Is it legal to bring your own survival gear aboard an airliner?

Considering the sobering article by William Langewiesche that is appearing in the July 2019 edition of "The Atlantic", one might want to consider bringing:

  • Oxygen canister with regulator and pressure breathing mask
  • Parachute
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The oxygen canister may be an issue. The parachute will be one if it doesn't fit in the overhead or under the seat. Life raft will absolutely be an issue because of it's size. Except the parachute, all those are available on the aircraft already, why bring your own? $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jun 25, 2019 at 17:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ There is oxygen available at every seat... $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jun 25, 2019 at 18:18
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Its not really practical to expect to bail out of an airliner $\endgroup$
    – Dave
    Jun 25, 2019 at 18:42
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Hey, why don't they sell parachutes before boarding. Not that you need it just that there are people that will buy it anyway. Or rent it for the flight to get priority jumping. $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Jun 25, 2019 at 21:15
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @Jan Do you by any chance work at Ryanair? $\endgroup$
    – Sanchises
    Jun 26, 2019 at 8:24

3 Answers 3


Yes, it's legal to bring a parachute, if you can fit it within the permitted carry-on limits. It has been done.

No, it's not going to save you. You are not going to be able to jump out of an airliner. Unless your name is D.B.Cooper, and you're hijacking the last flying 727 with a rear exit door, that is. Again.

No, it's not legal to bring a pressurized container onboard a passenger jet. When you want to fly with a pressurized tank (say, a pony or deco bottle for tec diving), you have to unscrew the valve and bring it separately. This is to ensure you can't bring explosives or poisons inside the tank.

Yes, if you could bring an oxygen or nitrox container (less fire hazard than pure O2), combined with a firefighter SCBA, it could improve your odds of survival in the very marginal event of a fire-related accident, in which the plane manages to land intact enough for you to don it.

No, none of these are practical measures. If you want to somewhat improve your odds without impractical means, wear comfortable leather shoes without heels, cotton clothing, and a fanny pack for your papers, so that you're not tempted to reach for your luggage in an emergency.

One specialized item that has been considered for inclusion on airliners as safety equipment is fire hoods. There are portable smoke hoods that can give you a couple minutes' protection for evacuation. They don't include air or oxygen, only a simplistic filter, which is still a solid step above just holding your breath.

  • $\begingroup$ Why do you say nitrox vs pure o2? $\endgroup$ Jun 25, 2019 at 21:33
  • $\begingroup$ The minimum PPO2 you need to stay alive is 9-10 kPa, conscious 11-14 kPa, and fully capable ~16 kPa. The pressure at FL300 is 30 kPa, which means 100% oxygen would put you well above sea level PPO2, and EAN50 would keep you fully functioning. Even at FL400, it would keep you alive, and conscious as you descend. And if a depressurized plane isn't descending, it doesn't matter, you're done anyway. Meanwhile, EAN50 is much less of a fire hazard than O2, and can be safely used with lighter aluminum regulator hardware. $\endgroup$
    – Therac
    Jun 25, 2019 at 21:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'd also mention that you wouldn't even recognize the need for the oxygen tank in a lot of cases... you'd just get sleepy and then it's all over. $\endgroup$
    – SnakeDoc
    Jun 26, 2019 at 20:37

Some are. I have traveled with a parachute as carry-on. Got some strange looks from the crew and the pax who recognized what it was, but there's no rule against that. I also regularly bring along my EPIRB emergency GPS-enabled beacon, which works worldwide, also in carry-on. Nobody ever questions that either. Depending on where I travel I also bring water sanitizing tablets and a Lifestraw, and pills for the occasional case of (insert_your_favorite_dead_chief's_name_here) Revenge.

  • $\begingroup$ How would that work, considering the doors can't be opened in flight? $\endgroup$ Jun 25, 2019 at 19:23
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ @J.Hougaard Huh? How would what work? I said I brought it as a carry-on, not that I intended to use it to get out of the airplane. I just wasn't interested in risking losing an expensive Softie parachute. $\endgroup$ Jun 25, 2019 at 20:34

In the US you can carry approved portable oxygen concentrators on board, which would probably be of no use in a depressurization scenario. Compressed or liquid oxygen containers are not allowed. This is governed by 14 CFR § 125.219 - Oxygen and portable oxygen concentrators for medical use by passengers.


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