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I have an international flight out of a USA airport recently and I've never been through one before (on the way out that is) so this is a question whose answer is not immediately obvious to me.

I 've never been asked to place any items found in my carry-on luggage with the hold luggage, but I am wondering how would that work in practice? In all international airports I've traveled from, you typically hand over you hold luggage during check-in so by the time you reach the baggage screening area you don't have it with you.

So, if you are asked to place something with the hold luggage, what exactly happens? Do you go back to the check-in counter, wait in the queue a second time, and then ask them to please bring out your luggage as you have something more you need to add to it? Or is your entire carry-on baggage placed into the hold? What if you only travel with hold luggage and a backpack or some other bag (e.g. notebook bag) that cannot be placed with the hold luggage?

The item(s) in question are mechanical keyboards so I'll be set back a few hundreds of USD if the only option at that point is to discard them. I've asked a related question and at least of the answers I received indicates that there is a (slim) possibility I may be asked to check them in, hence this question.

  • The chances are slim the airline will return your checked bags to add items to it. That's a lot of work for them. You'll either have to pay them to check your carry on, or a generous agent might waive it. That's one reason TSA accumulates many semi expensive artifacts because people just trash them instead of having to pay for a new checked bag. – user57303 May 17 '17 at 0:47
  • Pay who? the TSA? What if your bag cannot be practically checked in? (i.e. a backpack or some other very thin container) – Marcus Junius Brutus May 17 '17 at 1:03
  • The airline is not responsible for your oversight @marcusjuniusbrutus. You can only plead, find a bag and bag it, or leave it behind. – user57303 May 17 '17 at 1:18
  • As a practical matter, it's unlikely that you'd be asked to check the keyboards. The TSA might want to take a closer look at them, but that's a different situation. The situations where people are asked to check things usually involve liquids or objects that could be used as weapons (my geode collection is arguably your box of blunt weapons). – Zach Lipton May 17 '17 at 1:23
  • Let's just hope the TSA doesn't consider a mechanical keyboard a "blunt weapon", as they are rather heavy. – Greg Hewgill May 17 '17 at 4:12
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You would go back to the airline's check-in counter, wait in line, and check your item as an additional bag. The airline would charge you their standard baggage fee (e.g. if you had already checked one bag, they would charge you the fee for a second bag). Then you would return to the security checkpoint, wait in line there, and pass security, hopefully successfully this time.

If the item isn't sturdy enough for checked luggage, you could try to buy a box or suitcase or other container to put it in, if the airport has an appropriate store. The airline check-in agent might have suggestions.

If all else fails, or if the item isn't legal to fly in either checked or carry-on luggage, you'll have to either leave it behind (e.g. in your car, or with a friend, or travel somewhere to drop it off, or mail it from the airport if available), or throw it away, or miss your flight.

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