At record-breaking altitudes it’s important to know how to keep your precious vinyl safe. Flying with vinyl can be a breeze, here’s what you need to know about packing, handling, and guiding your musical treasures through TSA and air travel.
Here is how to transport vinyl records on a plane. It is important that you do a few things to insure the best possible outcome when transporting your vinyl on a plane.
- Clean your vinyl
- Place vinyl in a new inner sleeve
- Place the vinyl in its jacket and in a poly outer sleeve
- Place the vinyl in a shipper if possible
- Use hard luggage as carry on
While this is a list of things you need to do we have created a great resource here to help you make sure you have everything you need. Keep reading to find out the best product to use for transporting your vinyl records while flying on a plane.
Can I Take A Vinyl Record On A Plane?
You may pack your bag, like most, intending that you are the only one who will be opening it. TSA may be very interested in your vinyl and may open your bag. If you’re traveling with many of them they may not open each one, but they may open a couple to check that indeed, they are vinyl.
What Not To Do When You Transport Vinyl Records On A Plane
Do not put toiletries anywhere near vinyl within your luggage to avoid liquid and moisture damage. Consider triple bagging liquids.
Do not put vinyl into your luggage without outer poly sleeves to avoid exterior damage to the artwork and jackets.
Do not put records next to objects in your suitcase that are soft where the corners are to avoid bent corners to your outer artwork sleeves. We recommend stowing them flat against the outer wall of your hard-sided carry-on suitcase with a couple of t-shirts for padding against the hardcase.
Do not travel with your vinyl in soft luggage. Your luggage may be tagged for undercarriage stowage, and you want to ensure your records are protected adequately from jostling, rough handling and turbulence.
How To Protect Your Vinyl Records While Transporting On A Plane
It is important to make sure that while you are flying you protect your vinyl records. There are several variables that could happen while flying such as spills, vibration, and bumps from turbulence in the air. The good news is that there are many ways to help protect your precious collection.
Clean Your Records Before Flying
Our first recommendation is that you clean the records that are pre-loved. Vibrations and the rubbing of contaminants can cause scratches in the vinyl grooves and on the disks themselves. To make sure that you have no contaminants on your vinyl we recommend this cleaning system, or for a budget friendly option you can use this system.
High Quality Anti-Static Inner Sleeves
Once you have cleaned your vinyl records it’s important to switch their inner sleeves out because often factory sleeves shed paper and dust onto the vinyl records.
If you want your vinyl records to make the journey wholly unscathed, it’s important to note that many things are jostled on planes, including the contents within a bag. Even if they are securely packed the repetitive jostling can cause micro scratches which can affect vinyl records and an anti-static inner sleeve will help reduce that possibility.
High Quality Outer Poly Sleeves
Outer poly sleeves are essential because they protect against scratches to the outer sleeve, spills, dust and other external damage. These can help protect against the myriad of possible accidents waiting to happen while traveling.
Perhaps a passerby loses their grip on a vanilla bean frappé with extra whipped cream just as they pass your priceless collection, safely tucked away in your poly sleeves. A scenario that could be a little more likely is that a neighbor or flight attendant spills something during a moment of turbulence while your bag is tucked under your chair, or perhaps the altitude causes improperly sealed liquids from someone’s stowed bag to leak, particularly unfortunate if it happens early into a long flight.
This would leave your vinyl to marinate like a juicy, expensive, filet mignon. It’s best not to leave these things to chance. We highly recommend these poly sleeves and if they are out of stock take a look at these.
Vinyl Record Shippers to Protect Your Vinyl
One of the best ways to protect your vinyl records’ outer sleeves is to place them in an old mailer from when you ordered online, or you can buy the ones we recommend in our shipping post. You can easily get them here. This is truly one of the best ways to protect them while inside your luggage.
What Type Of Luggage To Use When Flying With Your Vinyl Records
Hard luggage is the most durable and protective choice when flying with vinyl records.
Be sure you’ll have plenty of time to arrive early to your gate with no time crunching layovers / plane changes. This is so that you can snag primo seating at the boarding line entrance so that when your boarding class is called you can be among the first in line and can score yourself an overhead bin spot.
Here is where things get hairy.
During COVID many flights, particularly domestic ones, are incredibly full. This means that the overhead cabins are filling up and if your luggage will not fit under your seat flight attendants may ask you to check your bag. They typically scope out passengers with hard luggage for this.
If your bag will not fit under your seat and you cannot reasonably guarantee yourself a spot in line early enough to snag an overhead spot, we recommend hard luggage with your records in a separate removable bag so that you can keep your records with you in the event your bag is tagged for undercarriage stowage.
You can check to see if the luggage you are considering will fit underneath your seat with this airline-specific article.
Pack Vinyl Records Inside Luggage
When your bag is closed and in its stowed horizontal position, you will want your records in the place of least external pressure. This will be the top front portion of your luggage.
For a clamshell suitcase with two equal halves, place your records flat in the top horizontal front of the luggage. If you are traveling with a few records, stack them so the spine alternates, to most evenly distribute weight, since the opening is a little thinner than the spine. Layer light clothing pieces on top, t-shirts, socks, etc. In the other top half of the clamshell pack other light soft items. Heavy items will fill the bottom portion of the bag (denim, toiletries, shoes, etc.)
Tuck a small bag for valuables (i.e. records and other non-cargo safe items like a laptop) in case your carry-on is selected for the undercarriage.
To Check Or To Carry On While Transporting Your Vinyl
Definitely, plan to carry your vinyl onto the plane with you. One of the best things about air travel is that it is warp-speed (minor turbulence and more puns ahead!)
Baggage handlers have a tough job to do and are responsible for ensuring luggage makes it to the right plane on time. No one will handle your valuables more carefully than you, and to be fair, bag handlers have no idea what they are handling, nor do they care about the cumulative financial and sentimental value of your beloved collection.
Additionally, the cabin where you are is climate controlled. The temperature at flight altitude is below freezing. If you’re traveling during an intemperate season (sweltering or freezing), the ground climate can also adversely affect your records as they travel hither and yon. Keeping your vinyl with you will protect against climate induced warping and cracking.
Underseat Vs. Overhead Stowage
We recommend stowing your vinyl carry-on under the seat in front of you. Things shift during flight, and you don’t know what your neighbor is hauling, or if it’s very heavy. The safest place for your vinyl is at your feet. Make sure the bag they’re in won’t slip under the metal containment rail and into the aisle.
For a long haul flight, this may not be practical. We recommend waiting until there is one space left in the overhead for your bag so that it will not be hit or mishandled by other passengers as they hoist their items into place. During turbulence your bag may smack the upper ceiling, so if you purchase records in the airport, we recommend stowing them inside your luggage and not on top in the overhead bin.
How To Transport Vinyl Records On A Plane A Quick Summary
It is important that you do a few things to insure the best possible outcome when transporting your vinyl on a plane.
- Clean your vinyl properly.
- Place your vinyl in a new high quality inner sleeve
- Place the vinyl in its jacket and in a high quality poly outer sleeve
- Place the vinyl in a shipper if possible
- Use hard luggage as carry on
At the end of the day if you used all of these tips we have provided we are positive you are in the best case scenario for protecting your vinyl the best way you can. Just be sure to follow as many of the steps as possible.