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Flying with avalanche airbag systems

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Anyone heard of an airline wanting to charge for the privilege of transporting an avi bag?
Spoke to Thompson today (flights booked through Crystal, traveling to Verona), was told to call back within a month of departure to book it on the flight and I'd be charged £35! Shocked
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@avradford, Never heard of any airline charging. I would refuse to pay that as I am assuming it is not listed in their baggage carriage terms when booking.
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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?
@avradford, That's rubbish, a blatant try-on.
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@avradford, That's rubbish, a blatant try-on.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
They are probably classing it as a change to the booking. It is not, it's just a notification.
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Just double checked with Thomson to clarify...
The charge of £35 is not for a change in the existing booking, it's Thomson policy to make a charge "for the transport of dangerous goods".
Is this yet another way for airlines to extract more of our cash?
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@avradford, Its another reason not to travel with tour operators
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I had a phone call with BA today where they said I couldn't take my spare cannisters for an Alpride system because the CO2 cannister is 60g and the IATA policy is for a maximum of 50mL which is 28g. So the bloke says I'm OK for carrying the cannisters as part of the avalanche bag itself, but I can't take the spares because they're too big.

Alpride claim that the cannisters are IATA compliant but the bloke on the phone seems to think they're getting slightly creative with the regulations which are aimed more at life jackets.

Anyone had any experience?
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dp wrote:
I had a phone call with BA today where they said I couldn't take my spare cannisters for an Alpride system because the CO2 cannister is 60g and the IATA policy is for a maximum of 50mL which is 28g. So the bloke says I'm OK for carrying the cannisters as part of the avalanche bag itself, but I can't take the spares because they're too big.

Alpride claim that the cannisters are IATA compliant but the bloke on the phone seems to think they're getting slightly creative with the regulations which are aimed more at life jackets.

Anyone had any experience?


I've not looked in tot he Alpride system at all, but I thought the whole point was that it was the same as life jackets... However, the guy at BA (the security guy?) is very knowledgable and very helpful so I'd go with what he says. With 'normal' airbags (ABS, Mammut etc) you can't take a spare either Sad
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UPDATE:

So - @sah - what you say is correct in that the Alpride system is marketed as 'the same' as life jackets. Only problem is that it is not the same after all. The cartridges used in the airbag are substantially larger than the cartridges found in life jackets. The BA guy seemed to think that Alpride might have been getting slightly too literal in the wording of the IATA regulations, in order to make the assumption that their airbag cartridges were also IATA-approved. His reluctance to accept it was on the basis that the cartridges were somewhat larger than the cartridges that the regulations were written around.

I suppose as an analogy this would be like the council giving you a permit to park "one vehicle" on the road outside your house, which is clearly meant to mean a car or motorbike, but you park an articulated lorry there and assume that's OK because they only specified that it had to be a vehicle.

However, in more positive news, and most unlike normal airline politics, he very politely wrote me an e-mail on Thursday to say that he was going to look into it further. He has since come back to me today, and said he's spoken to the CAA and that whilst the CAA share his concern over the wording of the article, they are happy for me to carry both the main cartridges, and spares, on my flight.

This is something Alpride have marketed as a perk of their system - that unlike an ABS / RAS system, the Alpride system allows spare cartridges to be carried on the basis that they fall under a different regulation. However, if the CAA 'share his concern', I wonder if this will only mean that next year we see a less vague approach to the system in the dangerous goods regulations and find them outlawed after all.

I've also still got to hope that the airport's own security, at both Manchester and Venice, don't decide to disagree with the airline's rules - since the security are provided by somebody else - and confiscate them anyway. So I'm still half inclined to leave the spares at home, on the basis that it would be quite unfortunate to be caught up in 2 avalanches in 3 weeks...
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Quote:

I've also still got to hope that the airport's own security, at both Manchester and Venice


Yes, always the main issue, with all forms of ABS.

The BA guy is on the ball though, he's a great guy to deal with.
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*english*

Just got off the phone with Wizz-air and they told me they dont accept this despite IATA rules allowing it as carryon or check-in lugggage.

Book with other airlines such as ryanair who state explicitly in their FAQ that ABS airbags and their gas canisters are allowed!


*Polish*

Wlasnie skonczylem rozmawiac z infolinia wizzair'a i dowiedzialem sie od przysypiajacego pana z infolinii ze wizzair jako cala linia nie bierze plecakow ABS

Polecam linie Ryanair lub Easyjet ktore maja w swoich FAQ albo graound handling regulations wyjasnie zaznaczone ze biora plecaki ABS.
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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
Interesting that the BA guy had the same concerns as me. I was considering an Alpride system because you can take spares but did also see that and airbag can have "A cartridge" (singular) and that it is only the life vests that can have multiples.

The ambiguity is putting me off this system even though I was tempted by the weight reduction.
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You know it makes sense.
@GlasgowCyclops, I'm with you on the ambiguity. The Alpride system is 'pretending' it is a life vest to get around the single cartridge requirement of the IATA regulations on Avalanche Rescue Packs (which were written to specifically account for the ABS packs, being the first on the market).

If questioned by check-in or security about what the backpack is, and what the cartridges are. You are going to have to say it is an Avalanche pack, as it blatantly isn't a life vest, and try to explain why you are trying to bypass the regulations..........
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PowderAdict wrote:
@GlasgowCyclops, I'm with you on the ambiguity. The Alpride system is 'pretending' it is a life vest to get around the single cartridge requirement of the IATA regulations on Avalanche Rescue Packs (which were written to specifically account for the ABS packs, being the first on the market).

If questioned by check-in or security about what the backpack is, and what the cartridges are. You are going to have to say it is an Avalanche pack, as it blatantly isn't a life vest, and try to explain why you are trying to bypass the regulations..........


Exactly. I'm a frequent flyer (6-7 flights/month) and realise that most airports are pretty cool with things but one whiff of someone pulling a fast one changes that attitude quickly. Alpride are aiming at this "self-inflating safety device such as a life jacket or vest". It is a self inflating safety device and this part is not restricted to life jackets or vests, they are just and example. However, the 50ml limit is a worry "50 mL water capacity for other devices" and I don't have access to the relevant section.
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dp wrote:

I've also still got to hope that the airport's own security, at both Manchester and Venice, don't decide to disagree with the airline's rules - since the security are provided by somebody else - and confiscate them anyway. So I'm still half inclined to leave the spares at home, on the basis that it would be quite unfortunate to be caught up in 2 avalanches in 3 weeks...


I think that it is a significant risk that security will confiscate them, even if the airline says it is ok.

If I had to discharge my cartridge, either in anger or accidentally, I think I'd be prepared to take the cost on the chin to replace the cartridges in the resort or hire an airbag backpack for the remaining days (assuming you are in a resort not on some multi-day hut to hut tour...)

I think this sort of thing will play to the advantance of Jetforce (battery) and Mammut snowpulse (1 cylinder). I picked up a second hand one of the latter from this forum, which the seller kindly did a test-fired demo, then I exchanged the cartridge for a new carbon one (300 bar nitrogen). My plan is to buy the US 207 bar aluminium cylinder (dry compressed air) and a Hill Mk4 air rifle pump, so I can test fire whenever I want and refill with some elbow grease. This is "approved" by Mammut http://www.mammutavalanchesafety.com/2016/11/refilling-airbag-cylinders-with-hill.html. It can also be filled in any paintball or scuba shop (or ski shop that also fills BCA cylinders).
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The wording is "not more that four (4) cartridges up to 50 ml water capacity for other devices" i.e. not life jackets. We see these all the time for tyre inflators for bicycles. As there is no specification for these "other devices" then as long as they are within the appropriate size and number they should be allowed to go in the bag. But from what I can find any cartridge over 38 gm of Co2 will be over the 50 ml size.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
PowderAdict wrote:

If questioned by check-in or security about what the backpack is, and what the cartridges are. You are going to have to say it is an Avalanche pack, as it blatantly isn't a life vest, and try to explain why you are trying to bypass the regulations..........


