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Flying with avalanche airbag systems

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
This is a thread to highlight airline's policies for flying with avalanche airbag systems such as ABS or Snowpulse bags. Please add your own experience or any info you have about flying with them, but questions or comments about the airbags systems themselves should be posted elsewhere.

FlyBe
"After hearing others problems with airlines thought I'd praise Flybe for the ease of getting 2 ABS packs booked onto our flight. Email to customer relations, reply the next day, confirm names and booking reference and all done." (Gavin2020, 13 January 2011)


easyJet
Easy Jet had an update to their Ground Handling Regs back on the 15th August 2010, stating that the carriage of "Avalanche Rescue Backpack" was allowed. They should be pre booked with the airline, do not just turn up as their check-in staff might think you have something to hide! (from Livetoski, 12 Jan 2011)
Michelle reports that avalanche packs can be carried in hold or cabin baggage.


Swiss
It is permitted to bring one (1) avalanche airbag per passenger, equipped with a pyrotechnic trigger mechanism containing less than 200mg net of Division 1.4S and less than 250mL of compressed gas in Division 2.2. The backpack must be packed in such a manner that it cannot be accidentally activated. The airbags within the backpack must be fitted with pressure relief valves. (reply to stoatsbrother, 13 January 2011)

Swiss include avalanche packs on their Restricted Objects list, saying that one avalanche pack per passenger can be carried (but not on flights to/from the USA).


British Airways
BA list avalanche rescue packs on their Banned and Restricted list of baggage, stating that these items that may be carried on flights with but require the airline's approval prior to flying.

BRITISH AIRWAYS FLIGHT SAFETY CENTRE - 02087388357

"Got straight through to a lovely gent in the UK, took 2 minutes for him to grant approval, put a note on my booking and he knew straight away what ABS was (he even knew what the different packs looked like, the different brands etc) - Extremely well trained, no hassle at all and he was surprised id not been put through or been given his number before."



Monarch
Monarch will carry the Avalanche Rescue Pack if that is the item you refer to, as long as the following guidelines are met. One pack per person, equipped with a pyrotechnic trigger mechanism containing net of Div 1.4S and less than 250 mL of compressed gas in Div 2.2. The backpack must be packed in a manner that it cannot be accidentally activated. The airbags within the backpacks must be fitted with pressure relief valves, and can be carried in the hold or as carry baggage. Check-in agent did not know what an airbag was, but was happy with the email from Monarch obtained prior to the flight so no problems with check-in. (Weathercam, 15 January 2010)


Thomas Cook
E-mailed the airline in advance regarding Gatwick-Toronto flight and Thomas Cook (charter airline, not the travel agent) said yes it was possible to fly with an ABS pack. Check-in agent confirmed with her supervisor that it was OK, but no problems with flying. (parlor, 24 November, 2009)


Ryanair
Ryanair's website states that an avalanche rescue pack with one nitrogen/air cylinder can be included in either cabin or checked baggage.


Japan Airlines
Airbags have been carried on JAL flights to and from the UK, but needs to be pre-booked with the airline (Livetoski, 14 January 2011). rob@rar travelled on a domestic JAL flight (Tokyo-Sapporo) in Feb 2011. The airline had previously been informed but there was a lengthy discussion at check-in where the check-in agent needed a couple of calls to her supervisors plus consulatation of their dangerous goods handbook. The IATA regs were were shown and this seemed to help, and eventually the SnowPulse pack was carried without problems.


WestJet
Airbags have been carried on flights within Canada (parlor, 14 January 2011).

Lufthansa
Markymark29 reported no problems flying with Lufthansa from Munich. He advised them before travelling, and their advice was to remove the canister and trigger handle and put them in hold baggage, and take the ABS rucksack as hand luggage. No need to advise ground staff at check in.


North America
Regulations on size and gas pressure of airbag canisters are different in USA and Canada compared to the rest of the world (the maximum pressure allowed is lower in N. America) so cylinders for the rest of the world can not be filled in USA or Canada and are not marked with TC (Transport Canada) and DOT (Department Of Transport USA) certification. Arno reports requiring a lengthy explanation of an airbag at Vancouver airport, despite not have a cylinder in his luggage. Further info is being sought on flying to N. America.


