View Full Version : oils on planes

Brad M.
06-19-2002, 10:08 AM
Does anyone have any comments/advice on taking oils on planes.
I recently traveled to the Carribean and took my pochade box. I put all my supplies (oils, box, brushes, mineral spirits, etc...) in a Xerox paper box and tie it shut. I check it and do not carry on. I also have a larger french easel I pack in the original box.
When I was returning home everyones luggage was opened and inspected and had to talk my way out of the paints being conviscated. (I left the inspector confused about whether they were oil or water colors).
Is there a sure way to take oils on a trip, especially overseas. I find the need in my work to do more plein air painting, so this is a critical issue for me.
Thank you for your help.
Ed Hopper

06-19-2002, 01:24 PM
Good question, but I don't really have a good answer. I will travel soon with a plane and I will (perhaps) only carry my water-colour stuff with me. Carring the easle and all the oil painting stuff is really a bit too complicated.

- agarwaen

06-19-2002, 01:39 PM
when i lived in germany, i travelled a lot back and forth with my oils...even moved half my studio.

you can travel with oil PAINT (of course brushes), but NOT mediums (linseed oil okay), turps, etc. there is a big difference...basically what is combustionable, and what isn't...

contact your airlines and find out their guidelines.

its no biggie.

p.s. you can buy turps and other mediums when you arrive.

cobalt fingers
06-19-2002, 02:25 PM
The paints are fine no turps etc. My easel barely fits as a carry on. I'd stoy it underneath but no turps or thinners!

06-19-2002, 02:51 PM
Yep, have to agree with what's already been said. Paints should not pose any problems but leave your mediums and thinners at home. It would be best to call the airlines, as they may differ on this from one to another. Better safe than sorry.

06-23-2002, 06:42 PM
This is a confusing topic from what others have reported on other threads about confiscation of oil paint by airport security. Even if you call your airline, what they say won't matter at all when they aren't at the security gate to say yes, you can bring them when security is over reacting. Some workshop teachers bring information from oil paint companies stating what's in them and that they are not combustible. So, it sounds like in any given situation we are at the mercy/knowledge of airport security as to taking oils on board an airline.

I asked at my airport about a very large dull tipped crochet hook and showed it to them, they said fine. Then when I was asked in CA about anything, I showed it to them and they said to stick it in my suitcase I was checking or they'd have to take it. I would think checking oils with luggage would stand a better chance, rather than carry on, as it isn't as randomly searched.

06-24-2002, 09:49 AM
I've been wondering about all of this also, since I'm moving to Germany for 3 years in January. I do know that transportation (the people that pack up our stuff in the military) are going to give me a hard time regardless of the question of combustion. Their guidelines strictly say "NO PAINT". So, If I can carry them on the plane with me, that might help to solve that problem :). Or, I wonder if I could mail them to myself?? It's bad enough to not be able to do anything with the mediums and solvents. That's dollars out the window! But, I can't imagine having to completely start over with my oils!!!! What a nightmare that would be.

Thanks for the insight :)


06-24-2002, 10:09 AM
Originally posted by guillot
Or, I wonder if I could mail them to myself?

Interestingly enough, I DID read on one of these forums that someone said they could mail oils over for a workshop, and they of course would go in a plane, that carries passengers so she was trying to figure out what the point was? I think you should pursue sending them in your luggage IF you can't get the movers to take them. But perhaps supplying them with information about oils will enlighten them. Ask the military if they'd like to reimburse you for the costs of oils you can't take? Good luck!

06-24-2002, 03:52 PM
I bought a full set of Rembrant oils in Chicago and took them on planes to Washington, Niagera Falls and New York and then home to England with absolutely no trouble at all so the simple answere is yes, they do travel well


06-24-2002, 04:21 PM
Victor, I'd like to know how/where you carried them {checked with luggage or carry on?} and if you WERE stopped and searched, if not then it's certainly doable. It's when you get a random check that confiscation CAN take place.

