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Checking in boxes for Airline travel -- advice needed

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    Checking in boxes for Airline travel -- advice needed


    On my next flight to Hawaii, I may need to bring some household items which I would like to pack in boxes to use as my "checked baggage" (the aeronaut will still be with me on board!). It seems the cheapest way to ship up to 50lbs in 62 linear inches for $25 to Hawaii. Since these items will only be going one-way, I don't want to use luggage.

    My question is this: does anyone have any advice for the best way to tie up or otherwise secure a cardboard box (rope, straps, tape?) that will have the best likelihood of arriving at my destination intact? Items in the boxes will generally be non-breakable (no dishes, but silverware, some pots and pans, maybe sheets and towels for padding).
    I think we will put a tremendous amount of packing tape on the boxes to structually support them, but I also suspect my oddly shaped items in the box may cause TSA to want to inspect them therefore I hope to have a way they can access the contents without tearing them apart. I kind of wish US airports had the option (like Maverick mentioned airports in India have) of wrapping the box entirely in plastic...

    I do have a large red cooler which I might use as one "box". Any other outside-the-box ideas (ahem) would be greatly appreciated!


    A Vari Kennel dog kennel? Which sounds really weird at first but might be just the thing....
    WhiteStar in Colorado
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      Interesting idea, if I could find one in the right size for a cheap price. Definitely structurally sound.
      The visual will be fun in the airport: a big red cooler, a dog kennel stuffed to the gills, and third vessel of some sort.


        Whenever my relatives would come to the mainland from Hawaii to visit, they always, always used boxes. You have to pack all the space inside the box to prevent things from breaking, just as you say. I would advise nesting any belongings you can (i.e., small mixing bowls inside of larger mixing bowls inside of the Dutch oven) and packing the corners of the boxes with packing peanuts or anything that will keep the corners from crumpling. Tape the boxes using that packing tape that has the twine embedded in it, and tie twine around the box. If you are packing perishables, freeze them rock-hard first (I doubt you're doing this, but that's what my grandmother always did). Coolers work very well and are a common Hawaiian suitcase, esp. for inter-island travel.

        If you're flying from SFO to HNL you may luck out with TSA. So many people going to Hawaii pack their mainland shopping hauls into boxes that I imagine they've gotten pretty good at deciphering what's in there. On my last trip to Hawaii I checked sixteen jars of jam, all bubble-wrapped and duct taped inside my bag, which elicited not an iota of suspicion. Good luck with your move!


          Just watch out for the weight! When my kids started college I found a duffle (by Mountainsmith) that was exactly 62" in dimensions. What we learned was that in a bag that big, it's really easy to exceed the 50 pounds. You might consider a duffle as an alternative to a box, especially if you might make this kind of trip again.

          On the access issue, you might buy some nylon webbing and some buckles to make your own compression straps in case the TSA needs to reclose the box. It's possible somebody sells straps like this, but they would be simple to make if you can find the components.


            Thank you Badger and kmcg. Now that I think about it, I have at least one duffel that might be perfect. Yes, weight is definitely something to mind!

            Badger, I am all about the jam! We ship directly home from Mr Ed's on the big island. Mmmm. Jaboticaba and Surinam Cherry are two favorites (Ohelo berry and lilikoi, too). Then there's the honey...

            Yes, we are flying OAK (across the bay from SFO) to HNL and then on to KOA -- two separate planes means more handling.

            Thanks everyone for your advice!


              I'm going to second the use of the duffle bag. Should TSA wish to open a box, there's no guarantee they will do a good job sealing it back up. A damaged box could mean damaged or missing items.

              Use a duffle bag with a TSA approved lock.
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                Have a look at these

                Plano Storage Trunk | The Home Depot - Model 1819-00

                I have a bunch of them and they are cheap and nice mostly.
                They are strong when closed and latched and they are UPS approved whatever that means?
                They can be locked easily and opened and closed without tape.

                They also have wheels on one end and a handle on the other.

                I have carried Radio Comm gear through Joplin in them,AV Gear in others,Photo Lights and rigging in another and have yet to have any break in any way.
                They will bend but not break.
                That is always a fear when flying,what do you do if the box breaks?

                They are also very light weight.

                For under $30.00 each I can't find anything handier and I am always looking.
                They are just bigger Bags really!

                Last edited by AVService; 03-07-2012, 06:45 PM.


                  The Plano Storage Trunk looks nice, but if you are looking to check it on a flight, it will be oversize. The linear dimensions (L+H=W) are 70 inches. Anything over 62 inches is considered oversize and you will be charged according to the particular airline's tariff. I know American has a $200 per piece charge for domestic (as well as Caribbean and Central and South America as well) oversize pieces (yes, they have gone up recently).

                  For a cardboard box, I found box strap many years ago (with an American Tourister logo) that has a handle and straps that go both directions around the box - very handy. I don't know if anything like that is available today.


                    Hi Mike,
                    Yes, that is originally what I was thinking about -- if something like this is or was manufactured. I am really hoping to have little or nothing left of the "delivery device" that holds the contents of what I need to get to the islands. A handful of straps and some cardboard that can be recycled (after the removal of the tape) would be perfect. A cooler would work as well (depending on measurements) as they are handy in a number of ways. A duffel also fits the bill as I can compress it and, hopefully, fit it in my aeronaut for the return trip.
                    Now that I know they at least existed at some point, I will search the web to see if I can find what you describe. Thank you!


                      I found this listing on eBay. At $7.99, it is definitely worth a try.
                      New American Tourister Strap n Handle Carry All Luggage or Boxes Straps | eBay
                      Thank you for your suggestion!


                        LJW - that is exactly what I have - works well with boxes. Good Luck with it.