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Flying with avalanche airbag systems

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Anybody flown to India with a Snowpulse bag? Friends are going skiing over there in 8 days but the Airline has said they can't take the nitrogen cylinders. HELP !!!!!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Scarpa, Sorry I missed you post, been a little busy over the last few days, I wonder why.
Quote:

I've just bought an ABS ultralight bag. Will probably just take the rucksack part as my hand luggage and boot pack the canister and trigger in hold luggage as I'm flying with Lufthansa.


You can of course risk it like that, however make sure you have all the right docs on you, airport security sometimes raise an eyebrow when they xray your airbag even with no cylinder in it.

Flying with out pre booking the airbag is a risk especially ABS ones with the pyro trigger.
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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?
DB, Did they send a copy of the IATA regs with the email they sent to the airline, if not maybe that would help. Snowpulse do have an Indian setup as well now.

Which airline is it?
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livetoski, cheers, found datasheet on the snowpulse website, and just measured it myself!!!
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livetoski, Cheers. Yup - got all the docs and have let airline know. If there's any problem I can just swap the hand baggage rucksack with a small light one in my main luggage, it'll have been weighed by then so no problem if the Vario puts it over by a couple of kgs.


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Sat 4-02-12 20:22; edited 1 time in total
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livetoski wrote:
DB, Did they send a copy of the IATA regs with the email they sent to the airline, if not maybe that would help. Snowpulse do have an Indian setup as well now.

Which airline is it?


Not sure which airline but have asked them via E-mail.

Do you mean "Avantek" in India or is there another setup in India?
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
DB,
Quote:

Do you mean "Avantek" in India


Yes only spotted them the other day on Snowpulse contacts page.
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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!
Has anyone worked out a sensible 'patter' to use on the (generally not very bright) check in staff.
Or, can someone come up with an irrefutable response to the following: (slightly paraphrased)

check-in agent: "anything in your bags which are not permitted"
me: 'no'.
agent: 'ok'. [and she doesn't think she needs to open my bag to check that what I've just said is true'
me: ' I do have an item on the IATA list - avalanche safety equipment' (at which point I show he the empty ABS backpack)
agent: "what's that then"
me: gives simple explanation that it is avvy safety equipment, comprising empty bags, a gas cylinder, and release handle, latter items packed in hold baggage in accordance with IATA regs
agent: 'can I see the cylinder'
me: 'what for'
agent: 'I need to see the cylinder'
me: 'why'
agent: 'I need to see it'
[this repeats for several iterations, whilst I rummage in my backpack for:
- IATA regs extract
- datasheet for cylinder and handle
- copy of email from Mark Warner confirming that airline have been advised.

I managed to resist bluntly telling her that there was no point in her looking at a cylinder, if she was going to trust my earlier answer that I had no 'non-permitted' items... but thought better of it.
She eventually went off to see her supervisor, and after about 10 minutes, made us take the checked baggage for 'special screening'.

I think part of the problem was that we were quite early for our flight, so there was no queue behind us....
The check in staff were (I think) just Serviceair, working for Invicta (who are MW's carrier to Friedrikshafen, Austria).

What made it a real joke was that on the way back, the staff in Friedriks were super helpful, and stated that they could see the 'system note' explaining that we were carrying ABS bags.... and that was the end of the conversation at that end.

Wasn't the best way to start the holiday - but what i'm wondering is what is the 'least contentious' way of explaining what an ABS is (clearly, starting off with the phrase "well, there's this explosive handle, and a gas canister" is NOT ideal....).... but I did feel a little self-conscious repeatedly telling the lady "its an IATA permitted item, it has been packed in accordance with the instructions, and no, you don't need to see it" - could have done with Obi-wan kenobi to get past this stormtrooper!

thanks in anticipation,
h.
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I had my cylinder inspected twice now by JAL staff, I just repeat that it is an avalanche rescue backpack and leave it at that. I can't really see the issue in showing them the cylinder, what harm does it do if they then allow you on the flight?

