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Is there any lower limit to the size of a checked item on an airplane? I am traveling internationally and I would like to bring a few small bottles of sauce as a gift.

I have them packed in a box that is just large enough to hold three ketchup-sized bottles with plenty of bubble wrap. But looking at it, I am wondering if it will screw anything up to check a box that small.

I keep most of the clothes I need at my destination and everything else fits nicely in my carry-on. I am just having to check the sauce because of the liquid restrictions.

  • How much (or how little, I suppose) luggage you can check is a matter of airline policy, so it might help if you edit your question to say which airline. But I can't see this box being a problem -- I guess it's about 30x30x15cm or something like that? – David Richerby Mar 22 at 18:45
  • Yeah, that's about the size of it. I'm flying on Emirates, but I guess my question was more regarding the mechanics of loading baggage. I looked around for minimum sizes, but I couldn't find anything so I guess it would be ok. I borrowed a laptop bag to stuff it in for good measure. – Adam Starrh Mar 22 at 22:11
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A few years ago I answered the question whether an envelope can be checked in and researched whether minimum check in size policies exist and came up with a negative. I found this ancient flyertalk thread but they haven't heard of such either. I quoted

Some airports with a very sophisticated baggage handling systems have a minimum weight of what can be checked-in (don't know about size), I think it's something like 3 or 4 kilos minimum.

and

I once checked a cardboard box that was about 8 inches long, 5 inches wide and 3 inches deep. It contained an expensive corkscrew that obviously couldn't be carried on.

I conclude you will be fine since you adequately packaged it.

  • Good to know. I was trying not to have to take something that I would then have to bring back, but then I remembered that the TSA likes to open and inspect things, which would prohibit me from taping my cardboard box closed. So, I begrudgingly borrowed a bag for it. – Adam Starrh Mar 31 at 3:30
  • I carry flat strips of tape with me, always. coghlans.com/products/handy-duct-tape-0661 – chx Mar 31 at 5:19
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At the baggage claim, sometimes I see plastic trays with relatively small items (e.g. backpacks). So there probably isn't any minimum checked bag size -- the airline can put your small item into a plastic tray to make it easier to handle.

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Keep in mind, airlines still have mail and parcel contracts so flying small items is not at all unusual.

Larger airlines also offer express delivery services such as Delta Dash.

The most possible, but improbable, oopsie is the baggage handlers mistaking it for cargo and putting it on the wrong cart.

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