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TSA Travel Tips Tuesday - It's Time to go Scuba Diving!

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Scuba Gear

Scuba Gear

Charlie Foreman wrote a post about this time last year for the TSA Blog about traveling with scuba gear. We decided to share it again this summer for those of you who might have missed it. Enjoy this very informative post! ~ Bob

A little bit about Charlie - Charlie is a TSA Customer Support Manager in Mississippi. He’s been diving since the early 80’s and instructing since 1985. He began instructing the instructors in 1990 to teach open water diving as well as underwater photography. He’s got over 5,500 dives under his belt and was inducted into the Platinum Pro Instructor Foundation as well as the Platinum Pro Diver Foundation.


Before you get on that plane that takes you to an exciting destination, you must first think about how you should pack your dive gear for the flight. Here are some suggestions to make sure your expensive equipment arrives safely to your paradise adventure.

  • Always pack your expensive dive equipment and accessories in your carry-on luggage.
  • Always pack any prescription masks with you in carry-on luggage. If you lose this item it could ruin your whole trip.
  • Always pack your dive computers and regulators in carry-on luggage because these items are sensitive and might not survive the wear and tear of the baggage handling process.
  • Carry any prescriptions with you in your carry-on bag.
  • Now that you have your carry-on bag packed, you can pay attention to packing your dive equipment that goes into the baggage area of the plane.
  • Pack your dive jacket (B.C, Stab Jacket, and Buoyancy Compensators) in your dive bag first and place them in the middle of the bag.
  • Surround the jacket with your fins to protect it during the flight.
  • If you choose not to carry your mask with you on the plane, make sure it is in a protective mask box and it is wrapped with dive skins or your wetsuit to protect it from getting broken. Always carry a spare mask in your bag. Masks are very expensive if you have to replace one on your vacation. Make sure you place your dive knife in your checked baggage and not your carry-on. This item is prohibited on board an aircraft.
  • Be sure to pack extra fin straps and repair items you might need as well as motion sickness medicines just in case. It is not necessary to carry weights and tanks with you since most resorts provide the availability to tanks and weights with the dive packages.
  • If you do chose to carry you own personal small emergency air source, make sure the valve is out of the cylinder and it can be inspected at your time of departure.
  • Do not forget the most important item! Make sure you lock your baggage with a TSA approved lock. This will prevent anyone from removing items out of your dive bags.

Now…Lets Go Diving!

Guest Blogger - Charlie Foreman
TSA Stakeholder - Customer Support Manager

Update: We’ve had some questions about diving lamps since we posted last year. Here are the FAA regulations: Electrically powered heat producing articles (e.g., battery-operated equipment such as diving lamps and soldering equipment) should be packed as carry-on baggage only and with the approval of the operator of the aircraft. The heat producing component, or the energy source, must be removed to prevent unintentional functioning during transport.


Submitted by Anonymous on

Good tips Charlie. I like the idea of putting the fins around the BC.

I do take issue with the locks, however.

1) TSA locks keep out everyone EXCEPT the TSA. TSA has had too many thefts by TSA personnel to be credible when you (TSA) say "Trust us with your valuables"

2) Why is it possible to steal from any checked baggage? Aren't all of these areas supposed to be secure? Why isn't there enough surveillance/monitoring of baggage handlers to prevent theft? Along with the lax screening of airport personnel, this offers opportunities not just for theft but also to slip in a bomb.

If airports aren't theft free they aren't bomb-free.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Mr. Foreman,

Two questions and comments afterwards. Hope you will answer these as soon as possible. Thank you for the wonderful blog post.

1. What about CO2 cylinders for inflating dive vests under emergency situations. Where and how should these be packaged for travel. (There seems always to be an issue about this, which I never understood because in most international flights passengers are sitting on hundreds of them in the air carrier supplied emergency life vests under their seats).

2. What about emergency flare/smoke device? I am assuming there is no way to take these with you when traveling by air. Only issue here is that at some remote dive spots these cannot be procurred. Tough to going diving knowing that you have to leave a safety device at home due to government regulations.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA: Is this a "guide to diving" written by someone who barely knows how to snorkel? It sure sounds like it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Even though this agent states that you should ALWAYS pack your computer/regs in carry-on, if you ask the TSA if these are officially allowed (which I did once), they'll hedge and tell you that it's up to the agent's discretion whether you can carry them on. They WILL NOT tell you that it's official TSA policy to allow these items as carry-on. If the TSA agent doesn't recognize your computer and regs as such, is in a lousy mood/is power-tripping, or just doesn't like scuba divers, you could wind up either mailing your expensive gear home or having it tossed in TSA's trash bins. How about an official statement on the website that computers and regs ARE indeed allowable carry-on, so we divers have something to print out to show a TSA supervisor? (Statements made on the TSA blog carry no official weight, as TSA is well aware.)

Submitted by Anonymous on

A couple of comments based on the first comment by "Anonymous" - Although there have been issues with TSA personnell in the past, and I'm going to assume that there are still bad apples within the TSA, keep in mind that the TSA are not the only ones that may handle your checked in luggage. You will have airline employees and baggage handlers at both airpports that will be handling your bags. Not every bag is physically searched by the TSA. If your bag does have to get searched by the TSA, having a TSA lock will enable them to unlock the bag easily to do their search and re-lock it up after. If you put a lock on it that is n ot a "TSA" lock and they have to search your bag for some reason, they will probably have to cut the lock off. Now your bag is unlocked for the rest of the time.

Submitted by Anonymous on

So a regulator is allowed in the plane, but a metal nail cutter is not. I wonder which of those could be a more dangerous weapon...

Submitted by Anonymous on

My wife and I have been flying for years with dive gear; we have never had TSA question our regs in carry on. The only items that were ever questioned were dive lights -- and that was in Hong Kong. They told us to remove the bulbs or remove the battery pack. The HK TSA-equivalent said it was an airline (Cathay) rule -- even though we'd just arrived from LAX on Cathay and no one had said anything about it there.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I used TSA appoved locks on my dive bag and they still cut the zipper pulls off. TSA locks are a rip off.

Submitted by Paul on

Thanks for the good tips Charlie! I've always packed my dive computer with my checked luggage but I plan on bringing it with me on my carry on from now on. That little bugger was expensive for me so the last thing I'd want is get to my destination, open my checked luggage and discover a broken comp. Not a great way of starting a vacation, ay?

My main concern though is if the TSA agent that handles my carry on will be OK with it though. Last thing I want is for it get thrown into the trash (another notsogreat way of starting a trip). Thoughts?

Submitted by App Maker on

Thanks for the scuba gear tips. I've traveled around the world and never really had a problem. Just takes a bit of common sense. Not paying attention to your gear, can be a real trouble maker.

Submitted by Sipadan Diver on

My wife and I will be heading to Sipadan Island in Borneo in a few weeks time. The article suggests that we should pack our dive computers and regulators in our carry-on baggage to protect them. However, we heard from one of our friends that the rules may have changed and we may not be allowed to store them in our carry-on baggage anymore. Is there any way we can obtain confirmation on this. Thank you.

Submitted by Scubby Dooby on

Your an idiot, they are not going to throw away your computer or dive regulator

Submitted by Cody on

Have not found any information about snorkeling equipment, just want to know that I wont be bothered by carrying on my snorkeling mask, tube, and fins, thanks

Submitted by Anonymous on

Can I bring the whole gear in carry on bag?

Thank you

Submitted by Kevin on

"they are not going to throw away your computer or dive regulator" Really? I guess you never flew a day in your life