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Thread: hand-carrying packed museum artifacts on a plane

  1. #1

    hand-carrying packed museum artifacts on a plane

    Has anyone transported boxed artifacts on a plane lately? What type of paper work is required when hand-carrying packed museum artifacts on a plane? The staff member will be holding the box (its small) because it cannot be stowed under the seat or overhead. I would think a form is needed for the airlines so that they do not make them stow the box. Any help would be great!


  2. #2
    PACCIN Advisory Committee Member T. Ashley McGrew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    San Francisco, CA
    Hi Sam, I don't have any insight into your question but I went ahead and posed the question on the Listserv (a way to reach more people and often get more rapid responses - if you want to sign up yourself here is the link

    Here is one response:


    I looked into this about a year & a half ago here for a client who was taking some fragile stuff from Toronto to New York. It turned out that one can no longer buy a seat (here, maybe its different in the US) for a box. I was advised that for take off & landing, the box had to be either stowed in the overhead compartment or under the seat - it wouldn't fit under the seat & the overhead compartment was a bit extreme. She was allowed to hold it in her lap for the flight or strap it into an empty seat if one was available. The second snag was getting the box through security - there was no guarantee that the TSA folks wouldn't have there way with it. I called several airlines & all had the same response. In the end, she ended up being driven there direct by one of our local fine art carriers & then she flew home. I have no idea how expensive the trip was, the borrowing institution paid the bill. Putting it in the luggage hold was absolutely out of the question & the client didn't want it out of her sight.

    Sue Maltby, Conservator
    Maltby & Associates Inc.
    Adjunct Faculty, Museum Studies Programme/Faculty of Information
    174 Spadina Ave., # 602
    Toronto, Ontario
    T. Ashley McGrew
    PACCIN Advisory Committee member

  3. #3
    Member JasonO's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    I think it depends on the airline. Our registrar was recently able to buy a seat for an artifact (a guitar) through Southwest Air. But, you need to call them and most likely talk to a manager to get a seat for something without photo ID.

    If it is small, most airlines would have no problem with you hand carrying a box on your lap. Though you'll have to let the box go through the security scanner. For most artifacts, this is no problem. But, you could also request a hand inspection from the TSA. In that case I would call ahead and get a number of a TSA supervisor who understands that they can inspect the box and packing, but you need to handle the artifact. Again, it is much easier and safer to just run it through the scanner.

  4. #4
    I don't have any personal experience with this, but you can try contacting Artys Transit for all art transport questions.

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