Will my checked luggage freeze in the airplane?
I'm taking some freeze-sensitive items in a checked luggage for a short flight. It's cheese, chocolate, toothpaste and wine. I would like to know whether the luggage can get "frozen" in the aircraft. Sometimes it happened to me that my stuff actually was quite cold after the flight, so I'd like to be quite sure. Especially the cheese was really expensive and freezing it would very likely demage it.
Usually I pack everything well in clothes, but this time the things are just too many so it's tough to do more than just protect the wine from breaking.
Some details: It's an A320 flight taking 1.5 hours, with Czech Airlines, from Paris CDG to Prague PRG.
On a short haul flight like that, I'd have thought your biggest weather risks were on luggage carts between the terminal and the plane, rather than in the hold. May depend more therefore on the weather at both ends, and the promptness of baggage handling...
@Gagravarr Well, the whether forecast is around 0C in both places, quite ok. However, it's -50C outside the plane for cca 50 minutes which is crucial. Is the luggage part of the aircraft heated to the same temp as the cabin?
On an aircraft like one you're on, it's interesting to realise that the cargo hold is actually pressurised, just like the cabin. (The floor between the two is not a pressure bulkhead, so needs to be roughly the same or it could collapse from the pressure.
However, as you've observed, the temperature is often cold as while the cabin is warmed, the cargo hold usually is not.
From a similar plane (767) and written by a A320 pilot:
Conditioned air is directed from the cabin, so the air tends to be a little cooler by the time it reaches the cargo areas, which are also less insulated than the cabin. Cargo temperatures vary in our fleet. The Boeing 767 maintains its baggage hold above 7˚C, but the bulk area (where animals are carried) can be heated above 18˚C. Controlled temperature cargo bins are also available when temperature-sensitive goods are being shipped.
So your wine is unlikely to freeze if it only gets down to 7 degrees, but it's worth noting that in some exceptional cases (close to the outside, no insulation, extreme temperatures outside) it may cause some freezing. Your best bet is to insulate it with some jackets or similar, like you've suggested you will do. Odds are, it'll be fine.
Thanks Mark! If my stuff survives, I'll accept the answer. If not, I'll call you names :D _/sarcasm_
@tohecz haha, I'm using you as the guinea pig. My flight is tomorrow night, please let us know by then? ;)
But honestly, I've taken wine in the hold before, and had no problems. So good luck!]
Well, everything seem to have survived. The suitcase was quite cold on touch, but its stomach was fine :)
You might like to consider some insulated packaging, such as a small esky. This would give better thermal protection, as well as protecting your goods from vibration and drop shock if that matters to you. It also protects the rest of your items from damage if the foods leaks or bursts.
Luckily, your wine will not freeze even at 0°C. Your bottle at 13.5% will only freeze somewhere at -7°C (http://www.grapevinecottage.com/wine/wa-articles/wa-HowColdisTooCold.html). We usually keep white wine bottles outside in the snow during winter.