View Full Version : Flying With Packs

B Thrash
08-17-2003, 20:53
I will be flying from Atlanta to Newark NJ in a few days and would like to know how hikers have flown with packs. I know they will be searched as checked baggage and has anyone lost anything from their pack when it is checked baggage. Pack is to big to put in a duffle bag. The only other alternative is a box approx 36Lx21Wx12D. Any suggestions.

08-17-2003, 20:59
The airport may be able to supply you a plastic bag for your pack. You need to make sure there are no loose straps, etc that can become tangled in the conveyer system.

TSA will surely search your pack. I've never traveled with one, but have read all the guidelines about it.
I wouldn't assume that TSA will put everything back in the same place you packed it, so repacking is probably going to be necessary (unless this is the end of your trip of course).

Get to the airport at least 2 hours before your flight, so TSA has time to go through your pack. If they don't then your pack may not make your flight, and be put on a later flight.

I am planning to use Amtrak to get from NJ to GA if and when I start my thru-hike next spring.

Hope this was of some help to you.

08-18-2003, 01:35
I've flown on a transatlantic flight with a pack. Heading outbound from the US, I just checked my pack in as standard baggage, no special procedures needed. However, on the way back I had to check my pack in at a special area where they sent it through a large X-ray machine-- it wasn't a big deal, and the only time I lost was the sixty seconds it took me to walk from the check-in counter to the special check-in area. And nothing in the pack was missing or out of place once I got it back.

So based on my own experiences, I would say you don't have anything to worry about-- but I have no idea if my experience reflects what a majority of people go through.

Blue Jay
08-18-2003, 08:00
There is no such thing as a pack one person could carry that is bigger than a duffel bag. Go to an Army surplus store, buy the biggest, most stained, piece of crap they have. A few holes are good. Throw it away when you get to your destination.

08-18-2003, 09:25
If you go to something like the Sports Authority you can find gigantic duffle bags ar reasonable prices. Lowe Apline also makes a duffle that sells for about 30 bucks that is larger than the dimensions you specify.

08-18-2003, 09:26
I flew from Boston to San Francisco and back with my pack in a duffle bag. I left the pack packed except for my cookpot, which held my alcohol stove - that I left loose since I was pretty sure if the thing was x-rayed it'd raise some flags and wanted it to be accessible.


08-18-2003, 10:31
One thing I didn't see mentioned - you need to mail yourself the fule bottle or buy a new one when you get where you are going. They specificly have that in the case of no-no's. I think that the stove itself will be okay, but there is a chance it won't be. Also, no matches or lighters.

I did accidently leave a full fuel canister and lighter in my pack when island hopping in Hawaii. They didn't notice it even though they did xray it...

Gravity Man

08-18-2003, 10:51
Bought a $5 laundry bag for the pack to ensure that straps on the pack wouldn't snag anything and be destroyed. A good trash compactor bag would do the trick as well.

08-18-2003, 11:00
In prior years I flew with a very large dufflebag. Large enough for a Teraplane, a couple bear canisters, backcountry camping gear, a car-camping tent and street clothes. No problems, except for lugging the dang thing.

Now I read that the some airlines are starting to enforce thier oversize bagage limit. At least one limits the L x W x D to 60", and has a maximum weight of 50#. Not sure if they are really going to charge travelers like you and I for our big duffles, or if they are targetting only people flying back to thier native lands with TV's and the like.

Interestingly, many airlines exempt sporting goods like golf clubs and even backpacks. Probabably not when they are in a duffle, though. But like I said, I have no Idea how the rules play out in the real world. 60" isn't all that much.

As far as whether stoves without fuel bottles are a problem or not, I don't know. I do know one have a problem if the INDIVIDUAL finding the stove thinks it is and your bags miss your plane while he is looking into that. Given that I take far too few vacations, and being very paranoid about such things these days, I have flown with a couple of virgin $12 Trangia burners in the last couple years.

