Can I transport a Float compressed air cylinder on commercial airlines?

Domestic Air Travel: The best way to fly with your air cylinder is to empty it with the head detached. Discharge the compressed air cylinder before entering the airport. Unscrew the cylinder head from the cylinder and put both in re-sealable plastic bags. Carry them through the TSA security checkpoint so they are visible to TSA personnel. Afterward, the cylinder head can be screwed back on the cylinder by hand. When you reach your destination, locate a Float retailer or refill center and exchange or refill your empty cylinder. For a list of Float refill/exchange locations, see our refill centers store locator page.

For roughly $150, it’s also possible to purchase a high-pressure floor pump that you can bring in your luggage. When you reach your destination, simply fill your cylinder manually. We suggest the Benjamin Aire high pressure pump from Crosman Corporation. This can be found online through your favorite search engine.

International Air Travel: While the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has specifically approved avalanche airbags with pressurized cylinders for airline travel, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) does not allow them. If you are traveling in countries outside of North America where refills are not available, contact your airline in advance for permission to check through your pressurized Float cylinder. If permission is granted, then pack the pressurized air cylinder in your checked baggage with the IATA dangerous goods regulations printed out and clearly shown.  Unfortunately, regardless of this document and verbal permission often times cylinders have been confiscated by airlines.  If you are traveling to or from North America, then TSA will not allow your pressurized cylinder on board.

Float Air Travel Documents
Download and print, carry with you, attached to your cylinder for airport security!

ALERT:  Kelowna, B.C. and Frankfurt, Germany airports

Our experience is that when people have issues, it’s usually when flying to and from Kelowna, BC (gateway to fabulous Revelstoke) and to and from Frankfurt, Germany (gateway to the Alps).

Why Kelowna? Because this is a domestic airport with a CATSA (Canada Air Transport Security Authority) security checkpoint instead of TSA. Kelowna is different than Calgary and Vancouver international airports, which both have TSA checkpoints–and US Customs–to go through when you depart. CATSA checkpoints follow the international, not TSA, rules. So if you bring your airbag through Kelowna, it must be registered, and the cylinder (empty or full) must be accompanied by the airbag pack. If you’re going to and from the U.S. (through Vancouver or Calgary), make sure your cylinder is empty.

Why Frankfurt? Because it’s a huge airport with lots of turnover and poorly trained personnel. Also, there are many connecting flights originating from domestic European airports. This means if you’re flying from a small airport you’ll need to meet the IATA regs when checking in and the TSA regs when you connect in Frankfurt. Your best bet is to make sure your cylinder and airbag are together–and registered–when you check in. The smartest option is to bring them on board, along with a copy of the IATA regs in case you get questioned at the checkpoint by airport security personnel. If continuing on to the U.S., make sure your cylinder is empty.

Refills/Exchanges/Rentals – See BCA Service Center Locator
Remember that refills are mainly only available in the US, Canada, Chile and Argentina. In Europe, retailers will generally swap your empty cylinder for a new one. In Japan, refilling US and European cylinders are not allowed: you’ll need to rent a Japanese cylinder upon arrival. All of our refill, exchange, and rental locations can be found on our service center locator – select the correct category:

  • North & South America – select ‘Cylinder Refill Centers’
  • Europe – select ‘Cylinder Exchange Centers’
  • Japan – select ‘Cylinder Rental Centers’

If you travel a lot (especially to Japan), we recommend keeping it simple and throwing a high-pressure pump into your ski/board bag. That way you can fill ‘er up on your own time rather than trying to find an open refill/exchange/rental location.