Traveling With a Kirpan on Flights

Can you bring a kirpan on an airplane?
Kirpan on Flights

The kirpan, a ceremonial sword or dagger that holds immense religious significance for Sikhs, is often carried as part of their religious duty. Understanding the regulations for carrying a kirpan on flights, both within India and internationally, is crucial for those practicing the Sikh faith.

Religious Significance of the Kirpan

For Sikhs, the kirpan is not just a weapon but a symbol of their religious and moral obligation to protect the weak and promote justice. It is one of the five mandatory articles of faith, collectively known as the Five Ks, that baptized Sikhs are obliged to carry.

Sikh Faith


Kirpan on Domestic Flights in India

Sikhs are allowed to carry the kirpan on board domestic flights within India. However, there are specific size restrictions; the blade of the kirpan must not exceed 6 inches in length and 3 inches in width. Airlines like Air India, IndiGo, Vistara, and SpiceJet permit the carrying of kirpans within these size limits under certain conditions to ensure safety and compliance with aviation regulations.

Kirpan on International Flights

The allowance of kirpans on international flights varies significantly by country and airline:

  • United States: Kirpans are not permitted on flights entering or leaving the U.S. as carry-on items. They must be placed in checked luggage. The TSA strictly forbids carrying "religious knives and swords" longer than 2.5 inches in carry-on baggage or on one's person, requiring them to be packed in checked baggage.
  • Canada: Similar to the U.S., kirpans must be placed in checked baggage on flights.
  • United Kingdom: The UK allows kirpans on flights, subject to specific size restrictions, generally aligning with those for domestic flights in India.
  • Europe: Regulations vary by country, but many do not allow kirpans as carry-on items. It is advised to check specific country regulations before travel.
  • Australia: Kirpans are generally not allowed on flights as carry-on items and must be stored in checked luggage.

Packing and Security Measures

Any kirpan carried in checked baggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and security inspectors. It is essential to declare these items during the security screening process and comply with all airline guidelines to avoid complications.

Airline-Specific Rules

  • Air India: Allows kirpans within the size restrictions stated above on domestic flights. As a Sikh passenger, you can bring your kirpan onboard flights within India, as long as the total length of the blade and handle does not exceed 22 cm/9 in. The blade alone must not be longer than 15 cm/6 in, and the handle should be no more than 7 cm/3 in.

    You cannot however carry a kirpan on you or as carry-on baggage while travelling on any international or domestic flights operating from an international terminal's Security Hold Area (SHA).
  • IndiGo: Requires kirpans to be declared and appropriately packed.
  • Vistara: Follows similar guidelines to other Indian carriers regarding the size and packing of kirpans.
  • SpiceJet: Adheres to the regulatory norms set by Indian aviation authorities.

While Sikhs can fly with their kirpans on many international routes, specific rules regarding the size and handling of the kirpan must be adhered to. It is crucial for travelers to be aware of and respect the regulations of both the departing and destination countries. Contacting airlines directly or checking their websites before travel can provide up-to-date information and ensure a smooth and respectful journey.

No comments:

The Shift in Airline Baggage Policies: From 2 Bags to 1 on US India International Flights

Why Airlines Are Limiting Passengers to 1 Bag on International Flights from the USA Airlines worldwide have been altering their baggage ...