Well here's the thing. The wording doesn't say life vest, it says "self-inflating safety device" and I think you absolutely can confidently say that an avalanche pack is a self-inflating safety device.

When I was choosing one, I ruled out the JetPack as too expensive because it's about £800 and with my Scott one at £500 and cartridges at £35, that's 8 releases before you come off easier. Which, hopefully, is 8 years of testing it once a season. But fair enough, on the flying front, the JetPack wins every time.

Obviously, my concern as an owner is that IATA react to this - what I think you could possibly consider as a - deliberate misinterpretation of the rules to bend them to what you want them to be, by making their stance on it clearer and ruling them out with clearer wording. However, by the same token, IATA might also accept that the Alpride system is no more inherently dangerous than an ABS system and change the wording to permit the Alpride system more explicitly. So I'm not getting paranoid for now.

My understanding is that in most major resorts you can get hold of a replacement pair of cartridges easily enough so I'm electing not to carry spares. Frankly I think that if I get caught in one life threatening avalanche in my holiday, and survive it, I'll be reasonably happy with skiing the rest on pistes if I can't find a replacement!! Disaster averted being the main thing.
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Flying BRA Airlines (regional Swedish airline, formerly Malmo Aviation) from Stockholm Bromma to Åre-Ostersund today. Forgot to notify them I am bringing an avalanche airbag backpack. Call them this morning and they said I should have filled out a form 48 hours in advance, so they couldn't guarantee it will be ok (though most likely will). Doh. Decided to leave it at home, and manage with my avalung backpack instead.
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There is an interesting highlight in the Scott page that shows they don't highlight the 4x50ml bottles.

http://scottdocs.s3.amazonaws.com/pages/AvalanchePack/iata-rules-2016-en.pdf

Their argument seems to be that because the canisters are for a self inflating safety device, the 50ml limit is not effective. Reading it this way, the 4x50ml is referring to gas canisters that are not for self inflating safety devices.

I feel an email to them. I really like the idea of the compression straps and the weight.
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GlasgowCyclops wrote:
There is an interesting highlight in the Scott page that shows they don't highlight the 4x50ml bottles.

http://scottdocs.s3.amazonaws.com/pages/AvalanchePack/iata-rules-2016-en.pdf

Their argument seems to be that because the canisters are for a self inflating safety device, the 50ml limit is not effective. Reading it this way, the 4x50ml is referring to gas canisters that are not for self inflating safety devices.

I feel an email to them. I really like the idea of the compression straps and the weight.


The 4x 50ml bottles is nothing to do with the airbag and there's no suggestion that it ever has been. That's something which a poster above brought into it which is not relevant to this regulation.

The self inflating safety device - such as a life jacket - allows for 2 cannisters and 2 spares. This is the regulation being questioned. Because the cannisters for life jackets are substantially smaller but Alpride, who manufacture both, seem to have 'upcycled' the regulation to suit their new product but not consulted IATA on doing so!
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dp wrote:
GlasgowCyclops wrote:
There is an interesting highlight in the Scott page that shows they don't highlight the 4x50ml bottles.

http://scottdocs.s3.amazonaws.com/pages/AvalanchePack/iata-rules-2016-en.pdf

Their argument seems to be that because the canisters are for a self inflating safety device, the 50ml limit is not effective. Reading it this way, the 4x50ml is referring to gas canisters that are not for self inflating safety devices.

I feel an email to them. I really like the idea of the compression straps and the weight.


The 4x 50ml bottles is nothing to do with the airbag and there's no suggestion that it ever has been. That's something which a poster above brought into it which is not relevant to this regulation.

