Carbon dioxide cartridge or Co2 cartridge plays a huge part for casual and professional bikers alike. These little cans filled with pressurized carbon dioxide gas come in handy when going on long rides since they can fill tires with gas very quickly. Cartridges might be small yet mighty since they help you save time and effort compared to using manual pumps.
If you’re planning to bring one on your next travel whether for personal use or as a gift, there are some things you need to know about carrying Co2 cartridges on an aircraft.
Can You Fly With Co2 Cartridges
A quick search on the Transportation Security Administration website and you’ll see the travel rule about CO2 cartridges. Here’s what the site says:
Carry On Bags: No
Checked Bags: No
Except for personal medical oxygen cylinders, you can only carry an EMPTY compressed gas cylinder onboard a plane. To be permitted (in either carry-on or checked baggage), it must be clearly visible to the TSA officer that the cylinder is empty.
This means that a bike CO2 cartridge isn’t allowed both on carry on baggage or checked baggage when it’s filled. The only time they will allow it is if it’s empty or it’s a personal medical oxygen cylinder.
If you’re unaware that they aren’t allowed in an airline and brought one, you will likely be subjected to additional questioning. They also have the right to confiscate any prohibited items, so you will have to surrender them to security. (Read Can You Bring Picture Frames On A Plane)
Why Co2 Cartridges Are Not Allowed on Planes
Yes, bike Co2 cartridges might be convenient but it also comes with some dangers and risk that’s why they are banned from planes. Since they contain a compressed gas, they can cause unpredictable accidents in an aircraft.
Here are some of the dangers of misusage or improper storage of bike Co2 cartridges:
They can cause an explosion
If a Co2 cartridge fails while inside a carry on or checked baggage, it can cause explosions despite being non-flammable. The explosion is usually caused by a drastic change in air pressure during a flight.
They can be deadly when inhaled
Inhaling Co2 from canisters once leaked can cause immediate death to anyone due to suffocation. Sometimes, people mistake CO2 cartridges for nitrous oxide canisters, which both can be hazardous when inhaled as they may cause severe brain damage.
They can be risky when stored incorrectly
Apart from pressure, another reason that can make the Co2 cartridge explode is when they are exposed to high temperatures. Once they are placed somewhere with extreme and direct heat or sunlight, they can cause fire or explosions. Not storing them upright and letting the roll around can also be a factor in explosions so make sure they are securely packed.
Exceptions in Bringing Co2 Cartridges
Yes, there is an exception when bringing a Co2 cartridge as well as alternatives you can follow if you need one during your travel:
Co2 Cartridges Must Be Attached to Life Vests
As stated on the TSA website, you may bring a life vest with up to two CO2 cartridges inside, plus two spare cartridges in your carry-on or checked bag.
While it may pass the TSA security rules, it is still subject to additional screening. It might be confiscated if it triggers an alarm at the checkpoint, if the cartridge appears to have been tampered with, or if it poses a security concern. The final decision still lies to the airport security whether they will or will not allow items in an aircraft.
Purchase Co2 Cartridges in Your Destination
If you’re only traveling domestically, you won’t have a problem buying Co2 cartridges in any state. There are accessible bike shops where you can easily purchase what you need.
But if you’re flying internationally, it’s now easy to locate if there are nearby bike shops in the area you’ll be staying. Best if you do a quick research about your destination so you’ll be prepared whether you have to bring Co2 cartridges or not.
Bring Bike Air Pumps Instead
Your best choice if you really can’t bring Co2 cartridges is to bring bike air pumps instead. Bike air pumps are allowed both in carry on and checked baggage. But since the space is limited in your luggage, you can go for mini air pumps that are perfect for travel.
However, bike air pumps can only be carried without any installed or spare gas cartridges. This means you have to purchase them personally at your destination. (Read Can I Bring Frozen Meat On A Plane)
Other Prohibited Cycling Items on Airlines
Apart from Co2 cartridges, bike cleaning chemicals and tools are also prohibited on the plane. Some of these include flammable cleaners, box cutters, and other bike tools that are beyond seven inches in length. Anything that contains kerosene, other flammable components, and sharp items that can be considered a weapon won’t be allowed on board.
Rules In Other Countries
If you have to bring a bike Co2 cartridge to your destination, here are the rules in other countries regarding bringing compressed gas cylinders in an aircraft:
The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority’s website did not specify whether a bike Co2 cartridge is allowed. However, it mentioned that compressed gases are not allowed on carry on baggage and should be checked with the carrier if placed in check baggage.
They also have an exception for carry on baggage such as compressed gas cylinders for medical use or as part of a self-inflating life jacket. Some security also allows compressed gas cylinders for non-medical use in checked baggage once the conditions are met.
According to the British Airways website, they allow a passenger to carry small gas cartridges such as bicycle pumps in the following conditions:
- Passengers can only bring up to four cartridges per person
- The capacity of each cartridge must not exceed 50 ml
- It should be limited to compressed, nonflammable gas for inflation purposes
- The cartridges must be securely packed so they cannot be activated
- They should be placed in your checked baggage
Australia and New Zealand
The same rule with the United Kingdom applies to Australia and New Zealand. Small gas cartridges are allowed both on carry on and checked luggage as long as it contains nonflammable gas such as Co2, and the water capacity of each cartridge does not exceed 50ml. Passengers are also allowed to bring up to four cartridges only.
Some Japanese airlines allow gas cylinders in personal safety devices including inflatable life vests. They allow up to two life vests with small cylinders filled with carbon dioxide gas attached per person, and up to two spare cylinders per life vest can be placed in checked bags. (Read Can You Walk Around With Alcohol In Vegas)
Co2 cartridges might be convenient, but they can be a hassle when brought during trips. Just as when you’re good to go, you get stopped at a security checkpoint for bringing one in your bag. That’s why it’s best to always do a little research, especially if you’re unsure if an item is allowed in an airline or not.
We hope this helps in packing for your next trip! You know what they say, it’s always better to be safe than to be sorry so it pays to always be prepared.