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I own and carry a Swiss Tech Utili-Key 6-n-1 Multitool:

Swiss Tech Utili-Key 6-n-1 Multitool

I love it and carry it with me everywhere. My concern is: Would it be officially allowed in cabin (inside Schengen)? If not, what are the possible consequences of carrying it with me?

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    Consequences are easy: unless you use it in-flight and get caught by a staff member, the only moment it might be detected is when you cross security checks. At which point the officer might simply decide that it's too dangerous to be boarded and will toss it in the bin for you. – JoErNanO Nov 12 '14 at 11:47
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    I think you mean "prosecuted". :) Can it be considered a knife/weapon? Moreover weapon laws are country-dependent. I doubt you would be prosecuted, I have always seen people's sharp objects end up in the bin, and that's it. – JoErNanO Nov 12 '14 at 11:52
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    Anecdotally I ahve one of these and have taken it through airport security accidentally (I didn't even think about it). I now leave it at home when going on holiday to be on the safe side. – Chris Nov 12 '14 at 14:23
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    @Chris: I beginning to suspect that this happens to every owner of this thing. I came here to write that I accidentally took one of those things through security unnoticed only to find that I am the third person to do this. – Wrzlprmft Nov 12 '14 at 18:23
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    Cannot comment on the legality but I bought this years ago specifically to carry it through airport security unchallenged and have done this successfully since, having flown many times between the UK and Germany but also e.g. to Croatia, Ivory Coast and Canada. – thomanski Nov 14 '14 at 10:58
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The rules about knives through airport security vary from country to country. Generally, they all include "a blade over x cm in length". While x may vary, your blade looks to be at most 4 cm or 1.5". So if the rule is a blade over 5cm/2" is not allowed, you'll be fine. I think that is the rule most places, and there was talk of raising it to 7cm in the US last year, though I didn't notice whether it went through or not. I don't know of anywhere that has a 1" or 3cm rule. One example: in Zurich the rule is 6 cm.

There is also the matter that keys are unlikely to be inspected for blades. I wouldn't rely on this if your blade was illegal, but if it doesn't occur to them to look at your keychain, you won't have the delay of waiting while someone opens the knife, measures the blade, gets a supervisor to rule about the length etc.

If you try to take something through security that isn't allowed, the worst thing that happens is they confiscate it. Sometimes they have envelopes to let you mail it to yourself or donate it to a local charity. You won't run any risk beyond losing the item. If it's important to you (people have cried telling me about confiscated items that were a gift from a parent when they were young, for example) don't take it with you. Even though you feel it meets the rules you may run into someone who disagrees - and the traveller doesn't win those arguments.

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    Good to point out that the traveller doesn't win those arguments. I always wonder if those x cm rules are actually enforced. Being always in doubt, I never carry-on my sharps. – JoErNanO Nov 12 '14 at 13:15
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    Kate, The rule in the U.S. was passed and then rescinded when the flight attendant unions complained. For the U.S., the current rule is any knife over 0 cm is banned. :( – reirab Nov 12 '14 at 14:43
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    @reirab But scrissors are allowed up to 4 inches. Ridiculous. (btw, the utili-key opens like scissors; can I claim it's scissors? :D ) – yo' Nov 12 '14 at 15:16
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    Ridiculous indeed, especially since scissors essentially consist of two knives connected to each other by a hinge. The U.S. federal government: Failing to make sense since at least 1933. If you do try the scissors claim, post back how it goes. - haha – reirab Nov 12 '14 at 15:42
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    @DavidRicherby Elephants are a no-no on flights. (1) they are animals, (2) they are overweight :D – yo' Nov 12 '14 at 17:10
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In practice (as opposed to "officially")...

I carry one of these on my keychain, with 6 or 7 other keys. I've flown US domestic flights with it about half a dozen times and never had a problem.

