Introduction: Air Travel With a Multi-tool A.k.a. F-U TSA

Picture of Air Travel With a Multi-tool A.k.a. F-U TSA

As an engineer that has started to travel for work and needs to be prepared to fix and maintain prototypes on the road this how-to is about getting a useful multi-tool on the plane with you. I hand carry some of my prototypes so that if I am separated from my luggage I won't be completely hosed, and this is also why having a multi-tool on me is important. More of a tip than instructions, but useful none the less.

Step 1: Buy a Utilikey

Picture of Buy a Utilikey

A company called SwissTech makes a great multi-tool called the Utilikey. It has many of the useful functionality that you find on a leatherman or the like but it is in a much smaller form factor. It looks like a standard key at a glance but its about 1 cm longer. Mine was a gift from a coworker who originally came up with this idea. They generally go for under $10.

Step 2: Attach It

Picture of Attach It

I put mine in the middle of my key ring to hide it as much as possible.

Step 3: The Proof

Picture of The Proof

Just go through security as you would normally. It doesn't matter if they scan the key son the x-ray because it just looks like a bunch of keys, they see hundreds of key rings a day and take them for granted. The pics are from the bathroom of a trans-pacific flight.


joefiddy (author)2014-10-22

I Take a CD, roll of electric tape and a bandana. Snap the CD in half, wrap the bandana around lower half, secure with tape. A formidable slashing cutting improvised weapon. And all TSA friendly items that can be assemble in seconds if defense is required.

bettbee (author)2009-09-11

LOL! The ad accompanying this 'ible (at least for the moment, never noticed how often they change) is for an airline :-)

Kubuntu (author)bettbee2011-08-20

I see an ad for a knife depot. o.O

emartian (author)2009-09-01

I've purchased my last three Leatherman tools from the TSA on ebay, to replace the ones stolen from my checked baggage. This is how they pay for their Christmas parties. You have little or no recourse if they steal from your baggage, although I've stated leaving them notes- written in fourth-grade english- to put them on notice as they ransack my checked bags.

bendog38 (author)emartian2011-05-08

Good idea...

Namlem (author)emartian2009-12-25

Or you could just lock your bags...

bluestorm21 (author)Namlem2010-01-07

airlines eat locks for breakfast, if you have a lock on your bag and its being checked, they will cut it off if you wont vouluntarily remove it

mondaymonkey (author)2007-11-27

No offense but you couldn't harm a fly with that 1/2 inch blade. Any half decent person could take you down. Best idea is to sneak a ceramic blade somewhere on you. They don't pull off metal detectors

vincent7520 (author)mondaymonkey2011-03-05

Sorry about that but it seems that your statement is wrong : according to one of the manufacturer of ceramic blades I met, these are designed to be trigger metal detectors (understandably he didn't tell me how, maybe they add some metallic particles in the ceramic, or the handle ?…)
To my taste it is better like that : I don't see the point of sneaking something that could be used as a weapon in a plane these days …

Remember, the intent here isn't to hurt anyone.  It's about the convenience of not having to put your multi-tool into checked luggage.

H3xx (author)mondaymonkey2009-10-13

Actually, ceramic blade makers put enough iron shavings into the clay to set off airport metal detectors. short of making one yourself, you'll be hard pressed to get passed security with one.

daniboi1977 (author)2007-11-05

Are you serious? While the Instructable is definitely useful and informative, I question it's appropriateness. The regulations on what can and cannot go on an airplane are put in place as safety measures, not as inconvenience. If safety is an inconvenience to you, then I recommend getting your own plane and and pilot's license, and not sacrificing the safety of the other passengers on commercial airlines.

trebuchet03 (author)daniboi19772007-11-08

You call it safety? It's all an illusion of safety ;) I mean, if those in power did nothing after someone used something in a dubious manner - they'd be out of a job :p Even better, all you've done is let someone else steal away your security - enough to think it's safe... While you're throwing away your water bottle and taking your shoes off -- I'll show the TSA my box of potentially dubious screw drivers that are permitted as carry ons.... I'll also bring my less than 4 inch sharp metal pointy scissors, corkscrew, cigar cutter, aerosol can + my lighter, etc. Because, for your safety, these items are acceptable for carry on. Hell, with the tools I brought on board + my laptop battery... I'm sure I could recreate the fire explosion battery scenario dell/sony was dealing with awhile ago... As far as inconvenience goes.. Tell that to the TSA and look at the history of banned common lighters... They aren't banned anymore because it was an inconvenience to the TSA :p As I've said for a long time... If someone has truly made up their mind to cause damage - they're going to do it. AND, they're going to do it VIA legal channels, using the permitted items list.

Derin (author)trebuchet032009-08-30

Also,it would be relatively easy to put a bomb in a laptop shell and smuggle it aboard.Just that shows how damage can easily and stealthily be done.

bettbee (author)Derin2009-09-11

Derin, They make you turn on your laptop. Also they x-ray it and, I assume, have some training in what a bomb looks like vs. what laptop innards look like.

H3xx (author)bettbee2009-10-13

What if you pack the battery with c-4 and disconnect the terminals, then you tell them the battery is dead and you forgot to charge it. then you pull the wall charger out, plug it in, it works fine and they send you on your way? Then you just slip the battery into your pocket, casually walk into the bathroom, pull the smoke detector off and plug the leads into the C-4 and bye bye birdie!

Cammer (author)H3xx2009-12-06

 Except that the chemical sniffers that you have to pass through are calibrated for C-4 and just about any other noxious substance they can think of.

cirano (author)trebuchet032008-12-03

Hear! Hear!

