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Old 04-11-2018, 10:27 PM
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Default Flashlights on aircraft.

The "tactical pen" thread reminded me of something I've been wondering about.

What about "tactical" flashlights?

The kind that have little metal points around the lens.

Some, particularly those with two Lithium batteries, are heavy and strong enough to be used as weapons.

Does TSA ban those also?

I think also there are some new rules about having Lithium Ion batteries in your carry on and different rules in your checked baggage.

Doe anyone have up-to-date info on this issue?

When I fly to the embarkation point for a cruise, I generally take a couple flashlights for myself and my wife in-case the cruise ship suffers a power failure at sea (it happens).
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Old 04-11-2018, 10:34 PM
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I am active on CPF, so I know that there are several topics there for this question: flashlight on airplane candlepowerforum site:www.candlepowerforums.com - Google Search
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Old 04-11-2018, 11:08 PM
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I have never had a problem taking a <7” flashlight anywhere, including with the Tactical bezels.
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Old 04-11-2018, 11:12 PM
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I was was asked if my flashlight was "tactical" a few years ago at the airport in Alaska.
I just shrugged and said " tactical? huh?"
Agent said " go ahead". Alaska is different than most places.
I never checked but going by that exchange, I assume they won't allow them in the cabin.
BTW, it most definitely is " tactical" but I really didn't know they existed then.
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Old 04-12-2018, 08:07 PM
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I have carried flashlights with some slight crenellations without problem although I would image aggressive crenellations may cause an issue. The problem is with many things like this, individual agents have discretion to chose what to confiscate, so one might not have a problem while a different one will. IIRC As far as lithium batteries, they cannot be in the checked bag, but they can be in a carry-on as long as they are in the device meaning no spare batteries.
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Old 04-12-2018, 09:06 PM
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I carry such a flashlight and a so-called "tactical" pen on 20-30 flights per year. No problem.
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Old 04-12-2018, 09:14 PM
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I always have a stamped, self-addressed padded envelope in my carry on. If I run into that special TSA agent who wants to confiscate something, I drop it in the envelope and it is waiting for me when I get home. I always have three or four other permissible items with me that have dual uses. NBD.

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Old 04-12-2018, 09:24 PM
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There are three separate issues in play here.

First, TSA does not allow flash lights longer than 7" in carry on baggage. They use the same 7" standard for tools in general.

Second the FAA is the controlling authority on batteries on aircraft. They allow lithium metal and lithium ion batteries up to 100 watt hours in size to be carried as carry on baggage. Above that, they still allow them up to 160 watt hours, but only with airline approval, and with not more than two spares.

They are actually more restrictive on lithium batteries carried as checked baggage. This is because if a lithium battery shorts and starts to burn in the cabin it can be extinguished by the crew. However a burning battery in the inaccessible baggage area is a serious threat to flight safety. As a result, lithium batteries carried as checked baggage must be no larger than 100 watt hours, must be installed in the device and no spares can be carried. In addition, devices like flashlights that heat up when activated must be protected from activation.

Third, there is the "tactical" issue. Much of this makes no sense as I can bring a knitting needle, a sturdy well built roller ball pen, or a 7" long phillips screw driver, but I might not be allowed to bring my S&W tactical pen on the plane - even though the roller ball pen, knitting needle and in particular the 7" screwdriver are just as effective if I wanted to stab you under the arm.

Apparently the difference is that it is a "tactical" pen and some individual TSA screeners won't allow tactical items. What is even more disturbing is that tactical pens are not listed anywhere on the prohibited items web page - other than in a 2014 "week in review" page listing a tactical pen as a prohibited item "discovered" in carry on baggage.

Similarly you will not find any reference to or definition of "tactical flashlight", but you may find that the TSA officer screening you won't let it pass.

The problem is that the officer at the check point makes the final decision as to what goes and what does not. For example the TSA allows body armor as both checked or carry on baggage, but a TSA officer can deny passage at the check point at his discretion. Same with hand cuffs. Same with toy water pistols.

Another classification that can cause problems are what the TSA screening officer may define as a blunt object. For example, my wife and I cave dive, and fly to Mexico on occasion to dive in cave in the Tulum area of Mexico. Cave diving requires really good lights and you usually exceed the 100 watt hour limit, so they can't legally go in checked baggage.

But...the catch is that cave diving lights are also usually cannister lights where the battery is in a can, with a cable going to the light head. I've had TSA officers object to them because the heavy battery canister could be swung by the cable and be used as a weapon. This creates a problem when you can't put it in checked baggage.

I switched to a light that had a EO cord that could be screwed off from the light head and battery cannister, creating 3 pieces. This light flies right through, even though I can just re-attach the cable to the canister and swing it like a mace once I am on the plane.

It makes no sense what so ever, and sadly it doesn't have to because the TSA screening officer can do pretty much what he or she thinks is in the interest of "safety".

