Carrying Inflatable PFD on Planes

November 29, 2007   

Carrying Inflatable PFD’s with you on Commercial Aircraft can be a distressing event, unless you plan on it in advance. The issue is, that the charged cartridge on the inflatable is a Hazardous Material as defined by the FAA Regulation (49CFR175). There is an Exception 25 in the Regulation that allows the carriage of charged inflatable PFD’s (one PFD per passenger and one spare cartridge), but leaves the option to the Individual Air Carriers whether or not to accept them on their flights.

These same rules apply whether you take your inflatable as a carry-on or check it through. Life becomes more involved for us sailors since the U.S. Air Carriers do not follow the U.S. FAA Regulations in this area, since most deal with international flights where the Federal Laws have no jurisdiction. Therefore, the U.S. Air Carriers subscribe to a higher level of regulations called the International Air Transportation Association (IATA). The IATA is more restrictive than the FAA, but in this case, they mirror the FAA. The IATA does not call the cartridges “hazardous materials” as the FAA does, the IATA calls it a “Dangerous Goods.” For more ideas on boating items you may be carrying that may be considered a Dangerous Good look at this IATA list.

See look at the section entitled Disabling Chemicals & Other Dangerous Items or go to

When ordering your tickets with the airline, speak directly to the airline, not your ticket agent and ask them, if it is acceptable to carry your Inflatable PFD that contains a charged CO2 cylinder that meets FAA Regulation 49CFR175.10, Exception 25 and the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulation Table 2.3.A. If the ticket agent calls their Hazardous Materials department (some air carriers call this their Dangerous Goods Inspectors), get the approving authorities name and phone number as well as the name and phone number of the approving agent and have that information ready with you when you check in. Believe it or not, the final decision will be made at the gate, with the final decision made by the gate attendant. In the safe environment of air carriers, everyone appreciates it when they error on the side of caution.

If you have a crewsaver or spinlock lifejacket you can get a letter from the manufactuerers that can be of assistance to you. See
Spinlockand see very bottom

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