When you are traveling by plane, there are many restrictions and regulations that require following. The list can seem overwhelming and often times vague. So, how do you know whether you can take your soldering iron with you on that family vacation or to your next job? Here are some tips to help answer this question and avoid unnecessary hassle at those already lengthy airport security checks.
When it comes to carry-on bags and power tools of any kind, the regulations are at best, confusing, and at worse ever-changing. If you are trying to find the rules yourself, you will need to check the guidelines for heat-producing equipment, battery-operated equipment, power tool guidelines, and butane or gas restrictions depending on the type of soldering iron you have. Each of these searches will be specific to the kind of soldering iron you will take on the flight and what accessories will accompany the tool.
What are the Regulations For Soldering Irons in Carry-on Bags?
Regulations for carry-on and checked bags will vary from airport to airport and item to item. Some things will be allowed in a carry-on but prohibited in checked bags, and vice-versa. There are also specific rules for different departments throughout the travel process. Some of the primary decision-makers for permitted items on flights include the DOT, TSA, the FAA, and of course each individual airline. Here are the basic guidelines of what you should know about taking a soldering iron in your carry on luggage.
- The Transportation Security Administrations (TSA) regulations say that tools that are smaller than 7 inches when fully assembled may be taken on a plane in a carry on bag and that tools that are longer than 7 inches must be packed in a checked bag. It is important to note that while these are their guidelines, they also state that each instance is dependent on acceptance by the airline itself.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has further restrictions that apply to heat-producing equipment. DOT guidelines say that battery-operated equipment that produces extreme heat are allowed in carry-on bags only if the heat-producing element and energy source are removed and packaged separately. This also pertains to the removable battery of the soldering iron. The battery must be packaged in a DOT approved container or its original packaging.
- If you have a butane powered soldering iron, you will need to leave it at home. Butane of any kind is not permitted on airplanes in any capacity at this time. This means that it can’t be carried on or packed in a checked bag. Also, if you have tools that have been filled with gas at one time, they must be completely cleaned before they will be allowed on the plane, and in some cases, may not be allowed at all, even after washing.
- One final note to remember with carry-on bags is that each airline may have there own rules and regulations. If you are unsure if the item you are carrying is allowed, a quick call to the airline should answer all of your questions. If you should have an unacceptable item, it may be confiscated and result in a loss or worse a fine for yourself.
What are the Rules for Power Tools in Checked Bags?
Much like the carry-on rules, checked bags are subject to their own set of regulations and specifications. When it comes to soldering irons, or as they are called in airline lingo soldering equipment or heat-producing items, the rules are generally the same as they are for carry-on bags. The exception is that when the soldering iron is packed in a checked bag, travelers need to ensure that any sharp pieces or points on the tool are wrapped to protect the security team from being injured during checks.
Prohibited Items as they Pertain to Soldering Irons
When speaking of soldering irons and air travel there are some prohibited items that you may have to deal with, depending on the type of tool you have. As mentioned above, if the soldering iron runs on butane gas, the gas cartridges will not be allowed on the plane in any capacity, either carry-on or checked. Also, gas-operated machines will not be permitted until all gas has been removed, and the device has been cleaned of any residual gas and gas vapors. After the soldering iron has been cleansed, it will be up to the airline TSA agent to make the decision if they will allow the equipment on the plane or not. Plus, you may have to contend with specific rules by the airline itself.
Other prohibited items pertaining to soldering irons are any heating tools that contain a battery that does not have protection in place against accidental activation and unprotected spare batteries. Check with your specific airline to ensure that there are no further items that are prohibited by them.
When in Doubt, Ask TSA
If you have read all of the guidelines and are still unable to ascertain whether your specific soldering iron and equipment are allowed in carry-on or checked bags, the best thing to do is contact TSA directly. TSA will be able to provide you with the information for your specific device and all of the appropriate safety precautions you must take in order for them to travel with you on the flight.
If TSA gives the okay and says that you are allowed to travel with the soldering iron, the next step you want to make is to contact the airline you will be going with. They will be able to explain their rules regarding soldering tools and equipment and what is and isn’t acceptable for their guidelines.
Check With Your Desired Destination
Now that you know what you can and cannot take on the airplane where you are departing, one final concern will be the destination airport. This is most commonly true when you are traveling to another country; regulations may differ drastically from one to another. Check with the country you will be arriving in to make sure that you will not be met with unpleasant confiscations or in some cases, fines for entering the country with unacceptable items. A simple call to your destination airport should resolve these questions without too much hassle.
When Transportation is Forbidden
If your inquiries determine that you are unable to travel with your soldering iron or the parts you need to accomplish the project you are traveling for, don’t worry, there are other options for achieving your objective.
- Rent at your Destination
Many hardware companies rent soldering irons for short term and in some cases, long term use. Finding a location before you travel will allow you to make reservations or to ascertain the requirements you will need when upon arrival.
- Buy New Equipment
If you are traveling for work reasons or for an extended period of time, which makes renting an unattractive option, buying a new soldering iron for your location may be an ideal choice. Soldering irons are not terribly costly, and it may be the case that picking up a new one is more cost-efficient than renting for an extended period.
Whether traveling for business or as a personal vacation, having tools of the trade or handy equipment when that do-it-yourself project presents itself is almost a necessity. When this equipment involves soldering irons, rest assured that there is a solution for whatever situation you may have. Knowing the limitations of your travel plans will help avoid timely waits and extra expenses for confiscated items or fines. Whether your airline allows your precise device or not there is always the possibility of a rental to tide you over until you return home to use a preferred tool.