----

For extra fun, try flying with a parachute sometime. If you check it, and the TSA decides it needs to be inspected in your checked bag (and they will) you'll get paged as they require you to be present to inspect it. And you can find yourself repacking it when they are done. That, in addition to not wanting to trust life support equipment to baggage handlers, makes carrying it on the plane as carry on baggage a much more attractive option, one that is allowed by the TSA. Unfortunately, it will freak the TSA officer out pretty much every time and you'll end up having to show him it's an allowable carry on item and explaining exactly why you don't want to check it. Be sure to show up early.

Last edited by BB57; 04-12-2018 at 09:26 PM.
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Old 04-12-2018, 10:49 PM
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I retired from the AF with 5600 flying hours in the mighty Lockheed C-141B Starlifter; I know a little about flying. I always carry a flashlight when I fly (as well as wear sturdy shoes but that's another topic). I look at most things "tactical" with disdain. I fly or drive with an intrinsically safe flashlight. It isn't tactical, but neither is exploding or bursting into flame.

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Old 04-13-2018, 09:41 AM
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I have flown several times with one of these in my jacket pocket.


It is 5.5 inches long and uses two AAA batteries. Nobody said a word.
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Old 04-13-2018, 09:49 AM
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I like the idea of carrying a pre-postage-paid, self addressed shipping envelope along. With all the travel I do, I never thought of that. Of course then you have to hope that the YSA person posts it for you.

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Old 04-13-2018, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by rkittine View Post
I like the idea of carrying a pre-postage-paid, self addressed shipping envelope along. With all the travel I do, I never thought of that. Of course then you have to hope that the TSA person posts it for you.

Bob
TSA used to mention the option and offer to drop it in the mail. I have not heard that in years however, and it raises the question whether they'd bother to drop it in the mail for you.

----

I was traveling outbound for a field evaluation and TSA found a full tube of toothpaste that my wife had packed in my carry on. They said I could not travel with 7.8 oz of tooth paste and pointed to the trash can.

I did not want to have to bother with buying tooth paste at my destination, so I went the trash can, removed the cap and squeezed out a little more than half, put the cap back on and put I back in my bag. The screener looked at me and said "I am not required to allow that on the plane." I replied "It's now less than 3.4 oz and you are not required to prevent it from going on the plane, nor are you required to give me a hard time about it." He waved me through.
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Old 04-13-2018, 11:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwill1911 View Post
I carry such a flashlight and a so-called "tactical" pen on 20-30 flights per year. No problem.
It depends on the pen, and on how lucky you are with the screeners you get.

For example, my old S&W tactical pen was fluted and had an aluminum point. I've had to put that in my checked baggage, fortunately it was a small airport where that was not a problem.

The newer S&W tactical pen however is knurled and unlike their earlier pen, the cap can be screwed over the pointy end. When you go through screening it that configuration it is less likely to trigger a TSA response, as the only visible point is the ball of the pen.

The LingSY tactical pen also works well as it comes in on tactical colors and the tungsten point surrounds the ball of the pen and is not pointy enough to set off TSA agents.

The Darling JL 97 is an even less offensive pen as it is basically t a steel version of a Cross pen, but is just as effective as a tactical pen when it comes to deflecting a strike from an assailant and then counterstriking to the neck, or to the hand or under the arm to disarm the assailant.

The downside is that more sub regulatory creep is probably inevitable and eventually I would not be surprised to see all metal pens being determined unallowable, followed eventually by plastic Bic type pens, leaving you with only easy to shatter plastic pens with two piece, screw together cases.

The TSA rules allow a screwdriver up to 7 inches and you could certainly take a copy of the rules and argue that a) my 6.99" phillips screw driver is legal to carry on the plane, so b) my much less deadly tactical pen should also be legal to carry on the plane But the odds are you will either be putting them in a checked bag or mailing them home.
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Old 04-13-2018, 05:37 PM
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You don't need a "tactical" anything. With the proper knowledge, any pen or flashlight is a marvelous self-defense tool.
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Old 04-13-2018, 06:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BB57 View Post
I was traveling outbound for a field evaluation and TSA found a full tube of toothpaste that my wife had packed in my carry on. They said I could not travel with 7.8 oz of tooth paste and pointed to the trash can.

I did not want to have to bother with buying tooth paste at my destination, so I went the trash can, removed the cap and squeezed out a little more than half, put the cap back on and put I back in my bag. The screener looked at me and said "I am not required to allow that on the plane." I replied "It's now less than 3.4 oz and you are not required to prevent it from going on the plane, nor are you required to give me a hard time about it." He waved me through.

You were certainly tempting fate. The rule is about the size of the container, not the current content of the container. I am very surprised you got on that plane. Probably only because the screener just wanted to go home, not fill out all the paperwork.
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Old 04-13-2018, 08:41 PM
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I can’t take it anymoreFlashlights on aircraft.!!!!!

