With more and more people having to travel due to work commitments and more and more people starting to make the switch over to using a fountain pen instead of a ballpoint or rollerball pen, it was only a matter of time until people started to ask why fountain pens are not allowed in airplanes. There are a number of misconceptions based around air travel and fountain pens so we have decided to publish this dedicated article to try and help clear some of the more popular ones up in the hope that we will be able to help as many of our readers as possible.
Now, before we go any further, we just want to point out that there are a number of different regulations when it comes to air travel both from government agencies as well as the airlines themselves. The best path to take will always be to contact the airline that you are planning to fly with and ask them for advice on if you are able to take your fountain pen with you on your plane journey or not and they will be able to offer you the most up to date advice.
On top of this, some airlines may have different recommendations for long haul and short haul flights due to different air frames flying at different altitudes or working with different cabin pressure systems. On top of this, government agencies such as the TSA do often change the recommended items that you can and cant travel with depending on the current thread level so the information in our article below may not be up to date by the time you are due to fly.
Can You Carry A Fountain Pen On An Airplane?
As we touched on above, you may be able to travel with your fountain pen without any issues depending on the airline that you are flying with as well as the government regulations for both the country that you are flying from as well as the country that you are flying to. Provided that you are only trying to fly with a regular fountain pen, you should be able to fly with it and not run in to any official problems due to having your pen.
Airlines know that they have a large number of business people flying with them for work related trips and that many of them will want to travel with their favourite pens. We have seen some airlines discourage their passangers from flying with fountain pens due to the pressure issues that can cause the pen to leak while in the air but we will cover that in more detail later in the article.
The main issue that we constantly see with carrying a pen on an airline is the use of tactical pens this is due to the pen being a self-defence item that can be used as a weapon. Many countries will confiscate a tactical pen from you when trying to board the plane or may well refuse you from the aircraft altogether but a regular fountain pen should not have any issues like this.
Fountain Pens In Carry On Luggage?
We have seen some airlines specifically recommend that their passangers try to keep any fountain pens that they do want to fly with in their carry on luggage rather than their hold luggage. Although this will come down to the specific airline, airframe, and altitude the plane will by flying at, it is often due to the hold of the plane not being pressurised during flight where as the cabin is pressurised.
As you have your carry on luggage in the cabin of the plane with you where it is pressurised, it can minimise any potential issued with pressure causing the pen to leak or potentially become damaged. That said though, although the cabin is pressurised, it can still cause some minor issues with some fountain pens but they all do tend to be very easy to fix anyway and usually don’t result in any long term damage or problems with your fountain pen.
Why Does A Fountain Pen Leak In An Aeroplane Flying At A Height?
The main reason that your fountain pen may leak when on a plane is due to the pressure of the aircraft being considerably lower than the air pressure on the surface of the planet. Although humans are able to detect this slight difference, being organic matter, it tends not to have much of an issue on us where as it can cause issues with the piston filler or ink cartridge system in your fountain pen.
The best route to take is to empty your piston filler completely prior to flying with the airline as this removes the ink from the pen so there is nothing in it to leak during the flight. The next best option is to ensure that you have a full piston filler or ink cartridge if possible with minimal air in it so pressure changes will have a minimal effect on the pen while in transit.
The worst state for your fountain pen to travel in on a plane is with a piston filler or ink cartridge that is half full or has a decent sized air gap in it. This is due to the air pressure changing on take off, while cruising, and when landing meaning that there is a higher chance of the ink in the pen being force through the ink path and leaking. Even in the cabin this can occur so please keep in mind that just because you have your fountain pen in your carry on luggage, it does not mean that it will not have issues while flying.
There is an additional potential issue with some fountain pens when flying with them if their cap forms a good strong seal with the barrel when closed. This can help to protect the pen throughout the pressure changes and help it get through the flight without issue but the second you open the fountain pen to use it on the plane, this all changes and the rapid chance of pressure can cause an excessive ink spillage from the nib of the pen.
How Do You Travel With A Fountain Pen?
The majority of the time, you should be able to fly with your fountain pen and not end up having any issues as all, especially if you have a modern fountain pen that has a cap that can form a solid seal on the barrel of the pen to protect it from pressure changes. We would also recommend that you carry your fountain pen in your carry on luggage if possible but check with the airline first.
Keeping your fountain pen in your carry on can help to prevent it from having any serious issues with pressure changes as the cabin is pressurised for the journey and experience much smaller fluctuations than the hold the majority of the time. Also try to empty your fountain pen of ink if possible, if you do have to keep it inked then try to ensure that the piston filler or cartridge is full with no air gap to further reduce potential issues.
That brings our article going over if you are able to fly with a pen as well as why some fountain pens may not be allowed on planes to a close. Although the majority of the time, you should be fine and be able to travel with your fountain pen without issue, we would always recommend that you check with the airline prior to flight. Follow our tips and tricks above too as they will help prevent the chances of you having any issues with ink leaking and ensure your fountain pen does not spoil anything else in your carry on luggage too.