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Old 12-13-2009, 10:17 PM #1
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Default taking laser on plane - different situation this time

There's a chance that my family will be taking a plane trip within the next two weeks. I am aware that questions regarding the transportation of lasers on airplanes have been asked numerous times, but the situation is a bit different this time:

1. I've taken high-powered lasers on numerous plane trips (around 15 flights in total) without incident. However, the laser was a pen-style one in each of those cases. I have a new "Spyder I Pro" from Wicked Lasers, which is much larger and heavier than a regular laser pointer. Will such a laser attract more "attention" than a pen-style laser? Some people have suggested telling security that the laser is a microphone, but I don't think it is a good idea to lie to the TSA, especially if the laser has a big fat warning label on it.

2. From what I've heard, one way to avoid trouble with the TSA is to remove the battery before going through security. However, my new laser uses a lithium-ion battery, and I believe that lithium batteries are not allowed on flights (due to the fire hazard) unless they are stored inside the device. What should I do in this case?

3. One concern among LPF members is that a security agent decides to "play" with the laser. In this case, would it be a good idea to remove the safety interlock/dongle and place it in a separate location?

4. I've seen airport workers handle luggage in a manner that is anything but gentle. Are there any good ways to protect the laser from rough handling? I don't want to use the case that came with the laser because cardboard cases are easily damaged and don't offer much protection anyway. Will it be a good idea to wrap it in something like thick clothing, or a towel?

Thanks.


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Last edited by ixfd64; 12-17-2009 at 04:47 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 12-13-2009, 10:52 PM #2
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Default Re: taking laser on plane - different situation this time

I'm in no way familiar with all the different regulations, but this is what i would do if I were you.

Take out the batteries, put them in some sort of case. They're batteries, so in the off chance you get stopped for having li-ion batteries (do they say li-ion on them?) just play dumb, I doubt your average persons aware of that regulation. and stick them in a separate bag.

If you have a Pelican, SKB or any ata rated case I would use that. If you have the money and feel like you might have the use for it in the future I would purchase one. Alternatively, bubble wrap it, and stick it in with your clothes.

Hope my 2 cents helped. Good luck buddy.
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Old 12-13-2009, 11:35 PM #3
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Default Re: taking laser on plane - different situation this time

A suggestion, if you really need to have your laser at your destination, is to send it to yourself (or relative, or someone) at your destination. No worries.
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Old 12-13-2009, 11:51 PM #4
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Default Re: taking laser on plane - different situation this time

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Originally Posted by roosl View Post
A suggestion, if you really need to have your laser at your destination, is to send it to yourself (or relative, or someone) at your destination. No worries.
Customs and gorilla postman issue.
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Old 12-13-2009, 11:58 PM #5
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Default Re: taking laser on plane - different situation this time

Well, then just get Scotty to beam it there.
Wait, then you'd have the BrumbleFly issue.
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Old 12-14-2009, 12:25 AM #6
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Default Re: taking laser on plane - different situation this time

You should have no problem. They let laptops, cellphones, ipods, and gameboys, on all the time. Those all use lithium-ion batteries. Just keep it in your carry on luggage.
Will you be bringing a small backpack, can your mom or wife put it their purse?
If they do ask you what it is. don't lie, just tell them the truth about it.

If you want you can always call the airport ahead of time. Ask them, if they have any rules or regulations, regarding laser pointers.
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Old 12-14-2009, 12:48 AM #7
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Default Re: taking laser on plane - different situation this time

I just checked the TSA site again, and it turns out that lithium-ion batteries are allowed in carry-on luggage. So I guess that takes care of the second question.

A lot of people are saying that it is best to leave such lasers in checked baggage, but many others are saying the opposite. In the worst case scenario, I'll just leave the Spyder at home and bring a cheaper laser that I wouldn't miss too much.
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Old 12-14-2009, 12:51 AM #8
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Default Re: taking laser on plane - different situation this time

Problem is they are not likely to understand what your laser is, nor what you want with it. I'd suggest proper packaging and taking it as check in luggage instead.

