bringing clocks on plane

Discussion in 'Horological Misc' started by purpledog, Dec 29, 2005.

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  1. purpledog

    purpledog Guest

    I wonder if anyone has the experience of bringing antique clocks on board a plane. Would it be better to check in the clocks as luggage or to hold them as a hand luggage?

    Either way, will the customs officers open up the bubble wrappings to check the clocks (they probably wouldn't care to pack the clocks back nicely), or cause any inconvenience when checking in, especially that the movements are made of metal?

    Please pardon me for asking such ignorant questions, and please let me know if my questions shouldn't belong to this forum (I will delete the thread). I am going back to my home country soon, and I thought I could save some shipment fees this way. Thank you for any feedback.
     
  2. purpledog

    purpledog Guest

    I wonder if anyone has the experience of bringing antique clocks on board a plane. Would it be better to check in the clocks as luggage or to hold them as a hand luggage?

    Either way, will the customs officers open up the bubble wrappings to check the clocks (they probably wouldn't care to pack the clocks back nicely), or cause any inconvenience when checking in, especially that the movements are made of metal?

    Please pardon me for asking such ignorant questions, and please let me know if my questions shouldn't belong to this forum (I will delete the thread). I am going back to my home country soon, and I thought I could save some shipment fees this way. Thank you for any feedback.
     
  3. John Hubby

    John Hubby Principal Administrator
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    Purpledog,

    I do this all the time, both in the plane and in luggage. Have traveled with clocks to Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Brazil, and England since 9/11 with no problems whatever. If the clock is particularly of sentimental value or if it is high dollar value I recommend taking it on the plane with you.

    For luggage:
    Be sure to use a hardside suitcase (Samsonite, Delsey, or equal). Remove the pendulum and pack it separately if it has one. Stuff the inside of the case with soft tissue paper. Protect the clock with bubble wrap, but only use a minimum of tape as the TSA may open your luggage for physical inspection on this end. On the outside of the bubble wrap place a sticky label that says "Fragile Antique Clock". Pack the clock in the middle between soft clothes (shirts, t-shirts, socks, etc) and toward the bottom of the suitcase. Tell the checkin desk that you have a clock or clocks in your luggage.

    You need to declare the clocks for customs UNLESS the total value of what you are bringing in is within the dollar limit for entry to the country you are going to. Most countries don't bother to check if you're not taking a large amount of luggage, but if they do, let them do the opening and inspection. Clocks, especially old ones, are fascinating to most customs agents especially if you can tell a story about it.

    Inside the airplane:
    Basically the same packing protection as for the suitcase. If it will fit, I recommend you put it in a rollaboard case (the cases with wheels and an extendable handle) that can be placed in the overhead bins. If not, use a heavy canvas carry bag. Don't put it under the seat, too much risk of kicking and damage.

    When you go through security, tell the TSA agent you have a clock or clocks in the bag. Normally it will go through without having to be removed from your carry bag, if it does let them do it and cross your fingers. I've not had any damage from that (yet) so you should be OK.

    Good luck!!

    John Hubby
     
  4. D.H. Grace

    D.H. Grace Guest

    Purpledog,

    I think John's advice is right on the mark--pack well, carry on if you can, and tell TSA what you have before it goes through the x-ray machine so that they don't get a big surprise.

    Sometimes I've taken watches, chronometers, and small clocks with me on trips. I always carry them on the plane in my hand baggage. I prefer carry on for a couple of reasons. TSA usually takes a closer look when the x-ray machines show complicated lumps of metal, and I want to be present when they do the inspection. Also, I don't like the idea of letting the luggage monkeys toss my timepieces around with other people's monster bags. Hand baggage just seems safer. I don't put delicate pieces in the wheeled bags, though, because there's not much to absorb all the shocks those little wheels transmit.

