Question about shipping a computer
September 3, 2007 11:36 AM   Subscribe

Help me get my iMac across the Atlantic ocean

On the Apple website under the new iMac's tech specs it gives a maximum altitude of 10,000 feet. I'll soon be traveling over to Europe for a prolonged period of time and intend to take my iMac with me, but because of the altitude restriction, I'm hesitant to just put it in my checked baggage. It's too large to put in my carry-on bag, so I was wondering, does anyone know of a way to safely ship the computer?
posted by Ndwright to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
That maximum altitude refers to when the iMac is actually powered up and in use. You may wish to take it as a carry-on anyway, just as a security measure. Flat-panel G5 and Intel iMacs are very light.
posted by porn in the woods at 11:58 AM on September 3, 2007

Best answer: That's maximum operating altitude. Don't worry about it at all.
posted by dmd at 11:58 AM on September 3, 2007

Computers get shipped as air freight all the time. (In fact, your computer may have already been shipped that way.) It'll be just fine.
posted by xil at 12:01 PM on September 3, 2007

It's too large to put in my carry-on bag

get a bigger carry-on bag

try a laptop backpack?
posted by Martin E. at 12:03 PM on September 3, 2007

10,000 feet is not an arbitrary number. It is the standard set in aviation for the maximum altitude that the average passenger will repeatedly tolerate without experiencing any discomfort. Most commercial aircraft cabins are pressurized to the equivalent at 10,000 feet.

Cargo holds on passenger aircraft are pressurized. It doesn't make sense not to pressurize, because
1) There's too many unforeseen safety hazards that might arise with random items bursting open in an unpressurized luggage compartment.
2) It's structurally simpler to pressurize the entire cylindrical fuselage than just the upper half of it.

Anyway, I would still be leery about putting my laptop in checked luggage. You do not want to see how those neanderthal baggage handlers treat your luggage.

Computers get shipped as air freight all the time.

Yes, but they get shipped on cargo pallets or in protective packaging. Naked in a suitcase is not a good idea.
posted by randomstriker at 12:37 PM on September 3, 2007

Response by poster: First off, it's not a laptop, it's an iMac, they're considerably larger than laptops. Secondly, my two pieces of carry-on luggage tend to be my violin case and a backpack.

However, now that I know it's safe to ship via air, I'll probably air-freight it or put it in a checked bag and pad the hell out of it. Thanks.
posted by Ndwright at 12:51 PM on September 3, 2007

Specifically, the altitude concern is for the operation of the hard drive. Above a certain altitude, the low air pressure will allow the drive's heads to scrape against the platters when in use, resulting in physical damage and data loss. When not in use, the drive heads are locked away from the platters, and it is not a concern.

It's not an issue if the computer has been shut down and unplugged, or if the computer is kept in a pressurized cabin.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 12:52 PM on September 3, 2007

Just a note: I had no problem taking my iMac across the Pacific. I used a Geargrip LCD, and had no problem getting it onto my JFK to SFO flight, or SFO to SYD. It easily fit under a seat, they didn't make me turn it on at the gate, and the TSA confirmed in an email that it was no problem.
posted by mhz at 2:54 PM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

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