06-25-2002, 02:28 AM
Hello Cathleen,

I kept them in my hand luggage all the time and I wasn't stopped. Come to think of it, I have never ever been stopped for a search. I must admit, it has never occured to me that I was doing anything illegal and don't know what all the fuss is about.


06-25-2002, 03:14 AM
if you check the paints, you won't have any trouble.

guillot...be sure if you mail the paint to yourself that you do so with UPS. the mail system in germany is really bad...also, you will have to pay customs on these paints...if mailed. its hit or miss, sometimes it'll go right through the system and no problems, other times you will have to pay large amounts...regardless that the paints aren't new.

when i moved back to america, i shipped my household and studio, so i didn't have any problems coming back home...

and...i flew over with my paints, no problems.

where are you moving to in germany?

06-25-2002, 10:40 AM
Originally posted by Victor
I must admit, it has never occured to me that I was doing anything illegal and don't know what all the fuss is about.

It's NOT illegal, it's merely misinterpreted by airport security.
The fuss is about loosing many dollars worth of oil paints
that shouldn't be confiscated in the first place.

06-25-2002, 12:16 PM
Cathleen - good tips - thank you! :)

Lori, thanks so much for the information. This will be my third time to go to Germany! I do know how that mail system is too. YUK!! Although UPS is a fantastic idea, I think checking them might just be the best way to get them there.

This time round, it's either Ansbach or Hanau Germany. I've been to Ansbach before (30-60K from Nuernberg): small farming community, small town, GREAT CHOCOLATE STORE in the square, and a beautiful place. I'm sure that Hanau is quite a bit larger than Ansbach. Should know the pinpoint in a couple of months.

Thanks again for the info :)


Luis Guerreiro
06-25-2002, 04:53 PM
Right Guys,

I read the postings and the answer to the issue is that Airport officials are plainly STUPID. Let's face it! There is no reason to confiscate oils.
So the answer is:
If an airport official decides to confiscate the oils, all you have to do is ask for the Duty Officer (if the official is from the Police or Customs, etc...) or the Duty Manager.
Then DO ASK IN THE MOST AFFIRMATIVE FASHION for written rules stating that artists oils are a dangerous material and should be confiscated (which they will not be able to produce because there is no such rule about artists oils, of course).
Finally ask for a document signed and stamped by the Airport authority stating why were the oils confiscated, explaining that they are extremely expensive and therefore thay are in for compensation payment for the loss of your oils.
There is no cutting corners dealing with this sort of people: The most dangerous thing is not carrying oils. The most dangerous thing is to fall in the hands of stupid people who happen to be in a position of power, however liittle that powr may be, they WILL use it, because stupid people in a position of little power need to use that power to make them feel immensely important.
They need smacked up the ***rse basically, told to piss off and explained that we, the artists have no bloody time to deal with tossers!

Luis Guerreiro
06-25-2002, 05:04 PM
There is more...
It is the artists' responsibility to be pro-active instead of complaining passively and get robbed hundreds of bucks worth of expensive oil paints.
So, let's ask artists representative bodies (federations, societies, associations, etc...) to get their lazy arses in gear and ACTUALLY DO what they are paid to do: REPRESENT THE ARTISTS PROPERLY, instead of spending their bloody time in red tape and administrating the financial benefits of placing our money in their FAT bank accounts!
Wetcanvas is big and important enough to do something about it too.
Why don't we create a lobby force to start disturbing them and their stupid rules?
It is very simple: Oils are not dangerous! So the question to ask to both airport authorities and air companies is:
WILL you review this matter properly or do you prefer to get your company blacklisted in all artists international forums on the INTERNET? I bet they will review their policies regarding artists inocuous materials! Business is money and they are not in business to loose money over SILLY matters. Well, if they are, then just boycot them and fly with those who don't.

06-29-2002, 07:10 AM
Very well said Luis.

Victor....:clap: :clap: