The Department of Magical Transportation is responsible for almost all aspects of magical transport. This lesson will cover the four basic modes of magical transportation; apparition/disapparition, portkey, floo and flying.
Apparition is a popular magical method of transportation that is often equated to teleportation. How it works, in crude terms, is that a person focuses on their desired location in their mind, then disappear from their current location and instantly reappear where they wanted to go. It is the fastest way to get to one's desired destination, but very hard to achieve, as many things can go wrong.
So, while Apparition is definitely a preferred method of travel for witches and wizards, not many try to attempt it. One is due to the unpleasant feeling of 'being forced through a very tight rubber tube', nausea after Disapparition and splinching. Latter occurs after an unsuccessful Apparition or Disapparition, when a person leaves part of their body behind. The injury varies, from minimal, like loss of hair to life-threatening, such as leaving behind a part of the body. While damage itself can be very serious, it is often repairable, so do not let that turn you away from trying.
Apparition is basically a spell, so it requires a wand, though as with almost all magic, it can be performed without one or non-verbally. When trying out Apparition, one has to remember The Three D's.
- Fix your mind firmly upon the desired destination.
- Focus your determination to occupy the visualized space.
- Turn on the spot, feeling your way into nothingness, moving with deliberation.
To be able to legally Apparate, a person must possess a licence and be over 17 years old. The licences are granted by The Apparition Test Centre (which operates under the Department of Magical Transportation) to the qualified witches and wizards who passed the course, usually offered by Ministry employees.
The Floo Network is a mode of transportation in the wizarding world, where a witch or wizard goes from one place to another by means of Floo powder and a fireplace. Many fireplaces of magical families are connected in the Floo Network, and the traveller needs to only clearly speak the desired fireplace they wish to arrive at in emerald flames. To travel with Floo, a person must toss Floo Powder into the fireplace that is connected to the network, turning it emerald green. After that, they step into the fire and declare their destination, keeping their elbows close to their bodies. During the trip, they might notice other fireplaces, but they cannot access them. Floo is usually reliable, whoever mistakes can happen, when the name of your desired destination is not uttered clearly, mostly due to ash, heat, panic or confusion.
Similarly to Apparition, Floo is overseen by the Ministry, to be more exact, by the Floo Network Authority. They control which fireplaces are connected to the Floo Network and which require specialized magic, like certain protective spells. A fireplace can also be disconnected by a use of a spell, but generally, a connection requires permission from the Department of Magical Transportation. Muggles homes can also be connected to the network, for a short time and only when the Ministry allows it on very special occasions.
Floo transport can occur in two ways. Either as a body transport, which is more common, where a whole person moves from one place to another or only as a head transport. The latter is used similarly to Muggle telephones, where a witch or a wizard only needs to talk to a person for a short amount of time and it is not necessary that they visit the place with their whole body.
This way of travel usually preferred by those who are either underaged and cannot yet Apparate or those who cannot afford other modes of transportation, such as broomsticks.
A Portkey is an object enchanted to instantly bring anyone who touches it to a specific location. Travelling by it feels like being hooked by the navel and pulled in the direction of the desired location. A Portkey is usually an everyday object in a non-descript place, like a ratty shoe or a tin can, so that it would not draw the attention of Muggles, who would most likely start poking at it. Most witches and wizards tend to agree that travel by Portkey is uncomfortable and it can induce nausea, giddiness or worse reaction to those of weaker health.
A spell to make an object a Portkey is called 'Portus'. When placed upon an object, it glows bright blue. While spell is known and every witch or wizard could perform it, it is illegal to make an object a Portkey without express permission by the Department of Magical Transportartion. After an object is turned into a Portkey, it will transport anyone who touches it, to a pre-arranged destination.
There are two types of Portkeys. One will transport anyone who grasps it only at a precisely given time. This type is used to transport a large number of people from one place to another, such as a Quidditch Match or a concert. It also minimizes any security breaches that may occur. This type of Portkey used to be used before the creation of Hogwarts Express. However, due to students missing the Portkey and becoming 'Portkey-sick', another method was sought. The other method is so called 'touch-activated' Portkey, where an object is enchanted to transport the first person (or people) who touch it. Usually, they also transport people back when they touch it again. With both types, the enchanted object comes with the people to their destination.
Flying is last of the basic methods of magical transportation we will cover in this lesson. It involves a person using a magical object bewitched with a Flying Spell to travel through the air to another location. Primary magical objects used for this purposes are Broomsticks and Flying carpets, though flight is also possible with other objects.
Compared to other methods, Flying is the slowest method of transportation available, especially on broomsticks. However, some objects can fly much faster than others and broomsticks the most common method of transportation, as witches and wizards who cannot or do not want to Apparate or use Floo powder use it. Flying itself is a class firstly taught at Hogwarts to first year students.
There are also other methods of flying, like a so called unsupported flight, mostly used by the Dark Wizard Lord Voldemort and his followers. A person is decked into black smoke, which seems to be moving effortlessly through the air. Another way is if a person is an Animagus, whose form is capable of flight, such as a beetle, or a sort of a bird.