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katydid


Aug 30, 2002, 5:13 AM
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Flying with climbing gear
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I'm planning to travel light, but I'm flying from Toronto to Portland, OR near the end of the month and have a couple of weird layovers. I thought I'd carry on my harness, shoes, and chalk, but wanted to hear from the Voices of Experience.

Any suggestions to make it easier to carry my climbing stuff across the border *and* get it to the other side of the continent successfully?

TIA,

Kate



Partner sauron


Aug 30, 2002, 5:23 AM
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Carry-on.

Yes, they _will_ try to figure out if you could bludgeon someone to death with your #5 camalot, but it's the only way to make sure they don't loose your gear.

- d.


jansuw


Aug 30, 2002, 6:00 AM
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The best way to go climbing somewhere else is hook up with someone over the net before you go so you only need your personal gear (shoes/harness) and the person over there can take care of rope, car, gear, chalk etc.

Then they can visit you and you provide the same for them...

If you fly you could see if they could take your gear in a carry on bag and hope they don't ask about it (unlikely? ) or ask the airline if there's a special service for VERY IMPORTANT LUGGAGE! I know there's such a thing for instruments, travelling musicians not wanting to lose their guitars or whatever thats too big for carry on...


twrock


Aug 30, 2002, 7:08 PM
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I've flown quite a few times with my trusty Rock Sac full of climbing gear, both domestically and internationally. (BTW, that Wild Things bag is one of the best purchases I have ever made!) I have always carried it on the plane with me because that is where I had all my "metal" which is simply worth too much to take a chance of losing. The metal gear fills up the bag (and then some), especially if my destination is a bigger climb.

I have not flown with my gear since 9/11, but here is my experience before then.

They have always opened the bag, so be prepared to repack it. The nut tool is a major issue, so it'd be better to check that piece (pitons might be a problem in the same way, but I'm not into nailing so I wouldn't know for sure). Don't "chain" your biners together; it wastes space and "chains" are on the no-no list. Some of the inspection people seem to have never seen climbing gear before and simply haven't got a clue what to do about it. Be patient and smile a lot. Be ready to explain it all. It's not a bad idea to have a climbing magazine in the bag with all the gear because having a magazine that shows all this weird stuff can help to legitimize you having it in the first place.

If they refuse to let you carry it on, at least it will be checked at the gate. I haven't heard of the airlines losing a bag checked at the boarding gate, so that probably ups your chances of seeing it at the other end.


skloppen


Aug 30, 2002, 7:24 PM
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Last March (2002) I flew Toronto to LA with a bunch of climbing gear, no problems. I had a rack (no cams since I had none at the time), a rope and all personal gear. I just put it all (allong with my clothes) in the 100 litre backpack that I checked. I have flown a few times (Toronto-Tel Aviv [Israel]; Toronto-Calgary and Toronto-LA) with climbing gear and never had a problem.

I like the idea of putting a climbing magazine in the luggage incase of dispute. Although I think dispute is fairly unlikely.

from Stefan


mount


Aug 30, 2002, 11:16 PM
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If you do plan on checking in your gear with your baggage my one helpful hint would be, tape your bag. The checkin counter will have rolls of tape for poorly packed baggage. Take the roll and wrap your bag quite a few times around. Its the best defence of theft. Locks just get broken and tape means poor-man-bag so the baggage handlers will leave it alone.


carnaged


Aug 31, 2002, 12:17 AM
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carry your gear on with ya...

But don't be suprised if they double-check your chalk bag

they can never be too careful ya know~

kat


Partner euroford


Aug 31, 2002, 7:22 AM
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why not just check it? i fly about every other week, and lemme tell ya, considering the new rules i would be REALLY suprised if allot of that gear doesn't making it onto the plane.

they will do one of three things:

1. just TAKE your gear. if you think you have a better chance of keeping your gear by getting through security than by checking it one i'd imagine your wrong. if they feel it is a danger they can, CONFISCATE dam near anything they want.

2. tell you to turn back and check it at the ticket counter. this is fine, but you may not have time. if you say something like "But i'll miss my flight" they might just confiscate your gear

3. let you through with it. i'd be kinda suprised, and really considerig the security standard they are trying hold i would consider most climbing gear a no-no. of course, if they pull you out of line up at the plan and check you again, maybe that person has a cow....


i've not traveled with climbign gear, but i've traveled with dang near everything else. and i've lost some pretty cool stuff to those security poeple. bottom line is, CHECK YOUR BAGGAGE.

