...Life Rafts, Vests Not Allowed...

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Michael Magnell doesn't ever have any trouble getting himself on an airplane but his luggage is a different story. Magnell is a ferry pilot and owns a California company that specializes in long-distance and over-water delivery of private aircraft to far-flung destinations. When he heads to a distant locale to pick up a plane, he has to take his survival gear, including inflatable life vest and inflatable life raft, with him. He says U.S. airlines refuse to allow either item in their baggage compartments ... even though there's an inflatable vest under every seat in the cabin. "There's just no rhyme or reason to it," he said. "They tell me to ship it -- air freight," he sighed. He said it appears to be an airline policy rather than one set down by the FAA or TSA because when his baggage is searched by TSA inspectors they ask airline officials whether the inflatables can go on board. He said airlines based in other countries allow the safety equipment on board. U.S. airlines are apparently afraid the C02 canisters that inflate the vests and rafts will trigger in flight and create some kind of hazard. That doesn't explain their air-freight solution to his problem, however. In addition to defying logic, air freight adds hundreds of dollars to the ferry bill.