Can You Carry a Telescope on a Plane?

Grabbing our telescope and heading to the backyard is easy. Right? However, if you are venturing further afield and traveling on an airplane, you will want to know if you can carry a telescope on a plane. Stargazing holidays are becoming ever more popular, so knowing if you can take your telescope is something you need to know.

Yes, you can carry a telescope on a plane as a carry on or checked-in baggage. However, it is highly advisable to use a carry-on method of transport to avoid damage. Your Telescope would need to be small enough to fit into the carry-on category.

Transporting a telescope requires a lot of care, so you don’t damage it; that’s, even more, a case when traveling in any vehicle to keep it safe. We will cover some handy tips on carrying and keeping your telescope safe.

Telescope Checked-in Baggage

If you like playing Russian roulette, then the checked-in method of transporting your telescope may be for you. The reason for this is that checked-in baggage while may be sufficient for a bag of clothing. It is not the environment for a delicate telescope.

Bags are thrown into a large crate before being transported to the plane then taken out of the containers into the plane as quickly as possible. The airline and its workers are on a tight timeline. Your telescope may be your pride and joy, but that doesn’t mean anything to the worker’s deadline.

I have seen people advising placing stickers on your “Fragile” package again; the worker will pay little attention to a sticker. Their job is to get your bags to and into the place as quickly as possible.

I would never travel with my telescope as checked-in baggage. There is always the option to hire a telescope in the location you are traveling to on holiday.

Telescope Carry-on Baggage

If you are looking to go on a telescope holiday and your mode of transport involves a plane. The only way I would advise you to travel with your telescope would be as a carry-on.

Why? Well, first off, you have full control over how it’s treated getting on and off the plain. Carrying on your telescope and placing it in the overhead storage, you do all this and can handle the process with care.

Other passengers also use the overhead storage; it’s not just ours as our pressures telescope is inside. I would always sit next to the overhead compartment I was placing my telescope into for the flight. If anyone comes to use the compartment that stores your telescope, you can act.

Travel can be a fraught experience at the best of times; traveling with a telescope worth a lot of money can add to the stress levels. If anyone tries to use the overhead storage, I would politely ask them if they would like me to place it in for them. A lot of people would say no thanks. I would process to say, ok, no problem; it is just that I have my telescope in there, so I’m a little worried about it.

I have traveled several times now, and this conversation has only ever lead to two outcomes. First, they would say, don’t worry, I will be careful and process with caution. The second reaction has been to say, ok, please put my bag in as I’d hate to damage your telescope.

I have never had one nasty comment, and most times, this ice breaker has lead to a conversation about the night sky.

Airline Rules

It would be impossible for me to find out the carry-on limit for all airlines with so many airlines now. Before you travel, I would advise contacting the airline to see their carry-on limit; you should find it online as well.

The carry-on limit will be based on the size, so you will need to make sure your telescope fits within this size guide to travel. Don’t expect that you will be fine; check the size or only have two options. The first being cancels your flight and the second option put your telescope into the checked-in Baggage, and as above, don’t recommend this method.

Besides the size, your airline may have a weight limit, so this is something well worth checking.

There is going to be some telescope that is just not possible to travel with on a place. The first telescope that springs to mind are the best Dobsonian telescope, which can be very big, and it will be impractical to travel on a plane with you.

Telescope Carry Case

Getting the best telescope carrying case is another added way to keep your telescope safe. There are plenty on the market for all different size telescopes, so get the best fit for your telescope.

A hard shell will be best; this will stop all the big knocks your telescope may get on its journey.

Telescope Batteries

Moden telescope is more and more coming with some sort of battery within their build. If you have a computerized telescope, you are sure to have batteries in the telescope.

Unfortunately, you will need to take these out and buy some new ones at your destinations. The reason being that no wet cell batteries are allowed on planes unless they are for a medical device.

In most locations, you will easily find some new batteries; it’s just not worth the risk of trying to sneak them on with you.


The first time you travel on a plane can be nerve-racking. It is like the first flight all over again the first time you fly with your telescope.

Even though the experience can be a little scary, it will go without any significant problems if you follow all the tips and advice I give. You will be at your destination with your beloved telescope in one piece, ready to explore the night sky.

Exploring the night sky is a joy; traveling to a new location can bring all-new wonders into sharp focus. You may be traveling to darker skies or to view an object I wish you and your telescope a safe and happy journey.