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Author Topic: flying with a radio  (Read 3769 times)
KD8WZS
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Posts: 3




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« on: July 22, 2012, 07:39:24 PM »

Does anyone have recent experience flying with a portable rig? I'm getting shipped off for a business trip in a few weeks and thought I'd bring my ft817 and a 10m dipole to hang out the window of the hotel assuming it opens.

The plan is to put all of the cables and whatnot in my checked luggage and the radio in my carry on bag. The airport said it would be fine but the tsa being what it is these days, I thought it would be good to see what others have to say.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2012, 08:19:45 PM »

Be sure to have a copy of your license with you..... a list of what you're carrying....get to the airport early and be sure to inform TSA and the janitor and even a second opinion from your air carrier.  These people have gone a little nuts.
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WA8FOZ
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« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2012, 08:40:42 PM »

I've had no problems. Putting it in a Pelican or similar foam-packed reinforced suitcase makes it look "official." If you have it in regular checked luggage, put in a copy of your license and the manual.
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KD8WZS
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« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2012, 05:30:47 AM »

Thanks guys. I was thinking about putting it in my checked bag also but am worried about damage. I don't think that electronics are covered for damages in transit. I suppose I could wrap it up in my undies and hope for the best. Sticking a copy of the manual and my license with it is definitely a good idea.
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K7RBW
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« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2012, 06:49:16 AM »

No worries. I took my FT-857, power supply, and Buddipole antenna overseas by packing the radio in my suitcase wrapped in a beach towel. Did the same for the power supply and then stuffed the accessories in other tidbits of clothing. Everything arrived (and returned home) without a problem.

I avoided the pelican case because:
  • I would have had to pay for an extra piece of luggage
  • It screams, "steal me!" as it rolls around on the luggage belt
When I have traveled with gear in pelican cases, I always hide it in a beat-up, Goodwill-looking suitcase to minimize the 2nd point.

I packed a copy of my license with the gear as others have suggested, but I don't recall it attracting any exceptional attention (normally, the TSA puts a note in your luggage if they take a closer look and I don't recall such a note).  I'm guessing that it looks as much like a radio on the x-ray as it does in real-life.

I also take my handheld in my carry-on and I've never been asked about it. YMMV, of course.

I would think an 817 should be easier to pack than an 857, but a few things come to mind.

1) if you're worried, put it back in its box and ship it by FedEx or UPS to your destination.
2) if you put it in your luggage, remove the battery and pack it separately (i.e. wrapped in its own towel) so the radio won't come on accidentally and the battery will be safe from accidentally shorting or something.

Enjoy your trip!
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N3PDT
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« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2012, 12:18:18 AM »

My "flight kit" fits in a semi hard sided laptop case I take as carry-on. At security, I take out the rig (K1) and the 7ah gel cell, and put them in a tub like I would a laptop. The gel cell always gets the most attention. I leave all the bundled wires, key, etc. in the case. I always carry my license card with me, but have never been asked for it, or had anyone really take more than a passing interest in the radio, the various bits and pieces, or all the wires.
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KF5IIL
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« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2012, 06:42:31 AM »

Traveling with a radio is fun and small  all band/mode radios like the FT-817 and the KX3 give you a lot of great opportunities for contacts.

I've traveled around the USA and internationally (more than 300,000 miles) with my FT-817, NUE-PSK and a variety of antennas (ALWAYS carry-on with the radio) over the past 2 years.  Generally, I have had no problems at all in any security venues.  My radio and accessories has actually been packed in my computer backpack (along with my computer).  Sometimes I have been asked to take it out, other times it hasn't been an issue at all.  I have often volunteered it outwards, but several TSA staff have indicated that was not anything concerning to them.  Internationally, the screeners have often wanted to look at it, but it has never been much of an issue that caused any delays.  Obviously, certain circumstances, such as going into the UK during the Olympics, may cause different results, but generally speaking, my experience seems to be consistent.

