My New Friend, Debbie

23 October 2008

It really does help pass the time on long flights if we knitters are allowed to get out our needles but life has been made very difficult for us over the past few years.  A lot of airlines now allow knitting on planes but the Australian Government still forbids needles and the British were also very strict on the subject.

However I heard on the grapevine recently (via Ravelry?) that the British now accept wooden needles.  Unfortunately I didn’t have a pair with me that I was willing to lose so just stuck to my plastic crochet hook (which has never caused any problems) on the British Airways flight from London to Tokyo.  On board, a couple of the crew commented on what I was doing and I explained that I’d prefer to knit but couldn’t because of the restrictions.  They told me that they’d just completed their periodical refresher training and the subject of knitting was included.  According to them, BA now allows unrestricted use of knitting needles on planes and as Terminal 5 of Heathrow is allocated to BA only, we should have no problem bringing needles on board.

Feeling rather buoyed up by that, I decided to risk it with Qantas so in Japan I bought a totally plastic Clover circular needle.  I declared it at the airport and was waved through but on board a member of the crew told me that I had to stop knitting as it was a “dangerous implement”.  The Chief Steward was called.  Debbie took one look at this 30cm very bendy plastic needle and told me that they had a lot of implements on board that were far more dangerous than that.  She also told me that she knitted a bit herself and came from a large knitting family.  She’d inform the Captain that she’d given me permission and make sure all her staff knew that I wasn’t to be disturbed.

I pointed out, incidentally, that every passenger on board had been given a perfectly adequate set of knitting needles with their dinner and showed her the couple of inches I’d already knitted on the chopsticks.

By the time I reached Sydney, a small child in Afghanistan had a new hat.

Thank you, Debbie.



  1. onya, grrrrl! 🙂

  2. Yay for Debbie – three hearty cheers!

    Chopsticks but no knitting needles? Are they totally insane? Especially as Japanese chopsticks have pointy ends unlike the Chinese blunt ones!

  3. During the Qantas flights to and from Tokyo we were on earlier this year, those bamboo chopsticks were like salt in the wound for me every time they handed me another pair — especially as they were almost identical in composition, width and length to the pair of needles I would have been using on the knitting project I would like to have been working on during those flights, but was specifically prohibited from bringing on board due to the conditions listed on the ticket.


  4. That’s an amazing story! I’m so glad that fellow knitters realize how non-violent these things are to us! I actually just got off the phone with my airline to double check that it was OK that I have my needles on the flight from Milwaukee to Seattle this Christmas. Should be a great scarf-making flight!

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