Tight fit on a plane to Spain

So here’s when we’re on the move again, this time it concerns an early Michell with an SME mounted. Saves me the draining of the cup in a Liquids arm house, now it’s just the “donut” bassin. But, as I do not, and repeat, do not trust cargohandlers enough with real fragile things, it has to go as cabin luggage. And that means a 45 cm by 40 cm by 25cm restriction – if it don’t fit it won’t fly (with you)- and the deck itself is already 44 by 42 by 15 cm. So I have to come up with a nice packaging which is reopenable as I know the curiosity and inquiring if not investigating tendencies from our Schiphol airport security.

So I cut out a carton rectangle with two flaps on the long side as cover for the sides, which I lined with 0.5 mm foampadding. And came out 43 by 45 by 15 cm, with just the mainbearing protruding about 2 cm at the bottom. Literally and figurally speaking, see if I can squeeze it in. I’m flying a subsidiary of KLM, Transavia, and they are known to be finicky. But a gamble worth taking.
Platter is foam padded on bottom side and polystyrene on top, compressed by the lid, which is in turn tightened by the cartonframe. Arm detached and packed in bubblewrap, shell and cart same, as well as strobe wheel and feet. A tight package but not considering crashes or other unforseen circumstances it ought to work. Only thing that might pose a problem is the small flacon with the viscose liquid- but in the worst case scenario I’d have to discard it and have it sent afterwards by air mail. Mmm, let me correct that, worst case scenario is me winding up in a Spanish gaol because they think it’s nitroglycerine – but that is slightly unlikely.

Tools have to be a small socket wrench set (French wench ?), because as I have already found out in the UK, screwdrivers can be regarded as lethal weapons. They don’t know what I can do with my teeth, though, like stripping wires, which my dentist does not approve of. But with sunny thoughts in my head, Hydraulic in and on the case I’m off to an early flight, returning some 17 hours later. 3 Hours driving time from and to the airport, leaves me about 5 hours for unpacking, installing and testing and perhaps a wee bit of sightseeing. Hope to continue this as soon as I get back.

My flight was to start boarding with luggage check-in at 5 AM, but I was already at Schiphol at 1 AM. Different airlines use different restrictions for size of cabin luggage, weight is in general 10 kilograms. The Hydraulic was, as I had anticipated indeed a bit too wide and did not fit the space tester, and was also 0.9 kilo too heavy. I had visions of a superfriendly airline assistant saying “Well, you can check it in as cargo luggage or leave it here at Schiphol, rules are rules”. At night there is no luggage check in as there are, probably due to noise complaints, no outgoing flights.

So I just walked through with my boarding pass pretending everything was as it should be. Security did not even ask me to unpack the Hydraulic, apparently the scan was sufficient. Only some questions about the wrenchset toolkit, length and whether they were not too sharp. But that also was OKed. So now it was just a matter of praying they would not use a test fit for cabin luggage at the actual boarding at the gate. But I was lucky once again and could procede as planned. First fase passed. After my arrival at the airport I was collected and driven to my destination. Unpacking, installing and fine-tuning was a piece of cake, and the new proud owner was beaming when I demonstrated the deck.

In the afternoon I was brought to the airport again. I was totally flabbergasted when security there refused my litte ( but expensive) ratchet set as cabin luggage. They must have been afraid I would dismantle the plane, how that was to be done with those fine precision bits remains a mystery to me. The female security officer only spoke Spanish, and when I protested in my best Spanish that the set had been cleared at Schiphol, she just said “Yeah, but this is Spain”.

So I just had to make a sacrifice, and we know more for the next time. Anyway, mission accomplished.