The self inflating safety device - such as a life jacket - allows for 2 cannisters and 2 spares. This is the regulation being questioned. Because the cannisters for life jackets are substantially smaller but Alpride, who manufacture both, seem to have 'upcycled' the regulation to suit their new product but not consulted IATA on doing so!


The 50ml cartridges are in the same sentence. I agree with you that these canisters are allowed but I'm not convinced that security at airports would be convinced.

"Up to two (2) small cartridges fitted into a self-inflating safety device such as a life jacket or vest. Not more than one (1) device per passenger and up to two (2) spare small cartridges per person, not more than four (4) cartridges up to 50 mL water capacity for other devices (see 2.3.4.2)."
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Yes, I am still a little concerned but I've been assured by the dealer that people are flying with Scott airbags without any problems. This is not the first year of the Alpride packs, they did them last year as well so I'm sure word would have got around if they weren't getting through the airport?

The trouble is the term 'small cartridges' doesn't explain what small is. There is no suggestion (and Mr BA agreed) that the 50mL water capacity for other devices was referring to the cartridges for the self inflating safety device.

An e-mail might be interesting. The alpride website (http://www.alpride.com/airbag.html) says:
Alpride Website wrote:

Flying with this type of cartridge is approved by IATA.


That's a bold statement so for my peace of mind it might be nice to know exactly on what basis they make this claim. Frankly if they can't back it up I'd be half inclined to ask for my money back and buy an ABS system out of principle.

Alpride wrote:

No changes with the IATA table 2.3.A. for 2016, the Alpride device, thanks to its standard cartridges, can be consider as an "Avalanche rescue backpack" and / or a "self inflating safety device", like life-vest, motorbike airbag or equestrian airbag. In both cases you can travel with your Alpride Airbag and cartridges (you need the approval of the operator), considering the Alpride airbag as a safety device.

New IATA Table 2.3.A. for 2016 - Avalanche rescue backpack:


New IATA Table 2.3.A. for 2016 - Self inflating Safety Device:


Remarks: the four (4) cartridges up to 50 ml for other devices: other devices are not safety devices, it means small cartridges for cycling or airsoft guns, for example.


I still think there is some ambiguity. The phrase the Alpride device, thanks to its standard cartridges, can be consider as an "Avalanche rescue backpack" and / or a "self inflating safety device", like life-vest, motorbike airbag or equestrian airbag. is where I am unsure.

An "avalanche rescue pack" is entitled to have "a" cannister of compressed gas.
A "self inflating safety device" is entitled to have "2 small" cannisters of compressed gas

So the trouble is, if they're not considered 'small' enough cartridges, then the Alpride system does not, in fact, fulfil the literal wording of either of these statements.
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I've emailed MA at Alpride for clarification.
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That's great, if you have a contact there.

It is a concern to me, because I have an Alpride bag. But I still think, if it can be simplified with the airline, it's a good system. The cartridges are not too expensive (£35 ish) and, providing you can find some in resort (apparently people haven't found this hard), the benefit is that if you do spend your cartridge you can refill the pack simply. And of course, if involved in hardcore hut to hut touring, you can take several out with you.

I do like the jet pack system but I'm also a bit skeptical. The purchase price is very high and I'd prefer to be reliant on a mechanical system than an electronic one.
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Hi All. I have additional info form Marc-Antoine at Alpride.

The additional information is interesting, especially the volume comparison vs life vests and the volume/pressure compared to single cylinder avi packs.

