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Liza

How to Travel with Knives

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I'm going to New Mexico in September and staying at a place with a not-so-great kitchen. I want to bring out some of my own equipment but don't want to be barred from the plane because of my knives. (I don't think I'd handle it as well as Natasha in "...killing the great chefs of Europe") My sweet little mom had to hand over her scissors before a flight so I know I need to be prepared. And I would rather not send them through the mail.

Any suggestions for how to handle this situation?

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dare i ask the obvious question of:  how about your suitcase?  i would definitely put them in their travel case to avoid injury (by you or anyone going through your stuff!)

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I should have mentioned that I'll only be doing carry-on. I've got to switch planes and I never check bags if that's the situation. So the question remains...

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i would simply call the airline to see what your options are regarding the plane.  they'll probably suggest that you check them, which i can't imagine would pose a problem.  otherwise, you'd have to mail them or find some other means.

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Years ago I had a barber scissors, that was in my toiletires bag in my carry on, confiscated in Osaka, Japan. It was returned to us by the stewardess upon arrival in JFK. My suspicion was that it was kept in a special place on board, but not with checked baggage. I think Tommy's suggestion is the route to go. Check and see if some special provision can be made. Changing planes makes the problem even worse as you'll have to deal with the knives twice and maybe with two different airlines as well as two different airport security systems. I can't imagine they'll let you carry the knives around in the secure area when you cange planes. I wonder how professional chef's handle this. I'm sure they must travel with their own tools at times. The chef's I've known who have catered, mostly drive to their clients' kitchens. Be sure to report back on what you find out and how you make out. The more I think about it, checked baggage may be your only choice. Take out insurance.

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I'm going to check with some chefs who I know travel a lot and report back.

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Liza:

Trying calling the FAA Consumer Hotline at 800-322-1873 (8am-4pm Eastern Time).  Pursuant to Federal Aviation Regulation 108.11 (14 CFR 108, et seq) it is, and I'm summarizing here folks, illegal for any person to have accessible a deadly or dangerous weapon during a flight. There is a very well defined set of exceptions, but I fear that "weapon as cooking utensil" isn't one of them. If you want to read the reg. you can find it at http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara....00.html

By all means, ask your chef friends what they do, but remember they are not in authority on this. If other cooks tell you it's okay if you show up at the airport with knives in you bag be prepared for airport security guard freak-out. One time my wife made A JOKE about having something in her bag at Logan and security went ballistic (as did I).   So be careful and in this case (and only this case) trust what the government tells you.

Don't take my word for it either. Call the FAA, or better yet send the knives FedEx, it'll probably cost less than ฤ. Probably money well spent.

Talley ho,

Adam

(Edited by abbeynormal at 12:31 pm on Aug. 22, 2001)

(Edited by abbeynormal at 4:39 pm on Aug. 22, 2001)

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Wow. Thank you for your answer and link. I couldn't ask for a more thorough and smart response. I guess Fed Ex will be the answer!

Thanks again, Adam.

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as an aside, perhaps to illustrate how seriously this stuff is taken...

i was on a flight down to Mardi Gras years back, boarding and getting settled in.  of course everyone on the plane was pretty buzzed, including the post-college guys in front of me.  well, one of them had a big carry-on.  his buddy went to move it, and upon feeling how heavy it was, joked "jeez, whaddaya have a bomb in there or something?"

a flight attendant was standing nearby, and uttered "that isn't very funny."  as quickly as she disappeared, 4 cops came on the plane and removed the young fellows in the blink of an eye.

[/semi-interesting anecdote]

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Quote: from Liza on 3:21 pm on Aug. 22, 2001

I couldn't ask for a more thorough and smart response.

Liza:

You could ask, but then I'd have to charge you. :wink:

Happy to be of service.

Adam

(Edited by abbeynormal at 4:38 pm on Aug. 22, 2001)

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I've had knives confiscated at check-in several times, always in Europe. It never seems to be a problem domestically here in the U.S., though -- and I've taken as large as a 10" chef's knife on US Airways without them batting an eye. Then again you never know when you'll get a more careful inspection. As far as I know, if you don't want to check baggage, and you're dealing with an airline that is strict about knives, you have no way to get your knives on the plane. At least with British Airways and Air France, they do not have a special place in the cabin for these items. They put them in a cardboard box and throw them under the plane with checked luggage. I asked a couple of chefs about this just now, and they had no good answer because they've never insisted on all-carry-on and therefore have just checked stuff. Why don't you just bring a small suitcase for your kitchen equipment, check it, and hope for the best? The percentage of bags actually lost in air transit is miniscule. Delayed, yes, that happens a lot more often -- but the few times it has happened to me I've received the bags the next day, delivered to wherever I was. And I think you're automatically insured up to a few hundred dollars, depending on the country, so unless you're bringing a lot of knives you're covered in the event of a loss. Your homeowner's or renter's policy probably also provides some coverage for this.