Interesting point on my return leg, the JAL staff insisted I screw my cylinder into the bag for the flight, as the pressure relief valve was in the airbag!! I think they are confusing the issue here, as the IATA regs say the airbag must have pressure relief valves not the cylinder.

Interestingly rob@rar didn't have to arm his to fly as he has the valve on his, which I think they assumed was a pressure relief valve, so he was allowed to fly "unarmed".

Cheers,

Greg
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hamilton, kitenski, My thoughts are that they are wanting to see the cylinder to make sure its the correct size. There are cylinders which actually are to big to fly with according to the IATA regs. One such is the Snowpulse USA cylinder as its over the 250ml.

Advise will always be show the cylinder if asked to and do not be difficult or try and hide anything, at the end of the day even if the airline and IATA regs say you can fly with your airbag security can turn round and refuse you.

The issue about attaching the cylinder for flying is a first for me, by doing that they are also, sort of going against the regs "The backpack must be packed in such a manner that it cannot be accidentaly activated"

The regs very clearly state that its the airbags within the backpack must be fitted with a pressure relief value.
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I have to admit that for my last two trips (both on Swiss) I haven't bothered to mention it at checkin and all has been fine Embarassed

I couldn't possibly recommend that of course Little Angel
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I always pack my ABS cylinder and trigger in the hold with my skis, in original cardboard box, and take a copy of the IATA print stuff with me in case. I wear the sack as a normal rucksack as my carry on hand luggage, and on a couple of occasions the bag has been pulled to one side by the security and opened etc, more out of interstes sake I think - but thats it, after all its just a normal rucksack onc eth trigger and cylincer are removed. Certainly no longer the issue it was 2-3 years ago.
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Quick update, the IATA have updated the regs again for 2012, there are no changes yet on avalanche rescue packpacks, link below scroll to bottom of page IATA regs now in English, French, Spanish, German and Russia.
http://www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/dangerous_goods/Pages/download.aspx

I said no chages yet, there is a little bit of grape vine talk about changes in the cylinder size allowed (currently 250ml), to the energy of the cylinder, as soon as I hear anythng else I will post up.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Have thought several times that it would be worth the cylinders having some sort of sticker with a brief explanation in several languages what it is - particularly in airports where it might get picked up on a scanner some time after you've checked in.

Regarding dealing with the check in staff, I've often found its gone slightly easier when I've referred to my backpack as a life jacket.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
sd2010, Yup - just tell them it's like the life jackets they have under the seats but that the cylinder comes off to make sure they can't ever be inflated during the flight.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Ok, fine and dandy, but we were at the airport the other day, and it clearly states that we are allowed up to 250 ml compressed gas. The snowpulse cans are 300 ml. Jammed. They obviously referenced the iata page, and saw the volume differences. So what now!?
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
carver3563, welcome to snowHeads.

What version of the Snowpulse system do you have? My Snowpulse canister contains 249ml of compressed gas.
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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?
I have the Snowpulse American cylinder so also about 300ml. I just show them the data sheet for the European cylinder and hope that they do not inspect the cylinder.
On one desk I was told that this is way below the volume of compresssed air that is actually allowed on the plane. As long as you explain that it is only air and not oxygen.

One full proof way is if you know that you can fill the cylinder at your destination then discharge the bottle and unscrew the top, then it is just a piece of metal in your bag.

I have typically only had a problem when flying through the UK. I am to be flying with my Avi bag and 2 cylinders next month through Amsterdam to Anchorage with KLM. I admit I am a bit nervous with the two cylinders.

Anyone know of a dive shop in Anchorage?
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livetoski, It's not that I don`t _want_ to show it - but that the agent could not articulate _why_ she wanted to see it. If she`d said it was to verify the size, that would have been fine, but I think she was just being awkward.

Scarpa, I tried this at Christmas, and was informed by Monarch that the carriage of lifejackets was prohibited.... (although clearly IATA permit this)

The issue is that they need to be 'declared' (approval of operator is required) - getting the approval has so far been easy (email from Mark Warner), the problem is the ground handling company in the UK either don't know, or care, about what to do.

