Are you planning a trip to do some awesome dives, but aren’t sure how to pack for a flight?
Scuba gear needs to be properly secured and contained when flying. Equipment like masks, fins, diving computers, and snorkels can go in a carry-on or checked luggage. Dive knives and spears must definitely go into checked bags.
In this article, I’m going to help you create a plan to fly with your scuba gear, so all you have to do is pack your bags and enjoy your trip. Let’s dive right in! (Sorry, I had to)
Can You Take Scuba Gear on a Plane?
Yes, you can definitely take scuba gear on a plane. How ever, some diving materials need to be in a checked bag, while others can come with you in a carry-on. A common suggestion is to pack your day-to-day clothes in your carry-on and leave the bulk of the gear in the checked bag.
Regular diving gear is heavy. Airlines can have different rules on checked bags, such as how many you can have and how much they can weigh. When flying within the United States, most checked bags should not be more than 50 lbs.
Choosing the Right Airline
If you plan on flying domestic, these are a few of the most common airline prices for one checked bag:
- American Airlines – $30
- Delta – $30
- JetBlue – $35
- Southwest – $0 (For both the first and second checked bag!)
- United – $35
Because Southwest doesn’t charge for the first two bags, they are a popular choice for people who plan to pack more. This way, you can split your gear into two bags without worrying about the 50 lb weight limit.
Other than potential baggage fees, there aren’t many differences between airlines when you fly with diving gear. It’s up to your personal preference for the amenities you would like during your flight.
How to Pack Scuba Gear for Flying
There are some great tips out there on how to pack your gear safely and securely in one checked bag. If you place the regulator in first with the BCD on top, you’ll be able to fit your fins on either side of the bag. After that, the mask and dive computer should fit on top.
From here, I can divide this section into two ideas: what to pack and what to pack into.
1. What to Pack
You’ll also be able to leave the heaviest items like a scuba tank or weights at home if you’re diving with a charter. As for the rest of the gear, here’s a good starting point:
- Dive computer
- Wetsuit ; BCD
- Dive light/torch
- Dive knife/spear
If you’re not diving with a charter and have to bring your own tanks and weights, pack the heaviest and most essential items first. This is what I would suggest:
- Diving tank
- Dive computer
- Dive knife/spear
Of course, every diver has their preference on what to bring, and not everything listed above can easily get through security. This is when it’s important to know what to check and what to have in your carry-on.
When packing items that could be potentially dangerous (a dive knife, spear, etc.) make sure to securely wrap them in either clothes or towels so they can’t injure airline personnel during transit.
2. What to Pack into
I recommend checking out three different options when deciding on your travel container.
This adds an extra layer of protection while in transit but can add up to 10 lbs to your checked bag and make it difficult to stay under 50 lbs.
This option allows more space to pack equipment while keeping everything easily accessible. The wheels are a great touch, too!
Some companies sell diving gear bags that are specially designed to carry everything you’ll need. They can come with special compartments to carry smaller items like dive knives or extra goggles, while still having plenty of room for fins and wetsuits.
Getting Through Airport Security
Successfully getting through security is the longest part of any flying experience (other than the flight itself). It’s important to follow all TSA guidelines to make sure everything goes according to plan.
The TSA’s website states:
You may bring regulators, buoyancy compensators, and masks, snorkels and fins as carry-on or checked luggage. Knives and spear guns are prohibited from carry-on luggage. These items should be packed in checked luggage.
Depending on the size of the dive knife, you may not be allowed to bring the knife at all. TSA will always have the final say on what is and isn’t allowed. Do one last check of your carry-on and checked bag to make sure the correct items are in the right bag.
Having a TSA PreCheck done can help expedite the screening and skips the long lines. If you’re still unsure of what you can and can’t bring, check out the TSA website or the MyTSA app for more information.
Take Special Care of Diving Regulators
Even though I already discussed what to bring and what to bring it in, the diving regulator is such an essential piece of equipment I also wanted to mention it separately. Because the mechanism and hoses are so fragile, it’s easy for the regulator to be damaged in transit.
Purchasing a regulator bag is one option to ensure your regulator arrives at your destination safely. You can either fit the regulator bag into your checked luggage or bring it as a carry-on for increased protection. A common practice is to place the regulator bag into the carry-on and then wrap it protectively within clothes.
You can include a plane travel in your scuba diving trip planning with no worries. Flying with dive equipment can be difficult but it’s not impossible. Find an airline that works well with the number of bags you plan on taking, and make sure the correct items are in a carry-on or a checked bag.
When going through security, have all the required documentation to prove you’re knowledgeable about what you’re doing. Above all, have a safe and fun trip!
My unbounded love for the oceans and everything it has to offer motivated me to pursue my passion and become a professional scuba diving instructor.
I keep reading, exploring, and learning more about scuba diving and the underwater world all the time, so I’m excited to share my knowledge with fellow scuba enthusiasts and hopefully contribute a little to your development as a diver. I want people to fall in love with the oceans with as much passion as I have. Read more about me here.