Flying with Dive Equipment: How to Make It Work for You
We’ve previously covered some of the tips and tricks to make traveling for diving easier, and cheaper.
In this follow-up, we’ll dive deeper into how to wrangle the airline rules to make sure you don’t end up paying too much for excess weight. Airlines have been constantly lowering the allowed weight travelers can bring, while the cost of exceeding that limit, getting it wrong, can be very costly indeed.
So use the following tips to cut your costs of traveling as a diver.
Choose your airline carefully
Different airlines have different limits on the number and weight of bags, so make sure you research this.
Rule of thumb is that low-cost airlines will be stricter than the more high-end airlines.
Most restrictive are charter flights, so if you’re traveling on a package holiday, you’ll want to double-check restrictions, even if you’ve traveled with the particular airline before. Most airlines have different restrictions for charter flights vs. ordinary flights.
Picking the right airline can mean a big difference in baggage costs.
Investigate pricing plans
Some airlines allow you a certain amount of luggage for free, charging you for anything in excess of that.
Others charge you for any luggage you check-in. Which one is cheaper can vary greatly, as excess baggage fees can be very steep at times. Do the math before booking.
Also, enquire if the airlines you’re considering offer any diving (or excess) packages. These packages typically offer you additional weight and numbers of checked-in bags for a fixed cost that is much lower than the excess baggage fee.
Consider what you pack
Pack only what you need, both in terms of dive kit and whatever else you bring. Here is a full Dive Packing Guide.
If you’re diving with a tour operator, you can most likely rent kit from them, so consider renting the bulkiest scuba items, such as wetsuit, fins, BCD, and the like. And bring only the critical dive gear, such as dive computer, regulator, and mask (so you know you’ll have one that fits perfectly).
If you bring all your equipment, then consider what you’ll really need during the dives. Are the no night dives scheduled? Leave your main torch at home and bring only the backup one.
Consider what you pack it into
Large trolley suitcases are nice because you don’t have to carry them around the airport. But in reality, you’ll probably not be carrying your bags as much as you think.
You drive or take a taxi to and from the airport. You put your bags onto a trolley. Then check it in, and then it’s the airline’s problem.
So consider a lightweight duffle for your luggage instead of a heavy trolley. It can easily save you 3-5 kilos. I’ve previously used the lightweight Manta bag from Fourth Element.
Do bring a backpack or cabin-sized trolley for your carry-on, and pack it to the weight limit specified by your airline. No point in paying for 3 kilos of excess weight, and then only bring a book and an MP3-player onto the flight, when you can typically bring 5 kg onboard.
If you’re a bit of a wicked one, you can even over-stuff your carry-on a bit, to cut the weight of your checked luggage. Just don’t pack it into a trolley, tempting as it may be. Airline desk personnel knows that a lot of trolleys are quite heavy, so they’re much more likely to require a weighing of your carry-on.
Pack it in a backpack or duffel instead, and try to carry it like it weighs nothing at all. And put the heaviest and most fragile items in the carry-on, so as not to run the risk of baggage handlers man-handling your most precious items. I always pack my dive torch, regulator, and dive computer.
Breeze through security
Packing all this stuff into your carry-on backpack means that you need to pack a bit smart. So make sure all the things you won’t be using during your traveling is at the bottom of your pack, and keep books, MP3 player, passport, and liquids (for inspection at the security control) on top.
Also, when going through security, remove any and all batteries from torches, and ideally pack them into your checked-in baggage, as some airports will not allow them through security.
And take your carry-on dive gear out of the bag, as you would with a laptop, to save yourself a re-scan and random check.
Take a few precautions when planning and packing, and you can save yourself a lot of trouble and cost when heading out on that summer holiday dive adventure.