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Are you planning a plane journey and curious to know – do ballpoint pens leak on planes? Then this article is for you.
Yes, ballpoint pens rarely leak if you are flying too high altitude on a plane. According to physics, the higher you go vertically in the atmosphere, the less pressure becomes. So, as the pressure decreases while flying, the ink inside the pen will come out. But ballpoint pens generally do not explode.
Though rollerball and fountain pens leak much more than it, ballpoint pen leakage can spoil your belongings in the plane as well!
Do Ballpoint Pens Work on a Plane?
Ballpoint pens work on a plane. If the magnitude of pressure does not vary to a large extent, it is going to work fine.
In that case, your ballpoint pens will not leak or explode, but other pens do. For instance, a rollerball pen is made in such a way that it is so vulnerable to be exploded in the midst of a flight giving you a very awkward experience.
Fountain pens are very notorious in this matter. They will work as an ink-fountain if you bring them while flying!
So, to avoid such sufferings, do not take a rollerball pen or fountain pen. If you want to write anything, take a ballpoint pen instead.
Do Ballpoint Pens Leak on Planes?
A ballpoint pen does not leak on planes usually but it does sometimes. Although the altitudinal effect is not as high as it is on rollerball or fountain pens, in some cases, ballpoint pens might leak.
To be more specific, passenger carrying planes do not fly too high, but other planes like jet planes fly at a very high altitude. So, ballpoint pens do not usually leak on a passenger flight.
The body of a ballpoint pen is made of aluminum or stainless steel. These metals cannot cope with the low pressure while flying. So, it leaks.
Gel pens similarly leak in cabin pressure. But these pens do not leak in normal cases when the plane is not flying so high. You can write with it sitting on your seat.
Why Do Pens Leak on Planes?
Pens leak on planes as the planes fly at an altitude 40,000 feet which is a very low pressure environment. Some pens leak a lot and some pens hardly leak, it depends on the material and technique used to make the pen.
Ballpoint pens or gel pens do not leak usually; but in very low pressure, they leak. Rollerball or fountain pens leak a lot on planes. Pens are generally made for working at ground pressure, but as you take off from ground, the pressure starts to drop.
As the pens are not made to work in that situation, they make blunders. But pen companies have made pens which are safe to work in a low pressure environment smoothly.
Moreover, if the temperature up there becomes too high than usual, ballpoint pens tend to leak. Even in normal cases, ballpoint pens leak if you keep it in your pocket due to your body heat.
Heat generally triggers the possibility that the ink may get oozed out of the ink cabin of a pen. So, if both the pressure and the temperature are high, your pen is likely to leak a lot!
How Do You Keep Your Ballpoint Pen from Leaking on Planes?
As pens are prone to leak on planes, either you need to avoid it while flying or take some steps to save your t-shirt or bag from getting spoiled.
Following are some tips you should follow to keep your ballpoint pen from leaking.
- Have ‘airplane-safe’ pens. Airport administration does not have any issue with pens normally, but for your personal comfort, take pens which will not leak on the plane. You can get such pens of any type which are specially made for plane travelers. Ballpoint or gel pens can be your choice in this regard.
- Make sure that your pen is completely empty or completely full having no air inside. Then the air pressure will be equal to that of the environment. It will no longer have any chance to get leaked.
- Put it in a place where even if the pen leaks, it will not spoil your clothes or important personal possessions. You can keep it in your briefcase, a zipped pocket, a cigar tube, or anywhere you find it safe.
- Keep your pen pointing the nib upwards. If you do so, all the air in the ink cabin will stay close to the nib and it will not make any ink leakage.
- Be aware of your pen the most while taking off. The pen you are carrying on a plane has the highest probability of getting leaked while taking off because at that time, the pressure is decreasing too abruptly. So, you must avoid writing at the time of taking off.
After taking off, the plane will maintain a certain pressure going at a definite height. But when the plane is descending, the pressure is just coming back to its normal state, so risk is less at that time.
What Type of Pen Is an Airplane Safe Pen?
The term ‘airplane safe pen’ refers to pens that are not going to create any problem on a plane. Some pens are made especially so that they might be very suitable for use on a plane.
Generally, ballpoint pens and gel pens are called airplane safe pens. The gel pens are costlier but look classier than the ballpoint pens. As gel pens are likely to smudge, ballpoint pens are the most safe airplane pen.
Although, pen companies manufacture airplane safe pens of other types too. There are also some luxurious pens called ‘Space Pens’ that are suitable for writing in any condition without any problem. If you do not have financial tension, you can get one space pen as well!
Traveling on a plane is comfortable and relaxing, but a pen leakage can make you fall in trouble and ruin the enjoyment of the journey.
So, to avoid such a painful experience, take your ballpoint pen if you can make sure that your plane will not fly too high. Otherwise, follow the instructions given above.
Have a nice journey!
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