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August 2, 2007
TSA Lets Inflatable Life Jackets Fly

After months of revising regulations for security and carry-on items for commercial airlines, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has decided to allow passengers to board planes with personal inflatable life jackets, plus two spare CO2 cylinders. The change took place August 4, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Inflatables and cartridges were allowed by TSA, but then banned in August 2006 after the plot was uncovered in London to use liquids as explosives.

Groups from the Coast Guard to BoatU.S. and US SAILING have been after TSA to clarify a confusing set of rules. One caveat for boaters: even though TSA regs allow inflatables with cartridges on board planes, individual airlines may still prohibit them. Check with your carrier to see what their policy is.

Boating safety advocates have been promoting the wider use of light, comfortable inflatable devices for years. Many boat racers and anglers travel the country, and the world, to compete in regattas and tournaments and want to bring their own life jackets when they fly. To ship devices ahead of time or buy them at a destination can be expensive or inconvenient. Ironically, boaters' inflatable life jackets are generally the same as the flotation devices the airlines stow under the seats for emergency use.

The new policy is listed at the TSA Web site: www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm; look under Disabling Chemicals & Other Dangerous Items for small compressed gas cylinders.