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I am planning on taking my aviation certified life-raft (Revere Aero Compact liferaft): "Raft inflates automatically in less than 30 seconds with self-contained CO₂ inflation system" on a commercial flight from Switzerland to Miami with Swiss. I have never travelled with it before, only when flying myself. Does anyone have any previous similar experience and is it even allowed in first place?

Revere Aero Compact UN2990/Class 9

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    $\begingroup$ @TedS. - everyone wants to know! Are you carrying this as a personal safety measure in case the aircraft ditches in the Atlantic, or, do you just need to transport it? $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 12:46
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    $\begingroup$ Hi I will be renting an airplane in florida to fly through the Caribbean ... I need it for ditching purposes, on the flight to the US it is used for the sake of transportation... Thanks $\endgroup$
    – Ted Staggs
    Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ Ah! Fascinating! IDK the answer to your question - i guess it's a "call the airline" thing ... $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 13:13
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    $\begingroup$ "Should I take something onto a plane that will cause extreme alarm if it activates and which contains a small highly pressurised canister that could explode?" $\endgroup$
    – Richard
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 18:35
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    $\begingroup$ @user71659 - Yes, because a 30g CO2 cylinder is exactly the same as a 500g cylinder. No difference there at all $\endgroup$
    – Richard
    Commented Dec 21, 2022 at 1:22

6 Answers 6

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The CO2 cartridge will probably be considered as hazmat. When I've traveled with Scouts with self-inflating life vests (going to a sailing camp), the vests all had to be in checked luggage. Removing the CO2 cartridges would also work, but the easier solution for the Scouts was to have a dedicated checked bag with all the vests in it. Don't know if removing the cartridge would be an option with your raft or not.

Best to check with the airline well in advance so you can make arrangements as necessary.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! That makes sense, I have previously travelled with a lifevest too, that wasnt too difficult either... So I guess they will be treated the same... Best Regards $\endgroup$
    – Ted Staggs
    Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 21:31
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    $\begingroup$ If you don't mind putting it in checked luggage, then that is probably all you'll need. Nevertheless, I'd check with the airline, as their rules may be different -- especially since they're under things beyond the FAA regs that I'm familiar with. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 21:34
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    $\begingroup$ @TedS. The different is the size of the CO2 cylinder which will be much, much larger and will probably exceed the allowed limits. $\endgroup$
    – jcaron
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 11:59
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    $\begingroup$ Fascinating. I travel with a CO2 lifejacket regularly and have always been told specifically to carry it in hand luggage. The one time I had trouble with this, security insisted it had to go in the hold, I insisted the airline said it mustn't, until eventually I asked them what was under every seat on the plane. "Have a good flight, sir." $\endgroup$
    – Ed Daniel
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ For life vests, IATA regulations say they can be brought on board as carry-on or checked luggage, but that you need operator approval, so individual airlines may have specific rules requiring one or the other. But life rafts (or rather the CO2 cartridge in there) are not allowed at all due to the size of the CO2 cylinder (unless it’s a teeny tiny raft I guess). $\endgroup$
    – jcaron
    Commented Dec 21, 2022 at 14:43
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No. Life jackets and self-inflating devices are considered dangerous goods and can only be carried if registered in advance See Swiss Baggage rules. I strongly suggest you contact the airline BEFORE you arrive at the airport. I would suggest you do it a number of days before as these things can take time.

This is not a Swiss specific regulation. All airlines have this restriction.

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    $\begingroup$ Note that the Swiss Baggage Rules mention "Life jacket or other self-inflating safety device intended to be worn by a person". Not sure how they will treat the life raft, but indeed, contacting the airline (and have quite some time to spend on that) is probably a good idea. $\endgroup$
    – jcaron
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 11:41
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    $\begingroup$ They have a hard limit of 50 ml on gas cartridges, but I can't find any info about the size of the cartridge on that life raft. Cartridges for similar life rafts I found clearly exceed that limit (by more than one order of magnitude). $\endgroup$
    – jcaron
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 11:58
  • $\begingroup$ Good point... I have not gotten any information by the company regarding the volume of C02... $\endgroup$
    – Ted Staggs
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 23:46
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Since the life raft is packed, and you are not allowed to unpack/repack it (only authorised service centres can do it), it will contain a full CO₂ cylinder.

IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations, and more specifically Provisions for Dangerous Goods Carried by Passengers or Crew have this to say:

Gas cartridges, small, non-flammable containing carbon dioxide or other suitable gas in Division 2.2. Up to two (2) small cartridges fitted into a self-inflating personal safety device, intended to be worn by a person, such as a life jacket or vest. Not more than two (2) devices per passenger and up to two (2) spare small cartridges per device, not more than four (4) cartridges up to 50 mL water capacity for other devices (see 2.3.4.2).

(emphasis theirs)

So there is no limit on the size of those CO₂ cylinders if they are fitted in a life vest or other personal safety device intended to be worn by a person (those are usually below 50 ml anyway).

For other devices such as your life raft, the limit is at 50 ml.

In both cases you can carry them in checked luggage or carry-on, but there is a limit of the number you can carry, and you need operator approval.

I wasn't able to find the size of the CO₂ cylinders in that life raft, but I've found cylinders for other rafts of similar size and they had a capacity of over 600 ml, so it seems very unlikely the CO₂ cylinder in your life raft will be small enough to be accepted. You may want to ask the manufacturer about the size of the cylinder, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

You'll need to ship your life raft separately (note that it must be correctly labeled as UN2990 class 9 dangerous goods).

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If you are planning to carry a full CO2 cartridge: no.

From the TSA:

CO2 Cartridge Carry On Bags: No

Checked Bags: No

Except for personal medical oxygen cylinders, you can only carry an EMPTY compressed gas cylinder onboard a plane. To be permitted (in either carry-on or checked baggage), it must be clearly visible to the TSA officer that the cylinder is empty.

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    $\begingroup$ You looked up the wrong thing. See CO2 Cartidge for Life Vest, which is "Yes Special Instructions". Hazmat regulations may ban dangerous goods but allow them while contained in other items because the outer item protects the dangerous good. (Li-Ion batteries is the common example) $\endgroup$
    – user71659
    Commented Dec 21, 2022 at 0:24
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    $\begingroup$ @user71659 no, because OP wants to bring a life raft, not a life vest. The former are allowed, the latter aren’t, due to the size of the CO2 cylinder. $\endgroup$
    – jcaron
    Commented Dec 21, 2022 at 14:39
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It's due for inspection in 3 months anyway

So you might as well either leave the CO₂ cartridge in your home country ... or just drain/empty it and carry it separately. Now you have no trouble with the carry-on.

Then, when you get to the USA, have a shop inspect and (as part of that) re-fill the CO₂ cartridge.

Now, you are sitting in Florida with a freshly inspected and freshly charged raft ready to go. Do your thing with it.

Now how do you get that home? Easy - ground transportation. Take it to a Private Mail Box provider such as The UPS Store and they will cheerfully throw it in a box and mail it to your country. Tell them it contains a charged CO₂ canister. If UPS/DHL/FedEx sticks it on an airplane improperly, not your problem.

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  • $\begingroup$ It's quite possible it may actually not be a problem on a cargo plane, only a passenger plane (didn't check the Cargo DGR on this topic, only the Passenger one, they often have different rules, don't know if it's the case here). $\endgroup$
    – jcaron
    Commented Dec 21, 2022 at 23:38
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I decided to try and just put the life-raft inside my checked baggage today on a flight from Luxembourg to Zurich, as I arrived, it was still inside my bag, so I guess it worked out ... I will update this if it worked onto the flight to the US ;-) Thanks for the great help! Same goes for the flight back to Zurich.

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    $\begingroup$ Ted how was your flight? $\endgroup$
    – vasin1987
    Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ @vasin1987 The flight was great, as expected with Swiss ;) $\endgroup$
    – Ted Staggs
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 18:16

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