I check my astronomy gear. if you have any idea how much a meade LX200 GPS 12" scope, a losmandy mount, a teleview 76mm refractor, and about 30 high end eyepieces would cost believe me, you have nothing to worry about with climbing gear.


takeit4granite


Sep 1, 2002, 9:59 AM
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If you are ever flying in winter double wrap your soft goods (rope, draws, slings) in garbage bags. I had my pack full of gear fall off the baggage car and get dragged through wing de-icer on the runway! It took me a year but they finally payed to replace everything after I proved to them that the petro chemicals are harmful to nylon and it is my life on the line!!


reno


Sep 1, 2002, 10:37 AM
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Since this seems to be a hot topic, I wrote to Leo F. Mullin, the CEO of Delta Airlines, asking about flying with climbing gear. This is a copy of my e-mail to him. When (if?) I get a reply, I'll post it here. I picked Delta for no other reason than it is a major airline.

My letter to Mr. Mullin:


Dear Mr. Mullin,

I'm writing to ask you a question about the baggage claim/carry-on at your
company.

I travel to various areas of the country on vacation, and I often go rock
climbing or mountain climbing when on vacation. I have an extensive supply of
climbing gear: Ropes, carabiners, pitons, and the like. I am concerned that my
gear will not be allowed on board the airplane. Is there a way to insure that I
can bring my gear on a trip? If it is confiscated for some reason, how can I
guarantee that I will get the gear returned?

Thank you for you time and assistance.

Jeff Brosius,
Atlanta, GA


I'll keep y'all posted on any info I get.

Ciao,

JRB


mreardon


Sep 3, 2002, 3:46 PM
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I fly regularly and so far no major problems. If you are carrying a ton of stuff, then check it. If it's just a few pieces and the basics (harness, shoes, chalkbag) then bring it with you, but definitely plan on getting checked. I would not recommend a nut tool in the bag, but camalots never seem to be an issue.

As a side note, prior to 9/11 and after, there has been no substantial difference in the amount of times I've been checked. Usually I get checked more when I have my laptop than when I have gear.


toobigtoclimb


Sep 3, 2002, 4:04 PM
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I usually check my gear with no problems.

I've been curious about the chalk bag in carry on after the anthrax scare.

Try it and let me know what happens


cclaytorus


Sep 3, 2002, 6:17 PM
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Registered: Sep 3, 2002
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I work in the airline industry, and don't trust them with anything irreplacable. I'll be going to Denver this fall and luckily have a friend living out there. I'm considering shipping what I need about a month ahead of the trip. If you're going somewhere and don't have an address, you can try sending to yourself at
(your name)
"General Mail"
City, State, Zip.

It'll be waiting for you at the post office. I'll bet a local climbing gym would be willing to accept something if you call, or if all else fails, maybe "Mail Boxes, Etc." or "Pack & Post" has a service?


ffaallliinngg


Sep 3, 2002, 6:25 PM
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Registered: Apr 21, 2002
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I've taken my climbing gear on an airplane 3 times (checked it, I hate schlepping heavy stuff thru airports). Never got to use it. 1st time, friend to busy moving. 2nd time friend tweaked hand playing softball. 3rd time rained out. Maybe one of these days I'll fly somewhere and climb.


betterthinkfast


Sep 3, 2002, 6:31 PM
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K, here's my two cents.

I fly at least a couple of times a month, always with my climbing gear. You never know when you'll be close to a crag, gym, boulder, big pebble, tall curb.

Carrying on bags is ok, but can be a hassle when arriving at the airport 20 (25 for international) mins before scheduled flight. But it is the only way to ensure the bags stay with you.

Checking bags is typically faster on the front end, of course you have to wait on the other side. Another lame thing, because you have lots of metal, they will search it, if that takes too long, it will come on the next flight, SUPER LAME.

My new trick! Check bag 5 mins before flight. Bag = 100+ pound haul sack with portaledge etc. It is bright and orange, sure to cause a few flags to be raised. Request bags to be delivered (United is great about this). Delivery location = base of climb, or better yet, at first bivy location.

Good Luck
if I wasnt clear, carry on if possible, much better alternative


apollodorus


Sep 3, 2002, 6:50 PM
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Don't take that bolt gun that James Bond used in Diamonds are Forever. All other gear should be OK.


twiz


Sep 3, 2002, 10:35 PM
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Ive flown a number of times after 9/11 with climbing/camping gear. I used to take all I could with me on the plane until I had a caribiner confiscated out of my pack...."its too big" was all they told me (yet the two lighters in my pocket were acceptable...go figure!). I was asked to bring it to my car or they would have to confiscate it. Since it was a connecting flight, I obviously couldnt bring it to my car, so I had to part with it. It sure would be a bummer to have them confiscate an entire rack.

I dread checking my luggage in each time. When I do, I explain to the person that I was or will be climbing and have a number of sharp, metal objects. I explain the stove I have (pocket rocket) and let them know Im not carrying any fuel. I usually ask them to go thru the bag with me right then and there, so if there are any questions I can deal with it immediately. Ive never had a problem with this approach.

If you have any questions about what you are bringing, dont hesitate to call the airline you are flying with. Im sure they will be helpful.

And, when in doubt, as suggested...mail it.

Oh ya, and the chalk bag...probly not one of the best ideas for a carry on item! They do a lot of random searches before getting on the plain. It would suck to be the chosen one and have to explain that!