I would follow the advice others have given:

1) Have a copy of your FCC license packed with the radio.  This is not necessarily required traveling in the USA, but is still the smart play.  This is, however, a legal requirement with most countries if you travel out of the country.
2) Pack an FT817/KX3/857 and other small radios in your carry-on.  If you are able to put it in something like a Pelican, that is fine (I often can't because my whole luggage kit is in my carry-on bags, but just make sure the radio has some padding around it.  Overhead storage can be tough on contents if the plane is full.
3) Be aware that some international airlines have very strict carry-on weight limits, so plan ahead carefully; check the baggage information on the airline's website or call them.
4) Things like antennas, wires, cables, and other miscellaneous accessories can usually go into your checked baggage with no problems.
5) Have your carry-on radio packed in a manner that it can be taken out quickly, just like you do with your laptop.  Ask a TSA agent by the conveyers about your radio and they will let you know whether it needs to be taken out.  The answers will vary, but again, the radio has never presented any sort of delaying issue for me (and this is over a few hundred thousand miles of travel).  Often, just the step of preemptively offering it up with an explanation usually speeds things along.
6) If you travel internationally, carefully check the laws and regulations of any of your destination countries and any countries where you may have a layover/flight change.  Make certain you have all of the information and documentation they may require.  In some cases, this may also include documentation you need to get ahead of time from that country's government.
7) Have fun and enjoy making QSO's away from home!
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N2UGB
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Posts: 179




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« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2012, 01:57:11 AM »

I've travelled internationally to Europe many times and never experienced any problems. My carry-on bag is a Pelican case that conforms to the size requirements permitted for overhead storage on the aircraft. In it I carry a copy of my US and French license. The FT-817 and FT-857 rigs are great companions size-wise.

Be sure to also include a copy of the receipt you received when you purchased your rig in the USA. That, or have the customs officer at the international airport (USA) you are departing from view and give written certification (with serial numbers) of the rigs you are taking abroad with you. Keep those documents in your carry-on.

I mention this because I was once pulled aside by customs when I landed at JFK airport. They said as I didn't have any documents with me proving that I purchased my gear in the USA, they could presume it was purchased in another country and be subject to import duty.

They eventually allowed me to continue on without payment, but it was a hassle. I should have asked them if that would apply to everyone carrying a Japanese or Chinese camera with them.

I didn't!

So, keep those HRO or whatever supplier receipts with you just in case.
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G3RZP
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« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2012, 03:51:21 AM »

I bought an ICOM base station UHF transceiver in Japan, put it in checked baggage, arrived at Heathrow at 0530 and declared it in the red customs channel.
Customs man: 'What is it?'
Me : 'Amateur radio'
Customs man 'Twenty five pounds charge OK, then?' (About $35 then)
Me 'YES!'

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KD8WZS
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Posts: 3




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« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2012, 05:17:30 PM »

Back from the trip without incident. I stuck the radio in my small go bag with a small battery, 10m dipole and a small tri-band whip. The go back went in my checked luggage and arrived to and from O'Hare un-harassed. The funny part was that a co-worker traveling with me had his luggage searched on the way back and the most dangerous thing he was carrying with him was a few pairs of dirt undies.
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W5DQ
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« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2012, 04:35:15 PM »

Does anyone have recent experience flying with a portable rig? I'm getting shipped off for a business trip in a few weeks and thought I'd bring my ft817 and a 10m dipole to hang out the window of the hotel assuming it opens.

The plan is to put all of the cables and whatnot in my checked luggage and the radio in my carry on bag. The airport said it would be fine but the tsa being what it is these days, I thought it would be good to see what others have to say.

I'd have internal batteries handy but out of the rig just in case they wanted to see it powered up. I've had to do that before for an HT but it was long while back. Not sure if they still require that or not. Definitely have a copy of your license - in fact a couple copies in case they want to have one for their files for whatever reason. I took military test gear on board a flight to Japan once and had to give the security folks a copy of my gov't orders and the property pass that allowed me to transport the gear to get thru security. Rules change all the time and you never know what they will want from one day to the next. Recently I carried some 2M mobile rigs and a little HF tuner on a flight and had all kinds of hell to go thru at my originating airport. Once in route, rest of hte security checks didn't give a hoot but the first on was damn near down to a strip search and rubber hose beating. You'd would have thought they had found 50 lbs of C4 in my bag the way that TSA went beserk over the radio gear.

Be prepared for the worst and hope it doesn't happen.

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
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