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I sometimes travel with my own knives (on road trips), but I always carry a stone. That way, I can make do with whatever knives are in the kitchen. This might be a solution for you, if you're not too picky about size, weight, etc.

Isn't September in New Mexico roasted pepper season? I hear they're wonderful fresh!

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I have this image of you with a stone chained to your ankle.

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My mom had a little paring knife (like 4 inches!) confiscated on her way back from france.  The woman from de Gaulle customs promised it would be sent back.  It wasn't.  Eventually they gave us a big check and i bought a slicer instead.  But we imagine the customs officials in france have a very extensive cutlery collection. ;)

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Quote: from Fat Guy on 12:25 pm on Aug. 31, 2001

I have this image of you with a stone chained to your ankle.

Naw, but what I do carry (on road trips) is an old tin picnic basket with the following: chef's knife and paring knife, stone, pepper grinder, wax paper (for pie crusts), pastry cutter, meat thermometer. I might throw in a bottle of sesame oil. I'm thinking of adding Kikkoman soy sauce to the kit, since decent soy sauce can be surprisingly hard to find in some places.

Come to think of it, it is sorta like having a stone chained to my ankle. But it's just so frustrating to be in a kitchen without the basics.

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so frustrating to be in a kitchen without the basics.
Friends with a vacation home in France had a visitor who had just completed a diploma course at the Ritz-Escoffier and had grown up with a ktchen she assumed was equipped with no more than the basics. She offered to make dessert for her hosts and while preparing two fruit coulis nonchalently asked where they kept the chinoise (a fine conical sieve). This sent her hosts into a fit of laughter, although they were able to product a sieve.

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Should we start a thread about essential traveling items? We won't go anywhere without tongs, a pepper grinder, coarse salt, and a strainer - we do leave the chinoise at home, but only because unless I wear it as a hat, ala the TinMan, it's simply too bulky.

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There's an applicable joke about the new bride whose most important kitchen appliance is her telephone, I suppose, but the need for reliable tools is part of the reason I prefer to eat out when we travel and not rent a house. When we leave NY, the odds are that we'll end up in France. For years my wife has wanted to rent a house. Her best argument is to point at the wonderful markets which are always a sightseeing highlight for me and say "don't you want to shop and cook this stuff?" I realize that one of the reasons I don't, is that I'll have a terrible kitchen at my disposal.

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Quote: from eGullet Staff on 9:38 pm on Sep. 1, 2001

Great idea! Would you be so kind as to start that thread?

I'll start a new thread in Cooking.

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When I road trip it, I have an old canvas bag that I put in the following, Old round but usable wooden cutting board (Doubles as a pot lid), old reliable 10" chefs knife (I've cracked more lobsters, crabs, clams and whatever with this old thing and it keeps humming), knife sharpener,  bread knife (amazing what those knives can cut), pepper mill, salt mill, tinfoil, plastic baggies, a couple of slightly stained but still usable cotten kitchen towels-don't really care if I lose them, some basic dried herbs, a new sponge, and a couple of brillo pads.

These basics make it easier for me in a strange kitchen, especially if we want to have a few bottles with dinner and don't want to drive.

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Please see the essential traveling items thread in Cooking for further discussion of, well, essential traveling items. Straight knife travel talk can stay here. Thanks! :)

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more straight knife talk here--just to echo what Steven said earlier:  I travel with knives all the time--and other strange metal culinary tools and objects--and have never had any problem or incident flying domestically and checking this equipment as baggage.  I inadvertently brought a very large knife--a 14" serrated blade-- on board once in carry-on and it was picked up in the scanner.  It was removed from my bag, and after muttering some apology that I was a chef and that I knew better, boxed up separately and securely, and allowed onto the cabin but not at my seat.

The real problem for a knife-wielding travelling chef or avid cook comes with international airports, which historically are much more sensitive to this issue, even with checked baggage.  London and Paris are the worst (or best, safety-wise.)  I've had checked bags with knives and equipment cases diverted in each airport and delayed for days on two trips to Europe to give demonstrations.  There I was in Bologna, not speaking a lick of Italian, with 3 days to go before my demonstration and no promise of when or if my stuff would arrive.  For 3 days I bought, begged and borrowed what I would need only to have my case arrive at the last minute by courier.

My advice, send it ahead, disclose the contents, verify it has arrived or buy it there.  You'll probably have to anyway.

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(Full, wracking sobs...) look at this thread, folks. People helping. People starting new threads. People thanking people...(snurfle)...

And guess what? I am going BACK to New Mexico and the same issue exists...anyone having any trouble bringing their knives on board these days? :wink:

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