Baggage Tips for Dive Travel

With today's transportation security concerns, there is a high likelihood-- maybe even a certainty-- that your checked bags will be opened for screening. Obviously, that means you can't lock your bag if you expect it to arrive at your destination intact. You hate to send your valuable dive equipment, such as your BCD (which is really too bulky to take in your carry-on bag) in an unlocked suitcase. What to do?

Here's what I do:

  1. Buy good trip insurance that includes insurance against loss of items from your checked bags. I can help you find a policy that meets your needs.
  2. Pack really easily stolen items, such as your dive watch and dive computer, in your carry-on bag. These items are small enough anyway. Examples of what to pack in your carry-on bag includes cameras, computers, jewelry, medication, passports and confirmation numbers.
  3. Pack camera film in a zippered plastic bag and take in your carry-on bag. This will make visual inspection of your film more easily accomplished and perhaps save you from having your film go through xray screening. Definitely DO NOT pack film in your checked bags because the xray exposure is much higher than what carry-on bags receive.
  4. Pack clothes and similar stuffable items in plastic bags to make inspection of your bag more easily done.
  5. As you pack bulky items, such as your BCD and fins, in your checked bag, make an inventory that includes the value of the items packed. Make a copy to carry with you in your carry-on bag.
  6. Don't lock the checked bag.
  7. In the near future, the Travel Security Administration-- the agency responsible for baggage screening-- will provide seals at the airport for you to use to secure your bags as an alternative to locks. Until that time, you may want to consider purchasing standard "cable ties," which can be found at your local hardware store. The 4 to 5 inch variety cable ties generally work best since they are the easiest to remove at your destination and can be used to close almost every bag with zippers. If TSA needs to inspect your bag, the screeners will cut off the seal and replace it with another seal.
  8. Put your name on the outside and inside of your bags, and include a copy of your itinerary inside the baggage in case the airline carrier needs to find you.
  9. When you check your bag, declare the value of the contents at the check-in counter. Airlines have limits to the amount of liability that they will accept for the loss of items from checked bags. For example, American Airlines assumes no liability for camera equipment, optical equipment, jewelry, books, documents and several other categories of items. (Dive equipment is not specified as one of the 'no liability' items.)
  10. Don't take anything that is truly irreplaceable or for which no amount of money can compensate you for a loss.
  11. Buy extra liability coverage from the airline. The airlines limit the liability they will accept to a given dollar value per bag. For example, American Airlines will pay no more than $634.90 per bag for international travel. However, you can buy additional liability insurance from the airlines for a rather nominal price. For example, you can pay $2 for each additional $100 of coverage up to a total of $5000 per bag. This seems like a good deal to me.
  12. Make sure the person checking your baggage attaches the correct destination ticket to every checked bag, and you should have a claim ticket for each bag.
  13. Don't let your trip be ruined if things go missing despite your best efforts. You can rent or buy replacement items and have a great dive trip anyway!

Note: all prices in the examples are in US dollars.

Lost Baggage
In the case of baggage lost by the airline company, be certain you get a written claim for any possible damages, which can be picked up at the airport or by mail. The claim will be different, however, from the missing luggage forms you will be required to fill out at the airport. Traditionally, domestic flights rate airline baggage liability at $2,500 per person. For international flights, the airline baggage limit is $9.07 per pound for checked baggage, $400 per person for carry-on bags.

Stolen Bags
Visit the baggage claim area immediately upon departing your flight. The airlines will scan bags as they are loaded onto the carousel and keep records. However, once you leave the baggage claim area, you are required to file a report with the police.

Damaged Baggage
Check your bags immediately for damage or other signs of tampering during or after the flight. In the case of damaged baggage. Additionally, airline customer service will often want to inspect the bag. It is likely you will be required to produce a receipt for any repairs, so be sure to ask the baggage-claim attendant at the airport for further information about this procedure.

For more information, look at the terms of carriage provided with your airline tickets. You can also go to the airline's website for information on their baggage policies and disclaimers. For general information, see tips from the Travel Security Administration Tips.



Travel Experience PO Box 99 - Clements, CA 95227-0099 - (800) 759-3238 - (209) 759-3733 - Email

CST #2036932-40

© Travel Experience Consulting 1995 - 2006. All rights reserved.