Travelling With Avalanche Airbags
Avalanche airbags have gained popularity recently as more and more people venture off piste, however as the compressed gas cylinders they use are classed as hazardous goods, so travelling with them can be difficult.
As they are becoming more popular airlines and airport security are becoming more used to dealing with them. Unfortunately the system is not perfect..... yet.
So here is everything you need to know about travelling with an avalanche airbag.
Flying with an avalanche airbag
It is possible to transport avalanche airbags by air. The main issue is with the pressure cartridges used in avalanche airbags which are classed as hazardous goods. Special regulations therefore apply if you wish to carry them with you on a flight. On the other hand, the backpacks, and the individual airbag systems (excluding the cartridge), can be transported separately without any problem.
Transportation of the pressure cartridges is governed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). In normal circumstances, individuals are not permitted to carry hazardous goods on board an aircraft. However, airbag pressure cartridges are covered by a special IATA regulation permitting one cartridge per person. These special regulations are recorded in the IATA Table 2.3A.
Avalanche airbags and cartridges may be transported (Cartridge Non-Refillable 300 Bar Steel, Carbon Cartridge Non-Refillable 300 Bar, Cartridge Refillable 207 Bar Alu) subject to the following conditions:
- One avalanche airbag and one cartridge per person - The pressure cartridge must be filled with Class 2.2 gas (all Mammut cartridges are filled with Class 2.2 gas)
- The pressure cartridge may not be transported separately from the avalanche airbag. The cartridge must be transported in the avalanche airbag compartment provided. It must be packed in a manner that prevents accidental activation (cartridge must not be screwed into the airbag system). The airbag must be fitted with a pressure release valve (all Mammut airbag systems are fitted with a pressure release valve).
- The airline’s approval is required – Before booking your flight, inform the airline operator that you plan to take a cartridge on board. Send the airline the appropriate cartridge data sheet in advance, together with the extract from the IATA-2.3A table. IMPORTANT: Despite the IATA’s approval, any airline operator is entitled to refuse to transport the cartridge.
We recommend transporting the avalanche airbag as carry-on baggage. Before doing this, place the cartridge in the avalanche airbag compartment provided. Screw the protective cap onto the cartridge before transporting it. Insert the cartridge with a printout of the cartridge data sheet and IATA-2.3A table and a copy of your airlines policy regarding airbags.
Special regulation for the USA & Canada
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not permit the carrying of filled pressure cartridges on flights arriving into or departing from the USA, or on internal flights within the USA. This regulation also applies to passengers transferring between flights in the USA. The TSA regulation can be found here: www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/ compressed-gas-cylinders
Customers with these bags are recommended to hire a cartridge locally during their stay in the USA. A list of cartridge rental stations can be found here: Mammut Cartridge Rental.
There is often confusion regarding the use of Compressed gas canisters in airbags in Japan. The issue is around the refillable cartridges only, Japan uses a different system to refill compressed gas which is not compatible with the refillable cartridges sold to US and Canadian customers due to the TSA regulations. The non-refillable carbon cartridges are available in stores in Japan should you require a replacement.
There are a lot of airlines out there, we've listed the policy's of a few but if your airline is not listed we would suggest you contact them directly.
Info correct as of 19/04/2018
Avalanche rescue backpack, one (1) per passenger, containing a cylinder of compressed gas in Div. 2.2. May also be equipped with a pyrotechnic trigger mechanism containing less than 200 mg net of Division 1.4S. The backpack must be packed in such a manner that it cannot be accidentally activated. The airbags within the backpacks must be fitted with pressure relief valves.
Avalanche rescue backpacks equipped with a pyrotechnic trigger mechanism, containing less than 200 mg net of explosive material in Division 1.4S and less than 250 ml of compressed gas in Division 2.2.
Checked baggage: Yes
Carry-on baggage: Yes
Carrier’s approval required: Yes
• Only one backpack is allowed per passenger.
• The backpack cannot be carried on the person.
• The backpack must be packed in such a manner that it cannot be
• The airbag in the backpack must be fitted with pressure
• The gas cylinders may only be carried if they are an integral part of
the backpack. Spare cylinders or disconnected cylinders may not be
• Additional cartridges with inclusive activation handles are permitted.
Spare cartridges for the handles shall not be accepted.
Yes you can include an avalanche rescue pack with one nitrogen/air cylinder in either your cabin or checked baggage.
Avalanche rescue backpack
Not allowed into or out of the USA
Otherwise 1 item per passenger by prior registration. Gas cartridge must be put in the backpack (spare cartridges not allowed).