Quote:

Dear Bob,

Thanks for your email, I will try to clarify certain points I have read in the forum:

The Alpride 60 g C02 cartridges are exactly the same as the cartridges use in the large lifejacket 275N – for example: http://www.lifejackets.co.uk/products/136/lifejacket-co2-cylinder-60g
The cartridges used for other inflation safety device as motorcycle airbag or equestrian airbag are the same size or even larger, some manufacturer are using 100 ml, the Alpride cartridges are 85 ml

For IATA regulation:

The Alpride device could be considered as a self-inflating safety device because the only difference between the devices are the volume of the airbag and not the volume or the type of cartridges. The 50 ml cartridges don’t concern the self-inflating safety device but the other device like mountain bike inflation kit etc…

If you consider as an avalanche airbag and this is the case, the fact to have two cartridges is not a problem because the volume of the two cartridges 2 x 85 ml = 170 ml is lower than the current cartridges of 250 ml, moreover the pressure of the Argon cartridge is “only” 170 bar (70 bar for C02) against 300 bar for other cartridges. For this points the interpretation of the IATA text is ok for IATA and airline companies.

We had several contacts with IATA about this topics and they recognize that the phraseology is not really clear but the objective is to allow avalanche airbag and self-inflating safety devices in airplanes.

We are on the market since already three winters ant thousands of people are travelling with Alpride airbag, it means we have a good experiences and feed-back, we can recommend the following procedure ( nothing new):

Declare before travelling that you are carrying an avalanche airbag, and ask if you need to put it in your luggage or cabin luggage
Print IATA table and MSDS
Some companies don’t accept avalanche airbag but it’s a minority, if this is the case nothing to see with the Alpride cartridges.
What makes things sometimes more complicated: The final acceptation is done by the airlines and check by airport security, some airport agent don’t understand well the technical aspect and prefer to refuse cartridges to avoid any risks. For this reason, it could be more difficult to travel with spare cartridges.

I hope it helps to clarify the situation.

With Best Regards

Marc-Antoine


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@GlasgowCyclops, if I sent you a PM could you forward me this e-mail to send onto the bloke at BA? (Unless you have direct contact with him?) - I think this would be interesting and helpful for him to see.

It's a good e-mail and really helpful, I think my verdict is still that I will not carry spares until IATA make their rules a bit clearer.
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dp wrote:
@GlasgowCyclops, if I sent you a PM could you forward me this e-mail to send onto the bloke at BA? (Unless you have direct contact with him?) - I think this would be interesting and helpful for him to see.

It's a good e-mail and really helpful, I think my verdict is still that I will not carry spares until IATA make their rules a bit clearer.


no problem PM me.
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Thinking of flying with Germania and taking an Airbag?

Quote:


Avalanche Packs Information required

Please find below following information regarding the carriage of Avalanche packs:

A single (1) avalanche rescue backpack per person are authorized containing a cylinder of compressed gas in Division 2.2. They may also contain an explosive trigger mechanism containing less than 200 mg net of explosives in Division 1.4S.

Regulations for carriage:
 Only one backpack per passenger is allowed
 It is not permitted to carry the backpack on one’s person
 The backpack must be packed in such a manner that it cannot be accidentally activated
 The airbags within the backpacks must be fitted with pressure relief valves
 The gas cylinders are only allowed if they are integrated in the backpack; it’s not allowed to carry a separate cylinder
 It is permitted as carry-on baggage or as checked baggage
 Registration is mandatory at agency@germania.aero at the latest 48 hours prior to departure. Please see below our opening times
 The cost is €50.00/ £40.00 gbp per sector [/list]

Tour Operators Information:
 Important note for tour operators contacting us directly:
 ALL SSR requests, especially for PRM-passengers, must be sent to our Agency Center
 E-mail address: agency@germania.aero

Agency Opening times:
Open: Mon- Fri 07:00-16:30 Local time UK Open: Mon- Fri only 08:00-17:30 Local time Berlin
Requests must be received by the latest two working days in advance of the flight.
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    So, interesting case study.

    I booked a flight to Jackson, transiting through Dallas, with BA - but the codeshare partner is American. Called BA to get my Scott Alpride system approved which, after a bit of to and fro with the support agent, they did.

    However, when I arrived at the airport and checked in with American they said that their policy was NOT to permit the cartridges. The BA support agent notes were on the system - but they hadn't confirmed with American that it was acceptable to them.