Perhaps the logic should be that if I have confirmation I've told the 'operator', I don't then need to tell the ground handlers? thoughts?
h.
(off to Tignes in a few weeks, so will see what happens then!)
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
hamilton, on one occasion when I flew via Heathrow the carrier (BA) phoned the ground staff security when I checked in to confirm that there was a compressed gas cylinder in my hold luggage and that it complied with regulations. This seemedto be the ideal solution.

I don't think that it's a good idea to rely on telling your tour operator, much better to speak directly with your carrier. But even with that in place you might still have an issue with a poorly informed agent of your carrierat check-in, or with airport security (both of which caused issues for kitenski when flying in Japan earlier this month).
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Another "incident"
On my latest trip I was told that I was not allowed to travel to or from America with ABS canisters. Not even empty ones. I read everything and filed everything 2 weeks ahead of time. But the TSA says that if they cannot see the bottom of the canister in order to check if it's empty. They will take it. Regardless of the fact that it's IATA approved. (This does not cover America and Canada) It is not allowed to be brought on any airplane traveling in the states. So even sending it is prohibited according to the TSA supervisor at Jackson Hole airport.

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/compressed_gas.shtm

They also said that they will clarify these rules as he admitted that it's not very easy to understand that IATA and TSA have different opinions about the issue.
An interesting twist is that the TSA officer said that it was perfectly fine to bring the handle into my carry on. Without any further questions.. I asked and said what it was but that didn't seem to matter. Only problem was the cylinder.


One thing to consider is that if you do NOT declare it in the states. You will be fined if they pull it. And that is not cheap, and not very good for future traveling.
I truly hope that ABS will start a rental thing with resorts, so that one can rent the equipment and return it to the shop or whoever rents it when your trip ends.

Or that TSA will get their act together and follow the rest of the world...

//Daniel
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This is all a bit worrying for me. I am just about to purchase either an ABS or Snowpulse bag but often ski in North America. I have read through this entire thread and still don't feel confident with American travel. Basically, my travel plans for next year are seeing my fly British Airways from Newcastle, via Heathrow to Denver, from Denver to Salt Lake City with Delta. From Jackson Hole to Vancouver with Delta. From Vancouver to Prince George with WestJet, returning with Air Canada. Then flying home with BA from Vancouver to Newcastle, again via Heathrow.

Can anybody advise what may be best for me to do here? Contact them all privately? Also, I have two weeks planned first two weeks of December in Tignes, so I will be flying out to Geneva, possibly returning with Easy Jet directly to Newcastle, and a mix to get there.

These being a potential life saving device you would think that by now there were measures in place to safeguard the easy of passengers taking them overseas.

Any advice would be greatly welcomed.

Thanks
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Probably been said before

you can't fly with Flying with 'avalanche airbag systems', You need wings.... Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
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shenryo, pretty sure you can get North America-compatible cannisters as an extra
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Forgive my ignorance but I don't really understand much about these bags. Can you buy canisters in resort?
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shenryo,

lots of reading...

http://shop.snowshepherd.co.uk/epages/es122028.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/es122028/Categories/%22Air%20Bags%22/Flying_with_avalanche_airbag

http://www.snowpulse.com/en/rubrique/conseils-faq/transport/

http://abs-airbag.de/us/service/abs-in-planes/
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shenryo, Europe and the US and Canada are different.

Flying within Euro with a full cylinder is fine, and should not be a problem if you follow the guide lines.

The USA and Canada have different regs therefore you need to look at it separately.

Firstly we have many clients who fly to the US and Canada with no problem, the however is the internal US regs are different and officially they can confiscate a full cylinder. The plus side of this for Snowpulse is you can buy empty US style cylinders here, travel with them empty and then have them filled at any dive shop, paint ball shop or Snowpulse dealer in the US or Canada.

It may mean a small extra expense to have both specs but worth it in the end for peace of mind.

Give us a shout anytime if you need more info Toofy Grin
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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
Our first port of call next year is Aspen. Do you know if I get sorted here? Any idea of extra costs and such?

