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Flying with Tanks

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horn34

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Anyone have experience with this? I may pick up a couple of steel tanks for Yucatan diving. Probably won't use them when I'm in Cozumel, but the other places I dive on the mainland don't rent steel tanks and I'm an air hog.

A few of the links I've seen online say the valves needs to be removed, but the Southwest rules just say the tanks have to be empty.
 

NDL_Diver

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Contact SW dirct and get an answer in writting if answer is anything else than removing valves. Removing valves is not a big deal, plastic cap on tank to keep stuff out. Check with SW to see if tanks are free baggage or if it is a speciality luggage.
 

ReefHound

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I have always seen it required to remove the valve so that it can be inspected. This blog on TSA website seems to say this.
"If you do chose to carry you own personal small emergency air source make sure the valve is out of the cylinder and it can be inspected at your time of departure."
It’s Time to go Scuba Diving - Travel Tips for Divers

TSA does security screening, not Southwest. The airline can impose thier own restrictions on their planes but they cannot waive a TSA requirement.

Last time I checked with United some years ago it was a $100 fee to transport a tank.

I believe there are places in Playa that rent steel tanks. Check with ProTec.
 

kelemvor

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As @ReefHound pointed out. The problem is TSA rather than southwest or delta or whatever airline you use.

DAN europe has a nice article about it: How to Transport a Scuba Tank - Rules to Comply With

Here is what the TSA says directly. Notably: If you do chose to carry you own personal small emergency air source, make sure the valve is out of the cylinder and it can be inspected at your time of departure.
tsa.gov:
  • Always pack your expensive dive equipment and accessories in your carry-on luggage.
  • Always pack any prescription masks with you in carry-on luggage. If you lose this item it could ruin your whole trip.
  • Always pack your dive computers and regulators in carry-on luggage because these items are sensitive and might not survive the wear and tear of the baggage handling process.
  • Carry any prescriptions with you in your carry-on bag.
  • Now that you have your carry-on bag packed, you can pay attention to packing your dive equipment that goes into the baggage area of the plane.
  • Pack your dive jacket (B.C, Stab Jacket, and Buoyancy Compensators) in your dive bag first and place them in the middle of the bag.
  • Surround the jacket with your fins to protect it during the flight.
  • If you choose not to carry your mask with you on the plane, make sure it is in a protective mask box and it is wrapped with dive skins or your wetsuit to protect it from getting broken. Always carry a spare mask in your bag. Masks are very expensive if you have to replace one on your vacation. Make sure you place your dive knife in your checked baggage and not your carry-on. This item is prohibited on board an aircraft.
  • Be sure to pack extra fin straps and repair items you might need as well as motion sickness medicines just in case. It is not necessary to carry weights and tanks with you since most resorts provide the availability to tanks and weights with the dive packages.
  • If you do chose to carry you own personal small emergency air source, make sure the valve is out of the cylinder and it can be inspected at your time of departure.
  • Do not forget the most important item! Make sure you lock your baggage with a TSA approved lock. This will prevent anyone from removing items out of your dive bags.
Source: TSA Travel Tips Tuesday - It's Time to go Scuba Diving!

It's good for a chuckle. Obviously that TSA guy thinks that the most convoluted theater most Americans will experience in their lifetime is easy to deal with ;0.
 

guruboy

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Remove the valve
 

kelemvor

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Also, put the valve back on before you take it for a fill. That way you will be less likely to have a shop trying to charge you for a VIP. That said, the one time I traveled with a tank the fill station in Roatan did not care that I had removed the valve for travel. Might be more reasonable if they're going to do PP blends or fill it with 100% O2.

@horn34 My steel tanks are pretty heavy. Is your airline going to allow a bag that heavy?
 

uncfnp

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Now that your question has been answered I too have to ask. Why in the world would you want to do this? The cost and effort is not small. How many and what types of dives do you plan to do in Mexico that would justify buying and transporting large steel tanks?
 

ggunn

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I used to work in the specialty gas industry and I dealt with high pressure gas cylinders all the time. With those containers it took a hefty machine to remove and install valves, and the torquing values on installation were specific. Are SCUBA tanks the same?
 
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