    At the security checkpoint, I always tell the TSA agents what I have, and they almost always ask to see what's in the packing boxes. Sometimes they'll also ask to see inside the timepieces themselves--especially chronometers, since the brass bowls are large enough to conceal quite a bit. When they've asked to see inside, I pull out gloves. I don't know if the gloves tip the balance in my favor, but they've let me open them myself. All the agents I've dealt with have been very courteous about it, and more than one has shown an interested in knowing more about antique timekeepers. When dealing with hairdryers and contraband knitting needles all day long, I imagine seeing a chronometer once in a while makes for a nice change of pace. In the end, most of the agents I dealt with have even helped tape the packing boxes back up with cool TSA tape.

    There's one other thing you might want to consider if you're taking a really valuable clock out of the country and want to bring it back in without any customs hassles or duties. US Customs has a form called a certificate of registration. It's basically just proof that you already possess the item in America, meaning that it's already passed through US Customs. It's customs form 4455. You can download it on the web or get it at the airport. You need to get it signed at the airport office before leaving. It takes about five minutes. Having the form isn't really a big deal, but if anyone challenges you, it can save you from having to pay duty and then prove that you didn't buy the item overseas to get the money back. Filling out the form lessens the customs agents' power and ability to give you grief.

    Regards,

    David Grace
     
  5. mrb

    mrb Guest

    good advice. it is best if possible to carry on. the handling and vibrations are brutal if clock is not securely packed.i found the small bubble-bubble wrap was more effective than the large bubble-bubble wrap.
     
  6. Doug

    Doug Guest

    Hi Purple Dog,

    I was on a business trip that took me to Mexico and Southwest U.S.. In Mexico I purchased two large candle sticks and in New Mexico I purchased an antique clock. I packed these very carefully in a large suitcase and checked it as baggage.

    Prior to boarding, I was paged and escorted down to the tarmac outside the terminal building. To my surprise I saw my suitcase sitting about 100 feet from the terminal.
    I was instructed to go out to it and open it up and spread the contents on the ground and come back.

    The baggage xray had looked like the contents were two sticks of explosives connected to a clock works.

    I still laugh when I think about it or when I tell others. The end result was good and all arrived home intact.
     
  7. Cynthia

    Cynthia New Member

    Jun 24, 2009
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    Thanx for the good advice fellas -

    I'm going to see the kids with a clock soon. I couldn't imagine the luggage gorillas tossing with my bags, clock enclosed.

    There has also been lots of info regarding theft of items by airline employees. Has this been reduced with the new security measures?
     
  8. purpledog

    purpledog Guest

    Hello, thank you so much for the feedback, and for sharing the interesting experiences you have had. I am now more at ease to bring the clocks on board, since some of you have already done that.

    This is a really cool forum. I have got so much advice on my queries.
     
  9. tymfxr

    tymfxr Registered User
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    Purpledog, this is redeagle, have a safe trip home-OVER
    Mike C.
    Can't imagine why you bought a YALE clock! ;)
     
  10. Andy Dervan

    Andy Dervan Registered User
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    Hello Purpledog,

    I want to echo John Hubby's comments. I always travel carrying on my bags on board, because I hate to wait for them. Since 911 - I have brought back large brass clock dial, Chelsea Marine clock, and large regulator movement through security with my carryon luggage. Custom agents are usually mildly curious - one commented the large brass movement was cool and another like my Chelsea and asked jokingly if she could have it.

    Prior to 911 - I got folks excited with my gimballed Waltham Deck watch and small banjo clock. When I explained they were clocks, they just opened things up and peaked at them and let me go - just curiousity.

    TSA folks generally try to do their job searching the thousands of bags very quickly and patiently. Be a few minutes early in case lines are long, be organized when you prepare going through security. Follow their instructions and avoid doing anything to piss them off (keep your mouth shut and be patient). Take off anything metal before going through metal detector, and have your boarding pass out. Make sure things are packaged so they can get things out withtout tearing your luggage apart.

    Andy Dervan
     
  11. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    I sold my sister a nice Westminster mantle clock and she just carried it unwrapped the whole way (minus the pendulum, and chimes silenced of course). She had no problems and it's ticking away on her mantle now.
     
