To pack your dive gear or not to pack…this is now the question with all the new airline luggage fees


3 comments   |   scuba diving

Scuba Diving is a sport that demands travel, which is one reason some of us dive!  It also demands you eventually own your set of equipment, both for comfort and for safety. The problem is that modern airline luggage policies make hauling all that gear an expensive proposition.  If you are recreational diver that only dives once a year, gear purchase may not be something that you want to do for this very reason.  If you are a full time diver or frequent diver, there may be some options for you without giving up all your gear!

For most divers, a full kit consists of a wetsuit, dive mask, fins, buoyancy control device (BCD), regulator, dive computer, underwater camera and weights. Many also insist on an underwater flashlight and dive knife. The fins are bulky and BCD are bulky and occupy serious space, while packing 15 to 25 pounds of lead would have busted the 50 lbs. weight limit standard to airline luggage even before harsher, recent regulations came into force. How do you go on a dive vacation to the Caribbean or the Gulf of Thailand with all this stuff?

We suggest that you dont bring your weights, really this is not necessary, and the dive knife, really can be left at home as there is no reason to use one here and in most sites it is not allowed to dive with one for ecology reasons.  Yoru dive light is up to you but for the cenotes, all shops will include the light in the cost of the tour, so this is another piece you can leave out.

Your BCD is a up to you. If there is one thing that can easily be adjusted and rented it is a BCD.  This is the most bulky piece and can take up a lot of space.  When we travel, we leave the BCD at home, and the reg is put in carry on so that it is not in the pressurized cabin…this option again brings down the weight of your bags.

As a general rule, renting a set of equipment sans dive computer will cost with us at the Abyss Dive center only 15 USD per day. If you leave out the weights, your complete set of gear will weigh less than 50 lbs. and fit inside a large roll-away bag, and on domestic airlines a second checked bag costs roughly $70 for a round-trip. For an international flight, that increases to $100 for a round-trip  b ut check all of this information with your airline when you are booking.  Each airline has different fees and policies so it best to check first.  If you take a week’s vacation and spend five days in the water, then paying for the second checked bag either for domestic or international flights basically pays for itself. Ergo, luggage fees are not really a justification for leaving your gear at home under most circumstances. You can bring your equipment, rent the air tank and weights from whatever dive shop you work with, and the costs will be about the same as if you had rented everything from the dive shop.

There is one important thing to keep in mind. Scuba equipment is expensive. Your effort to save on rental equipment costs could ultimately cost you thousands of dollars if your scuba bag is lost or crushed in transit. Shipping your scuba equipment absolutely demands you get luggage insurance.

Of course, the simple idea of paying fees for checked baggage shocks many travelers, and seeing the issue of paying to bring your scuba kit with you is no longer obvious. Yet even for short trips, isn’t the added safety of using your own equipment worth paying an extra $25 or $50?

Rental equipment in pieces may be worth the extra savings but you can get around some of the fees with some smart packing.  Look at your options and decide for yourself what is best and check the luggage policies before you book as each airline is different these days.

  1. Harel06-22-10

    This is good post, I will keep this in mind. If you add more video and pictures because it helps understanding :)

  2. Silvia Orrego07-07-10

    Great article!! Very Usefull.

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