Can You Take a Laser Pointer on a Plane?
Laser pointers are fun, useful, and can make your next presentation run much smoother. However, when it comes to transporting it from one destination to the next, you may be faced with a problem.
Airplanes have strict regulations enforced by the TSA and the airline you choose to fly with. While each airline has their own rules and regulations for what you can bring on their plane, you’ll have to be up to date on the current prohibited items. So, can you take a laser pointer on a plane?
What Is a Laser Pointer?
A laser pointer is a handheld device that sends a beam of concentrated monochromatic light to a specific area. Depending on when the device was created, there will be a specific type of powered light emitted by the laser pointer.
Typically, you’ll find IR-pumped frequency pointers, which use a substance called diode-pumped states. These generate your common types of laser pointers and emit colored light in either red, green, blue, or purple hues.
What Are They Used For?
Most people enjoy pointing the laser around the room and either point it in a person’s general direction or use it to tease their pets playfully. However, laser pointers were designed to be used for presentations.
The durable LED light enhances presentations by bringing attention to specific words, diagrams, and statistics on the screen. Many laser pointers now come with extra features that include powerpoint support, connectivity to computers and programs, and work similarly to remote controls.
Can You Take a Laser Pointer On a Plane?
According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), you’re allowed to carry laser pointers in both checked-in and carry-on bags. However, as we’ve previously stated, the final decision will depend on which airline you’re flying with.
If a TSA or airlines member determines that the laser pointer will be a problem, then they can ask you to either check it into your checked bags or hold onto it until you’ve landed. In most cases, we see that flyers can safely take their pointers onto the airplane. However, if you or your child starts to use or play with it, then it will be taken away.
When Are They Dangerous?
There are a few risk factors when it comes to taking your laser pointer onto the plane. The first issue many staff members have is that a child or adult has taken the pointer out of their carry-on luggage and is misusing it during the flight.
Laser pointers are not only distracting, but they can also temporarily interrupt an individual's vision if pointed directly into their eye. It’s crucial to understand that laser pointers are not toys but a kind of tool. As such, they need to be used appropriately and responsibly.
Another issue is that most modern laser pointers connect to your laptop via Bluetooth or WiFi, which shouldn’t be used during a flight. While most airplanes allow you to use WiFi connections, it’s still best to avoid connecting any external devices.
Lastly, if the laser pointer is an older version, there may be some associated risks due to the power of the beam. Early laser pointers were powered by a helium-neon based gas, which ended up causing radiation at approximately 633 nanometers. To put that into perspective, it’s considered a class 2 laser, and if pointed at the eye, it can cause permanent eye damage.
If your laser pointer functions via a diode laser, then it’s safe for most consumer use. However, if your laser was created before 1997, then you should consider upgrading to a more reliable model.
How to Pack Laser Pointers
Checked bags are stored in the bottom compartment of the plane. When storing your laser pointer, you should place it into a protected case for electronics. The risk of the laser pointer getting damaged if not properly packed is high. You’re allowed to place your laser pointer into checked bags without any issues. It’s not against regulations, but you’ll have to make sure that it’s safely packed and won’t get damaged.
Carry-on bags are the type you bring onto the plane and either placed into the overhead compartment or below a seat. It’s not against regulations to carry a laser pointer into the aircraft, no matter what make or model it is. However, the final say is in the hands of whatever TSA is handling your bags.
The Final Verdict
Can you take a laser pointer on a plane? The answer is yes. But then again, just with anything else you take on the flight, you will need to take care of it properly and not cause a commotion.
While laser pointers may be fun to use when you’re bored sitting on the plane, they can be dangerous to the people around you. The last thing you want is to get in trouble with the flight attendant or air marshal. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the requirements of taking a laser pointer onto a plane.