I'll be wearing it all the time anyway once I arrive at my hostile destination but how about wearing it during the flight? It makes sense to wear it in case someone try to hijack the plane.

  • 59
    Setting aside the borderline uselessness of a bulletproof vest on a hijacked airplane, I doubt you'll be able to go through airport security with it.
    – JoErNanO
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 7:38
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    I'm curious about your destination. I'm trying to think of where would require a bullet proof vest the whole time but is serviced by BA flights.
    – Chris
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 10:00
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    Flying into Birmingham? Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 10:46
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    If you attempt to board a plane with a bulletproof vest, I would assume that you are the hijacker, not that you are afraid of one.
    – David K
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 12:28
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    @user1298069 Since you believe that you should wear bulletproof clothing because of what you see in the movies, I believe the correct course of action would not be to wear a vest, but to seek professional medical help for possible paranoia-related issues.
    – Sanchises
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 12:50

3 Answers 3


Short answer: Yes, it appears you can, I wouldn't.

Longer answer. I certainly can't find anything that would prevent you from doing so, there's similar threads over on FlyerTalk and Yahoo! Answers where people come to the same conclusion. Additionally there's at least one case of it actually happening.

However, as noted it those threads and the comments, you're going to attract a lot of attention during security where you will have to remove it. Just having a vest may not be that unusual but actually wearing one through security is almost certainly going to get you pulled over for additional screening and questions.

If you opt to put it on after security or on the plane itself I can see a few problems. One, although I've never worn one, I can't imagine they're the most comfortable things to wear and that doesn't sound like a recipe for a pleasant flight. Secondly, if it's obvious it may concern other passengers and the airline would be within their rights to ask you not to wear it. Finally, I'm assuming these are reasonably bulky and it may actually cause you problems in an emergency situation, another reason the flight crew may ask you to remove it. I know we have a lot of airline staff that post here so maybe one of them can come along and say how they'd react.

You say:

It makes sense to wear it in case someone try to hijack the plane.

No, it really doesn't. The chance of a hijack attempt is astonishingly unlikely (and even less likely for hijackers to have firearms). Even if it did happen is a vest going to help much? Either the hijackers plan to land and ransom the plane, in which case it generally makes sense to not shoot the passengers. Or they plan to crash the plane in which case a vest is not going to help much. Or the shooting ruptures something causing the plane to depressurize and crash anyway.

And, in the extremely mindbogglingly unlikely case that someone starts shooting on a plane you'll most likely to be sitting down and your head will be more likely to be in the firing line ... unless you're planning to engage with the hijackers which is a bad idea and is probably just going to get you beaten up or worse.

Assuming this is a normal commercial flight then it will be as safe as any other until it lands and the passengers are off-loaded, otherwise it wouldn't be flying. If you're really worried about your destination I would choose to put on the vest after landing before leaving the airport but I can think of few places that this would be necessary that would also have normal flights still running to them.

Note, my advice might be different if your fear is based on a direct threat to you personally (i.e. because of who you are or what you do) rather than just a generically dangerous destination. But in that case you should probably be engaged with private security and asking them these questions.

  • 19
    If the hijackers want to ransom the plane, they might shoot passengers to demonstrate that they're serious. However, a bullet-proof vest does not protect from an execution at short range, which is usually performed by targeting the head.
    – Jonas
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 11:33
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    @Jonas: which might be a great reason to invest in a Kevlar balaclava. (And I swear to whoever's worth swearing to that I intended this as a joke until I looked it up...) Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 12:02
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    It's well-known that ransom-seeking hostage takers shoot in the torso and move on to the next hostage if that fails.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 13:06
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    @SpaceDog a guy with a bulletproof vest (if this was visible) would probably be the first one to be shot ;)
    – algiogia
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 15:27
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    If you think you might alarm people walking onto a plane with a bulletproof vest, I dare you to try it with the Kevlar balaclava ;) Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 20:02

Offically the answer seems to be yes. There's no mention of bullet proof vests (or any item of clothing) on the BA information page or restricted items document. Equally there's no mention in the Heathrow restricted items page.

