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Locked Ski Tubes

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
With the latest airline baggage requirements (i.e. do not place locks on checked luggage), has anyone traveled with their skis in hard ski tubes? The lock is the only thing that holds both sections together. I'm traveling to Tahoe at the end of the month. I want to avoid a surprise at departure if told I cannot check the tube with the sections locked. I also want to avoid a more unpleasant surprise upon arrival if my skis, poles, and tube are separated because the lock was cut. I'm traveling on American. Any input?
post #2 of 13
I've been using the little plastic ties that you use to bundle electical cables together. They do lock in place in that you can tighten them but not loosen the ties. But they're not really ties. Other than that, maybe a bungee cord?
post #3 of 13
Ooooh, I can answer this one. I have a Sportube and was concerned about this for the next time I fly. So, I sent a query to the TSA and to Sportube. The TSA just sent me a copy of their policy, without bothering to answer my specific questions (lame! - I mean, come'on, they've seen Sportubes by now - what do they want us to do with them?). But, Sportube sent me the following (I guess they have more of a vested interest in people being able to use the product!)....note, I have not tried any of these suggestions yet, as I have not flow with my Sportube since the new policy...


Transportation Security Administration & Locked Luggage Recommendations

Earlier this month the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) stated that as of 12/31/02 all bags will be screened. Bags that set off alarms or raise security questions will be searched. Therefore, they are recommending that luggage not be locked with a padlock. If a piece of locked luggage is deemed suspect and a search is required, the TSA will remove the padlock by any means necessary and will not be held responsible for damage that may occur.

All Sportube cases use a padlock as part of the integral locking mechanism and the padlock is required to close the Sportube. Needless to say, these new TSA recommendations are a cause for concern for some travelers. In view of this, we recommend the following procedures to avoid having your case searched and the padlock removed.

·Only pack skis and poles into your Sportube
·If you wish to use the padlock, attach the key with a piece of string/cable tie to the handle or the padlock shackle. Alternatively, tape the key to the case using Duct tape. This way the key is accessible to anyone needing to do a search.
·Place a nut and bolt through the holes on the case in place of the padlock. This way the case will be securely closed, but easily opened in case of a search.
·Use a cable tie or zip tie in place of the padlock. The TSA is recommending this procedure instead of locks. According to their web site ( they will be offering cable/zip ties to travelers for free.
·Ship your equipment in the Sportube via FedEx Ground or UPS.

It is worth noting that these guidelines from the TSA are only recommendations and are not yet a mandated FAA regulation, therefore they are subject to change. We recommend that travelers check with their airlines or the above TSA web site for further information. Please feel free to call us with any questions at 1 800 423 4439.

Personally, I think I'm going to try the nut & bolt option.....
post #4 of 13
We returned from Grand Targhee 2 weeks ago. Both my wife and I had locks on our ski tubes. We had no trouble leaving from Detroit they scand the bags and passed them right through with out opening the ski tubes. On our return flight out of Jackson Hole we had to unlock all baggage to be checked. They opened all bags including the ski tubes. The only trouble we had was when the security checker could not get the lock back onto the ski tube. He just pushed the tube together and slid it into the baggage area. As we were standing right there watching we asked about the ski tubes not being relocked. We were told that once they check the baggage we can no longer handle the bags. We did talk him into checking the ski tube, he walked back into the baggage area and brought out both ski tubes. On tube had been relocked but the second had the lock just hanging on the case. He did let me relock the case at that time. I just got some spring clips to use on the ski tubes that snap through the hole so we shouldn't have any more trouble. Remember if you do lock any bags they will have you unlock them when you check in. Watch to make sure that they relock the bags after they have be checked by security.
post #5 of 13
Don't count on Cable ties to keep those tubes shut. I shipped both mine and my wife's skis in a K.I.S. tube and one came through ok the second was open when it reached the other end. We lost a few items (a shirt I was kind of fond of and several Hand warmers) a lot other stuff was stuffed back in the best they could. The handlers said it popped as they were pulling it out of the cargo hold so it was not the TSA or screeners that cut the tie. It was also not one of those cheap cable ties. It was the biggest cable tie that would fit through that hole on the tube.