  12. expeditionhiker

    expeditionhiker Registered User

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    Any new experiences on planes - traveling with old clocks as carry on? Is this still OK? I called TSA and they said maybe, probably OK, sometimes depends on the agent.
     
  13. glenhead

    glenhead Registered User
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    (Wow, there have been some real necroposts the last few days!) The regulations on what gets through onto an aircraft have eased quite a bit since 2005. I can't imagine you'll have a problem as log as it doesn't exceed the carry-on size limits. Just be prepared to answer questions.

    There's nearly always a loose TSA agent or two floating near the security area. Snag one, tell him what's going on and what your concerns are, and ask him (with a smile) if he has any guidance. (And yes, I know it could just as well be a "she". "He" is used in the classic simple-syntax sense. (Which is mooted by having to put disclaimers.)) All the TSA agents I've worked with on oddball things have been happy to help - they're so used to people being surly and unpleasant that having someone come up and ask a nice question is a nice break.

    Glen
     
  14. Dave Coatsworth

    Dave Coatsworth Forums Administrator
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    I think you just need to expect to have your carry-on kicked out of the x-ray line and hand searched. I just got back from the National where I traveled with a carry-on full of watches. As expected, my bag was kicked out both directions for a hand search. No problem, though, once they saw what was in the bag.
     
  15. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    I have been carrying clocks with me in my carry-on luggage on international flights and never had a problem.

    Uhralt
     
  16. Rhett Lucke

    Rhett Lucke Board Secretary
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    I recently flew back from the National, with a Marine Chronometer packed in a small roller bag and a number of watches in my computer bag. It was a few days after the National, so they had probably seen it all by then and I didn't get a second look.
     
  17. gleber

    gleber Registered User

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    I recently travelled with a well padded spelter figural clock in my carry on. As expected, it was diverted after the x-ray for a visual check. Now, the preface to this story is that I was visiting my son and somehow, his cat got locked out of the room where they keep the litter box. The cat decided that he couldn't wait any longer to empty his bladder, and my empty suitcase would be a good spot to relieve himself. Once discovered, I took the suitcase outside and washed it with a mild detergent and hosed it down. It wasn't as bad as it sounds, but now that I was in line waiting for them to swab my bag, the sample came back positive! An immediate call for the supervisor was raised and after a brief wait he showed up, asked the agent if she had seen anything suspicious and when she said no, they let me go on my way. In hindsight, I figure the sensor detected the urea from the cat urine. I travel frequently and decided I don't need the hassle of getting stopped regularly, so I replaced the bag.

    Tom
     
  18. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    The damage to your travel plans could have been catastrophic. :rolleyes:
     
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  19. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    The next time this happens to you, wash your bag repeatedly with vinegar. This will get rid of the urea (and the smell of the cat urine).

    Uhralt
     
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  20. gleber

    gleber Registered User

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    Thanks for the tip. Fortunately, the bag was rather old anyway.

    Tom
     
  21. brian fisher

    brian fisher Registered User

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    i've been in the airline industry in one capacity or another for pretty much my entire adult life. i think the advice here is generally pretty solid. if you are going to check a clock, it needs to be well padded in a hard sided suitcase. however, i have to laugh at john's idea of putting a sticker on the outside of the bag saying "fragile- antique clocks". I was a bag tosser in college so i had the opportunity to see what happens below the wing first hand. i think most trunk monkeys will just take that sort of label as a challenge to see if they can actually break the contents. make sure you get a secure suitcase that can be well locked. for good measure, buy a roll of fiberglass reinforced strapping tape and go to town on the outside of the package. as to theft, i can't possibly imagine a ramper trying to steal a clock from someone's luggage anyway. how would they ever hide it enough to get it out of the airport? would they stick it down their pants? lol.

    here is a thread i made demonstrating how i pack clocks for airline transport. this one in particular was a carry on for me. you will have to scroll down a bit to find what i am talking about.

    Another Jewelers regulator
     
  22. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    Maybe you could use the vinegar directly on the cat. :D
     

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