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Avalanche Airbag Questions

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi, apologies if this has been covered before but I am starting to venture off piste more often and am thinking it might now be a good idea to purchase an avabag. My question is, is it worth buying one if you live in the UK and go to multiple resorts per year? I hear often you cannot fly with the canister. In these instances do you have to buy another canister in the resort? These are well over £100 so surely better to rent the full backpack in resort. Ive heard of the electric fan backpacks but have also heard mixed reviews on them. Is it just maily people living in resorts that it works out better for to buy?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I fly regularly from London main airports to Europe and have never had a problem - Geneva, Zurich and Grenoble. Also have flown to Japan and Canada without issue. US is a non-starter.

You just need to find the specific airline's published procedure and adhere to it.It has got a lot "looser" in recent years (e.g. BA last year wanted make and model , now they just want to know that its stowed in Hold luggage and canister in place but not connected.)

I always have a hard copy of the page from the IATA manual and wrap a copy around the canister with an elastic band.

I always try not to have a discussion with check in staff about it - once it is annotated on my booking that will do for me. Lastly never take it through as carry-on - you are at the mercy of a zero hours trainee who has just started that day and who has no idea what you are talking about.
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@mk28, There is a massive thread about flying with airbags - http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=72233&highlight=flying+airbag

Iím in a similar position to @mishmash, and have flown without significant issue, other than explaining what an airbag is.

Iíve had Jetforce airbags for 3 years without issues. What are your concerns, other than maybe weight?
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@PowderAdict, main concerns were that it may be confiscated along with all of my ski stuff. I didn't realise they had relaxed a little. I will be investing in one for next season. Thanks for the advice.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Next season the Black Diamond Jetforce and Arcteryx Voltair will be joined by the technology changing Scott Alpride E1 Capacitor airbag for the 2018/19 season.

I believe that Black Diamond are going to license the Alpride E1 technology for the 2019/20 season.
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I've also flown in Sweden, to/from Heathrow, Geneva and Munich with airbag and canister no probs (mammut). Check with the airline before, and if you can get an email from them, print it. I take it as hand luggage so I can at least argue the case if needed. 3/4 of the time the operator knows what it is and it goes straight through. The other quarter it gets taken to the side with the discussion about what it is. I have the canister detached in its box with the IATA paperwork and relevant section highlighted, plus any email from the airline if I have one.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@mk28, Even if there was any reason for them to confiscate the cannister, they wouldn't confiscate the rest of your ski stuff just for a giggle.

I've flown with an airbag 7 times in the past 18 months and never had any issues.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Agree with all the comments and observations above.
In my experience, the airlines, if they know about it, will check it in or let you take it as hand luggage with no issue; the hold ups tend to be at airport security (through the scanners etc) where you may need to explain what it is and present any IATA regs etc.
FWIW (with BA/EasyJet) I carry my backpack with airbag as my carry on and have the cartridge boxed in the hold baggage.
Nick
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So is it worth explaining to airport staff at check in what is in your hold luggage with all relevant emails etc? Surely if itís in the hold and thereís an issue they will remove it at a point you canít give them your relevant paperwork etc? Is it fairly easy to remove and reattach the canisters to the airbag system?
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Donít explain it to the check in people, they wonít understand and wonít let you take it.

Get email authority from the airline by email and print off the IATA rules. Tape these to the canister and put it in your hold luggage.

Are they worth getting? I hope I will never need it but always wear mine if going off piste. One day my decision my decision process may let me down and I could be glad of it.


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Wed 7-03-18 20:40; edited 1 time in total
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@mk28, I do tell the people at check-in. They won't know what it is, you do often get held there, but unlike @bar shaker I think it's worth doing. It means they'll check there's a note on your booking (as you do need to call up in advance and advise the airline), then when your bag gets to security, they'll be able to look on the computer and see that you're authorised, by the airline (as per IATA regulations) to carry the airbag.

If you don't tell check-in, and for any reason the note isn't on your booking, you've lost the opportunity to fix that before your bag goes into the system. So personally, I think it's worth doing.

But I do agree with Bar Shaker that the other thing you can do is print off your confirmation from the airline, and a copy of the IATA regs (With the airbag part highlighted) and put it inside the airbag with the canisters so if they do open your bag, it's all right in front of them.

Honestly stop worrying.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
The other day I was at VCE on the way back with my Jetforce bag inside a RAB 50L kit bag.

Ground crew: Would you like to check this bag in.
Me: no, It has my avalanche bag in it.
GC: Okay

IN cabin bag, no notification, also tested it before leaving and tested it in resort. Because it is a fan bag I can do this and simply plug it in. So, so far I've saved three canisters for testing so far.

No problem with a Jetforce 28L bag on 6 legs so far and don't expect any for the next five years.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
GlasgowCyclops wrote:
Because it is a fan bag I can do this and simply plug it in. So, so far I've saved three canisters for testing so far.


