Rules for Flights in the USA
In the United States, bike CO2 cartridges are banned from carry-on and checked baggage on planes. CO2 cartridges contain compressed gas which is considered dangerous for aircraft as they are flammable and might explode with high-altitude pressure, or by contact with other items.
This rule applies to all compressed gas cylinders, whether they are flammable or not.
Only completely empty gas cartridges are allowed on planes and the TSA agent at the airport must be able to confirm it is empty, or it won’t be allowed to board. The only exceptions to the compressed gas rule are medical oxygen cylinders and CO2 cartridges attached to life vests.
Rules for Flights in Other Countries
In Canada, bike CO2 cartridges aren’t mentioned specifically, but compressed gas cylinders are welcome in the checked baggage as long as the airline approves them. Compressed gas cylinders are banned from carry-on baggage.
In the United Kingdom non-flammable small gas cartridges for bicycle pumps are allowed in checked baggage exclusively. They are limited to 4 small cartridges per person and their capacity must not exceed 50 milliliters.
European authorities don’t mention bike CO2 cartridges specifically, but overall, non-flammable small gas cartridges are allowed in cabin and cargo baggage. However, the rules vary per country and airline, so passengers should consult with the carrier before traveling with a CO2 cartridge.
Australia and New Zealand
In Australia and New Zealand, bicycle tire inflation cartridges are allowed in carry-on and checked baggage as long as the gas is non-flammable and non-toxic. The capacity of the cartridge must not exceed 50 milliliters. You’ll also need airline approval.
China and India
Sources: For writing this article, we took information only from official sources, like airline regulators, government websites, and major airlines. If you want to confirm that our information is accurate and up to date, click on any of the links mentioned above. We linked out to where we found this information for each country.
Disclaimer: The final decision of whether you can bring bike CO2 cartridges on planes always rests on the security officer. Some airlines also have additional rules that may be different.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bringing Cycling CO2 Cartridges on Planes
Why are compressed gas cylinders banned on planes?
Compressed gas cylinders are prone to exploding when subjected to pressure, heat, or rough handling, which are three things that happen frequently while traveling. In the case of a compressed flammable gas cylinder, it can provoke an explosion and a fire that risks the aircraft’s function and passengers’ lives. Even non-flammable gasses are risky, as the gas cylinder might turn into a projectile if it releases its air too quickly. Non-flammable gasses can also be asphyxiating if released in a confined space or serve as oxidizing agents and cause the combustion of other materials. In other words, both flammable and non-flammable gasses are forbidden in United States aircraft because they represent a security risk.
What will happen if I have a bike CO2 cartridge in my luggage?
If you have a bike CO2 cartridge in your luggage while traveling in the United States, it will likely get confiscated and you might be subject to additional questioning. All types of compressed gas cylinders and cartridges, whether they are or not flammable, are banned from carry-on and checked baggage in the United States. Only gas cylinders for medical purposes and installed in life vests are allowed on planes in the United States. If you’re signed up to the TSA Pre-check program and have a Known Traveler number, you’re likely to lose your pre-check privilege for a while, as you violated a travel rule.
Can you refill a bike CO2 cartridge?
Generally, you can’t refill a bike CO2 cartridge once it’s been used. While other types of CO2 cartridges might be refillable, bike CO2 cartridges are usually designed to be disposable. Also, bike CO2 cartridges are highly pressurized in a way that is hard to replicate without the right manufacturing equipment. However, some companies offer new replacement cartridges in exchange for empty bike CO2 cartridges.
How hard it is to buy bike CO2 cartridges in other countries?
In general, it’s easy to buy bike CO2 cartridges in other countries outside the United States. If you’re traveling with your CO2 bike air pump, you are likely to find available cartridges in your destination in bike shops and even general department stores. However, if you can’t find any bike stores in the area, you can always buy a bike CO2 cartridge and have it delivered to your hotel or apartment rental.
Are bike air pumps allowed on planes?
Bike air pumps are allowed in carry-on and checked baggage in the United States. However, out of the three most common types of bike air pumps, the mini air pump is the most convenient for traveling. On one side, larger manual pumps traveling in carry-on must fit inside your carry-on bag and comply with the carrier’s size and weight standards for cabin baggage. On the other side, bike frame pumps for bikes could be considered potential bludgeoning weapons for their size and shape. Although compact, CO2 air pumps would have to travel without any installed or spare gas cartridges, and then you would have to buy them at your final destination. In contrast, mini air pumps are portable and usually go through security without a problem. However, the final decision to allow any pump on the plane is taken by a TSA agent at the airport.
What’s the best bike air pump for traveling?
The best bike air pump for traveling is a mini air pump. Mini pumps are compact and portable. They require manual pumping as larger bike pumps, and work in the same manner, without taking up all the space. CO2 bike pumps are also a great option for traveling. The only downside is that you can’t carry the CO2 cartridges aboard the plane. But, you can take the nozzle with you and buy your CO2 cartridge at your destination or have it delivered to you. This BriskMore CO2 inflator for example is easy to use, lightweight, and controls the flow of the gas. Finally, frame pumps are the third best option, as they are more powerful than mini pumps but more compact than common bicycle pumps. However, for the size and shape, frame bicycle pumps might be considered a weapon at the airport.
What other cycling accessories have restrictions for airplanes?
Besides bike CO2 cartridges, there are other cycling accessories that are restricted on planes, including bike cleaning chemicals and tools. Some bike cleaning products contain kerosene or other strong chemicals that are highly flammable. Even if they follow the liquid restrictions for cabin baggage, they might not be allowed on board. A torque wrench, screwdrivers, large Allen keys, multi-tools, and bicycle repair stands might not be allowed on cabin baggage either as they might be considered potential weapons. It’s best to pack them in checked baggage.
Products used by cyclists, like chamois cream, sunscreen, and gel flasks must be under 3.4 ounces / 100 milliliters if traveling in cabin baggage. They also must fit with other liquids in a 1-quart resealable clear bag. Liquids in greater quantities should travel in checked baggage.
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