Do you share our love for collecting luxurious and stylish fountain pens? If you do, then you might already know the daunting thought of leaving behind your lucky pen when you take a flight to another city, state, or country. If you’re considering taking your favorite fountain pen on one of your upcoming trips and want to know the answer to the question, “Can you bring fountain pens on airplanes?” we’re here to offer you all the detailed pieces of information that you’ll need to make an informed decision.
Of course, the short answer to this question is a big YES, but there are several underlying factors that are essential to note, such as the precautionary measures you can take to prevent damage to other belongings or your clothes and some modern airplane safe pens to invest in if you still have some time left for research and relevant purchases.
Table of Contents
Can You Take a Fountain Pen in Hand Luggage?
While it is safe and permissible for travelers to carry a fountain pen in their hand luggage despite the liquid ink they have and the pointed nib of some fountain pens, it might prove to be disastrous for your hands and clothes if not traveled with carefully. For example, if your ink pen is filled, it’s best to keep it upright for the duration of the flight. You can do this by hooking it in your hand luggage or shirt’s pocket.
Another excellent method to prevent fountain pen leaks is emptying it completely or filling it to the brim. By following the latter approach, you prevent air bubbles that contract and expand during the flight and on the ground, respectively, to match the external air pressure and cause leakage when you open the cap. You can also keep it in a ziplock and avoid using it during descent and ascent to be extra cautious.
Why do Fountain Pens Leak at Higher Altitudes?
Before we try to understand why fountain pens leak at higher altitudes, we need to understand the pen’s anatomy. Your fountain pen contains a converter where the ink is stored and passed through to the tip of the brush or nib that you use to write. The watery consistency of the ink allows it to flow to the nib without jams, which also means that it easily flows to the nib when introduced to higher altitudes.
Those already aware of Boyle’s Law might find it easier to understand why fountain pens tend to leak at higher altitudes. This gas law explains the relationship between volume and pressure, and it further states that when the available volume of a container decreases, the pressure acting on it increases to balance the external and internal pressures.
Following this theory, the air pressure on the ground is higher than the air pressure of a pressurized cabin when the airplane is at a higher altitude. The air trapped inside the pen’s converter expands as the pressure inside the cabins decreases at higher altitudes, consequently increasing the air pressure inside the pen. When you open your pen after landing, it is exposed to new, higher external air pressures, which force the pen to rapidly change its internal air pressure, thus expanding the air and pushing the ink outward onto your hands and clothes.
How to Fly With Fountain Pens
If you want to travel with your favorite or lucky fountain pen but also want to avoid any disasters while using your fountain pen, you must be careful as to how you carry it and when you use it. Avoid this packing mistake and keep the following tips and tricks in mind when you’re flying with a fountain pen:
● Remove All the Ink: To remove the ink from your pen, hold your pen horizontally and remove the casing or the body. Next, with the nib facing upward, remove the converter and pour the ink into an inkpot and rinse it thoroughly to remove any excess ink from it, and reassemble the pen. You can simply remove the cartridge and store it in a ziplock if you have a disposable cartridge in your fountain pen.
● Keep the Pen in an Airtight Container or Ziplock: If you don’t want to take any chances and lower the probabilities of a mishap, you can also consider carrying your fountain pen in a ziplock or an airtight container, such as a cigar case.
● Don’t Use it During Larger Pressure Changes: The pressure changes are relatively more significant when the airplane is ascending or descending, which means that the external and internal air pressure is rapidly changing during this time. To avoid any mess, it’s best to avoid using your fountain pen during this time.
● Keep Your Pen in an Upward Position: Place your fountain pen in an upright container or hook it to your shirt or luggage’s pocket to ensure that the external pressure and gravity do not affect the internal air pressure of the fountain pen.
● Fill the Ink to the Brim: Fill the converter or cartridge to the top so as to not leave any air in it, you will have to either install a brand new cartridge, lower and raise the piston several times while turning the converter counterclockwise, or lift and flip the lever back into the pen, depending on which fountain pen you own.
● Consider Shopping for a Pen with a Removable Cartridge: If you have sufficient time before your travel date, you can also consider investing in a fountain pen with a removable cartridge so you can efficiently remove the ink before your travel and refill it when you land.
Best Fountain Pens for Flying
There are two distinct fountain pen types that are specifically excellent for flying, so you can consider investing in them if you want a 100% leak-proof experience during your travels. Let’s take a look at what these two options are and what each of them entails:
Vacuum Filler Fountain Pens
A Vacuum Filler Fountain Pen is considered one of the safest options for traveling because its ergonomic design allows users to empty or fill the cartridge completely and efficiently. The built-in filling system comes with a plunger that can be used to create suction or negative pressure and fill the cartridge to the very top.
If you want to invest in a vacuum filler fountain pen for your travels, the Asvine V169 Vacuum Filling Fountain Pen is a great option to consider. The luxury fountain pen comes with three options for the point type, including extra-fine, fine and medium, and is made of brass and acrylic materials. It has a transparent design that allows you to check how much ink is left in the cartridge. The lightweight and sleek design makes this one of the best on the market, especially for air travel.
Pens with a Disposable Cartridge System
As mentioned earlier, if your fountain pen’s design allows you to attach and detach disposable cartridges, you don’t need to go through the hassle of emptying its converter or risk leaving air bubbles when filling the cartridge completely. You can replace the ink cartridge when it’s empty or dispose of it and attach a new one once you’ve landed. This system is considered even more efficient than vacuum filler pens by some users and has proven to help avoid all disasters during air travel.
A great addition to your collection can be the charcoal coloredLamy Safari Fountain Pen, which is available with black or blue ink and comes with a fine nib design. Made of ABS plastic, the pen comes with a T10 ink cartridge and is also designed to fit the Z24 cartridge converter. You can see how much ink is left in the tank through a small window located where the cartridge is installed.
Traveling with Fountain Pen Ink
If you’re traveling with a refillable fountain pen, you may also need to pack an inkpot. Most ink pots sold for travel contain approximately 30 to 60 ml of ink, which is excellent considering the 100 ml limit on liquids if you’re taking it in your carry-on. In addition to ensuring you’re not crossing this limit, you must also wrap the ink bottle in bubble wrap, a t-shirt, or pack it in a ziplock if it’s made of glass.
If you’re on the lookout for a travel inkwell that is designed for travel and won’t take up a lot of space in your quart-size ziplock, you can consider investing in the Pineider Fountain Pen Ink Portable Travelling Inkwell. This cylindrical plastic inkwell stores up to 10 ml and can be used for pens with grips between 9.5mm and 13.5mm in diameter. The pen locks into place while filling so there are no accidental spills.
Traveling on airplanes with a fountain pen is entirely safe, given you follow the directives and precautionary measures to the T. For example, you can keep the pen upright, empty its cartridge or fill it to the brim, or store it in a ziplock to be extra cautious.
While it’s safe to travel with any fountain pen type, the two most sought-after and highly reliable types include vacuum filler leak proof fountain pens and pens with a disposable cartridge system.
If you want to avoid ink mess at all costs, investing in an inkwell is an excellent choice. It safely contains all the ink you’ll need during your journey and allows you to refill your pen without any spill.