Dear EasyJet

Over the past few weeks I’ve been collating information on the policies of different airlines with regards to the carriage of Avalanche airbags, often called avalanche rescue packs. ¬†These airbags use a compressed gas cylinder to inflate a bag which is supposed to help the skier, if caught in an avalanche, to stay on or near the surface of the snow. ¬†The cylinders vary in size and method of release. ¬†Some use a small pyrotechnic charge, some use a mechanical mechanism. ¬†The cylinders can have a pressure as high as 340 bar, and a volume of up to 290ml depending on the make and model of the pack. Some use nitrogen, some use compressed air.

Prior to January 2013, the IATA regulations stated in table 2.3.A that the following was permitted on the aircraft, with permission of the airline:

Avalanche rescue backpack, one (1) per person : Equipped with a pyrotechnic trigger mechanism  containing less than 200 mg net explosives of division 1.4S and less than 250 ml of compressed gas of division 2.2  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

However, in January 2013, this regulation changed to state:

Avalanche rescue backpack, one (1) per person, containing a cylinder of compressed gas in  Div. 2.2. May also be equipped with a pyrotechnic trigger mechanism containing less  200 mg net of Div. 1.4S. The backpack must be packed in such a manner that it cannot  accidentally activated. The airbags within the backpacks must be fitted with pressure relief  valves.

and so removed the limit of 250ml.

I contacted your customer service department on the 6th of January with the following email:

Hi,

I’m seeking clarification of whether or not an avalanche airbag system can be carried on an EasyJet flight?

The current IATA regulations show that, in TABLE 2.3.A the following may be carried:

“Avalanche rescue backpack, one (1) per person, 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 Div. 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.”

…however, at the discretion of the airline.

Could you confirm if airbags can be carried on your flights as long as they meet the IATA regulations?

Regards

Andrew

I received the following reply later that day:

Dear Andrew,

Thank you for contacting easyJet.

I can confirm that you can carry the Avalanche rescue backpack on our flight but please make sure the gas cylinder is less than 250 ml and also meet the other requirements mentioned in the IATA table. Also, if you are taking it in your cabin luggage, please make sure that the cabin bag does not exceed the maximum bag dimension of 56x45x25 cms including wheels and pockets.

I trust that this information helps. I wish you a pleasant day and a happy new year.

Regards

Sarosh

easyJet Customer Services

Sarosh was, as far as I could see, quoting the out-of-date IATA regulations from before January 2013 so I responded, seeking clarification of whether the 250ml was company policy or if it was a mistake on his part in referring to out of date documents.

Rebecca replied on the 8th stating:

There is no volume restriction, the maximum dimensions of the cylinder must not exceed 0.5m in length and 250mm in diameter.

I replied asking her to double check, as I now had two different answers.

Sean D’Souza responded on the 10th stating “…Please make sure that the volume is less than 250 ml …

I responded once more asking to confirm the position on whether the 250ml restriction was correct and received the following from Subhash on the 13th:

I confirm the following details from IATA regulations with regards to avalanche rescue back packs.
I quote, ” One passenger equipped with a pyrotechnic trigger mechanism containing less than 200 mg net of Division 1.45 and less than 250 ml of compressed gas in Division 2.2. The backpack must be packed in such a manner that it cannot be accidentally activated. The airbags within the backpack must be fitted with pressure relief valves.”

Which is, again, the out of date regulations.

I replied again, pointing out the regulations quoted were out of date, and asked that if there was a 250ml limit, was it company policy rather than IATA.  I also quoted the current regs in that reply, to avoid any confusion.  The response on the 15th went as follows:

Dear Andrew

As advised to you in our previous responses, I confirm that the restrictions to be considered for the gas cylinder as per our policy are as follows:

The maximum dimensions must not exceed 0.5m in length and 250mm in diameter and the volume should be less than 250 ml. The cabin bag should not exceed the maximum bag dimension of 56x45x25 cms including wheels and pockets.

For more information please visit:- Gas cylinders

Regards

Precila

It’s interesting to note that on the one hand Precila is quoting the out of date IATA regs, and on the other referring me to a page on the EasyJet website which has no mention of a 250ml limit.

Realising that I was getting nowhere with emails, I decided, on the 15th,  to call customer services and had a discussion with Nazmeen Nadaf.  In explaining, first of all, what an airbag pack was, I also quoted the IATA regs and queried the 250ml limit. Nazmeen went off to check with a supervisor and confirmed that if the bag met the IATA regs then it could be carried.  I double checked the restriction on volume and was again told that as long as it met IATA regs that it would be fine.  I thought I was finally getting somewhere and asked Nazmeen to email me a statement to that effect.  The email came through later that day:

Dear Andrew,

Thank you for contacting us.

I confirm the following details from IATA regulations with regards to Avalanche Rescue Back Packs.

I have confirmed the below information is correct and the policy is active.

One passenger equipped with a pyrotechnic trigger mechanism containing less than 200 mg net of Division 1.45 and less than 250 ml of compressed gas in Division 2.2. The backpack must be packed in such a manner that it cannot be accidentally activated. The airbags within the backpack must be fitted with pressure relief valves.

Regards,

Nazmeen Nadaf

easyJet Customer Service

Once more I queried the 250ml limit and again checked that, if there was a limit, was it company policy as it was not part of the current IATA regulations.  This evening, Agnieszka emailed me saying

…We do not have separate policy on a volume of a gas cylinders therefore we would follow IATA regulations…“.

In isolation, this quote is fine, but in looking at the responses from your agents over the last few days, I’m not confident that the ¬†current IATA regs would be followed.

I can only imagine the frustration of a traveller who has been assured that as long as the airbag “meets IATA regulations” is then refused carriage due to an obsolete restriction and out of date documentation held by your agents.

Please could you advise me whether EasyJet permits the carriage of airbags as long as they meet the following current IATA regulation:

Avalanche rescue backpack, one (1) per person, containing a cylinder of compressed gas in
Div. 2.2. May also be equipped with a pyrotechnic trigger mechanism containing less
200 mg net of Div. 1.4S. The backpack must be packed in such a manner that it cannot
accidentally activated. The airbags within the backpacks must be fitted with pressure relief
valves.

Regards

Andrew