    This raises the interesting question of what would happen if one leg of the journey were on on a BA flight and then the onward leg on an American flight. The American check in supervisor said that they acknowledged that the cartridges were both IATA and TSA approved but it was simply American policy not to accept them.

    American were very professional and friendly and offered to keep the cartridges at Heathrow until my return so that I could retrieve them. However, I do now have to find alternative cartridges in Jackson and I won't be able to bring them back.
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    I thought it was pretty common knowledge that you cannot take ANY pressurised air cannisters through American airports. They're a bit paranoid about it.
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    dp wrote:
    I thought it was pretty common knowledge that you cannot take ANY pressurised air cannisters through American airports. They're a bit paranoid about it.


    Yep, I thought so to. You can carry empty cartridges, the refillable kind. Obviously the question then is where to get them refilled...
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    Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
    I'm sure any decent ski resort must have at least one shop that can refill a cannister. If not then somebody is really missing a trick.

    With Scott being an American brand I would have hoped that the sensible option for the Alpride system would be to pick up a pair of cartridges in resort. Perhaps in time if the system picks up popularity the ski shops might offer a money back deal on the cartridges if you don't fire them.

    If I'm spending a week or two off piste then realistically I'm happy to spend $50 picking some up in resort, I'd rather lose my $50 by not using them than suffocate under 6 feet of snow.
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    I just emailed Easyjet to say I'll be bringing an Alpride system with me and asked as an aside if I need to inform the airport.

    The response was to ask the airport but no hint that it was OK or not to fly with them. I'll see how Birmingham airport respond.

    To be fair to Easyjet the response was very fast.
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    So reading the comments here on the Scott Alpride system, is the concern that the 2 cartridges needed for operation are likely to be a problem, or are you guys concerned about taking 4, i.e. a spare set.

    Both BHX and Easyjet came back referring to the CAA \ IATA regs so I confess to being a little twitchy as to the 2 cartridge question.

    On the upside, assuming IATA compliance, it should all be OK as hand luggage, at least on the BHX side.
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    AndAnotherThing.. wrote:


    On the upside, assuming IATA compliance, it should all be OK as hand luggage, at least on the BHX side.


    Technically yes, but security will likely treat the canisters as liquids so there is that restriction to get around. You are more likely to have a smooth journey if you check the whole think in to hold luggage.
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    @AndAnotherThing.., I've sold loads of Alpride packs & no one has had any issues flying however, like all avi packs, you must prebook them & have a copy of the IATA regs in your hold bag & have another copy with you at check-in to present with your email confirmation from the airline.

    When advising the airline don't complicate matters by saying what type/system you have just email them saying you're prebooking an avi pack.

    There's three ways you can take them depending on whether you're using the pack as a carry-on bag & I've always stated in my email to the airline which method I'm gonna use. I've done all three without issue:

    - cylinder(s) only in the hold in which case they need to be in the manufacturers packaging (however flimsy)
    - cylinder(s) attached to the 'removed from pack' system, in which case the screw valve should be closed
    - cylinder(s) attached to the system within the backpack, in which case the screw valve should be closed

    Simples Toofy Grin
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    @spyderjon, thanks Jon snowHead
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    Incorrect and non helpful response from EasyJet to my usual asking permission to carry my ABS:

    Dear On The Rocks,
    Thank you for contacting easyJet.
    I am happy to hear that you will be flying with us. Please be advised you will be required to contact the airports you will be flying to and from as different airports have different rules, for airport numbers please click here.
    We look forward to welcoming you on board.
    Kind regards,

    I've emailed them again asking for the correct response. If that doesn't work I'm tempted to show an email re a previous flight (which doesn't have any flight reference) to the airport special baggage.

    Has anybody else had a similar response? I'm wondering if this is just an error or a change of policy?
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    @On the rocks, Interesting, that's the stock response I received. I raised a new query saying that I need to get an OK from the airline and they did reply with a reference back to the CAA\ IATA regs.
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