flying with minis: hand luggage, or checked baggage?
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Thread: flying with minis: hand luggage, or checked baggage?

  1. #1

    Default flying with minis: hand luggage, or checked baggage?

    Hi everyone, I\'ve got a little dilemma coming up, and I thought I might ask for some advice from you lot :)

    I\'m heading to Spain for World Expo in a week and half, and I am starting to worry about transporting my minis during the multiple flights I\'ll be taking. The actual packing part is fine - I have a system that works, no problem there. But the issue that is worrying me is the choice between putting the boxes of minis in my big, checked bag, or in the carry-on hand luggage.

    On my trip to Europe last year put my minis in with my checked bag, and it worked fine...I packed them well, so there were no breakages or damage despite me taking 8 flights. But after seeing the horrified looks on people\'s faces at UK GD and the Ravage Open when I mentioned that I had put my minis in with the checked baggage, I am starting to think that I might be pushing my luck if I try it again....I have heard some horror stories, and in fact one of my friends had a mini magically disappear from his bag on the way home from Europe. Here is the scenario I am imagining in my paranoid mind: my bag goes through the x-ray thingoes, and there is something suspicious about the metal, prompting the customs guys to rip open the security bag and break the locks or whatever, to have a quick look inside. They see the mini boxes, and open them - this is where the trouble starts! Once the boxes are open, so many things could go wrong...rough handling of the minis, putting them back in the packaging wrongly causing damage, or just confiscation due to suspicion in the worst case. The problem really is the fact that, if they are in my checked baggage, they will be out of my control.

    Ok, so the second option is the hand luggage - seems like the logical choice. But I have another set of concerns....What if I get to the customs point where they x-ray the hand luggage, and for whatever reason I am not allowed to take the minis on board the flight? Once the customs people see the little sharp pointed metal sword and weapons etc.., they are liable to say I can\'t take them on board, right? If things like metal tweezers aren\'t allowed, then surely minis might also be banned...of course, we all know that a metal mini\'s weapon is far more likely to bend and break than actual pierce the skin, being made of soft metal - but the customs people don\'t know that. And if I get to that customs point and am told I can\'t take them on board with me, I will have already checked in my main bags, so what am I supposed to do then! Or say I am allowed to take them on my first flight, but then on the second connecting one they say I can\'t...and at that stage there is no way of getting to my main bag, because it\'s automatically transferred to connecting flights behind-the-scenes...what happens then?!

    So can see that my paranoid mind is out of control haha :o I jsut wanted to know what you guys think! I know lots of you have travelled with minis - so, what do you guys do? Which option do you take? What problems have you had? Any advice is appreciated :D

  2. #2


    Honestly? It\'s hard to be too paranoid. You hear the most outlandish stories, likely never to happen to you, but who knows?

    I\'d agree with FA, don\'t check them. Ask and re-ask the airline beforehand, describe what you are trying to transport as well as possible (don\'t be bashful, say they\'re hand-painted gaming miniatures and stress the delicate/artistic nature of the items) and get exact dimensions and etc for any carry case. One asshole at security can still try and ruin your day but it\'s a lot less likely if you have tried to cover all the bases.

    Myself, I\'d never risk it... I\'m unlucky and shit always happens to me :( But you have to take risks in life, if you want to do anything, right?

  3. #3


    thanks guys....yes I would definately prefer to carry them on, but I\'m just wondering if it\'s possible. I am not so worried about problems on the actual plane - the way I apck them they don\'t take up much room, and can easily be inside my backpack and shoved into the overhead lockers or whatever, no problem at all. And I am flying on 6 or 7 different airlines, so it won\'t be easy to be sure of the policy or each!

    But anyway, I am mainly worried about the customs points in the actual airports, and whether or not they will let me through with the small metal I am trying to find out if all of you guys have got through that check point ok, or if there have been failures.

  4. #4


    i always carry my painted minis on the plane, and only check bare metal or primed stuff...
    i have had some interestin\' confrontations with security...mostly due to 54mm swords and such...they have never not let me on the plane, but i have had to do some fast talkin\' and even resorted to threats a few times(but that\'s \'cause i\'m a hothead!!!)...better to have an argument than a bunch of broken minis when ya arrive at your destination...

    a sabol army transport with customizable foam trays is my main carry-on, and the size has never been a problem...


  5. #5


    i just packaged mine carefully and brought them as carry on... absolutely no damage!

  6. #6


    I have to agree. Having just done Alaska to Baltimore, I wouldn\'t dream of checking my minis. Put an extra pair of undies in your pocket in case they lose your luggage and carry everything. =)

  7. #7
    Superfreak!!! Dragonsreach's Avatar
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    Apr 2002
    Bolton, Lancs, UK (A Geordie in Exile)
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    Check with each airline and get something in writing to wave under to nose of an obnoxious jobsworth.
    Then when they get \"stroppy\" ask for their names and the names of their supervisors.
    Jobsworths soon get \"panicy\" if you try to make them personally accountable, especially in this age of easy litigation.
    Best thing to remember is always try to be polite, as their customer you are paying for their services not bad attitude.

  8. #8


    Oh... note for handling security. If they ask you, \"What are these?\" Don\'t try and explain the hobby, the painting competition, or the various tabletop war games.