However, I can see a great many practical problems that may be thrown in your way. Aside from the discomfort and inconvenience of wearing such a bulky item on a long flight, the following objections may be raised:

  1. You are likley to be asked to remove it at security so that they can check you are not concealing anything. It's possible it would also set off the metal detectors
  2. Cabin crew may require you to remove it for saftey reasons. For example, if the plane were to make an emergency landing on water, a bullet proof vest would see you sink pretty fast
  3. There's no good reason for you to wear such a thing on flights. The risk of hijacking is already very low. The risk that hijackers would shoot a random passenger in the chest is even lower. However, security officers may take wearing such equipment as a sign that you intend to start a gunfight on the aircraft or within the airport, and detain you on those grounds.
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    Small addition @ OP: The risk that hijackers would shoot a random passenger in the chest is even lower. Yes, and "if" they do, the vest alone won´t stop them from killing the passenger. Shooting multiple times and/or at other body parts is no problem if they have the time to kill passengers anyway.
    – deviantfan
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 9:53
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    But what if the plane crashes and there's a sniper waiting to shoot any survivors who aren't wearing bulletproof vests?!
    – Scimonster
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 19:25
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    @Scimonster a proper airline would line their route with anti-snipe snipers to shoot the snipers who would shoot the survivors. but if you're flying with el-cheapo, there's no telling what corners the bean counters will cut. Nevertheless I fly with a bulletproof vest just in case one of the anti-sniper snipers goes rouge.
    – emory
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 13:47

Can't see how security will have a problem with a purely defensive device, but there are other considerations. Specifically:

It is of zero value to you during the flight. Anyone attempting to hijack an aircraft today will be promptly beaten to death by the other passengers. In the exceptionally unlikely event that someone does get a gun onboard, and they decide to target you specifically, the vest won't protect you from the headshot from about a foot away.

You say "hostile destination". I assume you have considered not going? Since you do not appear to be at risk at the departure point there is no point in wearing the thing there. If you are an official target then they certainly won't try anything on the airplane for the above reasons plus the bad publicity and the mess. Far easier to arrest you at immigration and use proper facilities, which every government has access to.

Attacks at the destination airport are possible if you are going somewhere particularly nasty, like Somalia. But a large group will use rifles, probably AK-47s in full auto mode. Most vests are designed for pistol rounds, and only 1 or 2. A full magazine emptied in your direction will cause enough peripheral damage that you won't survive without prompt attention from a class-1 trauma center, and anyplace that lets strangers roam the airport with machine guns probably won't have one of those.

A professional sniper will use a high-powered round from a distance - you won't see it coming. Even if they hit the vest, and you bought a good one with ceramic plates, the hit will knock you down and the next 2-3 rounds will be at your head. A first-class pro will use something like a M-82, which has a range of about a kilometer and won't even notice the vest.

If you are simply concerned with non-targeted crossfire then a vest is a good idea. But there aren't all that many gunfights enroute, so just leave it in your checked baggage.

And finally, if you have valid concerns that someone wants to get you specifically badly enough that they will try to hijack an international flight, security will probably deny you boarding on the grounds that your very presence creates a risk to the flight and the other passengers.

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    +1 for the second paragraph. It always surprises me how many people still don't understand that 9/11 was a trick that could only work once, because we learned from it. Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 18:41
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    @MasonWheeler: You might want to take that claim over to skeptics.SE, the news today was announcing that TSA missed 95% of weapons and explosives in a pen-test.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 21:45
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    @BenVoigt: I don't mean the TSA; I mean we, the traveling public learned from it. A hijacker will never be able to take control of a plane again, because now we know what can happen if they do. Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 22:12
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    @DavidRicherby Doesn't matter how or why the target falls. They will be motionless long enough for a second / third shot. Very few people have enough presence of mind to recognize a bullet hit to a vest and immediately take off on a zig-zag evasion course. Those that do will not be asking questions here.
    – paul
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 23:12
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    As to the last paragraph, if he doesn't have valid concerns but still insists on wearing a bulletproof vest on an international flight "just in case", security would be perfectly justified to deny boarding on those same grounds because someone that spectacularly crazy might get up to anything. What if he suddenly in mid-flight decides that the "fasten seatbelts" sign is part of a conspiracy to keep him tied up while THEY come get him? Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 7:24

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