A friend of mine reached out with an unusual question: is a cast iron skillet an approved carry-on item? The answer is technically no, but it does not hurt to ask.
Cast Iron Skillet In Carry-On Bag – Allowed?
He texted me as he was heading to the airport, wondering if the pans (there were multiple) could travel in his carry-on bag or would need to be checked. He was flying Southwest Airlines. A quick search on the TSA and Southwest Airlines website revealed no answer and I advised him that it appeared to be a gray area and to allow extra time in case he had to check it in.
A bit later, he texted me back:
I got through security. However, they noticed it and had a little side huddle. But they let me through. It really helps to have kids with you. I think it made a difference.
He was traveling with his two young sons. I guess having a couple sweet kids can help to smooth over a situation and instantly makes you look less suspicious (unless…).
While preparing this story, however, I found information on the TSA website suggesting the bags should not have been let through:
Pots and pans are generally allowed in both carry-on and checked bags. However, cast iron skillets are prohibited in carry-on bags and must be placed in checked baggage.
It makes sense, though. Cast iron skillets are literal weapons that can do some serious, even lethal damage.
While I’m glad my friend did not have to check a bag, I’m not sure whether to be pleased or mortified the TSA chooses to overlook some rules if you ask nicely. But I won’t lose sleep over this…the trip home went without a hitch and it’s nice to bypass the baggage claim and head right to the car.
Three lessons. First, cast irons skillets are not permitted carry-on items according to the TSA website. Second, though, is that it doesn’t hurt to ask because agents do have some discretion in what they allow through. Third, let’s hope a frying pan never winds up in the hands of a drunk and disorderly passenger!