I completely get this and the tight-back bottom in me likes the idea.

However I deal with a lot of that style of fan at work, and they're notoriously unreliable. I have an Alpride and I like to know that when I pull the cable, the bag is going to puncture the cylinders which will pump air - by way of physics - around a very low-tech piece of equipment into a big bag. It's pretty infallible. I just prefer that.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
BCA float and a hand pump. Fly with empty open cylinder (although I did once get a lady's front bottom at Aberdeen airport security). Nice 20 minute work out when u arrive on resort. Big downside the pump is bloody heavy😓
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
dp wrote:
@mk28, I do tell the people at check-in. They won't know what it is, you do often get held there, but unlike @bar shaker I think it's worth doing. It means they'll check there's a note on your booking (as you do need to call up in advance and advise the airline), then when your bag gets to security, they'll be able to look on the computer and see that you're authorised, by the airline (as per IATA regulations) to carry the airbag.

If you don't tell check-in, and for any reason the note isn't on your booking, you've lost the opportunity to fix that before your bag goes into the system. So personally, I think it's worth doing.

But I do agree with Bar Shaker that the other thing you can do is print off your confirmation from the airline, and a copy of the IATA regs (With the airbag part highlighted) and put it inside the airbag with the canisters so if they do open your bag, it's all right in front of them.

Honestly stop worrying.



This is, IME, can be out of date advice with regard to informing check in staff e.g. Swiss rules here (DEPENDING ON THE SPECIFIC AIRLINE RULES) :

https://www.swiss.com/gb/en/prepare/baggage/dangerous-goods

"Avalanche rescue backpack

Not allowed into or out of the USA
Otherwise 1 item per passenger by prior registration. Gas cartridge must be put in the backpack (spare cartridges not allowed)."

NO requirement to pre-inform airline or check-in staff.

I skied recently with someone who tried to explain this to (contracted) Swiss check in staff at LHR who would not let him proceed with canister. On his return leg, he contacted Swiss management at Airport and they agreed he should make a claim - but he still had to ski a week with an inoperative airbag on his back as he had no other rucksack.

I think specialist trained staff now know what this kit is and the protocols for (legitimately) interfering with checked luggage are very strong. I did have to explain on a charter from Fredrikhaschen but was paged by the airline agents - and that was because the Travel agent selling the package weren't able to access a"booking reference" because it was a bundled charter. IATA regs and showing email sorted it out.

So check each airline individually - they all let you carry them but have different rules for it. The BA rules according to the Security Centre to leave the canister in place but not connected in hold luggage are so that on inspection if required it is clear what it is .
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
mk28 wrote:
So is it worth explaining to airport staff at check in what is in your hold luggage with all relevant emails etc? Surely if itís in the hold and thereís an issue they will remove it at a point you canít give them your relevant paperwork etc? Is it fairly easy to remove and reattach the canisters to the airbag system?


Yes they unscrew easily.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
dp wrote:
@mk28, I do tell the people at check-in. They won't know what it is, you do often get held there, but unlike @bar shaker I think it's worth doing. It means they'll check there's a note on your booking (as you do need to call up in advance and advise the airline), then when your bag gets to security, they'll be able to look on the computer and see that you're authorised, by the airline (as per IATA regulations) to carry the airbag.

If you don't tell check-in, and for any reason the note isn't on your booking, you've lost the opportunity to fix that before your bag goes into the system. So personally, I think it's worth doing.

But I do agree with Bar Shaker that the other thing you can do is print off your confirmation from the airline, and a copy of the IATA regs (With the airbag part highlighted) and put it inside the airbag with the canisters so if they do open your bag, it's all right in front of them.

Honestly stop worrying.



This is, IME, can be out of date advice with regard to informing check in staff e.g. Swiss rules here (DEPENDING ON THE SPECIFIC AIRLINE RULES) :

https://www.swiss.com/gb/en/prepare/baggage/dangerous-goods

"Avalanche rescue backpack

Not allowed into or out of the USA
Otherwise 1 item per passenger by prior registration. Gas cartridge must be put in the backpack (spare cartridges not allowed)."

NO requirement to pre-inform airline or check-in staff.

I skied recently with someone who tried to explain this to (contracted) Swiss check in staff at LHR who would not let him proceed with canister. On his return leg, he contacted Swiss management at Airport and they agreed he should make a claim - but he still had to ski a week with an inoperative airbag on his back as he had no other rucksack.

I think specialist trained staff now know what this kit is and the protocols for (legitimately) interfering with checked luggage are very strong. I did have to explain on a charter from Fredrikhaschen but was paged by the airline agents - and that was because the Travel agent selling the package weren't able to access a"booking reference" because it was a bundled charter. IATA regs and showing email sorted it out.

