Contrary to stereotypical beliefs, gamers worldwide actually do travel across states and countries, be it for work or attending events.
If we’re looking at an extended stay, though, then many of us would definitely prefer to bring our gaming setup – whether a desktop or a laptop – together. However, do airlines allow us to bring a gaming PC prior to boarding flights?
Yes, we’re allowed to bring a gaming PC on board a plane during a flight. That being said, different methods of doing so may apply depending on whether our gaming computer is a desktop or a laptop.
Computer towers are typically heavier and larger in dimension/ size, necessitating them to be transported as checked-in baggage. On the other hand, a gaming laptop fits perfectly inside a backpack, which can then be brought in as hand luggage.
This is one of the biggest advantages that we get by opting for a gaming laptop: portability. So, if we find ourselves bored to death during a 5-hour flight, then we can simply take out the laptop from the overhead compartment to spend a few hours playing video games to kill time.
In fact, small video game consoles, such as the Nintendo Switch, are normally passed over as personal items during airport gate checks, provided we adhere to other flight rules, like no sharp objects or power tools.
Is It Safe to Bring a Gaming PC on a Plane?
Every airline takes its passengers’ safety seriously, and they have the right to be thorough with their protocols and checks to maintain it. With that in mind, is it safe to bring a gaming PC on a plane during a flight?
Yes, it’s perfectly safe to bring a gaming PC aboard a plane. Nowadays, it’s common to see people using their laptops to keep themselves occupied during a long flight, and a gaming laptop works the same way.
For a proper gaming desktop, it will need to be packaged and submitted as checked baggage, unless we’ve already disassembled it beforehand to keep its components inside a personal cabin bag.
Bear in mind that if we’re bringing a gaming tower, it’s our sole responsibility to ensure the PC is securely dismantled, bubble-wrapped, and stored inside a sturdy bag or box.
This is to avoid any damage to the computer during the journey, which will not be liable to the airline in question.
Does It Cost More to Bring a Gaming PC on a Plane?
Due to the extra care needed to handle a computer, some of us might rightfully ask whether it’ll cost more to pack our PCs to be brought on a flight.
If planned accordingly, our total flight expenses can be minimized, meaning it won’t cost more to bring a gaming PC inside a plane.
As mentioned earlier, a gaming laptop is mainly seen as a personal item that can be brought into the passengers’ cabin, which doesn’t incur any costs whatsoever.
Meanwhile, we might need to buy an additional bag to place our dedicated PC tower, purchase bubble wrap to encase it to reduce the risk of external damages, and spend more money on plastic wrapping the bag itself.
Of course, this wouldn’t be the case if we’d prepared all of these from home. Plus, some people have also suggested leaving the PC casing behind, bringing only the core hardware to be reassembled inside a new cheap casing once we’ve arrived at the destination.
There’s plenty of room for ingenuity here, so feel free to weigh all options – including international shipping if needed – prior to booking a flight ticket.
How Do I Pack My Gaming PC to Fly on a Plane?
When it comes to packing a gaming PC for a flight, it’s actually not difficult albeit a few things will need to be purchased from the nearby hardware store first.
For a gaming laptop, it’s as easy as slotting it inside a backpack. However, a gaming tower needs to be tucked safely inside a cushioned container/ bag/ box (preferably with all the internal components detached) to be transported as checked baggage.
Different people have different methods or alternatives to this, but generally:
- Prepare bubble wrap, plastic foam, tape, and other relevant items we might find useful for the packaging process.
- Take out the PC’s primary components one by one, such as the graphics card (GPU) and hard drive. It’s best to get a refresher on what we should be looking at inside a gaming PC.
- Completely encase every PC component taken out earlier using the bubble wrap, cutting it according to the sizes of each computer item.
- Stuff sufficient plastic foam or any suitable soft materials inside the computer casing to keep the internal compartment rigid (there’ll be a lot of empty spaces without the components), arranging them according to the casing’s internal frame and layout.
- Once the casing’s insides are secured, completely bubble-wrap the body’s exterior as well.
- Make sure EVERY PC part (including the casing) is now covered entirely by bubble wrap. Even the slightest bumps during the journey (especially when handled as checked baggage) can damage fragile sections of the components or tower if not properly protected.
- Find a suitable-sized hard-cased traveling bag to put all the computer items inside. A perfectly sized box will also do but not advised due to its flimsier exterior.
- Use more foam or other soft materials to laden the bag’s/box’s internal surfaces, padding all computer parts from any potential shock damage.
- Once the bag/ box is padded, carefully place all the PC parts inside it, arranging them to fit accordingly.
- Identify and put foam/ soft materials inside any spaces between all the computer components inside the bag/ box. This will further minimize the risk of damage by limiting constant bumps/ movements among the components while traveling.
- Once everything is tightly packed and secured inside, close the bag/ box and then bubble-wrap it as a final precaution.
Here’s a quick example of what can happen if our gaming PC isn’t dismantled or protected during a flight, shared by FLUIX Inc.:
Summarily, we’ll be doing a lot of wrapping here and there. Still, that’s nothing compared to the process of disassembling the PC components, and then reattaching them once at the new location, especially for those with limited know-how.
Still, many gaming enthusiasts would have likely modified their gaming rigs a couple of times, so it’s more of a tedious practice rather than a difficult one for many of us.
Nonetheless, if we haven’t thought about it before, this might be a good time for us to look into purchasing an affordable gaming laptop instead, particularly near the end of the year. With 2024 just around the corner, I’m sure a lot of crazy deals will be popping up very soon!