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Taking Physics textbooks on an airplane?

  1. Jul 8, 2014 #1
    Hi PF,

    I'm moving to the UK from the US to start on a M.Sc. in plasma physics this fall. I really want to take some of my undergrad textbooks with me, but the shipping charge is outrageous. There are about 4 books that I must have, but I'd prefer more than that. A 10lb Fedex box said it would cost almost $200 to ship these 4 books in a box together.

    So I thought I'd maybe put them in a cardboard box and take them onto the plane as my "personal item" that's allowed alongside your carry-on. Do you think I will get any trouble from security for transporting any of these books? The books are the following

    Classical Mechanics by Taylor
    E&M by griffiths
    Intro to Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion by Francis Chen
    and a PDE book, I forgot the author.

    If possible I'd like to take a couple other books on heat transfer and fluids if I have room.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 8, 2014 #2
    I had a friend who tried to bring Griffith's Electrodynamics on a plane. He's still in Guantanamo to this day. :biggrin:
  4. Jul 8, 2014 #3


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    Homework Helper

    It all depends on whether you meet the size and weight restrictions.

    When I went to OZ from Singapore for a postgrad exam, I carried some heavy textbooks along for some last-minute revising since I planned to arrive early.

    Similarly, once when I returned to Singapore from the US, I carried two (very) heavy textbooks that I had just purchased back with me.

    I checked all those books in, in both instances.
  5. Jul 8, 2014 #4
    Imagine if he tried to bring the QM book.
  6. Jul 8, 2014 #5
    Man you guys are scaring me.
  7. Jul 8, 2014 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    Check with the airline, the rules on luggage have really become tightened, it doesn't matter if it's books or rocks.
  8. Jul 10, 2014 #7
    If you meet the size and weight restrictions of the airline in regards to personal items, then I don't see a problem. I am not sure why security would care. Out of curiosity, under what basis do you think security would care?

    Also I think that keeping them outside of a box and maybe having them tied together with string and tucked under your shoulder might let them pass more as a personal item. If in a box, they might seem like a separate carry-on item which might be restricted. Obviously that would be less convenient for you, though.

    Also make sure that once on the plane you don't inconvenience a fellow passenger with the books in some way. They shouldn't have to deal with the consequences of you wanting to save money on shipping. I assume you're not putting them in your checked in bags because of weight (and thus price) issues?
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2014
  9. Jul 10, 2014 #8
    Security isn't really the issue, but cost is. They are charging for all types of carry ons and personal items these days. They are practically charging for the air in your lungs!
  10. Jul 10, 2014 #9


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    Education Advisor

    I would suggest you check with the airline in terms of weight restrictions for checked items, as it may be possible to bring perhaps 3 of the books (depends on how big each of the books are). If so, then I would suggest you bring 1 book as part of your carry-on luggage and the rest as part of checked luggage.

    If you want to bring many more books, then I would suggest you absorb the cost of the transportation of the book separately through FedEx. You complain about the $200 shipping charge, but a flight from the US to the UK is already fairly expensive, so adding an extra $200 as part of your moving costs isn't all that onerous.
  11. Jul 10, 2014 #10
    I guess I just assumed security would freak out over anything with the word "nuclear" written on it, but it's probably fine esp. since Chen's title doesn't include that word. I actually have a nuclear physics book I was considering taking, too. Actually it will probably be fine. I think I've just decided to pay the $25 checked bag fee and fill up my checked bag with books.

    Amazingly I was able to book a flight from Atlanta to London for $423 through this program with Travelocity. You have to book your flight for a specified range of times and they find you an airline and a time within your range. It's an overnight flight but for $423 transatlantic I'm game.
  12. Jul 10, 2014 #11
    Honestly, if the book was titled "a step by step guide on building nuclear weaponry" you would probably have no problems.

    You're way over thinking this.
  13. Jul 10, 2014 #12
    On the other hand "A concise manual on how to hijack a plane using undergrad physics books" might be more problematic.
  14. Jul 10, 2014 #13


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    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Even if you don't want to take the books in your carry-on baggage, $200 for a 10 pound weight parcel is way over the top. Forget about FedEx and shop around. (From my experience, FedEx and DHL are locked in competition to provide the WORST possible level of service in the industry, independent of price).
  15. Jul 10, 2014 #14
    I brought 3 books onto a plane with me in my backpack to do some homework on a plane trip. I started doing some ODE problems, got airsick, and just stuck my backpack under the seat in front of me for the rest of the ride. I don't think the subject matter of the books makes a difference. One of my books could have been named "how to blow up a plane", and I wouldn't have had any trouble, since they didn't look inside the bag, it just went through the scanner, and they can't read the title of a book with that.
  16. Jul 10, 2014 #15
    You sure it was airsickness? :-)
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