Chambery airport
In February 2011 security staff at Chambery airport refused permission for imorris to fly with a Snowpulse air canister. The canister had been spotted by x-ray in hold luggage. The canister was forfeited in order not to miss the flight (which was with Small Planet Airlines).

Grenoble airport
rm reported (April 2009) problems when flying out of Grenoble airport as airport staff refused to let him fly an ABS gas canister back to the UK.

Eurostar
Eurostar were contacted about travelling with airbag systems and the stock reply was to consult their list of Luggage Restrictions. Snowpulse airbags seem acceptable under these regulations although ABS packs might be problematic because of the small explosive charge in the trigger.

Eurotunnel
Confirmed to rob@rar that they have no restrictions on airbag systems being used on their cross (under) Channel service.

General Travel Advice
Current (2008) IATA regulations regarding carriage of dangerous goods Print this out and take it with you to the airport.
ABS offer this advice for flying with their avalanche bag system, including a data sheet showing the specification of their ABS packs which is compliant with the IATA regulations.
Snowpulse offer advice for specification and transport for their airbag system on their website. FaceWest have prepared some helpful videos on using the SnowPulse airbags:


Preparing the pack


Wearing the pack


Inflating the pack


Repacking the airbag

Manufacturers and UK Dealers
ABS
Snowpulse
UK dealers for ABS and Snowpulse who will be able to help with general enquiries about the avalanche backpacks include Snowsheperd, Snow Safe and Facewest.


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Thu 12-03-15 7:14; edited 26 times in total
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Bought an ABS this week while in Cham & Courmayeur. Had to take a chance with the cylinder and handle in hold luggage on the way back with Easyjet from Geneva to Birmingham. Luckily I got through ok. For future trips I will be informing the airline in advance. As part of this thread could anyone attach the relevant upto date links that give the IATA DGR info that could be downloaded or printed off in preparation for travel. Brother is also a BA Captain (and ABS owner), he reports that even though BA will allow travel with Avalanche Airbag Systems if notified in advance it is usually the check in staff and ground staff security that cause the problems so having the necessary paperwork is a no brainer!
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0lf2406, welcome to snowHeads. I've added a link to the current IATA regulations regarding carriage of dangerous goods.
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Good one - will let you know how I get on tomorrow with Monarch - I'll be taking a print out of the IATA Regs and ABS documentation
http://www.abs-airbag.com/abs_flugzeug.php?chid=1234&m=17&lang=uk&sid=548439cff9d10dacdf6aa03ba2c8ea8c

As well as the email from Rocket Ski with the response from Monarch - so hopefully have all bases covered.

Actual backpack is in a coffin style snowboard bag that takes both sets of skis - cannister and trigger handle are in the same bag in the original polystyrene foam box.
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probably worth clarifying that this is just for European flights
flights to/from/within North America have different rules and stories of overzealous security people seem quite common
i had a fairly tedious 20minutes in security at Vancouver airport explaining what my snowpulse was and i hadn't even brought the cylinder with me Mad
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Quote:

that avalanche packs can be carried in hold or cabin baggage.


While this is in the IATA regs, I have not come across a situation yet where an airbag has been allowed onboard as cabin luggage Shocked
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Arno,
Quote:

probably worth clarifying that this is just for European flights


The 250ml canister is OK for all flights with the exception of US and Canada. i.e. rest of the World is OK!

I can add JAL (Japan Airlines) for flights from the UK to Japan, the airbag needs to be pre booked. We had a customer go back to Japan with 2 and it was fine.

I am also trying to get hard copy of the actual regs for the US and Canada and why it is different there.
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rob@rar, your gong needs reinstating. Great effort. Toofy Grin
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rob@rar, great work. I can also add West Jet have no problem within Canada: Toronto > Kelowna and Castlegar > Vancouver no problems!
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Oh well after all the worry / concerns etc etc turned up at Gatwick South this morning flying Monarch - the queue was massive (loads of school kids) - eventually goit to check in just under the hour.

Guy was relieved to have only two in a group - I advised him about the pack, he looked confused, I showed him the email from Rocket Ski and he just shrugged his shoulders and said ok - that was that!

