Flying with a desktop computer (as checked luggage)

  • On an upcoming trip, I will be taking a desktop computer and monitor as checked luggage (on a United/Continental flight). What should I be aware of when doing this? What needs to be done to properly protect all the components? Are there any airline policies I should be aware of?

    Buy a soft-shell suitcase and covered your PC with clothes is already ok. Same effect, lower cost, more remained weight(hard-shell suitcase are bulky)

    So at the end how was your experience i wanna travel with united and bring my desktop and monitor with me i think i will put the monitor on Checked baggage and bring the computer on a carry-on because it's an small one or maybe i disarm it if cant fit on the carry-on and still bring it on carry-on disarm

  • Mark Mayo

    Mark Mayo Correct answer

    9 years ago

    A friend recently did this, flying from LON (London) to SYD (Sydney).

    I went shopping with him and found a hard-shell suitcase. They're surprisingly light, and Samsonite has claimed theirs is "strong enough to stand on".

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    We then removed his harddisk drive. This is the most valuable and most fragile part of the computer. It's also feasible to do the same with the sticks of RAM and other parts, but the harddrive is the critical bit.

    This was packed in an anti-static bag, and bubble wrapped, and I believe he actually took it on his carry-on to make sure he had it safe at all times.

    Aside from that, you check the suitcase in just as per normal. I'd perhaps put some jerseys or other clothes in the suitcase with the computer to try and give it just that extra bit of protection, and to prevent it from sliding around too much if it's not an exact fit.

    I've done almost exactly what Mark Mayo has posted here. I didn't even use a hard-case suitcase and I simply packed clothes around the whole desktop and monitor. Customs may ask to inspect your hardware in your carry-on but that's the only issue I had.

    I read the part that says "put some jerseys or other clothes in the case" and nearly died... Then realized you meant *suit*case! Oops lol

    I would suggest removing the CPU cooler if it is a large model. These can put quite a large torque/cantilever on the motherboard even when sitting still, so can do some damaged if bumped etc.

    One thing that has changed in the almost 9 years since the original answer is that many computers don't have a classic "spinning" hard drive (if yours does, then the precaution described here would still be valid) but a SSD drive, in which case there is no need to remove it as, unlike a HDD, it's just as impact resistant or fragile as the rest of the electronics inside.

    @Peteris fair, although the concern was also for the data. The rest of the computer is 'replaceable' with insurance, but your data is critical. Saying that, what's also changed is internet speeds. I personally have everything backed up to the cloud just in case (too many bad experiences)

    Some newer gaming cases have glass in front or on the side to show off the lighted fans inside. If you know you are traveling with it, maybe don't get that case. I did just help pack one - we used a 29" hard shell suitcase, and the Styrofoam blocks from its original box fit into the suitcase, keeping all sides (including the glass ones) a safe distance from all sides of the suitcase. The graphics card was removed to avoid damage from the g-forces of the bumps and possible drops. It was checked and arrived unscathed.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM