Best Way to Travel with Pool Cues

Pool cues are arguably the most important piece of equipment pool players own.

Unfortunately, even well-made cues aren’t as durable as many people think. Your cue is especially vulnerable when in transit.  

If you need to travel with a pool cue, either by land or air, there are a few strategies you’ll want to implement.

Traveling with a Pool Cue: An Overview

Pool cues are only allowed on airplanes as checked baggage. It’s a violation of federal law to bring a pool cue as a carry-on on an airplane.

The best way to pack a pool cue for air travel is by following these steps:

  1. Place your cue in its regular case
  2. Wrap the case in bubble wrap
  3. Place the case in your luggage
  4. Fill the remaining space in the luggage with towels or T-shirts
  5. Check your luggage

This method is simple, provides two layers of protection, and follows all FAA requirements.

Additional Packing Strategies

Aside from the basic technique described above, you can add a few extras to boost your cue’s protection.

First, keep your pool cue in a hardshell case. Softshell cases don’t provide as much protection against any heavy objects (such as other suitcases) that might wind up on your luggage.

Also, only travel with a two-piece or multi-piece cue. Not only is a single-piece stick usually too long to fit into standard luggage, but the design leaves the cue more vulnerable to damage.

Finally, pack the cue and case in hardshell luggage or a duffel bag with a hard base. Hard-shell luggage is more important than a hardshell pool case, but use both for maximum security.

Why Do People Think Pool Cues are Allowed as Carry-Ons?

Many people mistakenly believe pool cues are allowed as carry-ons. Why is this misconception so common?

In 2013, the TSA announced that many small knives and types of sporting equipment, including pool cues, would be allowed on domestic flights as carry-on luggage.

However, the announcement was met with stiff opposition from law enforcement, members of Congress, and passenger advocacy groups. After several months of debate, the TSA rescinded their proposal.

Although pool cues were never technically allowed as carry-ons, the proposal itself was enough to create confusion among the general public that lasts even today.

Preventing Theft

Unfortunately, pool cues are fairly easy to steal, as they’re lightweight, portable, and nondescript.

A busy public location, such as an airport, further heightens the risk of theft.

One of the easiest ways to help deter theft of your pool cues is by hiding them. You can hide them in plain sight by storing them in your luggage, which is a major reason why the cue-in-a-suitcase strategy is superior to checking them in a case alone.

Also, get off the plane as early as you can. You want to arrive at baggage claim before the first suitcase slides down the conveyor. 

If you take too long to get there, someone else might walk away with your bag.

Finally, lock your bag with a TSA-approved lock. Available from many manufacturers, these locks allow TSA agents to use a special type of master key to open your bag for inspection if necessary.   

Types of Luggage for Carrying Pool Cues

You have several options. Here’s a rundown of their pros and cons.

Hard Shell

Luggage with a 100% plastic exterior provides the most protection.

However, they’re also usually expensive. Plus, they can be heavy and awkward to move, especially in an airport.

Duffel Bag with Hard Bottom

Although the fabric exterior doesn’t provide as much protection, duffel bags are usually easy to carry and take up less space.

If you have a duffel bag and don’t want to buy a hardshell suitcase, add towels and shirts to provide an extra layer of protection. It’s usually good enough for infrequent travelers.

Hard Pool Cue Case

You can skip extra luggage entirely and check your pool cue in its hard case, which doesn’t violate any FAA rules.

However, it does send a signal to potential thieves that you’re carrying pool cues. Plus, luggage provides an extra layer of protection.

Soft Pool Cue Case

FAA regulations don’t prevent you from checking your cues in a soft cue case, but you still don’t want to do it.

Soft cue cases don’t protect against a potentially heavyweight being tossed on top of it. Also, they have the same problem as hard cases – thieves can instantly recognize that you’re carrying valuables.

No matter what type of container you choose, make sure your name and address are permanently attached to the interior.

Shipping Your Pool Cue (Instead of Carrying It)

If you don’t want to check your pool cues, you can have them shipped through a shipping company, such as UPS or FedEx.

Professionals can box and secure your cues to keep them protected while in transit.

Shipping can pose some logistical challenges. For example, if you’re staying at a hotel, you’ll likely need to alert them that you’re expecting a package. 

Also, shipping costs can run high, especially if you need to get the package to a destination quickly.

On the plus side, shipping is a reliable option if you have a single-piece stick. It’s also less of a hassle because you don’t have to bring your cue to the airport at all.

How to Insure Your Pool Cues for Air Travel?

The worst-case scenario when checking your pool cue is that the airline loses or damages it. While you don’t have much control over whether or not this happens, you can protect yourself financially with a travel insurance policy.

Travel insurance companies generally don’t sell policies that only protect loss or damage of belongings. 

Instead, that type of coverage is typically part of a larger policy that also covers travel delays, cancellations, and other unexpected actions by the airline.

Policy prices will vary based on trip costs, where you’re going, and the value of the items you plan to bring. 

Make sure you have an accurate understanding of how much your cue is worth, so you can purchase an insurance policy with the appropriate amount of coverage.

Don’t expect any significant compensation from the airline if they destroy your cue.

When you buy a ticket, you waive the airline from certain types of liability. Even if they offer some money, it likely won’t be enough to cover a replacement.

Also, check with your credit card company. If you purchase an airline ticket with a credit card, the company might offer certain types of traveler’s insurance or baggage protection.

Packing Your Pool Cue for a Road Trip

Of course, there are more ways to travel than flying the friendly skies. Keeping your pool cues secure when traveling by car is usually easier than traveling by plane, but there are still some strategies you’ll want to use.

Your best option is still packing your cue in a hard case and then placing the case in hard-shelled luggage.

However, your cue will also be safe in just a pool cue hard case or in a duffel bag instead of hardshell luggage.

The best place to put the cue case is in the trunk, where it’s less likely to move around. Just make sure the trunk is free from any heavy objects.

Watch the temperature inside your car. Excessive heat can damage the wood of your cues. Don’t leave your cues in your car overnight.

How to Store Your Pool Cue While Travelling

Whether at home or in a hotel room, how you store your pool cue plays an important role in keeping it in good condition. Follow these guidelines:

  • Store your pool cue flat in a case. Storing it at an angle can warp the wood and decrease its accuracy.
  • Keep it out of direct sunlight. The UV rays can lighten, splinter, and weaken the wood.
  • Store it in a cool, dry location. You want to avoid storing it anywhere with extreme temperature changes.
  • Keep the case open. Air movement helps prevent condensation from forming.

These storage tips become especially important when traveling to areas with lots of heat and humidity.

Final Thoughts

When traveling, you don’t have to leave your favorite pool cue at home, although you do need to take a few steps to ensure it remains undamaged.

For best results, pack your cue in both a cue case and a larger piece of luggage, either a duffel bag or hardshell suitcase. Also, consider travel insurance to cover monetary losses if the airline loses your luggage.

With proper preparation, you can play with your favorite pool cue at pool tables around the country – and even around the world!

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