Should add had two sets of skis / poles etc the back pack in my double coffin style board bag and that weighed 25kgs and he did not say anything either!
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I understand the nervousness of carriers carrying explosively initiated airbags. but 200mg and 250g of inert compressed gas ? IATA, i believe, allow 5kg of firearms ammunition per passenger with brass and lead, when pre informed and all paper work is spic and span (Way way over 200mg each round in most cases). Carrier permitting of course. Not Lyin' Air then. I recall landing at Inverness dalcross a couple of years ago on flight from Gatwick with several German 'Hunters' on board. They all had guns (with paper work) and enough ammo between them to start the third world war on Scottish wildlife. Clearly the 200mg NEQ 1.4s is a little conservative but given the possibility of missuse by sophisticated ne'er do wells..... NEQ is the TNT equivalent explosive quantity of the pyro. 1.4s is an explosive or pyro which on exposure to fire or violent shock to the container in which it is shipped is unlikely to result in breaching the integrity of that container. Thus:
"Consists of explosives that present a minor explosion hazard. The explosive effects are largely confined to the package and no projection of fragments of appreciable size or range is to be expected. An external fire must not cause virtually instantaneous explosion of almost the entire contents of the package"

Doubt I have helped but...
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Can we keep this thread for factual information - and debate the issues on one of the many threads elsewhere about this topic?
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http://www.wildsnow.com/3736/airbag-overview/
An article I found a while ago with a lot of usefull information.

Should help.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
livetoski wrote:
Quote:

that avalanche packs can be carried in hold or cabin baggage.


While this is in the IATA regs, I have not come across a situation yet where an airbag has been allowed onboard as cabin luggage Shocked


friend who i travel with took his ABS bag as cabin luggage both ways on flybe, flash of the email from customer services and no problems, do have to remove handle and cannister of course though...
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gavin2020, "remove" or not have in the cabin? Were you on the plane?
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
gavin2020, thanks for
Quote:

friend who i travel with took his ABS bag as cabin luggage both ways on flybe


I stand corrected Very Happy
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no bother with BA LHR -> GVA last weekend.

phoned ahead of time to tell them i would have the bag and they noted it on my booking. had a big ski bag as my checked luggage so put the cylinder inside that and didn't even mention it at check in
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Coming back from "infamous" Grenoble at the weekend I didn't even bother telling them after my experience at Gatwick where the checkin guy was totally disinterested.

Think it's just common sense, have the paperwork with you etc - pack it in hold luggage, caninster and trigger in a separate bag even, and only mention it if asked do you have anything in your luggage that might be dangerous etc etc

I would not go down the cabin baggage route though with just the bag as that's just asking for hassle - guys at SnowSafe agree on this one.
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Came back from Munich on Lufthansa at the weekend, no problems with my ABS either way. I advised them before I went, and their advice was to remove the canister and trigger handle and put them in hold baggage, and take the ABS rucksack as hand luggage. No need to advise ground staff at check in. Worked a treat, only hiccup was a super-cautious security guy at Manchester but once shown him the IATA report he was happy.

Sussed it - pack the cartridge and handle in separate ski boots in hold bag.
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Seems this thread has a little bit of press coverage all of its own Happy
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rob@rar wrote:
Seems this thread has a little bit of press coverage all of its own Happy


Shameless media tart Toofy Grin
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anarchicsaltire wrote:
rob@rar wrote:
Seems this thread has a little bit of press coverage all of its own Happy


Shameless media tart Toofy Grin


Who, me? Surely not. Just trying to spread the good word.


wink
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livetoski wrote:
gavin2020, thanks for
Quote:

friend who i travel with took his ABS bag as cabin luggage both ways on flybe


I stand corrected Very Happy


I wouldn't, I don't believe the OP. No way did "his friend" get the cylinder and handle on as cabin luggage.
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rob@rar,
Quote:

Shameless media tart


But love you long time wink wink

parlor,
Quote:

I wouldn't, I don't believe the OP. No way did "his friend" get the cylinder and handle on as cabin luggage.