SuperJesus (author)trebuchet032008-07-07


i totally agree with you there. stick it to him. tell him off! nice reasearch you did there.

Wolf Seril (author)daniboi19772008-07-11

Dude I can make a knife out of a soda can. What are those things they give you 20 minutes into a flight? Soda? Hmmm... Safety is an illusion, put there to ease the minds of travelers.

H3xx (author)Wolf Seril2009-10-13

And if you fly first class, don't worry because they're going to bring you a KNIFE AND FORK!!!!

But for me they have never just given me the can. They just give you a cup with soda in it.

Try asking for the ice separate. It doesn't always work though.

Oh true. That could work. they probably dont give you the can just for that reason that you could make a knife with it.

Marojale (author)daniboi19772007-11-05

Would you say the same thing about an Instructable on Karate or hand to hand combat of some style? They can easily sneak themselves onto a plane, and if their fists are dangerous weapons... I hardly think that this Instructable is going to turn the tide for some terrorist organization. This thing looks about as dangerous as an actual key. My one complaint is that this seems like an advertisement...

Kiteman (author)Marojale2007-11-05

These "keys" are all over the place on the web - I think this is more a "hint and tip with potentially dubious appropriateness" than an actual advert. It didn't make me want to buy one - I already wanted one.

T3h_Muffinator (author)Kiteman2007-11-05

I second that motion, and I'll add my own!

*doo doo doo... doo doo do do doo....* (The tango)

bettbee (author)T3h_Muffinator2009-09-11

Heh you made me sing the tango music to check your rhythym :-)

chilbert007 (author)daniboi19772008-07-11

I personally believe that the regulations prevent people from protecting themselves by enabling the terrorists to have weapons. They will still get their weapons on the plane, you won't be able to protect yourself, but they can hi-jack your plane.

mrmath (author)2007-11-05

As a fellow frequent traveler, I have to say thank you for letting the terrorists know how to get a knife on the plane that I'll be flying. I've heard of people getting arrested for trying to sneak a knife through security. Not a risk I'll be taking any time soon.

chuckr44 (author)mrmath2007-11-05

I want to say this from the perspective of a person who is not formally trained in martial arts: I'd rather go down fighting someone with a utilikey knife or razor sharp box cutter than do nothing at all. So I do not think this is inappropriate. If 4 guys with utilikeys hijacked a plane, I'll take the first 3 and I'll leave the last one for someone else as a courtesy. GO USA! Thank you for the instructable.

H3xx (author)chuckr442009-10-13

HEAR HEAR!!  As a 245lbs guy with 18% body fat, I'll hold him while you kick em' the face!!!

mrmath (author)chuckr442007-11-05

I'm also formally trained (turned down the opportunity to take my green belt in Isshin-Ryu before the money ran out), and would stand up to anyone with one of these. That's not the point. You and I won't always be on the plane, and we all saw what happened with box cutters and knives.

Eye Poker (author)mrmath2007-11-05

A ball point pen is far more lethal than that thing.

jdtwelve12 (author)Eye Poker2008-10-22

"Mightier than the sword" is the preferred phrase, I think. :)

cjsmith (author)jdtwelve122008-11-11


RTourn (author)Eye Poker2007-11-09

Well said.

themasterpyro (author)mrmath2007-11-09

know what you should do if ur the pilot and they try taking over the plane? tell them F you kill them all while i land at the nearest airport where a SWAT team will be waiting to shoot your ass hollow

trebuchet03 (author)mrmath2007-11-08

If it's any condolence... By complete accident, a pocket knife stowed away in my backpack in a pocket I never use.... And that had to go through international customs and the "random selection." It would have been a pity to lose it too, I had that knife since I was in Boy Scouts :p I didn't even notice it was in my pack until after I returned home :p

XHorntail (author)mrmath2007-11-05

Seriously? You think they search the internet for ways to get a knife on a plane? It isn't that hard to be harmful on a plane. Hell, a broken CD can probably do more damage than this thing. Combine it with some ducttape from a wallet, and you've got a nice little prison shank. Believe me, terrorists have other things to do than google "Bypass TSA knife." Messyface, It's a good tip, you should include a link to buy it online though, otherwise it feels too much like just a forum post.

Tobita (author)2008-02-26

i wonder what the OTHER passengers thought when you brought your camera to the washroom;)

jamesccostello (author)Tobita2009-08-23

dang, I was going to say that.

thinker (author)Tobita2008-08-10


vectorwolf (author)2008-07-28

Unless you hold meetings IN the plane you really have no need to have to smuggle a multitool on board.

Messyface (author)vectorwolf2008-07-28

I recently traveled to Uganda and my luggage including all of my tools didn't arrive for 3 days. I was glad I had this.

Fieldownage (author)Messyface2009-06-20

Just buy a multitool, remove the parts and attach them to your key chain and pray for succesfull security check. Could work.

PastTheVoid (author)2009-06-19

I would totally use this, cuz I'm slick.'

Pkranger88 (author)2007-11-06

I own one of these keys and find them useless in most situations. As an engineer I have a SOG multitool that I absolutely love. According to the TSATSA, you are allowed to bring multitools. I have had no trouble with my full-size multitool, even with the knife left in. I do however, typically remove the knives from the tool in order to pass security.

This is not an instructable. And speaking of tools, as an engineer, what are you actually fixing on the road, because I would find it very humorous to see what you're trying to fix with that.

ph33lix (author)Pkranger882009-05-02

Maybe it's good for "fixing" a flight attendant's bra-strap?

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