If you are thinking about bringing your avalanche airbag pack down south for some summer skiing you might want to think twice. Currently you can not fly with avalanche airbag canisters on any foreign flights. aspenexpeditions.com tells us what you need to know before flying with a avalanche airbag.
aspenexpeditions.com: There is alot of confusion over the correct way to fly with an avalanche airbag pack and what is allowed. International travel is different from that within the United States. The TSA has strict guidelines which applies for all pack designs, canister configurations and trigger mechanisms. Below is an excerpt from a TSA explosives expert who deals alot with the issues arising from Airbag packs and airline travel. The most notable change is that ABS which prides itself on claiming you can fly with a charged nitrogen canister is grossly mistaken. Under the latest guidelines, you cannot fly with ANY fully charged canister no matter what the gas is inside. The other change is that you cannot fly with a charged or live ABS trigger handle as these contain explosive charges. As per the TSA, the BEST PRACTICE for flying with a canister is to make sure the canister is empty and also remove the top so that it can be visually inspected. Leave the canister in the airbag pack and include the material safety data sheet with the canister.
FROM TSA EXPLOSIVES EXPERT:
I am an Explosives Specialist for TSA, and I want to clear up some bad information in this article. First off, regarding travel restrictions:
No avalanche rescue air cylinders, regardless of what you choose to call them, are allowed through TSA security unless screeners can visually verify that the cylinders are empty. For ABS systems, that means a punctured burst disc. For others, the cylinder head/valve must be removed to show an empty cylinder. Additionally, ABS trigger handles are not allowed through security if they contain a live explosive cartridge. Only expended handles are allowed. Determination of whether or not they have been activated can only be made by an Explosives Specialist, not a screener.
Secondly, regarding the blatant insult of TSA personnel. I don’t disagree that the competency standards for TSA are pretty low, especially at the basic screener level. However, it is unfair and petty for an otherwise reputable website to assume we’re all morons. Some of us work in less-visible parts of TSA, and we are highly educated and have a level of experience far exceeding that of the common citizen. The only confusion I see here is perpetrated by the article’s author for stating that the way in which you refer to your equipment will have any effect on our requirement to examine any air bottle we detect.