel with your VSSL? Absolutely. It’s been done thousands of times. But like any kind of travel, there are risks. If you want to be extra safe, pack it in your checked bag!