|What precautions should I take when traveling on an airplane with a fountain pen?|
While variations in cabin pressure have been known to cause leakage in fountain pens during air travel, testimony from most users of modern fountain pens seems to indicate that the great majority of contemporary fountain pens can be carried and used on board with little or no difficulty. That said, a few elementary precautions should be observed:
Conventional wisdom is that it is best to travel with a fountain pen either completely empty of ink or completely full. The empty option is easy to understand - you can't leak ink if there is no ink in your pen! The full option is equally understandable in its own way - if a cartridge or internal reservoir is absolutely full, there is no trapped air that will be affected by the changes of air pressure as the plane ascends and descends.
The other major point is equally logical - not just in air travel, but whenever you carry or transport a fountain pen, it is best to store it with the nib pointing upwards. With gravity on your side, the chances of any sort of leakage are greatly reduced. For those who are particularly concerned about this issue, Platinum Pens' new Century series pens feature a special sealing mechanism that promises to help guard against leakage due to air pressure fluctuations.
In sum, owners of contemporary fountain pens would seem to have little to fear when bringing their pens on board, and even less if they observe the elementary precautions detailed above. Vintage pen aficionados might need to be more cautious, as the variety of filling and reservoir systems on older pens does create more potential for what fountain pen aficionados refer to as an "inkcident." But in general, there is no need to leave your fountain pens at home when you travel...and there is perhaps no greater luxury for a true pen lover than using your gold-nibbed pen while cruising at 30,000 feet....
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