Friday, May 18, 2012

It’s Time to go Scuba Diving - Travel Tips for Divers


Scuba Diving Gear

Keith Jeffries, the Assistant Federal Security Director from Orlando International Airport (MCO), will be speaking today on the CCR Travel Panel at the Rebreather Forum 3  in Orlando. This forum brings together the foremost minds in rebreather technology from all over the world.

In conjunction with this speaking event, we wanted publish a post on traveling with scuba gear, so we looked within TSA to see if we had any diving experts. That’s when we found Charlie Foreman, a 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 Platinum Pro Instructor Foundation as well as the Platinum Pro Diver Foundation.

Enjoy this very informative post! ~ Bob

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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 do not need to be tossed around under the plane by baggage handlers.

Carry any prescriptions with you in your carry-on bag so they will not be lost.

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, 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 all resorts provide 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

25 comments:

Curtis said...

"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."
Anyone except a crooked TSA agent, of course. And, speaking from personal experience, if a TSO does take any items, the TSA standard response is this- "It is usually not necessary to open checked baggage. In the event of an alarm, the bag must be opened to resolve it. This process usually takes less than a minute. For the rest of the time your luggage remains in the hands of the airline."
In other words, even though you have a note card saying that your bag was inspected by the TSA, and even though it was locked in a way that only the TSA should be able to open it, the TSA blames the airline for damaged or stolen property.

Anonymous said...

Good post, but perhaps Blogger Bob would take the time to address a couple of other items that divers should carry and how to package them so TSA will not make you “voluntarily abandon” them.

First, is the issue of CO2 cartridges for Dive Sausages and dive vests.

Next, is the issue of dive flares and diver recall devices. With these two items you have FAA and TSA issues.

Another issue is spear guns. Obviously, they cannot go in carry-on, but do you have to declare them in your checked luggage like other firearms?

Finally, is the issue of dive lights. I believe that TSA or FAA will not allow them in checked baggage. This needs to be confirmed by Blogger Bob and how TSA suggests that they be carried.

Looking forward to the answers from Blogger Bob in the very near future as I am off for a dive trip next week.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Foreman said:

"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."

Anyone except TSA employees plus anyone who has managed to get a copy of the TSA master key.

Does anyone actually believe that after several years no one outside the TSA has gotten a copy of the key?

Anonymous said...

Who needs a key? We used the TSA approved locks on our luggage and found that on one bag, someone had merely clipped the loop that held the lock. Since then, we don't even bother to lock the luggage. We just don't pack anything valuable in it. The new reality....

Anonymous said...

When you are going to post something in this blog that impacts a majority of passengers? The weekly Friday blog post along with the well-hyped TSA Pre-Flight program are examples of how the TSA diverts the public's attention to communications and practices that impact a small percentage of fliers but never really addresses issues that impact a majority of travelers.

Anonymous said...

"First, is the issue of CO2 cartridges for Dive Sausages and dive vests"

BCD is inflated from the tank, not a CO2 cartridge. Ditto for the safety sausage.

Anonymous said...

What do you do if you are flying somewhere that is NOT part of a pre-packaged dive type deal? I am a former Navy diver, and I am about to start traveling to do some jobs. Can the tanks be shipped by air at all?

kappe said...

When you are going to post something in this blog that impacts a majority of passengers? The weekly Friday blog post along with the well-hyped TSA Pre-Flight program are examples of how the TSA diverts the public's attention to communications and practices that impact a small percentage of fliers but never really addresses issues that impact a majority of travelers.

George said...

As always, you're telling us what should happen at a checkpoint or baggage screening station. As we all know, that's too often different from what does happen when TSOs "interpret" the rules in "unpredictable" ways, or steal items from passengers' bags.

What happens when some incompetent TSO decides that an expensive dive computer or regulator is a "prohibited item"? Even if that TSO offers alternatives to "voluntary abandonment" (as you've said they're all supposed to do), putting it back in the car, calling your friend to pick it up, or mailing it home would require the passenger to do without the item, possibly destroying the dive trip. And it would do nothing to enhance security.

And what happens if a light-fingered baggage screener decides to remove a dive jacket, fins, or mask from a bag for the "national security" reason of selling it on eBay?

It would seem that anyone who truly wants to make sure their expensive diving (or other) equipment arrives intact needs to spend the extra money to FedEx it to and from their destination, and bypass the "unpredictable" TSA.

(And Bob, I'm still waiting for your response to the baggage screeners who took bribes to ignore smuggled drugs. Ignoring this serious failure won't make it go away. And ignoring the systemic failings at the TSA that allowed to happen will only make it happen again. I'm not forgetting about it, no matter how many distracting posts you write.)

Jimmy James said...

Diving is one of the activities that require specialized luggage for getting your equipment from one location to another and adequately protect it from damage. This is not equipment that you can just put in your carry on luggage and call it done.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous George said...
What happens when some incompetent TSO decides that an expensive dive computer or regulator is a "prohibited item"?
...
And what happens if a light-fingered baggage screener decides to remove a dive jacket, fins, or mask from a bag for the "national security" reason of selling it on eBay?


