Detroit load-in wait times?

I found the load-in document here:

Unfortunately, our trailer likely will not be there early. It will probably arrive between 11-12am, and probably later given the time zone change and the logistics of hauling a trailer 1000 miles overnight. How long should be expect to wait in line before unloading if it arrives at noon? 2 hours? More? Less? We arrived early in Houston the last two years and so it was a non-issue, aside from the usual wait, but Detroit is an unknown for us.

We have some changes to make, so I am thinking about shipping our allowance parts and a few tools to the hotel so we can uncrate the robot and make changes (maybe we will need to beg for tools to borrow from pit neighbors until our arrive - and supposing we are allowed to unbag as soon as we uncrate). I’m not sure I want to explain it to the TSA on the airplane so shipping is probably the best option for us to get to work on stuff as early as possible.

Thanks for any insights.


We just checked a box of tools, and went through TSA with penumatoc cylinders to houston without issue yesterday. Just be honest and take everything out if it goes though TSA (but id put the tools in checked cause it’s just easier)

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We got in at around 1pm last year and waited ~3 hours


Tough to answer your question.

Last year’s load in at Detroit was rough, due to the loading dock configuration. There’s a new process this year so not strictly comparable.

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Load-in was slow last year. Hopefully they’ve found a way to improve it this year, but with the available entrances, streets, and traffic I imagine that’s going to be difficult.

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What is this new process? I saw word of a potential change but have not seen anything official.

Just confirming here, if we shipped our robot through FedEx (from Israel) in the crate, then the crate will we waiting in our pit when we get there right?


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We’ve never had to fly before (we live halfway between Houston and St. Louis), so taking robot parts and tools on an airplane is a new thing for us.

But yes, we can definitely check the stuff in for the plane ride and not carry it on. That’s worked well for you, then?

Every single kid on 987 will be checking in at least one piece of luggage with pit things in them (tools, spare parts etc.). Never had a problem. Remember to pack power tool batteries in your carry in luggage. Expect many of the checked bags to be inspected and don’t rely on intricate packing because TSA could care less about carefully repacking your luggage once they inspect it:)


And my question may be moot because of this – maybe we’ll fly with what we can, and purchase a kit of tools in Detroit! Ugh.

My last team has flown with tools & parts before and it worked well. We used totes (Recycle Rush leftovers & similar) as our checked luggage and didn’t hear a peep about it, besides the usual “did you pack this yourself, does it contain any banned items” questions. We even brought our ~4-5 foot can-grabber as a checked item in 2015, and checked it through the “surfboards and other odd-shaped/oversized items” line.

They did open and inspect a few of the totes after we checked them through, and resealed them with packing tape even though they were originally sealed with zip-ties. We didn’t have any issues with it though, the tape held and everything made it there safe and sound. I also encourage my students to pack their personal pocket knives & multi-tools with the team tools, since they can’t be in their carry-on.

The load in instructions in the first post are the new process.

I suspect that the actual new process will be the load-in volunteers yelling at teams to hurry up but I’d love to be wrong about that.


The loading guide says GP needs to be on display at all times, so you can always cite that I guess

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The load-in at Detroit was as slow as it was chaotic. Although, teams had been advised to unload their equipment immediately inside the loading dock doors, move their vehicle, then move equipment to their pit area, very few actually did that.
That clogged the loading dock for hours on end.
I’m sure the load-in staff will attempt to keep things flowing this year, but I suspect humanity will take-over once more and chaos will ensue once again…
I would say to you, don’t be too concerned. Make your best effort to arrive as early as you can… safely… and be prepared to wait…

We were there a good hour before pits opened last year and there was already a line of trailers waiting. Thankfully, they were letting teams unload and stage inside the loading dock waiting for pits to open, so once they opened we simply rolled everything over. (We also got lucky and a had a pit in the back row so we were very close the dock entrance.)

Looks to be the identical path they used last year. I don’t see it being any faster.

I see a couple meaningful differences.

@MrRoboSteve want to share your observations?