Can You Bring Mag­nets On a Plane? After more than two years of pan­dem­ic-enforced idle­ness, the world has eager­ly tak­en to air trav­el once again. Tourism around the world is up and ris­ing each month. Des­ti­na­tions that rely on rev­enue gen­er­at­ed by tourist dol­lars are final­ly recovering. That’s good for economies right around the globe, and air trav­ellers are thrilled to final­ly being able to get mov­ing again. Because there are so many rules and reg­u­la­tions sur­round­ing air trav­el, it’s easy to over­look some­thing that might seem minor but, in fact, could cause flight delays or even cancellations.  We’re talk­ing about magnets. That’s right, mag­nets. Some mag­nets are harm­less, like the sou­venir fridge mag­net you might pur­chase while on hol­i­day or those found in cer­tain chil­dren’s toys. But stronger mag­nets can cause hav­oc on planes, depend­ing on how pow­er­ful they are. No one wants to be the per­son caus­ing delays at the secu­ri­ty check-in gate because of inad­ver­tent­ly car­ry­ing a mag­net that’s not allowed. That’s why, in this arti­cle, we explain the reg­u­la­tions in place gov­ern­ing which mag­nets are allowed on planes. Whether you real­ize it or not, bring­ing a mag­net that’s too strong onto your flight can dam­age every­thing from GPS nav­i­ga­tion­al equip­ment to the data stored on anoth­er pas­sen­ger’s lap­top. No one wants to be respon­si­ble for that, right? so which mag­nets are per­fect­ly safe dur­ing air trav­el and which ones should be left at home or trans­port­ed in anoth­er manner? Before we exam­ine which types of mag­nets qual­i­fy as safe, let’s exam­ine why this is so poten­tial­ly dangerous.

What Risks Do Magnets Pose To Planes?

We live in a high­ly tech­ni­cal world – lap­tops, cel­lu­lar phones, com­put­er­ized nav­i­ga­tion­al tools – and mag­nets pose a seri­ous risk to all of them. For exam­ple: if you take a small but pow­er­ful mag­net in your lug­gage, it has the capa­bil­i­ty of inter­fer­ing with the direc­tions set by the glob­al posi­tion­ing sys­tem (GPS) installed in the cock­pit of your plane. That, of course, has the poten­tial to throw the pilot’s read­ings off-kil­ter, though experts say it’s not like­ly to cause a disaster. Even weak­er mag­nets can be prob­lem­at­ic – not to the plane, nec­es­sar­i­ly, but to the oth­er folks fly­ing on it. If a mag­net exceeds a cer­tain thresh­old, it might inter­fere with the soft­ware and/or hard­ware of oth­er pas­sen­gers’ com­put­ers and phones. (Below are the cal­cu­la­tions you need to know when decid­ing which mag­nets pose a risk on your impend­ing flight).

Types Of Magnets That Are Safe

1- Most Souvenir & Fridge Magnets Are Safe

How many of those delight­ful fridge mag­nets have you pur­chased while on hol­i­day? The ones with, for exam­ple, a pic­ture of the Empire State Build­ing and the famous slo­gan, “I Love New York?” Lots of them, right? You’ll be relieved to know that these pop­u­lar sou­venirs are safe to take on air­planes. Sou­venir mag­nets have the two key qual­i­ties of any mag­net per­mit­ted on planes: they’re small, and they’re not strong.

2- Magnetic Toys Are Safe

There are plen­ty of toys that have mag­net­ic mate­ri­als in them, such as build­ing blocks that adhere when your child is build­ing a mag­ic tow­er, for exam­ple. These are safe, and you need­n’t be con­cerned that they will inter­fere with either the plane’s oper­a­tional equip­ment or the hard­ware and soft­ware in laptops.

3- Other Items Often Carried On Planes That Contain Magnets

You may not real­ize it, but lots of items you may car­ry aboard a plane have mag­nets or mag­net­ic mate­r­i­al con­tained with­in them. For exam­ple, smart­phones, head­phones, lap­tops, jew­ellery, DVD play­ers and cal­cu­la­tors all have mag­nets of some sort in them. What’s impor­tant to note is that the strength lev­el of the mag­nets in these goods is low enough that no harm is done to the air­craft’s nav­i­ga­tion­al equipment. All planes, whether it’s a small Cess­na or a large com­mer­cial jet, have a com­pass of one sort or anoth­er on board. How do you know if the mag­net­ic mate­r­i­al you’re car­ry­ing can inter­fere with it and oth­er equip­ment like sensors?

How Strong Is Too Strong?

