Can You Fly With Ratchet Straps? (SOLVED!)

Ratchet straps are a handy travel accessory to have for outdoor enthusiasts who need to carry large or bulky gear.

One of the most common questions asked on outdoor forums is, “Can you fly with ratchet straps?”

As a general guide, ratchet straps are not allowed to fly out in hand language. They can be checked in as part of travel luggage, however, ratchet straps are not allowed into the cabin as part of your hand luggage. The TSA considers ratchet straps a flight risk as they can be used to tie someone down. They can be used as a weapon, by choking or to inflict injuries.

Since 9-11, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has had rules set in place that prohibit specific items from being brought onto airplanes for security reasons and according to FAA regulations. For example fireworks, knives, and explosives are all prohibited. Ratchet straps fall under this rule as well.

The majority of the time, ratchet straps will not be allowed into your carry-on bag at security checkpoints. If you travel often enough with them and want to bring them along for a trip, you can remove the ratchet buckle and stow it in your checked luggage. The belt is usually well under the size of the allowed carry-on item, so security will allow the straps to be checked in. This is especially valuable if you’re traveling with bulky items that you need to secure during your flight.

Ratchet straps are valuable for outdoor activities like camping, climbing or hunting. Many times, ratchet straps are used as tie downs or restraints during these activities, which makes them a “flight risk” and can therefore cause problems when trying to travel.

As with most outdoor gear, you’ll need to decide for yourself whether or not it’s worth the hassle of traveling with ratchet straps.

Since ratchet straps are usually large and bulky, this will add more weight and volume than normal luggage. You might want to consider leaving them behind.

If you do decide to take your straps with you, it’s important that they be packed correctly and securely. Tape the ratchet buckles up tightly and place any loose ends into a netting bag (like those used for laundry). This will help prevent accidental opening or an incident at security checkpoints

Here’s some background information on ratchet straps and how they affect airline travel.

Ratchet straps are durable synthetic cam bands that can be used to secure items during transportation. Also known as cam straps or tie-down straps, the ratchet design allows for more adjustable tension compared with conventional nylon or polyester strapping material.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), ratchet straps are considered a “luggage restraint” and can be used by an individual as a weapon. They can be attached to a person and used to choke them, or used to inflict injuries on another person.

Therefore ratchet straps cannot be carried on an aircraft as part of the personal carry-on luggage. However, they can be checked in as part of your normal luggage allowance when flying with most airlines. If you try to take them onto the plane as personal items, they will most likely be confiscated during security checkpoint inspections.

TSA officers are trained to look for potential threats to aircraft security. Items like rope or belts with metal buckles could potentially fall into this category. Although ratchet straps are generally made from synthetic materials, TSA officials have no way of knowing that there is not a metal buckle hidden in the middle of the strap.

As much as ratchet straps can be useful for tying down luggage, which is considered a legitimate item when traveling by road, there is too much potential risk that the strap could be used as a weapon onboard an aircraft.

This is not something you want to risk when trying to board an airplane with your luggage. The same goes for wire cables, chains or any type of metal tie down strap. Avoid using them with the expectation that they will be allowed onboard.

Are ratchet straps DOT approved?

The department of transport does not approve ratchet straps or any other type of restraint. This is also the case for motorcycle belts, which are designed to be used as a safety tool for passengers transporting motorcycles and scooters.

If you are transporting rooftop cargo bags with ratchet straps, you should always check with the carrier first before attempting to transport these items in their rooftop bulk cargo luggage.

Some airlines will allow certain types of restraints onboard, like luggage straps. But they can not guarantee that these items will make it past security checkpoints and onto the plane with you. It’s best to call ahead and inquire about your specific airline policy before attempting to take any restraints on board with you.

It is often possible to purchase ratchet straps at outdoor or military supply stores without any problems, but if you really want to make sure they make it on board, you should order them directly from the web or travel with a different restraint like luggage straps.

As always, if you have any concerns about this information, please consult an aviation expert before trying to take ratchet straps onto an airplane as personal items.


Ratchet straps are a useful accessory to have for any outdoors enthusiast. They are used for securing heavy farm equipment, secure rooftop cargo bags in transit but also widely used for outdoor activities like climbing and many more. However, if you are flying out, you need to pack and ship ratchets separately as they are not allowed to get into the cabin as part of your hand luggage.

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