Freeride, Snowboard, Ski touring | Nov 3, 2021

Flying with an avalanche airbag

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You have booked a ski touring trip to Norway? Or a freeride holiday in Canada? Lucky you – that’s bound to be an amazing adventure! We definitely don’t mean to rain on your parade: But have you already thought about how to get your avalanche airbag to your dream destination? After all, avalanche airbags have become an indispensable part of every backcountry lover’s equipment – whether you’re exploring your backyard mountain or an overseas destination.

To get you ready for your skiing or snowboarding trip, we have compiled some useful information on flying with an avalanche airbag. Are you allowed to bring it on the plane? How do you pack it correctly for check-in? And what else should you bear in mind when preparing for your trip?

To answer all these questions, we teamed up with the experts at Mammut – read on to discover their best tips!

Can I take my avalanche backpack on the plane?

The good news: Yes, you can – at least in theory. In practice, things can get a bit tricky. Because although avalanche airbags might be a life-saving piece of equipment for you, they are classed as hazardous goods by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Hence, special regulations apply if you want to carry them with you on a flight.

Good to know: If you have an avalanche airbag by Mammut, like the “Ride Removable Airbag 3.0” or “Pro Protection Airbag 3.0”, it’s generally possible to transport them by air. Read on to find out what to keep in mind though.

Did you know? Mammut airbag backpacks and individual airbag systems, such as the “Removable Airbag Systems” or the “Protection Airbag Systems”, can be transported without any further restrictions.

© Mammut Archive
© Mammut Archive

What does IATA approval mean and how is it relevant for my equipment?

As you probably know, passengers are usually prohibited from carrying hazardous goods on board an aircraft. However, airbag pressure cartridges are covered by a special IATA regulation.

According to this regulation, avalanche airbags and cartridges may be transported under the following conditions:

  • Only one avalanche airbag and one cartridge per person are permitted.
  • The pressure cartridge must be filled with Class 2.2 gas. (NB: 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.
  • The equipment must be packed in a manner that prevents accidental activation. (The cartridge must not be screwed into the airbag system.)
  • The airbag must be fitted with a pressure release valve. (NB: All Mammut airbag systems are fitted with a pressure release valve.)

Following these regulations, you can either carry your avalanche airbag and cartridge in hand baggage or as checked-in baggage. Keep in mind that you need prior approval by the airline though!

Important: Despite the IATA’s approval, any airline operator is entitled to refuse to transport the cartridge!

How can I register my avalanche airbag with the airline?

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Before your actual flight, contact the airline and register your avalanche airbag with them. To do so, send them the IATA table alongside the fact sheet describing the complete content of your airbag. Most manufacturers have special fact sheets for their cartridge and trigger systems, which you should print out and bring with you to the airport, just in case.

How do I pack my avalanche airbag correctly for air travel?

As you can see from the IATA regulations, your avalanche airbag has to be packed in a certain way to be allowed on board. 

As experts in the field, the guys at Mammut recommend the following:

  • Transport the avalanche airbag as checked-in 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 table.

Are there special regulations if I fly to the USA or Canada?

Yes, there are! In the United States and Canada, filled compressed gas cartridges for avalanche airbags are not permitted on planes. On flights to and within these countries, the cartridge must be completely discharged. In addition, the valve must be removed from the cartridge body for the security check.

Please note: Not all cartridges can be prepared for flight in this manner. For instance, if you travel with a Mammut avalanche airbag, the “Cartridge Refillable 207 Bar Alu” and the “Cartridge Refillable 207 Bar Alu empty” can be discharged in preparation for transport to the USA and then refilled locally.

© Mammut Archive


Preparing your avalanche airbag for the flight sounds like too much hassle for you? If you’d rather play the safe card, you can also rent your avalanche equipment on site. Various INTERSPORT Rent shops at ski resorts around the world offer avalanche equipment by Mammut and other leading brands for rent.

Whether it’s an avalanche airbag, an avalanche transceiver or a complete avalanche set that you need – our RENTertainers on site have got you covered!

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