    Just say, \"They\'re toy soldiers.\"

    Pretty much everyone knows what toy soldiers are and there is less chance that they\'ll want to take them out and fiddle with them or dust them with some corrosive explosive detecting chemical.

    Good advice I got from a well-traveled friend. Sadly... it came AFTER I had to explain the troll I had blue-tacked into a tuperware container several time. =P

  9. #9


    I\'ve only flown with minis a couple of times now, once in a metal briefcase looking case, and the second time with a smaller artbin case stuffed inside another carryon. Both times when I went through security I let the agent know that the case might scan weird and I\'d be happy to have it examined if they wanted, but please could they let me help unwrap. They never really seemed phased by whatever they see on the x-ray. The only reaction I got was one leg of the journey the security people thought the stuff sounded really cool and wanted to know a bit more about it. My stuff was all 30mm scale (and one larger but not especially pointy tree). I could see where 54mm+ stuff might get more of a reaction.

    Checking with the airline for guidelines on dimensions and acceptable composition of carryons sounds like a good precaution. And I\'d definitely keep any files and other hobby tools in check-in luggage.

  10. #10


    Ok. I seem to have put some faith in airlines as when i have travelled, i usually put my stuff in my main suitcase. Never wanted to try to get the \"sharp and dangerous\" miniatures through security. This was after a flight when security confiscated my non lethal scissors from my travel medical kit but missed my extremely sharp set of tweezers. ???
    My dad does model airplanes and i know that everytime he has gone on an international trip, they have contacted the airline months in advance and made arrangements for transport and customs, but when it comes to the day of the trip, \"nope, we don\'t have you down for any special requirements\".

  11. #11


    I would take them with me for sure, never checking them in. I would also be very select about my words about them.

    They are not miniatures, they are not a game, they are miniature works of art in sculpture and painting and are unique, irreplaceable and pose no thread to health and safety.

    If pressed, the staff can take them for you and hold them for the duration of the flight. You can also make the whole thing at the discretion of the aircraft captain which really pisses the airport security people as they have zero say in the matter. This can be arranged through the airline representative at the desk who are usually a lot more helpful and down to earth than some jobsworth on the phone.

  12. #12


    When I went from the UK to the last world Expo in Boston I took a box of 6 miniatures; it was easy to open to show anyone the contents (basically an \"Art Bin\" with the folding shelves removed).

    Adie Bay (Vincenti) uses a custom made wooden box with removable sides.

    Basically, I think the important thing to remember is to make it relatively easy to open and show the contents to the authorities should thay ask

    My problem is taking my minis to Girona using a budget airline.......usually a bit iffy about taking more than one piece of hand luggage......

  13. #13


    Thanks for all the replies and advice everyone :)

    The good thing is that from all of your experiences, it seems like it should be ok to get through customs with them. If all of you have made it through ok, then I think I can probably risk it too. Although I do have 3 flights to get to kong, HK-Helsinki, Helsinki-Barcelona it could be a little worrying if they have a problem at the finland customs or something and I can\'t communicate!!! Argh the paranoia...haha :D

    Getting them through the customs point in the airports is all I\'m really worried about though - having them on the plane will be no problem at all, the way that I pack mine....I put them in plastic boxes packed in foam cut to shape - very simple to open, takes 10 seconds, and the minis can\'t move at all once packed so I can rumble the boxes around as much as I like. Turn them upside down, shake them, drop them on the floor, problem. And they easily fit into a little backpack to take on the plane - so that is no issue I don\'t think, the airline people onboard won\'t even know that I have them.

    And really, I would be more than happy to leave them with the pilot or something like that, I couldn\'t care less! Just as long as they make it onto my flights with me!

  14. #14


    If at all possiable DR has it right, contact the airlines and make sure they say it\'s ok. When i moved to AZ from NE i brought all of my unpainted figures and paints. Worried about what they would say to acrylic paints i contacted their airline security, explained things and they gave me permission to transport my figures and paint. Turns out it wasn\'t the paint that was an issue but the figures. X-ray showed a mass of sharp pointed objects they went ballistic over. Security ended up calling the head of security at home to make sure i was allowed to transport my stuff. Needless to say the head of security balled out the employee loud enough i could hear her on the phone 10 feet away. Had to do with the security guard not checking the roster list for that sort of thing. lol

  15. #15


    I have flown many times with miniatures, many times internationally. I have always carried them on the plane in carry on luggage. Never had an issue. When I go through security if asked, I tell them they are fragile hand painted toy soldiers going to a competition. They usually treat them very carefully and in many cases want a peak and they all Ooooo and Ahhhh at them.

    On the plane they have always been put in the over head bin and have arrived safely.

    Last summer I traveled with Jeremie Bonamant from Cincinnati to San Diego with his famous wooden box and each time we put it in the overhead bin with no problems and not under the seat.

    I made the box that Aaron and Meg have and its copied directly from Jeremie\'s box which he has flown with many time with no issues.

  16. #16


    I\'m really intrigued by this now infamous wooden box. Any of you with copies care to post a pic or two so the interest can be quenched? :beer:

  17. #17


    Originally posted by StudioAcorn
    I\'m really intrigued by this now infamous wooden box. Any of you with copies care to post a pic or two so the interest can be quenched? :beer:
    The said box in question, though the current version has three shelf positions.

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