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Old 19 Mar 2005
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Aluminum Panniers as Check In Luggage

Does anyone have any experience with aluminum panniers as airline check in luggage? If the airport xray can't penetrate the aluminum, does this cause problems with security? I'm not sure if airport xray can or cannot "see" through aluminum, but if it can't, given the tightened security measures now in effect, perhaps this would be a problem. Could such luggage be rejected? Would it have to be unlocked so the contents could be manually inspected? I tried calling Korean Air about this but was unable to get any useful info.


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Old 20 Mar 2005
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If any baggage in the US is locked, they can break the lock to take a look. They can check through aluminum. You should "lock" the lock with a zip-tie, since that's what will be on there if security decides to check your bag.


Trying to ride (and work) my way round the world on a 1965 Ducati 250cc. In New Zealand now. Japan in April. http://nokilli.com/rtw/
Not Ted Simon since 1970!
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Old 20 Mar 2005
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Just get to the airport early and talk to the people there about what to do. I find that policies differe from country to country and airiport to airport. It is not so much the airline that matters, I think.
I took some panniers on an international flight from San Francisco a couple years back (after 9/11), and they took me to a special high-power machine that could go through aluminum. A bit of extra time, but no problem.
I ended up taping the panniers together to make 'one' piece of luggage as there was a two-piece limit and I had another bag.
I did have a half-liter fuel tank for my camp stove confiscated in Seattle last year, even though it was empty and had no gasoline smell. My mistake. Should have said it's a water bottle!
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Old 20 Mar 2005
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I have used aluminum suitcases for regular travel for the last 15 years, and never encountered any problems. Aluminum cases are also common shipping containers for electronic equipment, stuff like that, so the fact that your aluminum cases are meant to go on a moto should not make any difference.

Of greater concern to you is that the cases may be dented or banged up in the baggage handling process, and then you might have difficulites fitting them on the moto later. You might want to consider using a cardboard box as an overpack if that is possible.
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Old 20 Mar 2005
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Thanks to all of you for the advice and reassurance. I had visions of my luggage being rejected and my RTW itinerary being messed up because of that. I'm glad to know that shouldn't happen.

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Old 28 Mar 2005
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We used our aluminum panniers as luggage when flying on our rtw with no problems, other than a few dents and dings.
However we almost got charged for overweight luggage when I forgot the weight limits and crammed all of our gear in them.
Only my helpless look of horror when confronted with a $400 extra bill saved us, and the lady at the ticket counter just smiled and waved us through... Cheers
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Old 28 Mar 2005
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RE: weight limit, I always shove the heavy stuff in my hand luggage and try not to wince with shoulder pain at the check in.

I have travelled on planes quite a few times with my ally boxes. Never a problem. The tourists at the collection point all stare though. I guess they have seen those 1970s movies where secret agents carry millions of dollars on planes in ally cases handcuffed to their wrist.

To maintain this image I always change into a Dinner Jacket and cumberband on arrival, and collect my cases while sipping a fine malt from a solid silver hip flask while speaking loudly in upper-class English.

That normally does the trick.

Simon Kennedy
Around the world 2000-2004, on a 1993 Honda Transalp
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Old 30 Mar 2005
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On a scheduled flight you are usually allowed two 32kg bags each, I normally pack the panniers in cardboard with everything in them. Then the tank bag etc. goes as hand luggage. Why pay for extra kilos with the bike in the hold when you can check them for free!
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