Can You Wear Steel-Toe Work Boots On A Plane? (Here’s What TSA says)

Some of us have to work away. Sometimes over long distances. So traveling by car might be a problem.

For instance, my younger brother, who lives in Sydney Australia, is working in Melbourne at the moment. That’s at least a nine-hour drive on a good day. So he chooses to fly.

passagers wearing steel toe boots waiting to board an airplane

If you’re in a profession that requires that you wear steel-toe-capped boots, you might be wondering if you are allowed to fly with the boots. More specifically, if you can wear them on a plane.

The answer to that is yes. This article is going to explain the legalities and any problems that might arise.

Why would you want to wear steel-toed boots on a plane?

Steel toe-capped boots give the most protection to our toes compared to other alternatives. So they’re the preferred boot for a lot of people.

You might find that workers in the groundworks, oil rigs, steel works, or logger industries, among others, would find steel toe-capped boots the most practical. Some companies might even insist on their staff wearing them as part of the worker’s PPE.

You might not think so, but even airport staff would wear steel-toed boots. From transport staff to fuel workers, cleaners, airport security, and many more.

airports staff unloading an airplane must wear safety toe work boots to avoid injuries when moving traveler's heavy bags around

It doesn’t even have to be workers that wear these boots. Some people just like wearing them.

They might like them for outdoor activities, such as hiking or field trips. Or even something domestic like moving house.

If people want to fly to different work destinations, just like everyone else, they would have to pay a luggage charge. With the amount being determined by the weight of the luggage.

Having the work boots in their suitcases would add more weight. Therefore, incurring extra costs.

Work boots can often be quite heavy, especially the premium heavy-duty ones. Also, the steel toes are heavier than the composite toe or soft toe.

This is why people might choose to wear the boots on the plane, rather than having them in their luggage.

But some people have also been known to do it to break in new boots.

It’s quite practical, because there isn’t a massive amount of walking to do, and sitting on a plane is a relatively pain-free way of getting used to the new boots before using them properly at the destination.

It might not be as comfortable as wearing regular footwear. Particularly on long flights. But it would save money and luggage space.

You could always take the boots off during the flight, but other passengers might not appreciate that. Especially if you have smelly feet.

The main problem that would occur is that the metal in the boots would set off alarms while going through airport security.

What can be done about this?

TSA regulations on steel-toe boots

The TSA (Transport Security Administration) used to not allow steel-toed boots on flights. This was because the boots were deemed possible to use as a weapon.

You can imagine a hefty kick to vital areas of the body from one of these boots would be very painful.

This was especially strict when terrorism was at its peak. Quite rightly, anything that could have been used as a weapon was thoroughly screened and not permitted.

Luckily, now that the screening process and airport security have improved, this rule has been softened, meaning steel-toed boots can be worn on flights.

However, this doesn’t mean you’ll be able to waltz through check-in without being flagged up.

The metal in the boots will set off the metal detector scanners as you walk through, so advice from TSA is that you take them off before you walk through.

While in the queue, place them in the conveyor belt tray with other items that might need to go in there, like watches, belts, or handheld luggage.

You might see taking the boots off in the queue as time-consuming, and a bit of a nuisance, but you will have to take them off anyway once you’ve been flagged up.

Some travelers pay for a TSA PreCheck. This can improve the travel experience by getting you through checks quicker, because it is a screening program that makes risk assessments about passengers before they arrive at the airport.

The PreCheck gives benefits, like allowing passengers to not remove certain parts of metallic clothing during checks.

However, this does not mean you won’t have to remove your boots while being screened.

Regardless of if you have a first-class, business class, or economy class ticket, or are TSA Pre service approved, you will most likely have to take the steel-toed boots off when being scanned.

At the end of the day, the discretion will be held by the officer doing the checks. You might get lucky and catch one in a good mood.

Whatever region or country you’re traveling to, it would be worth researching the regulations for that area, so that you’re fully prepared.

Alternatives to wearing steel-toed boots on flights

If you don’t want the hassle of taking your steel-toed boots off through screening, there are other options.

First, it is permitted to pack those boots in your suitcase. This will however add a little more weight, therefore increasing the charge, but your suitcase won’t be ripped apart by airport security for having them in there.

when voarding a plane choose to wear composite toe instead of steel toed boots

If wearing steel-toed boots at your destination is not crucial, you could choose to wear composite-toe work boots.

Although tough, they won’t give quite as much protection as the steel, but they are lighter and won’t set off any metal detectors.

Another option is to go for soft-toe work boots. These won’t protect your toes from falling objects, but there are plenty of rugged soft-toe boots that people wear for heavy-duty stuff.

Pros and cons of wearing steel-toe boots on flights


  • Saves luggage space
  • Saves on luggage charge
  • A way to break new boots in


  • Will set off metal detectors
  • Might get uncomfortable during the flight
  • Might slow down check-in time

Last words on wearing your steel-toe boot on a plain

That wraps up this article. We hope you’ve found it useful and informative. 

Remember to check the regulations of the area you’re going to before you travel. And if you do travel with steel-toe boots, try not to kick other passengers. It’s very frowned upon. You don’t want to end up like Mike Tyson’s recent flight episode.

Also, you will probably want to give yourself plenty of time before check-in.

Running to catch the plane with steel-toed boots on might not be the quickest or most comfortable thing to do. As well as having to take them off through screening.

If you would like to ask any questions about the topic or to discuss any of your own experiences with this subject, you can do so either by leaving a comment below or joining the Work Boots sub on Reddit.

For now, happy traveling.

Team Members Working On This Page

Jimmy Webb – Writer And Researcher

Hey, Jimmy here. I’m one of the researchers and writers here at  I’ve been wearing work boots all my life working as a forklift driver, landscaper, groundworker, and now as a tower crane operator so I know a few things about footwear and footcare in general. I’m also working on my first novel. So writing IS my passion. When I’m not writing I love to spend time with my wife, two children, and furball.

Victor Adrian – Editor And Webmaster

Construction Professional, driver, crane operator, cleaner, head chef … these are just some of the jobs I did in the past. Working in all these different environments taught me that having good footwear to protect your feet from different dangers at work IS PARAMOUNT for any worker! On this website, I aim to share all my knowledge and personal experience in dealing with different footwear and foot care issues, and hopefully, you can get something out of it. Enjoy!