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I'm taking some freeze-sensitive items in a checked luggage for a short flight. It's cheese, chocolate, toothpaste and wine. I would like to know whether the luggage can get "frozen" in the aircraft. Sometimes it happened to me that my stuff actually was quite cold after the flight, so I'd like to be quite sure. Especially the cheese was really expensive and freezing it would very likely demage it.

Usually I pack everything well in clothes, but this time the things are just too many so it's tough to do more than just protect the wine from breaking.

Some details: It's an A320 flight taking 1.5 hours, with Czech Airlines, from Paris CDG to Prague PRG.

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    On a short haul flight like that, I'd have thought your biggest weather risks were on luggage carts between the terminal and the plane, rather than in the hold. May depend more therefore on the weather at both ends, and the promptness of baggage handling...
    – Gagravarr
    Dec 19, 2013 at 0:33
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    @Gagravarr Well, the whether forecast is around 0C in both places, quite ok. However, it's -50C outside the plane for cca 50 minutes which is crucial. Is the luggage part of the aircraft heated to the same temp as the cabin?
    – yo'
    Dec 19, 2013 at 0:40
  • Cheese can take being frozen, just do not re-freeze later.
    – Willeke
    Apr 13, 2019 at 13:45

5 Answers 5

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On an aircraft like one you're on, it's interesting to realise that the cargo hold is actually pressurised, just like the cabin. (The floor between the two is not a pressure bulkhead, so needs to be roughly the same or it could collapse from the pressure.

However, as you've observed, the temperature is often cold as while the cabin is warmed, the cargo hold usually is not.

From a similar plane (767) and written by a A320 pilot:

Conditioned air is directed from the cabin, so the air tends to be a little cooler by the time it reaches the cargo areas, which are also less insulated than the cabin. Cargo temperatures vary in our fleet. The Boeing 767 maintains its baggage hold above 7˚C, but the bulk area (where animals are carried) can be heated above 18˚C. Controlled temperature cargo bins are also available when temperature-sensitive goods are being shipped.

So your wine is unlikely to freeze if it only gets down to 7 degrees, but it's worth noting that in some exceptional cases (close to the outside, no insulation, extreme temperatures outside) it may cause some freezing. Your best bet is to insulate it with some jackets or similar, like you've suggested you will do. Odds are, it'll be fine.

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    Thanks Mark! If my stuff survives, I'll accept the answer. If not, I'll call you names :D /sarcasm
    – yo'
    Dec 19, 2013 at 7:49
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    @tohecz haha, I'm using you as the guinea pig. My flight is tomorrow night, please let us know by then? ;)
    – Mark Mayo
    Dec 19, 2013 at 10:00
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    Well, everything seem to have survived. The suitcase was quite cold on touch, but its stomach was fine :)
    – yo'
    Dec 22, 2013 at 23:06
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    Luckily, your wine will not freeze even at 0°C. Your bottle at 13.5% will only freeze somewhere at -7°C (grapevinecottage.com/wine/wa-articles/wa-HowColdisTooCold.html). We usually keep white wine bottles outside in the snow during winter.
    – Jonas
    Feb 5, 2015 at 12:10
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    @Panzercrisis Chocolate can melt in your checked luggage when it is sitting outside, depending on the weather at your point of departure or arrival. This has happened to me.
    – phoog
    Jul 18, 2016 at 19:29
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Running a datalogger inside a checked suitcase between Paris and Sydney via Dubai showed the minimum temperature to be 13 degrees Celsius. That occurred in the last 3 hours of flight. A change of aircraft at Dubai showed the temperature rise to 28.5 degrees Celsius, when it changed aircraft, and then slowly drop as the Sydney bound aircraft proceeded on its flight. Temperature and humidity were logged every 15 seconds. The datalogger was a recorder and not a transmitter. Transmitter equipment aboard aircraft is illegal. I am yet to marry data from the recorder against actual flight data available online, but aircraft typically travel at around 38000 feet, with an outside temperature of around minus 44.6 degrees Celsius. The datalogger was placed against the side of the suitcase in a side pocket. The suitcases position within both cargo holds was unknown.

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    This is a duplicate answer of: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/39113/… There is no need to post the same content over and over again.
    – JoErNanO
    Sep 6, 2016 at 10:38
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    While this is a duplicate answer, it seems helpful enough, but could greatly be improved by fitting it to the question instead of only copy&pasting. Also the questions regarding your other answer hold here as well. Welcome to Travel SE in any case!
    – mts
    Sep 6, 2016 at 10:46
  • @Bob what were the aircraft types, please?
    – yo'
    Sep 6, 2016 at 10:51
  • @yo' There's unlikely to be much of a difference between different medium-to-large aircraft used on commercial flights. Sep 6, 2016 at 11:10
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    @JoErNanO I see no problem with heavily copying one’s own answer if it fits two different questions. That said, it would be a tad better had the answer been not simply copied but designed to fit this question. (Btway, I duplicated answers of myself over at Chemistry. Flag me, if you must.)
    – Jan
    Sep 6, 2016 at 22:09
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Hi I'm a flight attendant and have checked in freeze sensitive items like the above (wines , cheese... even champagne and a whole clingwrapped roasted duck) to bring home throughout my 2-year career. Yes, it's only 2 years but I do check in such stuff frequently (between monthly and quarterly basis). I would stow them quickly in the fridge when I get home. Everything ended up fine and unspoiled. So far (Thank God) none of the wines/sparkling wines which I packed home exploded or ended up like 7-11 Slurpee slush or separated into different layers of liquid. In fact, my greatest concerns and the greatest risk taken would be physical damages to the bag during the check-in-out process which may in turn damage my stuff. Ground staff handling baggage may damage your bags accidentally. If you're lucky, it's a harmless scratch. A wheel missing? OK, still repairable. But have you ever seen bags badly cracked or dented lying sadly on the conveyor belt? A bad dent in the wrong place may cause a bottle to crack and soak all my stuff inside. Hope this helps. :)

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  • Yes, I've carried wine and even soda in checked baggage. I'd recommend wrapping in a bag or other watertight packaging so that a leak will be localised in case something happens, but I have never had a problem.
    – Stuart F
    Jul 8, 2022 at 9:58
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I've checked numerous freeze-sensitive things over the years. Once, back in the 80s I had damage (and that from a 1-hr flight.) Since then everything has been fine, even on very long flights.

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By mistake, my carry-on bag containing 100 insulin cartridges (Actrapid and Lanus) was handed over as checked-in luggage when I traveled from Mumbai to Toronto via Frankfurt, but I got them safe in the end.

Insulin is generally damaged by freezing, but that did not happen, so I believe that the temperature in the cargo hold was maintained and did not reach 0°C; it may have reached 7°.

If the temperature is allowed to reach freezing point, humidity inside passengers' bags may become ice and cause damage to clothes also.

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  • Next time please edit to take out mistakes rather than post again. That is the way it is supposed to work here.
    – Willeke
    Jul 7, 2022 at 19:46

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