Rick B

08-18-2003, 13:20
I went to my nearest Army surplus store and found a large, cheap duffle bag for $10 that easily swallowed my 5000 c.i. pack. Actually looked more like a laundry bag. Put a cheap $2 padlock on it and had no problem flying. Checked it and they didn't blink an eye. This was in December 2001 (after 9/11).

As to size limits, 60 inches is 5 feet! Whose pack is taller than that? 50 pound limit? I hope my pack is never that heavy.

B Thrash
08-18-2003, 13:39
Thanks for all the info, I think I will go the dufflebag route, I will mail everything except sleeping bag, wet weather gear, tent, pad, and change of clothes. I can mail the fuel by ground USPS after two trips around the world to find out how to mail it. Again, thanks.

08-18-2003, 17:04
Good points Noggin, but remember that 5 feet is still just 3 feet wide by 1.5 feet high by 1.5 feet deep.

Hopefully good customer relations still keep the airlines from hitting people with surcharges who exceed that by "just a little".

08-18-2003, 17:05
Oops, that adds up to 6 feet.

Rick B

08-21-2003, 12:57
Just did a R/T to Alaska with my backpack and other gear and a group of folks. Being a Veteran I have a few duffles lying around and they come in handy.

As for the weight restrictions, United was checking and made the girl in front of me take 6 lbs of books and clothes out of her checked bag to get it to 49.5 lbs.

One the the fellows flying with me had to take 27 lbs of gear from his pack and split it between my wife and my checked bags as he was over weight at 77 lbs.. Funny they never checked on the outbound (to alaska) flight. I think Anchorage Airport is a mecca for folks returning with overweight bags.

My other buddy had to carry an 8-man raft that weighed in at 103 lbs. The airline made him remove the thwarts to bring it in under 100 lbs - Which he stashed with his other overweight bag(60 lb check in) - Ended up costing him $85 for the 100 wieght and $50 for the overweight bag. It's still cheaper than sending a 100 + lb raft to Alaska via UPS or USPS.

By the way - United said there is no issue with Stoves or fuel bottles as long as there is no fuel and they made us remove the padlocks from our bags so that security could check them

08-21-2003, 13:17
Carefully on the fuel canisters. I have heard a different story from the airlines. They told me no fuel canisters if they have ever held any fuel. Only brand new ones...

A quick search showed this on the coleman site. Sounds like some airlines won't let you take even the stove itself. I think it is luck of the draw :

For Coleman fuel-burning appliances, all Coleman liquid-fuel must be removed
from appliance fuel tanks and all pressurized fuel canisters must be removed
from the appliance before taking to the airport. Some carriers will not allow any
previously used fuel-burning appliances to be transported. We recommend that
you check with your airline prior to travelling to determine whether there are any
restrictions on either checking or carrying-on either new or previously used
appliances. In addition, any Coleman fuel-burning appliance should be declared
to the airline prior to transporting, whether in checked luggage or in carry-on

08-21-2003, 16:02
I wouldn't even think Fuel canisters needed a mention.
But there are probably many foolish enough who would bring a pressurized can on a plane.

My experience is related to my MSRs over the past 11 years with US & British Airways, and then recently my pepsi can stoves.
Before Alaska, I spoke to United 3x about my stove and 2 of those times they sounded a little annoyed that I would think there is a concern bringing an empty stove in my luggage.
IMHO it is part of the attitude of the person behind the check-in counter as well.

08-22-2003, 07:19
When I flew into Alaska last year, there was a guy witn a NEW stove going to Anchorage and then to Fairbanks(we were at the Seattle Airport). They absolutely would not let him bring it even though he showed the stove was empty and new. They would not budge, any. One of the flight attendants said she was going to Fairbanks in a week and she would bring it for him if he liked (of course he did). I know damn good and well she wasn't driving so how was SHE ABLE to fly with it. I believe your right, it's your luck at the time and who you are dealing with.