Flying with Vex parts

So due to a unique situation, I’m flying to an event with a partially completed Vex robot. I would like to avoid checked baggage. Anyone have any idea what I can carry on?

we managed to get through a Cortex if that helps

I managed to carry on my entire Vex control system (granted, VexNet and not the FM system used at the event I’m going to) from the FIRST Championship. I’d like to think the filed and rounded metal pieces wouldn’t be a problem, either, but if anyone had experience I’d love to hear about it.

meh, misleading title
thought this was another vex helicopter thread
thought you were gonna post a long formula for lift or something :stuck_out_tongue:

definitely a misleading title… i wanted some more food for thought with the helicopters…

i haven’t ever flown to an event, and honestly, i don’t think everything my team brings would fit… :stuck_out_tongue:

We brought some tools (allen wrenches, tape) on to the plane, but otherwise everything else went to luggage.

I was hoping for discussion on flying parts as well, oh well… :confused:

If I figure out FAA regulations, I’ll try and figure out how to crunch the numbers with a reasonable polycarbonate prop design. Deal? :stuck_out_tongue:

It took 25 shipping boxes to bring eight robots and all the supporting parts and supplies to Worlds. The only thing we didn’t bring was the vise.

I wouldn’t even think about trying to get metal VEX parts through TSA’s security. Chris, you are going to have to check it as baggage.

Southwest Airlines is now the Official Airline of Exothermic Robotics, since they do not charge for checked baggage.

I got a single about 3" long metal axle through once, but it was a pretty close thing, I wouldn’t recommend trying it if you’re worried about losing parts.

Could you give us more of idea of what you’re taking?

You should see if you can get them to sponsor (discounts) the international 2nd place team (Exo collectively, not 575 exclusively)! >:D

Kitbot + random cut and filed angle + tools and hardware.

I guess I’ve gotta check it :confused:

You could print a picture of the robot and tape it to the outside of the box, so inspectors can compare it to the xray. Along with School and Team name identifiers, so it looks like part of a student project.

It has also been recommended to unplug and remove all the batteries, and package them separately(box within a box), with the wires clearly dangling loose and not connected to anything else, also for the benefit of TSA xray inspectors.

Also recommended to use a clean box, not a used fertilizer box, or a box that has been stored next to fertilizer, for example.

One thought is to go stright to the horse’s mouth by taking the time to visit your local airport in advance.

Call ahead so that the TSA is expecting you.

Bring everything that you want to take on the plane.

Ask them how to package it. Ask how early to arrive. Ask if there is a special place to be inspected. Ask what to do if the inspector on duty (when you actually travel) has any questions or doubts.

Ask about ways to ensure the TSA team at the airport at the other end of your trip will reach the same conclusions as the team at your home airport. I have run into significantly different regulation interpretations at different airports.


When we talked to the TSA (and the airlines) we couldn’t get a straight answer to anything before we left, except that it is up to the TSA people on the spot to make decisions like this. We printed out the FAA and airline’s rules and regulations on transporting batteries, which are a safety issue and NOT covered by the TSA, and took them with us to the airport. For everything else, we labeled boxes and included a packing list with every box. Inside the box was a data sheet telling the TSA inspector what they were looking at. We have not had any troubles getting robots onto airplanes as baggage, although we have had one incident of a robot damaged when a box was mildly crushed.

I’ll repeat, no way is TSA going to let you get on a airplane with a typical VEX robot, spare parts, batteries and tools in your carry-on luggage. We go through all that prep for checked baggage, not carry-on.

I accidentally got 4 robot batteries on in a carry on. I made me really question the security. But like everybody has said the best way is to plan ahead and make sure you do your homework. Make it easy for the TSA to know that you are checking a robot not a bomb.


Well, the batteries aren’t stronger than the laptops, portable DVD players, or game consoles you’re still allowed to bring.

I’ve gotten some pretty crazy things through carry on, but I don’t think this will go so well. Luckily my local airport is tiny so I can go in advance and ask around.


I seriously do not advise attempting to take vex parts on a plane as a carry on. My personal experience is that bags checked in are easy to deal with, things carried on can be a pain.

I actually only took my DSLR with me on the plane because I don’t trust it in the cargo hold.


Thanks for the great advice, everybody. I got my Vex toolbox through checked baggage and TSA without a scratch thanks to your advice!