Have fun in P'land...you going to smith?


twiz


Sep 3, 2002, 10:40 PM
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question...when they insure the luggage you check in, is the max per bag or per person? Never looked at that fine print before...maybe its worth packing more than one bag when carrying gear?


stellalpina


Sep 4, 2002, 6:29 AM
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NEVER TRUST THE AIRLINES!
just yesterday i flew home from italy and was forced to check the climbing gear i had planned on carrying on with me... and THEY LOST IT!!!!!!!!!

in the future -- if i ever get my stuff back -- i will insist on bringing it with me or checking it with precious cargo. i have never had a problem with taking just shoes, harness, stc, chalk, but the rack is a problem everytime. also, try calling the airling and explain what you will be taking with you ahead of time, and ask if it will be a problem. find out if special arrangments can be made. good luck to all who travel
and to the sabena reps who will feel my wrath this afternoon


tradguy


Sep 4, 2002, 7:27 AM
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Stellalpina - man that sucks. At least you were on your way home, and not your way there!

I've checked my gear many times, and never had any trouble with it. I think if the bag is big and cumbersome, and weighs ALOT, people will tend to not want to screw with it. When I take my mountaineering expedition gear to places like Alaska, South America, Africa, Switzerland, I typically have 2 bags of 60 to 70 lbs each, with a value of probably $4000. If someone swiped one, I'd be totally screwed. But what are you going to do? I know they aren't going to let me carry on ice axes, even though they are $300 each.

I think the real trick is to purchase your ticket with one of those airline credit cards that gives you additional baggage insurance, because the standard coverage is only like $475. Hell, that would barely cover my gore-tex jacket!

A question I have: what happens to all the stuff the airline "confiscates"? Do they throw it away? Do they sell it? Do they give it to the employees? I wonder because when I was coming back from Alaska, they flat out refused to ship to me or reimburse me for my empty fuel bottles, even though they had let me check them in my bags on the way there. Those things aren't cheap. And this was pre-9/11.


tradguy


Sep 4, 2002, 7:32 AM
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Here's a good story about this topic too:

A friend of mine had his climbing pack (with most of his gear) stolen at the baggage claim in the Ontario, CA airport on his way to Joshua Tree. The little f*ckers swiped it right from the carousel, leaving my friend standing there wondering where his other bag was. They then took some of the stuff to a climbing gym trying to sell it. The owner of the gym figured out what was going on, and bought everything they offered for a couple hundred bucks (easily worth 2 or 3 times as much). In the meantime, my friend had gone to the climbing shop up by Josh and bought the basics (harness, shoes, etc) - relating the story to them. Later in the week, word made it through the grapevine that some gear had been recovered, and he was re-united with SOME of his stuff. I don't know that they ever caught the thieves, but the airline did pony up to pay the gym owner for the stuff he bought back, as well as pay for all the un-recovered gear, and pay for the stuff my friend had to buy to continue the trip. It was a real pain in the ass, but it worked out eventually. Moral of the story: sit near the front of the plane, so you can be at the baggage claim early in case your stuff comes off first.


kartaphilos


Sep 4, 2002, 7:44 PM
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I have been flying between 20 different countries in the past five years. This is what I have learned

1.NEVER, NEVER fly Sabena airlines. They WILL lose your gear, they WILL give you crap, they WILL be rude about it.

2. Check in early and ask before the time if your gear will pose problems.

3.If flying Virgin Atlantic, you can trust them with your bags. Check your stuff. All other airlines are SUSPECT.

4.Do not try and take something carry on that you wouldn't want confiscated or left behind.

5. In Italy they are incompitent and WILL lose your stuff.


watzootie


Sep 5, 2002, 2:34 PM
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  As far as carrying gear on the plane I can asure that you they will be opening your bag. I just flew last week, carrying only basic gear, no nuts or cams, and they unpacked my bag at every stop. Apparently to the non rockclimbing baggage check people the shape of my climbing shoes looked like a knife. If you are flying a small planes, ie. the ones that don;t land at gates and you walk on the tarmat, you can request planeside checkin, then you personally take your bag to the plane and then they put it in baggage. Then when you get off the plane, they give it back to you personally as soon as you step off the plane. Works pretty well. Hope you enjoy the climbing!!!!!


arlen


Sep 5, 2002, 10:26 PM
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A couple weeks ago I flew from Seattle to Milwaukee and back. I packed my shoes, harness, reverso, 2 lockers and a daisy in my carry-on bag.

At Seattle, they didn't give it a second look on scanner. I bought a chalk bag while in Wisconsin (man, that quartzite is greasy) and put that in a ziplock bag. At Milwaukee, they opened my bag and speculated about the biners effectiveness as weapons, but they didn't care about the chalk.

Apparently it's up to the checkers and/or their company's policy, which is probably different at every airport. I'd post any gear to the destination ahead of time--shipping insurance is cheap, and you have more recourses.


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