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I had driven down to Florida from Pennsylvania and brought my desktop with me as I built it, and wasn't gonna be down here for a month without it. Long story short, my transmission blew before I was supposed to head back, and now I've got a plane ticket to go back to PA tomorrow. Question is, what do I do with my desktop? I purchased a carry-on bag for my flight, but I have no luggage big enough to fit the tower into. I was just going to remove the sensitive hardware and place it in my clothes bag, then just wrap the PC in teflon or something, and put the semi-hollow tower itself in the overhead bin.

Will TSA give me dirty looks carrying an unpackaged desktop around the terminal?

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I can't speak for TSA, but generally, I don't see why not.

Over the years I have flown with laptops (more than one at the same time), all kinds of components and even an IKVM without any problem.

A tower is not that different from a laptop. Just be sure there aren't any sharp parts that might be seen as dangerous. Also, be sure the tower is within the allowed size by the airline for carry-on luggage.

Having this said, you should have a plan B in case you're refused in security. At the limit, the decision is from the person doing security. I've seen things (not necessarily IT related) refused that were allowed to other persons. This makes me believe there is some kind of randomness in the process.

Tip: I would try to wrap the tower in some bubble plastic. It will work as protection and as a cushion to some trepidation in the airplane. Also create some kind of handle. It's not very confortable to transport a box like that.

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  • Well that's the tricky thing. My tower's dimensions are barely under the regulation, and its width might be 2" more than what's allowed.. I'm hoping they don't bust out a measuring tape and nickle and dime me. – Greg Dec 9 '19 at 18:18
  • I would still wrap it. My only concern is that it might give a more bulky look than it already is. But if your computer is under the allowed size, in the worst-case scenario, if the bubble wrapping surpasses the allowed size, I would just unwrap on-site to fit the measurements. – nsn Dec 10 '19 at 10:59
  • @Greg Depending on how full the flight is, they won't bust out a measuring tape; but they may well ask you to put it in the measuring cage - and if it doesn't fit, it won't go in the cabin. What's worse, don't forget that they can insist on flying cabin baggage as checked baggage if they don't have space (for free - but it will still get thrown about by baggage handlers). – Martin Bonner supports Monica Dec 10 '19 at 15:07

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