How to Travel with Body Armor
If you own or wear body armor, it’s important to know the legalities and restrictions of traveling with your gear. In general, there are not as many restrictions for traveling with body armor as most people normally think. But there are a few pointers that you should know before traveling with body armor plates and plate carriers.
Flying with body armor
On their website, the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) states that body armor is generally allowed in your personal carry-on and checked bags, although TSA officers have the final say on whether certain items are allowed to pass through checkpoints. If a TSA officer decides not to allow your body armor onto the plane, you should give yourself enough time to lock it up in your car, return home to drop it off, have it picked up or give it to someone who may have dropped you off at the airport. Otherwise, it may be confiscated or cause you to miss your flight.
Depending on your circumstances, traveling with body armor could also cause delays in your travel plans by subjecting you to more extensive searches and questioning by airport security to make sure you are not a safety concern. Any time you are flying with body armor, it’s a good rule of thumb to arrive at the airport earlier than usual in case of secondary searches or any complications that could arise at the security gate.
Because it is legal to own body armor in all 50 states, traveling across state lines shouldn’t cause too much of a headache. Airlines, on the other hand, may have specific restrictions on what they allow on their flights.Most airlines will list prohibited items on their website and each airline can be slightly different, so make sure you check with your specific airline to be certain they allow body armor on the airplane.
If you’re planning on traveling internationally, you must make sure that the countries you’re visiting allow civilians to possess and wear body armor in the first place. Second, check each country’s individual rules and regulations about traveling with body armor— the ability to travel with your armor will be dictated by each country you plan to visit, so look up the laws before you plan your trip. Some countries also consider certain types of body armor as controlled items, so make sure that the type and material falls within the regulations of the country you plan to visit. For example, in Australia it is illegal to import anti-ballistic or anti-fragmentation body armor without getting authorization from the Minister for Home Affairs or other authorized person.
When it comes to US export controls, ask for direction on the latest requirements by calling the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC). You may need to complete specific forms with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and produce the registration of your body armor at the airport.
Should you carry-on or check your body armor?
One of the biggest issues for flying with body armor is its weight. The weight of body armor plates varies greatly, but when you combine the weight of separate plates and your plate carrier, that could be a substantial difference in your luggage. Most airlines charge a fee if your checked bag is overweight, so check the weight of your bags at home prior to arrival at the airport to avoid unexpected charges. However, that additional cost, or the cost of a second checked bag, may be worth it to not have to lug a heavy carry-on around the airport and onto the airplane.
If you carry your body armor in your checked bags, you should have no problem with airport security. Be sure to keep all documents, product information and receipts with your body armor. That way, if the TSA questions your luggage, you will have the information on-hand to ensure you are compliant and the gear safe to check. Also, if you are in a profession that requires you to wear body armor, you should bring your credentials with you to help with any questioning.
If you choose to carry your body armor on board, you will want to keep it in a bag that is tough and compact, like Condor’s 3-day assault pack. Some body armor will trigger the metal detector — depending on what materials your body armor is made of. Most kevlar and ceramic/composite body armor is made of synthetic fabric that will not trigger metal detectors or alarms. Steel body armor plates like Spartan™ Omega™ AR500 Body Armor will trigger security alarms and alert airport security personnel.
Can you wear body armor in the airport or on a plane?
The simple answer is no, you cannot wear body armor into an airport or on a plane, unless you want to set off some serious red flags. As previously stated in this article, the TSA states that body armor is generally allowed in your personal carry-on and checked bags, implying that it can’t be worn for travel. While body armor is legal in all 50 states and can be worn across state lines, it isn’t advised to wear it in the airport or while flying across state lines or internationally. Traveling with body armor is already a hot topic, and wearing it is a taboo that will ensure your experience with the TSA isn’t a pleasurable one.
Yes, you can travel with body armor!
In short, traveling with body armor shouldn’t be a problem, although transporting your body armor in your checked bags may make your experience much smoother and faster. If you have any other experiences traveling with body armor that could help others, write it down in the comment section below.