So check each airline individually - they all let you carry them but have different rules for it. The BA rules according to the Security Centre to leave the canister in place but not connected in hold luggage are so that on inspection if required it is clear what it is .
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?


mishmash wrote:

NO requirement to pre-inform airline or check-in staff.



This is weird advice from Swiss IMO, because this screenshot is from the current IATA Regulations. Where it says "Approval of the Operator: YES"... I wonder whether their line on their website stands as an inherent approval of all avalanche backpacks... because otherwise it would be difficult to get operator approval without informing them.

In any case, as I said, my reason for informing the check-in staff is to check it's been approved and all OK. Finding out theres an issue (or not) is better when you're stood at the check-in desk than when you're wondering around duty free and they're trying to find you over the tannoy.
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If you call (say) Air Canada to inform them, they don't remotely care. Your "call is important", but it isn't. There's no connexion between those call handlers and the check in staff, airport security, or anyone else I can determine. If you forget to call them, you can safely BS that you did, because they don't give you a ticket number of anything.

The USA thing sounds like a misinterpretation. Jet-force style bags, or bags with the right type of (steel, I think) cylinder are allowed to fly there, it's just carbon cylinders they'e hissy about, because they're an evil European invention. There are retaliatory regulatory arguments over to the batteries in Jet Force bags.. it's the will of the people.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
dp wrote:


mishmash wrote:

NO requirement to pre-inform airline or check-in staff.



This is weird advice from Swiss IMO, because this screenshot is from the current IATA Regulations. Where it says "Approval of the Operator: YES"... I wonder whether their line on their website stands as an inherent approval of all avalanche backpacks... because otherwise it would be difficult to get operator approval without informing them.

In any case, as I said, my reason for informing the check-in staff is to check it's been approved and all OK. Finding out theres an issue (or not) is better when you're stood at the check-in desk than when you're wondering around duty free and they're trying to find you over the tannoy.


I made sure my email to EJ included all flight details and booking ref, in big bold caps, in the subject line. Their reply repeated the subject line.
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The best for this are definitely BA. If you call up the BA Flight Safety Team then they really know their stuff so there is no issue. They told me NOT to inform check in staff because there is no need - unless asked. They put a note on the booking and in the event of a query the security should contact the BA load manager, rather than you personally, who will then check that booking note and confirm carriage.

Call them up with your booking reference and tell them what you have - itís a thirty second call - and then youíre done. Iíve never had an issue subsequently and have flown many times with the bag.

Iíve also flown Swiss, EJ and charter - all without any material problem - but itís harder to find someone who knows what theyíre doing to the same degree so it takes longer.

I always fly using the backpack as carry on and with the cartridges (two of them - Alpride system) in hold baggage with the IATA regs printed out and stuck to the package - just in case.

Never had an issue anywhere - except Jackson Hole in the US. There, I didnít even bother trying to fly with the cartridges and I just borrowed some cartridges from the local hire shop - who charged me next to nothing to Ďrentí them but with a Ďtrigger them and you pay to replaceí rider on that agreement.

I think, as someone mentioned above, the airlines are pretty switched on these days so the trick is simply to find the switched on people who deal with it all the time.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Pleasantly surprised at start of season that replacement carbon cannisters for my ABS only cost E25.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
There's quite a bit of misunderstanding about hold baggage here. At least 90% of hold bags will be scanned with no human intervention. If the first stage sees something it doesn't like it will refer it to an operator. An airbag canister in hold luggage will look pretty much like an aerosol and will not attract attention.

Like wise you will not find a zero hours trainee on passenger security. They are highly trained and receive continuous assessment which if they drop below a certain score means they will be back in the rain baggage handling.
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^ this. People over think what needs to be done/is required.
Advise the airline, take their advice and have copies of correspondence attached to any relevant equipment and on your person.
From my experience flying with BA, an email to the safety team solicits a speedy response and a note on my booking.
I travel with the rucksack as my carry on bag (with airbag in situ) and the cannister in my hold bag, along with my ski gear and iata print outs and BA correspondence.
Only issue Iíve ever had was at security where an operative had never seen a rescue backpack before and took me to one side whilst they sought clarification from their supervisor; a 3 minute delay...
Nick
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Airlines should be pretty relaxed - they have a similar canister under each seat with the life jacket.

Which is lighter/more comfortable/more practical between an airbag with a canister and 1 with a fan?
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I've flown many times with ABS as hand luggage on BA, Swiss and EasyJet. I've usually, but not always, emailed the airline, and I carry a copy of their reply, together with the IATA regs. From memory, I think the regs say that the canister should be attached to the mechanism in the usual way. I always declare it as I put my bag on the security conveyor, and most times, the senior security officer has been called to check it, which has caused a delay of 5-10 minutes. The exception to this is GVA airport, where they just wave it straight through.
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