As mentioned above never advised and never heard of it before the above post
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Flew with Monarch to Innsbruck and back wk of 23rd Jan to 30th with an ABS. Declared and checked the item and presented the required paperwork. They didn't recognise what it was but I had no problems either at Gatwick or at Innsbruck on the way back. Would have struggled to be easier.
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Came back from the Alps Chambery-Bristol on Sunday. Carrier was Small Planet Airlines. Lithuanian based company I think. Tried to contact them on several occasions in advance without luck. No problem flying out but X-ray revealed the snowpulse cylinder in my ski boot in the hold luggage when checking in at Chambery. Had all the IATA paperwork but it didn't do any good. Now looking to buy a replacement cylinder at around £200. Pretty pissed off.
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imorris, Shocked Was it airport security or the airline that refused the cylinder? What did they do with the cylinder?
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It was airport security that found the cylinder and then said that they needed to contact the airline. Then nothing happened for almost an hour and they told me very little. They came back to me after my plane had started boarding and said i couldn't take it on the plane because it was a 250ml cylinder and the limit was 200ml. I pointed out that this was incorrect and that they'd misread the IATA guidelines which state that you are allowed a 200mg explosive charge (ABS) and a 250 ml cylinder of compressed gas. The security staff then disappeared and came back again in 1 minute and said I couldn't take it on the plane because I hadn't taken measures to ensure it couldn't be triggered in transit. I showed them the plastic caps that come with the cylinder that I'd placed on it to prevent this occurring and they went away again. When they came back this time they just said I couldn't take it on board. It was now very late and my French is very bad and I was getting nowhere. They told me that it would be taken to the Gendarmerie and then destroyed.
My wife and 3 kids were through the gate and getting on the bus at this stage. I gave in and hurried through passport security and on to the plane.
I'm not sure who was to blame really. I think Chambery security were a tad overzealous but I also have to say that all my dealings with the airline from their lack of response to my e-mails, their web-site, their check in staff and their cabin crew gave the impression of an unprofessional outfit.
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You know it makes sense.
imorris, that's a bad situation to find yourself in. If you are happy for me to I'd like copy your story to PlanetSki who might be interested in covering it - I'm sure nothing will come if it, but it would be nice to embarrass Chambery just a little bit given that the main point of their existence is as a gateway airport for skiers rolling eyes
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
imorris, just a thought for anyone who finds themself in a similar situation, if there's time maybe it would be best to connect the canister (and trigger if ABS) to the system and detonate it in the airport? Canister would be empty (trigger explosive spent) so it's just a lump of metal that you're carrying rather than a pressurised cylinder. Cheaper to refill than to buy a new one.
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another reason not to fly through chambery...
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rob@rar, I thought about that but when I pictured someone screwing a dangerous/potentially explosive item into a rcksack, strapping the rucksack onto their back, exposing a trigger in the rucksack and then attempting to pull the trigger in a busy airport with lots of armed guards around, I thought it might not be the best thing to do....
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
imorris, yes, that's a very fair point!
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imorris, give me a shout tomorrow, have been working in the background to get you another cylinder, if all else fails will sort you out at cost plus shipping wink
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livetoski, nice one Happy
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livetoski, you've made my day! I can't thank you enough for your kind offer. I'll contact you tomorrow.
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As a follow up to the above post, Livetoski aka Tim from Snowshepherd has been negotiating with Anatom the importers of Snowpulse to the UK and they're willing to send me a replacement cylinder at cost price. I didn't buy the Snowpulse from Snowshepherd (although I have used their re-fill service) and so I think this really is a fantastically generous gesture.
Big thanks again to Snowshepherd and Anatom. Blush
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rob@rar, imorris, Embarassed glad to help
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Great thread! Although I have flown with my Snowpulse canister a couple of times and never told anyone and never had any problems this is a great thread to make sure that you don't get stiffed on the odd occasion it is found.

Here's a great trip, Drive. Smile I very rarely fly and driving means I can take more than one Snowpulse canister Smile (I know not all can drive out)
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Flew with Japan Airlines today, Tokyo-New Chitose. They had previously been informed that I was carrying an airbag, and the check-in agent needed two lengthy phone calls to her supervisor before it was cleared for hold luggage as well as asking to look at the air cansiter which meant a little bit of unpacking to get at it, and me showing her the extract from the IATA regs. From what I could gather JAL's handbook for dangerous goods includes a section on airbags (I recognised some of the data that appears in the IATA regs) and that seemed to be the focus of the phone calls the check-in agent was having. After about 15-20 minutes she said it was all OK and I boarded without any hitch.
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