Question on flying with a VHF radio

More to the point where do you pack it?

Next week I will traveling by plane to a sea kayaking venue. I am packing-up my normal kit, minus my boat and pyrotechnics. With heightened airline security I see issues with either placing my VHF radio in my checked luggage or in my carry-on. For the moment I am leaning toward the carry-on. At least I could explain what the item is and demostrate that it does indeed function.

I’m interested in those that have had practical experience in this area and not just off-the-cuff opinions.

Thanks and safe paddling,


Call the airline and ask

Well I gave United a call…

– Last Updated: Oct-14-05 10:41 AM EST –

First you will find the largest hurdle is just getting through to a human at the other end.

Oh, I just love automated phone systems :-O

When I finally reached a "real" person at customer service, and explained my inquiry they strongly recommended that I place the VHF unit in my carry-on.
Their reasoning was pretty much what I stated above. They did add, "Keep the unit turned-off while in transport", but then we all knew that ;-)


Checked luggage…

The only potential problem with checked luggage is that something looked like a bomb.

I would not think a radio would have that problem. People ship all sorts of weird stuff in their luggage.

In carry on luggage, you might need to show that it works as a radio (try the NOAA channel) but I doubt that you’d have much trouble. They might be worried that you’d use it on the plane but they don’t keep people from carrying cell phones.

I travel with people who carry lots of odd-looking dive and underwater camera equipment and they’ve never had a problem.

Fine to carry it onboard
as long as it is off during the whole trip.

It’s not a problem
When we went to Shetland last year, we carried a laptop, VHFs, digital cameras, battery chargers, etc. Not a single question was asked about any of it. Baggage inspectors are trained to recognize these items.

Checked baggage thefts

– Last Updated: Oct-15-05 7:48 PM EST –

Be careful with checked baggage. I just got ripped off by Alaska Airlines. They stole a pair of high end GMRS/FRS walkie Talkies along with extra NiMh batteries and chargers. The airline will say that they are "not responsible for electronics or checked valuables".

Anything that can be pocketed while being loaded in the belly of the plane is fair game for these baggage handlers.

Another vote for Carry On
I brought a Tri-Tronics Pro500 Electronic training collar on a flight awhile back. (I do dog training) It really looks suspicious but I just opened it up and showed them what it was and no problem. I wouldn’t trust the luggage chuckers with anything that looks valuable. Most are honest but it only takes one.

We carried all of our electronics on with us. I wouldn’t do it any other way.

carry your radio onboard.
you may get a few additional questions through the security checkpoint, but they will treat it no differently than a laptop or other personal electronic device.

Call the TSA
VHF radios are not listed either way on the TSA’s permitted/prohibitted list. There is a statement to not pack electronics in your checked baggage.

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No questions asked
I was expecting to at least have the bag with the electronics searched, but no one ever even looked at it, here or in the UK.

Why bother?
Two-way radios are permitted and it doesn’t matter what frequency range they operate in. Just keep it turned off during flight.