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:
- Buy good trip insurance that includes insurance
against loss of items from your checked
bags. I can help you find a policy that meets
- 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
- 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.
- Pack clothes and similar stuffable items in plastic bags
to make inspection of your bag more easily done.
- 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
- Don't lock the checked bag.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Don't take anything that is truly irreplaceable or for which
no amount of money can compensate you for a loss.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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