My girlfriend is flying from to Missouri later this month to visit her family. Her sister, in Missouri, wants her to bring her game consoles so they can play games together. She will also be visiting for a month.

How can I safely pack these items with her? She'll be bring two consoles, a couple of games for each, a laptop, tablet, books and clothes. So far, my idea was to pack everything that can't be damaged into a checked bag, bring the consoles in the overhead bag, and her tablet/books in her carry-on. Is this a good strategy to prevent the most probably damage? What sort of accommodations should I make for going through security? I won't be going with her, so I can't go through security with her, or tell her how to get to her gate. The other option we've found is to have it shipped over there, but that involves paying to ship it over, and paying to ship it back.

3 Answers 3


Video game consoles are actually not very sensitive. Game discs or cartridges even less so.

If you want to be safe, I'd do similar to what you said: carry on the two consoles (but not the cords, controllers, etc.) and the tablet. Everything else can be checked without much concern.

Security will likely require the consoles and tablet to be removed from the bags and placed in separate bins for x-ray screening.

What you're talking about here is entirely routine, so don't worry about it too much.

  • You should enroll in the March answerathon. Come and see what it's about on Travel Meta.
    – JoErNanO
    Mar 2, 2015 at 3:56

I once travelled with two consoles in my hand luggage while moving between countries. The most sensitive piece of the assembly are in my opinion the controllers. Anyhow if you can, take both console and controllers in your hand luggage, and leave the games in your checked piece. Should you be forced to check everything in, you can wrap each item individually in one or more items of clothing for extra padding.

When you get to security checks with your console-packed carry-on, you will have to remove the consoles before putting the bag through the x-ray machine. Very much like in the case of laptops, large pieces of electronics can hide items placed behind/before them, or render them confusing on the scan image. The consoles will of course have to be scanned themselves.

  • Would she have to put each piece in it's own bin? Or could she put the two consoles in one, and the laptop in the other?
    – user27308
    Mar 2, 2015 at 6:13
  • 1
    @Zymus you can never go wrong with one thing in each bin. At a minimum they cannot be on top of each other and should be lying flat. If they both fit lying down in one bin, that is likely fine.
    – StrongBad
    Mar 2, 2015 at 8:25
  • Generally security prefers laptops and bags to be in their own bin. Just went through UK checks and that was the case. As @strongbad suggests you can't go wrong with one item per bin.
    – JoErNanO
    Mar 2, 2015 at 9:31

In most cases I'd expect that packing the items as a unit in checked luggage in a manner that you'd use if mailing it and placing it at the core of the checked luggage with other soft contents around it as padding would be substantially more than adequate.

While baggage handling staff on occasion (at least) throw bags and while they may fall several metres off a conveyor [I have taken photos of both these things happening] it is not too hard to design a packing system that survives this. If you can pack it so that it seems likely to survive the most violent handling that you can possible conceive the bag experiencing then it may survive :-).

Carrying the equipment is fine if you are willing and able to "ride shotgun" on it at all times.
If it's placed in an overhead locker it must survive any possible action by other passengers.
We've all seen:

  • Oops! Sorry! I didn't realise that was hooked onto my bag ...

  • If I shove hard enough I'm sure that my bag will go into this locker

  • If I slam the locker door harder it will surely latch.


  • Well who would have thought the locker would burst open like that during takeoff and rain bags!!!? (I've seen it happen.)

Carry on: If you have to take it out for security inspection it needs to survive handling by security staff and just possibly interaction with other passengers at the far end of the XRay machine.

Worst case - if you are standing with arms extended being frisked for the 3rd time and the console is being pushed aside at XRay exit by other passengers it must not be able to be damaged. A ride in your checked bag allows you to be master of the situation.

  • How many checked bags did you lose last year? I lost three; two permanently lost and one was delivered to my office shredded six weeks later. No one is the master of the situation when someone else is looking after your bags.
    – Calchas
    Jun 9, 2015 at 22:53
  • @Calchas In my lifetime I've probably checked bags 100's of times. Although a few have vanished for a while, I've never lost one. Separation has usually happened when flights get scrambled by other events. But a few years ago I "lost" a small carry-on bag (while transiting through Brunei) that I usually kept very close to my person. It contained over $2000 of electronic equipment. | I'm considering having short range locators in such bags in future. Should be fun. Jun 10, 2015 at 2:54

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