On our return flight we used the locks and asked that they be screened before check-in so they would be less likely to be re-screened later..

My suggestion, Purchase a few split rings of the keyring variety. Those are strong enough to withstand handler abuse and are still removable by the TSA if they want to screen. Then they can at least put them back.
post #6 of 13
If you wish to use the padlock, attach the key with a piece of string/cable tie to the handle or the padlock shackle. This way the key is accessible to anyone needing to do a search.
I used this method to secure the key to the bag using a zip tie to fasten the key to the tube. I also taped a note to the tube with "KEY" written in large letters where I had fastened the key. All of our bags were opened when we left Utah in December. The TSA agent had no problem opening the tube or relocking it, he appeared to have had some experience with ski tubes and seemed pleased that he wouldn't have to cut the lock off.

[ February 03, 2003, 06:39 PM: Message edited by: BillA ]
post #7 of 13
We went to Reno/Tahoe from O'hare in the beginning of January with our double Sporttube. Like some others I locked my Sporttube but left one key attached to the lock via a small key ring. There was no evidence of the tube being opened on either leg of the trip. I didn't pack the tube full of clothes, like I usually do, in fear of it being opened up and having stuff lost. One of my fears if it is opened up during screening, also as previously mentioned, is the screener's inability to lock it properly again. The first time I used my Sporttube I didn't get the lock through both parts of the tube. When I walked down the stairs of my front porch the inner half of the tube slid out of the outer half and, literally, I had a yard sale.

[ February 03, 2003, 07:15 PM: Message edited by: Prosper ]
post #8 of 13
Went to Telluride for 8 days end of 2002. Shipped my Sporttube/ski via Fed ex with no problems. Brought them home instead of shipping and didn't have to unlock them.
post #9 of 13
When you guys arrive at your destination, how do you transport the tube to the hotel?

Are there cabs that can fit them or do you rent a truck or take a shuttle?

post #10 of 13
As far as transporting a Sportube to the hotel, usually I've rented a vehicle; if you can fold down a section of the back seat (in a car or SUV), you can usually get the Sportube in without a problem.

The time I had a car & not an SUV, it was ski-erized (had a roof rack), so if the seat hadn't folded down, I just would have taken the skis out, put them on the roof; without skis, the tube collapses to a manageable size for the trunk (didn't have to do that, though, as the back seat did fold down.)

The one time I did not rent a vehicle, the hotel sent a shuttle to the airport - no problem with luggage, here - a ski tube is going to be just as long as a soft-sided bag, and if you are at a location that caters to skiers, they will be able to deal with it. Don't know about cabs, but shuttles used by skiers are going to have space to deal with it.
post #11 of 13
If you rent a car with a ski or luggage rack you can also just attach your whole ski tube to the rack with 3-4 bungee cords. That saves you the trouble of having to unpack your skis and also protects them while you're driving. Strap the tube handle side down to prevent any back and forth sliding. I've done it a few times and it works very well.
post #12 of 13
I flew out of Boston this past Christmas/New Years holiday and they told me that I had to remove my lock. I asked if someone could scan/checkout my SkiTube (as they've done in the past at other airports) and they told me that since the government took over the jub of airport security that they could not do that. We tried zip ties (that were free from the check-in desk) but as soon as I gave the case a good yank, the 3 zip ties snapped off. I took my chances with the original lock and secured a key with a keyring to the lock. I also removed everything but my skis and polls and didn't have a problem.

It's such a pain in the a** to fly now!
post #13 of 13
Use a key ring split ring. Strong enough to keep the tube closed, easy enough for the screeners to remove and replace.
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