Thanks for the links, I'll have a good read through later this evening
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
It says the 300 Snowpulse can be taken anywhere, no?
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Hmm

Someone credible at TSA seems to have opined - not sure what jurisdiction they have over flights into US but you almost certainly can't pack an ABS outbound presently

http://unofficialnetworks.com/flying-avalanche-airbags-clarification-explained-103421/
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
So, quite simply, I can't buy a standard backpack and fly to the States with it?
And, even if I managed to refill (any ideas of costs here folks?) in Aspen, our first port of call, I would have to discharge again for Jackson Hole, and then again for Whistler?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
BCA have just tweeted this link about flying with their airbags and full cylinders. They assert it's not a problem outside of N. America (flying into or from NA they have to be discharged, no question). You can see my question to them at the bottom of their post. You would guess/hope they've taken informed advice on this before explicitely stating that their cylinders are OK to fly full.

http://www.backcountryaccess.com/2012/11/12/how-to-fly-with-an-avalanche-airbag-cylinder/

(posted this on another thread, but seems appropriate to put it here too).
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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?
Quote:

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


Mrs B and I flew from Manchester to Friedrichshafen in April with our ABS rucksacks, handles and cylinders as hand luggage.

However, we did approach security to "spill the beans" before they approached us! We had copies of the IATA guidelines with us, showed them to the staff, they went away and spoke to the gaffer and Robert was my father's brother!

Simples!

Also, no questions asked on the return flight. No problem.
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evski, Reading the BCA thing carefully between the lines , they do not say its fine with a BCA cylinder specifically, I think they are referring to ABS and Snowpulse cylinders as it was ABS that Cody Townsend was quoted as using in the article. But it will be interesting to see what BCA say.

The new IATA regs should be available shortly, they have been published but as yet I can not find a free download or PDF of the 2013 table 2.3 A
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livetoski, hopefully it will all be settled with the new guidlines. It'll be interesting to see them. All the best.
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Hi all. In response to my question on the BCA blog that I mentioned above ( http://www.backcountryaccess.com/2012/11/12/how-to-fly-with-an-avalanche-airbag-cylinder/ ), BCA pointed me to this link: http://www.backcountryaccess.com/2011/12/22/new-airbag-rules-to-hit-commercial-airlines/

The new link is well worth a read and includes a copy of an IATA agenda item (on which has been written "agreed"!), which it seems contains the revised wording to be incorporated in the regulations from January 2013. The good news is that any reference to the size of cylinder is removed.

So hopefully this cylinder size issue should all be sorted from January.
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It might solve the 'cylinder size' issue, but still requires 'operator approval' - having tried to persuade BA to give me such permission for a flight to Whistler, I'm still not convinced they've "put a note on my booking"; past experience is that even _with_ paperwork, there can be awkward questions.

I'm wondering how people who regularly transport other controlled items manage? Firearms would clearly require all sorts of paperwork, but I'm wondering about:
- Non-flammable gas cylinder fitted into a life jacket
- Battery-powered wheelchairs or other similar mobility devices with non-spillable batteries
both of which require the mystical 'operator approval'.
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hamilton, BA did indeed put a note on my booking when I flew to Japan last year, the check in lady even asked me about it before I said anything to her.
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Worth remembering that there are two aspects to flying with airbags: the airline itself, and airport security who are responsible for security checking of luggage. Just because the airline has made a note and approved carriage of the airbag it doesn't mean you won't get hassle going through the airport security procedures. Last time I flew with BA the check-in agent phoned airport security (at LHR) to tell them that my luggage contained a cylinder or compressed air and that they had approved it for travel on their flight. Note sure how much difference this made, but no issues for me on that occasion.
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Does anyone know whether it is possible to fly with 2 cartridges so long as each cartridge complies with the IATA regulations, or whether the limit of 1 avalanche rescue backpack per passenger means that only a single cartridge can be carried? I'm planning to do day tours in Greece in any area where it would not be possible to get a Mammut cartridge replaced if deployed so would ideally prefer to travel wit a spare, just in case.
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