“Tactical” has come to mean anything that looks like it might someday have a role in combat or self defense.

The adjective itself means of or related to tactics.

“Tactics” means the planning and detailed direction of movement to achieve a desired outcome, either as part of a strategy or larger tactic.

So if airport security ever asks if my pen is “tactical”, I’ll be hard-put not to answer “Yes. I am planning to direct it’s action to sign my name on a car rental contract and effect mobilization of my family to achieve the strategic goal of a pleasurable vacation.”

How far through that would I get before the ninjas had me face-down on the floor.

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Old 04-13-2018, 10:02 PM
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So if airport security ever asks if my pen is “tactical”, I’ll be hard-put not to answer “Yes. I am planning to direct it’s action to sign my name on a car rental contract and effect mobilization of my family to achieve the strategic goal of a pleasurable vacation.”
If I ever get asked if my pen is tactical I'm just gonna say no. But your statement is much better.
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Old 04-13-2018, 10:24 PM
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I don’t fly commercially all that often but I always take a small flashlight with me. It uses two 123 batteries and is probably 3/4” in diameter and maybe 4-5” long. Yes, it’s black anodized aluminum. I figure if I ever have to deplane in an emergency situation a flashlight might be pretty handy. I’ve never had anyone give it much more than a quick look. The next time I go somewhere I suppose it could get seized. You never know...
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Old 04-13-2018, 10:34 PM
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You were certainly tempting fate. The rule is about the size of the container, not the current content of the container. I am very surprised you got on that plane. Probably only because the screener just wanted to go home, not fill out all the paperwork.
Not really. He looked smarter than most. Worst case he'd have said "no' and I'd have had to leave the toothpaste. Attempting to get permission to take 3 oz of toothpaste left in a 7 oz tube on board an aircraft isn't an offense anyone is going to push.

And technically speaking the internal volume of the container was under 3.4 oz, as the container collapsed when the excess was squeezed out. Think of it this way, how large is a balloon with 100 ml of water in it? The answer is that is 100 ml.

There's obviously some room for interpretation as well as room for officer discretion. Unfortunately, we've devolved to a system where blind rule following is preferred over actually enforcing the intent of the law and using a degree of discretion and common sense in the process.

When discretion is used, it seems to be used in the wrong direction with a near total absence of common sense - the whole tactical pen and flashlight issue is a prime example.
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Old 04-14-2018, 07:33 AM
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I don't use the crenellated flashlight, but I have flown with my flashlights (a 4Sevens 2*123 light that says "tactical" on it and a Fenix 1*123 light on my keychain) without issue. I had both in my carry-on bag. No screener has ever asked to look at it.

However, I did have an issue with the Leatherman Style PS on my keychain. There's no knife blade and it has very small scissors (maybe 1/2" edge) and it's supposed to be TSA-compliant. I got delayed when the screener had to call a supervisor, who finally let me proceed with the multitool.
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Old 04-14-2018, 06:51 PM
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I have carried a Surefire P2X on every flight I have taken since owning the first one, which has to be most of 15 years. Not a peep. I also wear heavy boots - a real pain to take off/put on, but potentially priceless in some circumstances.
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Old 04-14-2018, 07:09 PM
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I know some lights come with crenelations on the bezel. I guess it could help, but I think it's mostly marketing. If I were to poke someone with the bezel of an aluminum flashlight, it's going to get their attention. Poke them in the right place and it can disable them to a degree; crenelations or not.
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Old 04-14-2018, 07:17 PM
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So will a palm heel strike.
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Old 04-14-2018, 07:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkittine View Post
I like the idea of carrying a pre-postage-paid, self addressed shipping envelope along. With all the travel I do, I never thought of that. Of course then you have to hope that the YSA person posts it for you.

Bob
TSA doesn’t post it. The nearest gift shop will usually have envelopes and stamps and puts it in with their mail. They may not have padded envelopes tho.

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Old 04-14-2018, 08:02 PM
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So will a palm heel strike.
Indeed. The flashlight is just a force multiplier.
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Old 04-14-2018, 08:20 PM
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I have carried a Surefire P2X on every flight I have taken since owning the first one, which has to be most of 15 years. Not a peep. I also wear heavy boots - a real pain to take off/put on, but potentially priceless in some circumstances.
I always wear natural fibre clothing, preferably wool, if I can stand it, for it's natural fire retardency. Cotton not as good. Synthetics are like wearing unignited napalm.

And I tend to travel with just any-old flashlight. Hate to loose a good un.
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Old 04-14-2018, 09:59 PM
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So will a palm heel strike.

Doug, don't say that. Some TSA agent will hear you
and not let you on the plane with your hands.
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Old 04-14-2018, 10:32 PM
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Doug, don't say that. Some TSA agent will hear you
and not let you on the plane with your hands.
The TSA would have to disarm you.

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