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Thread: Flying With Equipment

  1. #1
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    Flying With Equipment

    There's a decent amount of info on the internet about how to travel with your hood, i.e. how to package it safely for transport, but with the number of small machines available today I haven't seen hardly any posts regarding how to effectively (and conveniently!) transport these newer "portable" machines. Now, to be fair, I don't think manufacturers design welders to be ferried around on commercial airliners, but it just so happens that the Dynasty 200DX barely squeaks by all the luggage sizing/weight requirements for the airlines I typically fly. I live in Seattle and have something to weld down in Sacramento in about a week, so I went down to the airport to ask all the right people the right questions [hopefully]. This next bit is basically just a rant on TSA, skip to the bold part to bypass my sarcastic anecdote.

    The folks at the Alaska counter all looked pretty confused when I plopped it on the counter, but they said no problem for carry on so I went down to the TSA checkpoint to run it by them. The first guy, who was pretty young and new-looking, said "oh yeah, you're probably fine, I mean I honestly can't say for sure but I see stuff like this go through all the time." I fly somewhat frequently (once or twice a month) and never see anything remotely similar, so I asked him if his supervisor could take a look, and he said he didn't know where his supervisors were but assured me I would have no problems. At this point I was just overwhelmed by confidence, but I figured I would go to another checkpoint to play find-your-supervisor. The lady there seemed equally new, so she called someone else over (not sure if he was a higher-up or had just been there longer, or maybe just a second opinion). The guy who came over at least recognized it as an arc welder, so I figured "cool, maybe he realizes it's basically a paperweight when it's not plugged in." After some head-scratching he reluctantly speculated that it's over 7" and it's a tool, so no flying for me. He really didn't seem to sure of that either. I'm not trying to disrespect to the TSA folks I talked to, as I'm sure they had no idea what I was carrying (except for that last guy, sort of... maybe), but I kind of figured they would have known how to get in touch with a supervisor, or someone who had a firm grasp on what rules they were supposed to be enforcing. In my own research, both the airline websites and TSA website have no exclusions on electronics whatsoever. If I had no idea what this thing was, I would figure it's something electronic at first glance, so I'm sort of equating the rules governing it to other electronics or CPUs, and there are no TSA rules that I can find explicitly for electronics. The TSA website does have a tab specifically for tools, but it's all about hand-tools and engine-driven tools (bummer, no trailblazers in your carry-on). Pretty much the only key points are nothing over 7" and nothing with an engine.

    To summarize, TSA doesn't seem too sure of their own rules, and their own rules don't seem to exclude bringing a Dynasty 200DX power supply as carry-on (no leads, no gas bottles, just the box), so if it's not on the exclusion list I interpret that as a big ol' OK. I'm gonna go ahead and try in about a week when I fly. I'll be leaving myself plenty of extra time and I'll let you all know how it goes. I'm expecting to have to talk to the spooks in the back room, but hopefully I won't encounter Mr. Rubber Glove, and hopefully my welder doesn't disappear.


    Has anyone had any experience, positive or negative, trying to bring equipment on a plane as carry-on? Checked baggage? (I check hand tools and grinders and stuff all the time with no problem) Does anybody out there regularly transport machines long distances by, say, UPS/FedEx, or maybe a freight liner like Reddaway?

  2. #2
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    Re: Flying With Equipment

    Good luck with that. I know a guy who checked a Lincoln 140 amp range mig welder to Hawaii with no issues. He did a railing job for a friend then sold it to a pawn shop before he returned.
    He had it inside one of those larger roller suit cases and packed clothes around it.

    Dan D.
    Manipulator Of Metal

  3. #3
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    Re: Flying With Equipment

    TSA = total stupidity agency.....these idiots would let you go through if you told them it was a bomb and your going to the middle east....ask 10 different agents and get 10 different answers...good luck.....
    Of all the things I lost I miss my mind the most...
    I know just enough about everything to be dangerous......
    You cant cure stupid..only kill it...

  4. #4
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    Re: Flying With Equipment

    Nate0520, TSA turned me around at the security check flying back to Seattle from Oahu a few years back for having a 6"x6" chunk of metal with laser clad weld bead samples on it. I had my DoD security ID, a letter from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center explaining the pupose of the sample and it's level of security, and that it must remain at all times in my posession during travel. They still wouldn't let me board. The craziest part of the story is that I flew from Seattle to Oahu with the same sample in hand and TSA there had no problems with it! They are all over the map. I ended up spending 2 more days there and having to arrange a Confidential shipment back to the States. It was a nightmare.

    If you're flying Ak Air, I would recommend sending the unit a couple of days earlier via their lite freight and then pick it up when you arrive. Those guys are familiar with tools of the trade and I've shipped tons of stuff via them back and forth to Alaska. Never had a problem or anything damaged. It will cost you more but likely worth the expense knowing it will be there when you are.

    I guess the other option is looking into a rental unit down there. A lot of companies will deliver to the jobsite... but now you're looking at $$.

    I wouldn't count on TSA no matter what. Good luck with your trip.

  5. #5
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    Re: Flying With Equipment

    Only once but created a lot of excitement when someone spotted my tungsten holder. Lots of calling supervisors, questioning and then swab test.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Flying With Equipment

    I send photo equipment on planes all the time.

    Looks about the same as a Dynasty and has about the same amount of electronics inside.

    All carry on equipment gets a side eye. Checked luggage and you'll be fine. The TSA Website allows for it in checked baggage.



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  7. #7
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    Re: Flying With Equipment

    Name:  12188093_10205335093353665_8093342274540970222_o.jpg
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Size:  58.8 KBOne of my clients on a trip.
    Ed Conley
    http://www.screamingbroccoli.com/
    MM252
    MM211 (Sold)
    Passport Plus & Spool gun
    Lincoln SP135 Plus- (Gone to a good home)
    Klutch 120v Plasma cutter
    SO 2020 bender
    Beer in the fridge

  8. #8
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    Re: Flying With Equipment

    Darn Pelican cases almost max out the weight limits empty. They are the best thing to pack sensitive stuff in though.
    .



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  9. #9
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    Re: Flying With Equipment

    Thanks for the replies, everyone.

    Seanda, a couple months ago I had a big custom joist hanger I made up one night and had to fly out to install the next morning. The thing was 3 pieces of 1/4" plate, and just barely fit in the biggest piece of luggage Goodwill happened to have. In the queue, I could see it was just a solid black box on the xray machine, but they didn't bother to rescan it or open it or even ask who it belonged to (and I had been up all night and didn't bother changing, so I looked kind of sketchy without the heavy bulging bag). Didn't give me the greatest feeling about security.

    ...but hey, I guess that means I passed xray inspection! :D

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