Rules for Flights in the USA
Although not specified for art portfolios, similar things like picture frames are allowed in both hand and checked luggage on flights in the United States. A larger portfolio that doesn’t fit in the airplane’s upper compartment or under the seat must travel inside your checked luggage.
Some airlines might have special exceptions for oversized items, like sporting gear, musical instruments, and others, so making previous arrangements with the airline for a larger portfolio is advisable. You should ideally avoid packing important items in your checked luggage, like your art portfolio, because it could get damaged, stolen, or lost.
Rules for Flights in Other Countries
Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and China
The Canadian, European, UK, Australian, New Zealand, and Chinese flight authorities don’t explicitly mention art portfolios, but there isn’t anything particular about them that should make them prohibited on planes. So it’s safe to assume that art portfolios are allowed both in hand and checked luggage, as long as they fit each airline’s size restrictions.
Not mentioned specifically, but it is advised that fragile and valuable items travel in your carry-on luggage when traveling to India. Art portfolios bigger than the overhead compartment should go in a checked suitcase. While portfolios are fragile and welcomed on board, photo frames are banned from hand luggage, so avoid carrying any framed art piece inside it.
Sources: For writing this article, we took information only from official sources, like airline regulators, government websites, and major airlines. If you want to confirm that our information is accurate and up to date, click on any of the links mentioned above. We linked out to where we found this information for each country.
Disclaimer: The final decision of whether you can bring an art portfolio onboard airplanes always rests on the security officer. Some airlines also have additional rules that may be different.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bringing Art Portfolios on Planes
What size art portfolios are allowed on planes (A2, A3, A4)?
A3 and A4 art portfolios easily fit in most airlines’ standard sizes for carry-on luggage and are allowed on planes in the United States. A1 and A2 portfolios have bigger sizes that go over the usual carry-on bag standards and should go inside the checked luggage when traveling although some airlines might do special adjustments to store artwork inside the cabin. The most common carry-on size requirement is 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 x 36 x 23 cm), although it differs between airlines.
Is it better to pack my art portfolio in hand or checked luggage?
It is safer to pack your portfolio in hand luggage to protect it from possible damage while traveling in checked baggage. But, oversize art portfolios will have to be checked at the airport. You can check ahead with your airline to see if they make exceptions for art as they do with certain instruments and sports equipment.
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What’s the best way to pack my art portfolio so that it fits in hand luggage?
When traveling, A3 and A4 plastic art portfolios are the most convenient way to store art so that it fits inside the usual carry-on suitcases. A good option is this compact art portfolio which is slim and practical. For transporting paintings in a portfolio without protective sheets use an insert of cloth, glassine paper, or foam to protect the artwork inside the case. If possible, also use a plastic sleeve to pack them. Other travelers prefer to roll their art pieces and fix them inside an expandable storage tube.
Can I bring framed canvas on planes?
You can bring framed art inside airplanes in the United States as long as it meets the airline’s sizes for carry-on. Frames that don’t fit in the overhead bin should travel as checked luggage. If you rather not be separated from the art piece, you can call ahead your airline and see if they can make arrangements to travel with the painting inside the cabin, either by paying an extra fee or buying a few seats.
Do I need to take out my art portfolio when going through security?
You won’t need to take out your art portfolio from your luggage when going through airport security unless the security agent tells you to do so. That’s because art portfolios aren’t considered dangerous items and they don’t clutter the x-ray scanner images.
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