Ask Gadling: How to get a ticking clock through airport security

Today’s question comes from Joseph, who’s currently traveling in Copenhagen.

“I recently purchased a late 1920s savings bank clock while antique shopping at the Gammel Strand antiques market in Copenhagen, Denmark. I was wondering if you have any advice for transporting the clock, which is still ticking, back to the United States without raising too much suspicion from airport security. I have read too many news articles regarding airport terminals being evacuated because of passengers leaving ticking clocks in their unattended bag and I would prefer to not end up on a Fox News Alert in the near future.

First, we followed up with Joseph to ensure that the clock is small enough to be carried on the plane. If it were bigger than regulation size, we would have to recommend a specialty shipping company, as checking the clock in a suitcase or box, even if the ticking didn’t bother the security guards (after the usual x-ray), would mean a lot of jostling and probably damage to the clock. Joseph assured us the clock was about 12″ by 2″ wide; definitely small enough.

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I enlisted the help of our resident pilot, Kent Wien, and our resident flight attendant, Heather Poole, for their airport expertise on this one.

“They can x-ray the item and see that there are no other components necessary for a bomb,” said Kent. “Not a worry at all. He can even have it in a bag if he likes.”

“Can he put it on the conveyor belt? If so, he’s fine,” said Heather.

If the clock is too delicate for the conveyor belt in any way, like you’re concerned that the rubber flaps of the machine might damage the clock face, consider wrapping it in cloth and sticking it in a shopping bag for the security portion of your trip.

Don’t tape it up with styrofoam or other packing materials, making it hard to get to in case of questions.

“If he can hand-carry it,” said Kent, “he’ll have the opportunity to show it to security, which would help.”

Heather suggested asking to have it put in the airplane’s closet for the duration of the flight — that way, it won’t run the risk of damage in the overhead if there’s heavy turbulence (and the ticking won’t freak out your neighbor).

Thanks for the question, Joseph, and congratulations on your find!