This is a question that many sword collectors and martial arts practitioners ask.
Given the increased restrictions on air travel, some people assume that swords are prohibited on airplanes.
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reports that roughly 1.73 million people fly domestically in the United States every day. While flying is statistically safer than driving, and arguably more convenient, it still has its drawbacks. One such drawback is restrictions on luggage and personal items, including swords. So, can you fly with a sword?
YES, You Can Fly with a Sword
The good news is that you can still fly with your sword. As explained on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website, swords are prohibited from carry-on luggage but not "checked" luggage. Swords, including katanas, rapiers, fencing foils, etc. must be checked at the gate, and they must be packaged properly to protect inspectors from injury.
Checked luggage basically means the luggage is held in the aircraft's storage hold where it's inaccessible to passengers. In comparison, "carry-on" luggage is held by the passenger and stored in the above-seat compartments. Different airlines have different policies regarding checked luggage, with most airlines charging extra for it. So if you plan on flying with your sword, contact your respective airline company ahead of time to inquire about checked luggage fees.
An alternative to traveling via commercial flight with your sword is to ship it. If you're traveling to a relative's house across the country, for instance, perhaps you can ship your sword instead of flying with it. Depending on the airline's checked luggage policy, this could actually save you money while allowing you to track your sword while it's being transported.
Whether you transport it via commercial flight as checked luggage or ship it using USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc., it's a good idea to purchase insurance. As the saying goes, " hope for the best but prepare for the worst," holds true in this instance. Hopefully, your sword arrives at its intended destination unscathed, but if it's damaged in transit, you want some type of financial protection like insurance.
You'll need to check with the respective parcel company or airline company to learn more about insurance. They may offer limited protection at no additional charge -- but only up to a certain dollar amount. You can purchase something called "excess value" insurance, however, which lives up to its namesake by offering financial protection greater than the default amount provided by the company.