Taking inflatable PFDs on airplanes? - Page 2 - SailNet Community
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post #11 of 29 Old 12-29-2012
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Re: Taking inflatable PFDs on airplanes?

16 years ago I had my PFD cartridge removed and confiscated. It was a hassle to get a replacement at the other end. That was at the start of a 1700 mile trip with open ocean segments and I wasn't going without a working inflatable/harness.

Since then, I've noticed that TSA allows them, but, as someone else has stated, there may be different policies depending on the airline. So it doesn't hurt to check with your airline and print out their policy and the TSA's, just in case you need to make your case with an uninformed screener.

That said, I don't bother bringing my inflatable PFD to the Virgin Islands. We always try to restrict our luggage to one medium duffle and one carry-on per person for a 7-10 day charter, which can be a challenge. Leaving the PFDs behind is a practical matter, particularly if you expect to do any shopping at the other end and don't want to pay the fee for an additional bag.

If you feel the need for additional safety you might use the PFDs provided by the charter company. I've always found them to be clean and in excellent condition.
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post #12 of 29 Old 01-04-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Taking inflatable PFDs on airplanes?

Here's a naive question for you. What do you do with PFDs when you dinghy in? Do you carry them with you, or leave them in the dinghy? If you leave them, do you need to secure them, or are ordinary non-inflatable PFDs enough of a cheap commodity that they don't walk away?

Part of the reason I assumed we would want to bring our inflatables is that they would be easier to carry along on shore. Obviously we would never leave them in the dinghy.


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post #13 of 29 Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Taking inflatable PFDs on airplanes?

In BC we leave them (out of sight) in the dinghy. In other parts of the world, we take them with us.

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post #14 of 29 Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Taking inflatable PFDs on airplanes?

The latest TSA guideslines, posted on their web site, now OFFICIALLY state that PFDs with not more than two gas bottles CAN BE TAKEN ON BOARD WITH YOUR CARRYON or sent as checked baggage.

It used to be optional and left to the discretion of the TSA agent at the airport, and the airline. And in theory the agent can still refuse you the right to carry anything on board. But the express statement that they CAN be carried aboard marks an official change form the TSA.

I would suggest going to their web site, look at the list of "Mother May I?" stuff, and take a printed copy with you along with the PFD. Also unscrew the gas bottle, in case the dummy at security tries to pull the string to see what happens.

After one of them pointed my flashlight at his own face and then tried to turn it on, I reminded him that if that he was lucky it really was a flashlight since it had just gone off in his face. I think he pee'd his pants a little when he figured that out.

Hey, for what they get paid? Ignoring the 500 agents they fire for mainly criminal behavior every year, at that salary you ain't gonna hire Q. They're still working on not hiring outright thieves.

But the change in position is official. At last.

And now, you are also allowed to carry an empty butane or other lighter onboard. It must be a lighter, not a torch and not a concentrated flame like a pipe lighter, and it must be empty. You should have heard the "I don't know, is this a lighter or a torch?" discussion I heard between another one of them and his supervisor. Next thing you know, they'll be allowing peanut butter and cheese again. (It's so confusing, did I pack the peanut butter? Or the C4? Can I really blow up a plane with a wedge of Gouda cheese?)

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post #15 of 29 Old 01-05-2013
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Re: Taking inflatable PFDs on airplanes?

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Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
Here's a naive question for you. What do you do with PFDs when you dinghy in?.....
I do not wear a PFD in the dinghy, but I have them aboard. Generally, if I'm in the dinghy, I'm within swimming distance of shore or another boat. Wearing one would be safer, but I think by a very slim margin, unless you can't swim. Therefore, I only keep the cheapest stuff and leave it on the dink.


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post #16 of 29 Old 01-05-2013
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Re: Taking inflatable PFDs on airplanes?

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Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
Here's a naive question for you. What do you do with PFDs when you dinghy in? Do you carry them with you, or leave them in the dinghy? If you leave them, do you need to secure them, or are ordinary non-inflatable PFDs enough of a cheap commodity that they don't walk away?

Part of the reason I assumed we would want to bring our inflatables is that they would be easier to carry along on shore. Obviously we would never leave them in the dinghy.
Actually a good question and we put some thought into it. I think the most likely time to take an unplanned swim is when dealing with a dinghy. We sail in an area with very very cold water, we would not make it far swimming with jeans on in that water. We take a black plastic garbage bag with us and leave them in the bag when ashore. It really does just look like a bag of garbage in the dinghy and I don't think anyone would want to dig through it. In areas of higher petty crime, maybe not so foolproof. We have also used cable locks in the past but I like the garbage bag idea.

BTW - The local water police loves to take a cruise through a anchorage area to see if people have PFD's in their dinghy's when in use. Everette WA Police is especially watchful. You don't need to wear them but have them in the dinghy while on the move.

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post #17 of 29 Old 01-05-2013
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Re: Taking inflatable PFDs on airplanes?

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Originally Posted by kellysails View Post

BTW - The local water police loves to take a cruise through a anchorage area to see if people have PFD's in their dinghy's when in use. Everette WA Police is especially watchful. You don't need to wear them but have them in the dinghy while on the move.
In Canada inflatables must be worn to be legit. Is that also true in the US?

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Above all, remember that you have to be wearing an inflatable PFD for it to be approved on an open boat. If the boat is not open then you only need to wear it while you’re on deck or in the cockpit.

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Re: Taking inflatable PFDs on airplanes?

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Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
In BC we leave them (out of sight) in the dinghy. In other parts of the world, we take them with us.
Take them with you. At home we have a cable we put through the dinghy, engine and the rings of our PDFs when we dock we just lock them up.

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Re: Taking inflatable PFDs on airplanes?

We always wear ours. They are very lightweight anyway. We have ones we use in the dinghy and different offshore ones for use in rougher weather or going topside on the boat. These have knives and strobes as well on them.

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Re: Taking inflatable PFDs on airplanes?

FWIW, we left the pfd's at home. We're in StT now, waitinf for the ferry. We fit everything (including snorkel gear!) into carry-on and did not want to check a bag for pfd's. We'll use the ones Sunsail provides. We brought a collapsible mesh bag to carry them ashore, and padlocks for dinghy and companionway.

I'm sure going in the dink without pfd's aboard is illegal and foolish.


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