Here’s your guide on flying with your football if you’ve ever thought about it.

Airplane & Football

Photo: Makeev Petr/Shutterstock

When it comes to packing for a flight, passengers are typically more aware of regulations surrounding liquids, medical equipment, and even their pets. But when it boils down to packing for the less common items, such as a football, the clarity on regulations gets blurry. Fret not, because here’s your guide on flying with your football if you ever thought about it.

To address the elephant in the room, you might wonder if you can even fly with a football to and from the US on domestic and international flights, and the answer is yes. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) dictates that footballs, soccer balls, basketballs, and baseballs are allowed all carry-on and checked baggage.

That’s right, you don’t have to be part of any football or sports team to be entitled to carry your beloved balls overseas. However, the final decision on if your football is allowed through the security checkpoint still depends entirely on the TSA agent handling you. This means that even though flying with footballs is permitted, how you pack and prepare your football could be the deciding factor for the TSA agents to reject you.

TSA Security Screening for Balls

Photo: Transportation Security Administration 

The TSA requires passengers to ensure that their footballs are mostly deflated or entirely deflated when packed into their baggage, and this isn’t just about space or weight concerns. When flying, atmospheric pressure reduces as the altitude increases, and the aircraft cabin gets depressurized. However, the difference in air pressure will cause the air trapped inside an inflated football to expand, and the football will pop.

Without wanting any balls to pop and scare passengers, footballs must be mostly deflated with just a tiny bit of air left inside or entirely deflated before being allowed onboard the aircraft. And yes, this does translate to how passengers should bring along an air pump to re-inflate their footballs after landing at their final destination.

TSA searching luggage

Photo: Carolina K. Smith MD | Shutterstock

Is it best packed in carry-ons or checked-in?

Now that you know it’s vital for the football to be mostly deflated or entirely deflated and how you’ll need to carry an air pump, you’ll wonder if it’s best to pack it in your carry-on or checked baggage. Such an answer typically varies between airlines, with some preferring that passengers check the football in, while others are flexible with either option.

Carriers such as JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, American Airlines, Lufthansa, and United Airlines highlight that either is fine but would advise passengers to double-check with the check-in agents if checking in deflated footballs for their particular flight is alright. Then there are carriers like Emirates that state how footballs need to be checked in.

In summary, you can fly with your footballs in and out of the US for all domestic and international flights. Other than ensuring that your balls are deflated with minimum to no air, it’d be best to double-check with the airline you’re flying with and understand if storing the balls in your carry-on or checked baggage is preferred.


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