Let’s say you want to fix something for a friend who lives way out of town, or you need to do some maintenance while you’re away from your workbench. You might want to tuck an iFixit toolkit in your carry-on bag, whether the Pro Tech or Essential Electronics. They do fold up nicely, and they’re quite organized.
But then again, this is a small box full of things that prod, poke, screw, and pry. There’s even a small knife-looking thing called a Jimmy inside. Will an iFixit toolkit make it through an airport screening?
The answer is, generally, yes. But TSA agents are humans who have to work through a lot of interpretive rules, and security checkpoints are drastically different from airport to airport. Staffers at iFixit have had varying results, sometimes having to remove the Jimmy, especially flying internationally. And the TSA puts this line on every single page of their rules on what you can bring on a plane:
The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.
So if you want to be totally sure of avoiding any conversation with a TSA agent, put the Jimmy in your checked luggage, or remove it from the kit before you carry it on a plane.
We gave the Transportation Security Administration’s rules on what you can bring on-board a plane serious thought in designing and revising our toolkits over time. The kit contains screwdriver bits, not banned drill bits. All of our bit drivers are intentionally shorter than 7 inches. The Jimmy does not have a blade, and is not a knife, and its profile is essentially “round-bladed,” such as the TSA allows for plastic and butter knives.
We include the Jimmy in our toolkits because it is strong but thin. It’s best used for getting leverage on things that refuse to budge within a very tight space. Our teardown and repair engineers generally avoid recommending metal tools for regular work, because a little misplaced force with a metal tool can do real damage. While it can be handy for things like broken phone screens that refuse to budge, you can get by on most repairs or replacements with a combination of picks, plastic spudgers, a metal spudger, and going slow and steady with the pressure you apply.
If you really need something like the Jimmy for the job but don’t have one with you, a small, thin putty knife might work. Or a cheap, thin butter knife, which you could theoretically pack in your carry-on. Otherwise, you’re cleared to be a good friend or relative, or be prepared, by packing our Tool Kit when you fly.