I gave one to all my coworkers for Christmas a few years back. One of these coworkers is a Muslim woman who wears a hijab. She flies a lot, and ALWAYS gets selected for "random" extended screening. At least once, she accidentally left the Keytool on her keychain and got through security with it.

Anecdotal, surely, but I think telling. The thing is just not very noticeable.

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    as I re-read my answer I find it amusing that I (atheist) gave my Muslim coworker a Christmas present. – Dan Pritts Nov 13 '14 at 17:51
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Most airports in "Schengen" follow all of

  1. the EU guidelines
  2. the IATA guidelines
  3. their own rules which they change every week (or while you are being controlled, or which the security guy makes up any way he feels)

... whichever is the most restrictive. The Frankfurt airport makes the first two available online in concise form, although only in German: [1] [2]

[1] is taken from EU185-2010, which contains another 50 or so pages of rules, such as you have to legitimate yourself with a boarding card and passport, or how your hand luggage must be searched, and what amounts of liquids and aerosols you may take with you (there's also EU 300-2008, but that one is pretty irrelevant from the PoV of a traveller).
Regarding your tool key, it mentions "sharp or pointed items such as [...] razor blades, cutters, [...] knives or sciccors over 6cm, martial arts instruments with a point or edge". Of course razor blades are more like 3cm, not 6cm, so it's a bit moot. It also mentions "tools which might cause severe injuries or be a hazard to aviation", giving drills, saws, and blades as example (among others).

[2] Does not seem to contain anything about weapons or weapon-like items other than tasers and ammunition. Funnily, it disallows tasers and other "incapacitating items" (quite obviously) but explicitly allows carrying a defibrillator. It also forbids lithium batteries over 100Wh, but that's usually not a problem since your laptop will have only about half as much.

Your tool might easily be seen as 6cm knife, or "sharp" or "pointed" item in general, or as a kind of kubotan (= pointed martial arts instrument). It might also qualify as "saw" or "tool blade". Insofar I wouldn't risk taking it with you, security personnel isn't well-paid, and they might want a tool key for free.

You probably do not need to fear prosecution, though. EU 185/2010 very clearly states that if something is detected, you are either denied passage to the "fly side", or the item will be confiscated and you must undergo a new examination until the examiner is satisfied. I'm not a lawyer, but from this very explicit wording (and the absence of mentioning penalties) I'd guess it is quite clear.

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In the US, certain "tools" are not allowed on planes any more than "knives". I had left a small Torx wrench in my pocket once - like an Allen key but with a star shaped head, about 8 cm long. It was confiscated as a "tool" (I guess they thought I would unscrew the cockpit door with it). But that was about 10 years ago.

These days, the TSA prohibits any tools over 7 inches (17.5 cm) length in carry-on, as well as any sharp objects, with the the following exceptions:

In general, you are prohibited from traveling with sharp objects in your carry-on baggage; please pack these items in your checked baggage. Scissors with blades smaller than 4 inches, small needles carried for special medical needs, and other sharp objects that do not contain a blade may be placed in carry-on baggage. Any sharp objects placed in carry-on or checked baggage should be properly sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to TSOs and baggage handlers.

Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns. The final decision rests with TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane.

Handy link: TSA's can-I-bring page

  • Note that the OP is asking about the Schengen region, not the US. – Mark Mayo Nov 12 '14 at 23:19
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    @MarkMayo Still, this is good to know. – yo' Nov 13 '14 at 0:00
  • I have noticed that when the rules change, they usually follow the other half of the world, so what is rule in the USA now might be rule in the EU next, and the other way around. – Willeke Apr 20 '15 at 13:00
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In March 2015, I accidentally left it on my keychain while going through security in a U.S. Airport. The TSA agent noticed my keychain in the bin and asked about the Swiss tech key chain tool. After he examined it he declared it a blade and tossed it in the bin, never to been seen by me again. My advice, leave it home.

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I'm a airline pilot and I carry it with me all the time, just recently security took mine. Guess you can't trust us with your lives either...

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