A mag­net’s strength is mea­sured in mil­li­gauss, which is the cor­rect physics term for mea­sur­ing the mag­net’s pull. Air­lines use mil­li­gauss meters to gauge the mag­net’s strength when per­son­nel decide whether an item is safe for ship­ping by air. It’s always best to get the facts before you head to the air­port, so if you are unsure about a mag­net­ic objec­t’s safe­ty, call or go online before head­ing out. If the mag­net­ic field in a par­tic­u­lar item is stronger than 5.25 mil­li­gauss at a dis­tance of 15 feet, it can­not be trans­port­ed by plane. But how are you to know just how strong is too strong and whether the mag­ne­tized chess game you bought as a birth­day gift for your son can be car­ried in your luggage? It’s always best to con­sult the experts, which in this case is the Inter­na­tion­al Air Trans­port Asso­ci­a­tion. This orga­ni­za­tion sets glob­al stan­dards for safe­ty in all flight areas. You can reach it at IATA. Anoth­er gov­ern­ment body that can help is the US Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion. You can reach it at DOT. And the Trans­porta­tion Secu­ri­ty Admin­is­tra­tion (TSA) can also help with infor­ma­tion. You can reach this depart­ment at TSA. If the mag­net­ic mate­ri­als in any mer­chan­dise are sim­ply too strong and there­fore unsafe to trans­port by air – even in a wood­en crate or steel-lined box – it has to go by long haul trans­port, mean­ing by rail or by truck.

Do Magnets Set Off Airport Metal Detectors?

Accord­ing to trans­porta­tion offi­cials, most mag­nets aren’t strong enough to set off a met­al detec­tor when you’re going through secu­ri­ty. For exam­ple: let’s say the neck­lace you’re wear­ing has a mag­net­ic clo­sure. Because it’s just pow­er­ful enough to keep the neck­lace secure­ly fas­tened by not strong enough to exceed the meter read­ing, it won’t be flagged by secu­ri­ty agents. Still, it’s wise to undo it and place it in the tray so agents can exam­ine it, then return it once you’ve been scanned.

Magnetized Products You May Not Have Considered

can you bring magnets on a plane Here’s some­thing we bet you may not have thought of pri­or to book­ing your flight: will the mag­net­ic eye­lash­es you wear to be allowed? Do you wear them every day, putting them on as part of your morn­ing rou­tine while get­ting ready to go to work? Have you become accus­tomed to wear­ing them because they are just so pret­ty and convenient? If so, you should know that they con­tain mag­net­ic mate­r­i­al that helps them adhere to your own lash­es. But fear not! There prob­a­bly isn’t enough strength in them to set off the met­al detec­tor when you go through secu­ri­ty at your flight’s gate. It’s unlike­ly, but it is pos­si­ble, accord­ing to the TSA; there is a slight chance this could hap­pen. There­fore, it’s best to car­ry them with you in a case, so you can put them on the tray while going through security. Exam­ples like this are why it’s so impor­tant that you check with offi­cials, either by call­ing or by going on their web­sites and read­ing the reg­u­la­tions online. Know­ing just which mag­nets are per­mis­si­ble and which ones might not ensure your next flight goes smoothly.

Should Magnets Go In Your Carry On Bags or Checked Luggage?

This is up to you, real­ly, accord­ing to the TSA. As long as the item is allowed on the plane, how you car­ry it is your choice. That chess set we men­tioned – the one with pieces that stick to the board with mag­ne­tized mate­r­i­al – can be eas­i­ly tucked into your checked lug­gage, safe­ly stored between lay­ers of clothes.

In Conclusion

Whether you’re car­ry­ing a rare earth mag­net (often used in hard disk dri­ves and head­phones) or a reg­u­lar one (reg­u­lar mag­nets are made of iron), you need to be sure it’s allowed on the plane. Minor things that we, as con­sumers, may not think of in advance can poten­tial­ly cause real headaches for bor­der secu­ri­ty personnel. That’s why it is so cru­cial that you do a lit­tle research in advance to make cer­tain that what­ev­er mag­ne­tized items you’re tak­ing on the flight – sou­venir des­ti­na­tion mag­nets, fridge mag­nets, etc. — aren’t a prob­lem. It’s all about the strength of the mag­net, not the size. Once you’ve checked the guide­lines on a gov­ern­ment web­site, you will be all set to fly hassle-free. The final deci­sion of what mag­nets are and are not allowed on planes rests with air­port per­son­nel. If you want to send some­thing over­seas in a crate or box – toys for Christ­mas presents for a fam­i­ly mem­ber far away, per­haps? — staff in the car­go ship­ping depart­ment at the air­port can give you all the infor­ma­tion you require for send­ing it safe­ly. But if you’re sim­ply car­ry­ing some sou­venir mag­nets home from a fab­u­lous hol­i­day to hand out as gifts, you’ll have no trou­ble tak­ing them through secu­ri­ty. Just remem­ber to read the regulations! Know­ing how to take mag­net-con­tain­ing prod­ucts safe­ly on planes (like your smart­phone and lap­top) means you can relax and enjoy your flight!

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