The genenral idea is that it will show up on x-rays for carry on luggage, and it will raise questions... not that the laser would be dangerous, but airport personel are unlikely to understand what lasers can do. AAA powered 'pointers' could be an exception to the rule, but i doubt they let you carry anything more beefy onboard - its just an uknown hunk of metal to them, and hence suspect.
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Old 12-14-2009, 01:09 AM #9
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Default Re: taking laser on plane - different situation this time

Well, I'll let you all in on a little secret. I actually work for TSA over here in NYC. Laser pointers are not on the prohibited items list. However the supervisor can make a judgment call and not allow it on the plane if they feel the item is unsafe or if you give them a reason not to let it on. Don't give them a reason to make you check it in. Don't leave your batteries inside of the laser so it's less obvious on the x-ray machine. If they should happen to ask you what it is, your reply will be "a laser pointer" not "a high powered burning laser!".
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Old 12-14-2009, 08:06 PM #10
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Default Re: taking laser on plane - different situation this time

Thanks for the useful information, Benm and mfo; +rep to you both.

There seems to be a new complication, though. My family wants to save on travel costs and plans to use only carry-ons. I certainly hope my Spyder won't look like a pipe bomb to the TSA folks, LOL. In any case, I think mfo's advice may be the best. For added security (no pun intended), I'm also thinking of borrowing an astronomy field guide from my local library and include it with my laser.
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Old 12-14-2009, 09:53 PM #11
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Default Re: taking laser on plane - different situation this time

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Thanks for the useful information, Benm and mfo; +rep to you both.

There seems to be a new complication, though. My family wants to save on travel costs and plans to use only carry-ons. I certainly hope my Spyder won't look like a pipe bomb to the TSA folks, LOL. In any case, I think mfo's advice may be the best. For added security (no pun intended), I'm also thinking of borrowing an astronomy field guide from my local library and include it with my laser.
A laser pointer will look nothing like a pipe bomb, trust me. Just do what we've said as far as removing the batteries go, and you'll be fine. If you're that paranoid about it, you can do one of the following.

1) Try to save up $15. This is what most airlines charge to check in a bag. If TSA for some reason denies you entry into the sterile area with your laser, you can check it in. (You should probably also save up $30 for the return trip, or mail it to your self before you depart to return home)

2) If a family member of trusted friend is dropping you guys off, tell him/her to hang around until you guys clear security, this way in the event TSA says no, you can give it to the friend and have them hold it until you return home.

I don't know why I forgot to tell you what you mentioned as far as astronomy goes. If they do ask, tell them just that. Also if they do give you a hard time, ask to speak to a supervisor and tell them laser pointers aren't on the prohibited items list. Don't just let them bully you into checking it in as some screeners can be real assholes.
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Old 12-14-2009, 10:12 PM #12
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Default Re: taking laser on plane - different situation this time

I would take it apart and put 1/3 of it into three carry-ons and do everything mfo said. goodluck-safe trip--hak
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Old 12-14-2009, 10:27 PM #13
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Default Re: taking laser on plane - different situation this time

A quick suggestion, buy one of those nifty small aluminium cases just the size of your laser, cut out the foam snugly to fit the unit, and label (or spray-paint) the case "meteorological laser 532nm FRAGILE" and make the case look just a bit worn out on the edges... There you go, no one is going to confiscate your "tool of the trade" .
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Old 12-14-2009, 10:32 PM #14
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Default Re: taking laser on plane - different situation this time

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Originally Posted by roddenberry View Post
A quick suggestion, buy one of those nifty small aluminium cases just the size of your laser, cut out the foam snugly to fit the unit, and label (or spray-paint) the case "meteorological laser 532nm FRAGILE" and make the case look just a bit worn out on the edges... There you go, no one is going to confiscate your "tool of the trade" .
-Robert
No need to go through all of that.
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Old 12-14-2009, 10:58 PM #15
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Default Re: taking laser on plane - different situation this time

I wouldnt worry about it looking like a bomb or other dangerous item on xray. The problem is that it will just look like some metallic 'unknown thing' warranting further investigation. In such case it might by handy to have a battery with you that fits it, as such you can demonstrate that it actually is a (fairly large) laser pointer.

The problem with these things is that they prove to be safe and fine to carry on board in the end, but that process can take so long you might miss your flight because of all the hassle.

Customs xray people recognize all kinds of objects, but a largish laser pointer like the spyder might not be all that familiar to them (they do manage to identify 'less common' stuff like diving lights just fine, but i suppose this is more rare).
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Old 12-14-2009, 11:26 PM #16
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Default Re: taking laser on plane - different situation this time

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Well, I'll let you all in on a little secret. I actually work for TSA over here in NYC.
Dude you look 16 in that picture you posted. What do you do for the TSA?
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