What happens? Easy- Bob posts another post about TSA policies, subtly implying it was all the passengers fault. That is what happens.

Anonymous said...

In my experience, having your regulator and dive computer in carry on guarantees a hand inspection because the TSA screeners don't know what they are.

BOS TSO Patrick said...

Another issue is spear guns. Obviously, they cannot go in carry-on, but do you have to declare them in your checked luggage like other firearms?

Nope, because TSA likens them more to a sporting good then an actual firearm.

Anonymous said...

This post is misleading (and I'm being polite here.) Last year, I asked TSA (via email) what their official policy is on dive computers in checked luggage. I wanted something on paper to show the TSA at the checkpoint, because far too often they decide something's prohibited just 'cause they feel like exercising their testosterone (this goes for female agents too.) TSA flat-out refused to tell me whether dive computers were actually officially allowed or not. Their response basically said it's always up to the judgment of the screener whether to allow a dive computer on board. So, if you happen to get Officer Grumpy-pants who's having a lousy day at the checkpoint (and Blogger Bob, please don't give me the old tired "we're all happy cheerful professionals" line), or some well-meaning but half-trained young idiot who doesn't know a dive computer from a Mickey Mouse watch, you could wind up losing your very expensive computer. The truth is that TSA has no truly "official" policy on dive gear. If for some reason they decide they don't like you, and they want to confiscate it/throw it in the garbage/make you send it home (their choice, BTW), they will do so, and you have absolutely no recourse.

Anonymous said...

Take batteries out of dive lights while being shipped in checked luggage.

Jim in Houston said...

Another item to remember are tools. Tools are prohibited in carry-on luggage, even allen wrenches or a multi tool (even one without the knife blade).

I have never had a problem with carrying a dive computer on board in carry-on luggage or packed with my scuba gear in checked luggage (and well padded in my wetsuit).

I have always been amazed that my underwater housing, video lights, batteries, and accessories that I carry aboard in a pelican case have never caused a problem. At the most, I have had to open the case and had them swiped for explosives.

I fasten my dive bag shut with electrical tie wraps. This is only to prevent accidental opening of the zippers while going through the carousels, where the tabs can get caught. There are so many ways to get into a suitcase, that trying to be secure about it with a lock is useless. I do, however, use TSA locks on the large plastic pelican case that carries my wife's UW housing, strobes, etc., that travels as checked luggage.

Anonymous said...

"Another item to remember are tools. Tools are prohibited in carry-on luggage, even allen wrenches or a multi tool (even one without the knife blade)."

Wrong! I travel all the time with a complete dive tool kit that includes Allen wrenches, screwdrivers and pliers in my carry on. If you check the current TSA web site, tools less than seven inches in length are permitted. I must admit that I carry the print out of that page in the tool kit just in case.

Anonymous said...

The entire phrase, "TSA Approved Lock" is a joke. I just had a "TSA Approved Lock" cut off and I was just told they don't even want your luggage locked and will cut off any lock, even the so-called "TSA Approved Lock" most times.
What a joke. The TSA cannot be trusted. Never EVER check anything of any value.

Anonymous said...

So is it legal or not to have diving weights in carry-on luggage? Please advise. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Why take on the hassle of carrying weights with you on the trip at all? Weights are available from dive operator for free.

Martin said...

First off, thanks for another great article. My comment: TSA can definitely not be trusted. I felt that on my own skin. Also I need to agree with a comment before about carrying tools in your carry-on luggage. I have also printed out the page that says that tools less than 7 inches ARE allowed, just in case any of TSA agents starts talking c*rap..

Scuba Gear Packages said...

Thank you for the detailed information! i found it quite useful and hope others will also benefit from it!

Anonymous said...

Brightly colored zip ties to secure zippers closed! Replacements are easily carried and you can quickly tell if someone has been in your luggage before you leave the airport.

Anonymous said...

Good information, but not enough. This past summer I went diving in Cozumel. When I got there, I found a note in my checked baggage that said the TSA had confiscated my "Small Oxygen Cylinder". What the took was a pony bottle that had been properly prepared for travel by removing the regulator so that the TSA inspector could see inside the cylinder.

Unfortunately, the agent was apparently improperly trained and mis-identified the cylinder as an oxygen cylinder, and was unaware that it was legal for travel if the regulator was removed (as it was).

I filed a complaint, but I got a "canned" response that basically said, "Hazardous Materials" are prohibited. It did not even address the fact that my item was NOT "Hazardous Material", it was just mischaracterized as such.

Now I'm told my only recourse is to sue the TSA in civil court -- and action that would cost thousands of dollars.

This is outrageous -- I am a victim of a bureaucracy that is crushing me under its weight.

What is a righteous person to do?

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