With airlines tightening luggage restrictions, packing for a dive trip is hard enough with just recreational gear and traveling with a rebreather adds another level of difficulty. What to bring, how to pack it, will the dive center have everything I need when I get there? These are all questions that need to be addressed, but if you tackle them one at a time, you’ll realize traveling with a rebreather can be very simple.
“What should I bring?” This question goes hand in hand with “will the dive center have what I need when I get there?” The first step in determining what to bring on the plane with you should be finding out what the dive center has available. Most dive destinations around the globe now have at least one or two “rebreather friendly” dive shops. It’s very important, however, to call and verify that they can accommodate you. Do they have the correct cylinders for you? Do they stock sorb? Do they have bailout cylinders available? Do they have high pressure O2, and can they blend the diluent you need? It is very crucial to ask these specific questions, as many dive centers advertise themselves as “rebreather friendly,” but in reality are just “rebreather tolerant.” Once you know for sure what the dive center is able to provide, the next step is figuring out what you need to bring. If you are traveling to a remote destination, you may experience a bit of sticker shock when you see what they will charge for sorb and cylinder rental. It’s important to remember that many remote locations (especially islands) incur huge shipping charges and import taxes, and these costs are often passed on to the end user. It may seem cheaper to bring your own cylinders and sorb, but this typically ends up being more hassle than it’s worth. We recommend traveling light and supporting the local dive center by renting/buying from them.
“How do I make all THIS fit in THERE?” It can seem like a daunting task when all your dive gear is laid out in front of you, and you have only a few small bags to fit it in. However, there are a few tricks to helping you get everything you need to where it needs to go safely. Try to carry on as many of the critical components as possible. Things like the head, canister, loop, counter lungs, mouthpiece/BOV, regulators, and electronics can easily be damaged/lost in checked luggage and leave your unit inoperable, so it is best to carry them on. Things like wings, harnesses, fins, masks and exposure suits are pretty resilient to rough baggage handlers and can usually be rented at your destination if they go missing. If you must bring cylinders and sorb with you, it is typically best to check them. Just be sure to include a Material Data Safety Sheet with the sorb and remove the valves from your cylinders. You are required to leave the cylinder openings unobstructed so they are easily inspected; agents have been known to simply confiscate/dispose of cylinders when this rule is ignored. It is always a good idea to photograph everything as it is being packed, this way you have evidence if something is lost or damaged by the airline. The fee for an extra bag is typically less than for an overweight bag, so it’s not a bad idea to bring along a small mesh dive bag that you can pull out and transfer gear into if you end up overweight at the ticket counter.
So everything is packed up, you’re at the airport, bags checked, and you’re going through the TSA checkpoint. As long as you remembered to remove any tools or knives from your carryon, things should go pretty smoothly. It can be fun to watch the look on the TSA agents face as your bag goes through the scanner, but after a quick inspection there usually is not an issue. Remember, they are just doing their jobs, and a rebreather head and scrubber canister looks pretty suspicious on an x-ray. We have found many TSA agents are now recognizing rebreathers, especially in popular hubs to dive destinations. Just assume that your bag will be inspected and plan a few extra minutes to allow for this.
So you know you’ve brought everything you need to enjoy a great holiday with your rebreather and all your critical rebreather components have made it onto the flight with you. Now it’s time to sit back, relax, enjoy the flight, and have a great trip.
Contact SDI TDI and ERDI
If you would like more information, please contact our World Headquarters or your Regional Office.
Tel: 888.778.9073 | 207.729.4201