I’ve just got back after a 2 week business trip to the states and thought the following information may be useful for people considering taking radios with them on planes. I did a lot of Internet searches before I left trying to decide whether I should pack the gear in my checked luggage or if I should carry the radio with me. In the end the majority view was to take the radio in the carry on bag. There were too many stories of expensive items disappearing from hold luggage. Also the TSA website advises that all electronic gear should be hand carried in case there is a battery fire which the cabin crew can deal with.
I have a laptop rucksack rather than a normal laptop bag as it will hold a huge amount of stuff. In the bag I had the laptop+psu, network+usb cables, other cables for work, the VX-170+rubber duck. Plus notebooks, pens, an umbrella, hat, sunscreen, diabetes tablets, diabetes blood sugar tester etc. etc. I took a printout of my licence and the CEPT TR-61/01 document.
At Edinburgh outbound they had the security level set to “PANTOMIME” so that meant shoes, belts etc. removed. I managed to trigger the alarm as I had put my phone back in my pocket when removing shoes. Lots of grief about that from very miserable staff (they are normally very nice at Edinburgh). Anyway, the bag sailed through first time even if I didn’t.
London Heathrow T5. Again security was setting to “PANTOMIME” and I had to repeat the same rigmarole again. First time in many years it’s been shoes off at two successive airports. Anyway no questions asked about the bag with lots of electronics.
Tom Bradley Intl. Airport, Los Angeles. Here security was set to “FARCE+60db”. Shoes, belts, wristwatches, all liquids in a tray of their own, shoes in a tray of their own. Lots of people pulled aside for further inspections etc. To make matters worse I’d been shopping in the morning. Having had my picture of a SOTA activation used in an ad in QST I had a voucher to spend and despite having my card declined during the transaction initially I ended up with an Icom IC-80AD for £259. A bag with two handhelds went through no problem. Also they had a guy with a load of guitar effects pedals and were giving him a hard time so I was left relatively unmolested.
London Heathrow T5. Security level was down to “LONG RUNNING SITCOM” in that trainers were not being X-rayed but boots were. Just for the record, Richard Reid, the “Shoe Bomber” was wearing trainers when he tried to blow up a plane so why trainers were OK is something which only the idiots at T5 can explain! Staff were being snotty as the queues were long, barking orders at people etc. Again no questions.
Finally at Edinburgh I found out that you can now import electronics worth up to £340 from outside the EU before any tax or duty is due. As to whether I would have declared my purchase if this limit was not in place is question that shall remain unanswered! With that in mind and the chance I might have to repeat this trip a few more times this year then I’ll be taking orders for tri-band Alincos and VX-8s that need to be mule’d in at great savings.
So a bag stuffed with wires and either one or two handhelds didn’t raise an eyebrow. Perhaps with a laptop to go with all the junk meant nothing looked suspicious. I was ready with my licence to explain why I had the radios but was never asked. This confirms what others have written in that an 817 + cables will sail through aswell. Bigger items and extensive looms of wire, PSUs etc. may cause a few moments of questioning, I’d take an inventory of items, name and functional description if I was taking DXpedition type gear. I certainly felt happier with everything with me even if the bag did weigh a lot on my shoulders rather than my bag turn up at the far end minus the expensive stuff.
My advice, carry the gear with you. It didn’t flag up on 4 separate security screenings.