Flying with corkscrews has become an Adventure in the years since 9/11. Those of us who carry on luggage and drink wine from bottles with corks have left more corkscrews in hotel rooms than Gideons have left Bibles. But TSA carry on regulations are evolving. It’s now possible to carry on corkscrews if you have the right type.
In the photo below are two popular corkscrews. One is legal in carry on luggage and the other isn’t. The top corkscrew is a wine club gift from the nice people at Goosecross Cellars in Napa Valley. Below it is a standard four inch sommelier (aka wine key or waiter’s corkscrew) that I often carry just in case I need it for an impromptu cork pulling or an emergency tracheotomy, whichever seems most urgent at the time.
The corkscrews have nearly-identical worms (pigtail that screws into the cork). The black plastic handle is wider than the metal handle with wood inlay. Each has a standard notched arm that locks onto the lip of the wine bottle to provide leverage during cork extraction. The primary physical difference between them is the foil cutter.
Below we see the same corkscrews with their foil cutter exposed. The cutter on top is a classic four wheel type. Pull open the cutter, insert the top of the wine bottle, pinch the two sides tightly against the bottle, and rotate the corkscrew. The four little silver wheels have sharp edges that cut the foil easily. The cutter on the bottom is a simple 1.5″ slightly curved blade with tiny serrations along the cutting edge.
Apparently, the 2.5″ worm on both corkscrews is fine to bring aboard a plane, but the 1.5″ blade on the bottom corkscrew makes it ineligible. While flying during the last Christmas holiday, I saw a passenger pulled aside for additional security screening when the X-ray machine revealed a corkscrew in his backpack. The TSA agent confirmed that the corkscrew was identical to the black plastic model above. The passenger kept the corkscrew and was sent on his way. When I asked the TSA agent for clarification of current corkscrew rules, he explained that the sharp point on the worm is considered safe but foil cutter blades are not.
Having trouble finding a corkscrew with 4-wheel foil cutter like the one pictured above? Try the Black Boomerang Corkscrew with No Blade” Foil Cutter” by HomeAndWine.com.
Best of luck flying with your chosen (and hopefully allowable) corkscrew. Have you had a security screening corkscrew adventure? Please tell us about it in the comments below.
TSA agents have the final say on what meets regulations and what doesn’t when you go through airport screening, so don’t blame me if they take your blade-less corkscrew. As a precaution, check your bag or travel with a corkscrew that you don’t mind losing.