Checking a 27 inch iMac on a plane?


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 6, 2009
I'm moving from China in a year and want to buy an iMac now. Most of my other stuff I'll ship to Argentina by boat, however, doing so with an iMac.. no way. It'll be too big for carry-on..

If I keep the original packaging and wrap it in a bit of extra bubble wrap, do you think it'll survive being checked onto a plane? It'll take a few bumps I bet, it'll be cold in the planes cargo hold... but, doable?

Yes? No?

I also want to buy it in Hong Kong (I go there often and save quite a bit of cash) which would mean checking it new when flying up to Beijing.

Thoughts guys?

Or should I just buy a 21.5 inch which will work as carry-on (I think?)


macrumors regular
Jan 25, 2009
An old friend used to take her iMac with her on a plane using the original packaging. Think it went into the planes cargo hold too.


macrumors 6502
Jun 10, 2007
UPS and FedEx do not heat their cargo planes (except for the cabin). If anything, your computer is subjected to greater temperature ranges in a FedEx/UPS cargo plane then that of a passenger aircraft. So, I'd be more worried about the baggage handlers than the temperature.


macrumors regular
Jul 1, 2008
If you plan on using it on the plane, you'll definitely need a business class seat or better.


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 6, 2009
Thanks for the replies guys. Very good point about handlers etc, probably best to "disguise" the packaging so it isn't obvious it's an iMac.

Theft is the greatest concern then ey?

I save a full USD 300 when buying it in directly from Apple in Hong Kong SAR versus mainland China....


macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2008
I know you want an iMac, but seems to me that if you are living in China a year, the hassle of buying and getting the iMac there, and then getting it back home after a year will be too much. I'd just buy a Macbook Pro instead, and you won't have any troubles taking it right on the plane.


Sep 18, 2007
Planet Earth
I used to take my 20" iMac with me and never had issues.
7" more is huge difference and I don't think they will even let you board with object of this size.


macrumors newbie
Feb 23, 2011
just done this


I've just transported in the cargo hold of a charter flight (actually a mate did for me) a brand new i7 27inch mac from the UK to an island in the Mid Atlantic (No Apple Store here). It was probably one of the scariest things I've ever done - my concerns were:

1) It would get nicked
2) it would get broken
3) Customs would rub their hands as they charged me a 3rd again of what it cost as it rolled off the conveyor belt

If you transport this thing in it's original box (or even one of these purpose built Pelican style cases, which I would say are the way forward for travelling commercially i.e with business insurance) you'll leave yourself wide open to factors 1 & 3

If you ship it you will pay a lot & then get clobbered with taxes.

So after about 3 weeks of deliberation we ended up with this being our best course of action:

* Buy a good hard suitcase & lots of good thick bubble wrap (the big bubbles).

* Wrap the baby up in the case so it is snug as a bug in bubble wrap & put thick towels under the screen & around the stand so there is no movement at all.
(After speaking to several people with experience in packing, thick bubble wrap seems to be actually better than polystyrene for transporting goods - polystyrene compresses under impact, the bubble wrap doesn't. So if it does get thrown around by some jobsworth it should be okay)

* Check that it is covered under someones home insurance policy!

* Mark it with fragile (in the language of the place you're travelling to) & this way up stickers.

* Check it in at the fragile goods counter

* Take some Hedex - I promise you you will give yourself a migraine from worry while the plane is in the air

* Open it up check it's all okay

* Get the beers in & congratulate yourselves on how excellent you've become at problem solving

Obviously I would do your own risk analysis from where you are & to where you are going - some airports have a very bad reputation for fragile goods going AWOL.

Just thought I would give you some feedback of someone who has done it as a lot of the threads I read on this were people just speculating & not very helpful.

Good luck!
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