How To Travel With Freediving Fins on Airplanes (so they don’t break)

Diagram showing the correct carry-on sizes for keeping freediving fins on aeroplanes.

If you’re like most freedivers, then the idea of travelling with long freediving fins probably makes you a little nervous.

And you have every right to feel that way:

Freediving fins (plastic, fiberglass and especially carbon fiber) are expensive, quite fragile and often one of a freediver’s most valued possessions.

If they get damaged during your travels, not only will it set you back a few hundred dollars…

But will also mean you won’t be able to use your trusty fins the entire time throughout your own trip, ultimately spoiling your freediving vacation!

The safest way to travel with freediving fins is to carry them as check-in baggage in a high-quality bag that is specifically made to carry long, delicate freediving fins during travel. Click here to see the most popular freediving fins travel backpack on Amazon

How to travel with freediving fins on airplanes: a closer look

I don’t know about you, but when I Google’d “How to travel with freediving fins”…

My jaw dropped at some of the responses I read.

Many of these ‘travel methods’ for fins are high-risk options that could result in you either never arriving with your fins, or finding them broken as you open your suitcase.

Let’s take a look at the common travel ‘tips’ (and why they should be avoided):

Common ‘wisdom’ for travelling with freediving fins

1. “Sneak your fins on the plane as carry-on luggage”

Among freedivers, this is perhaps the riskiest suggestion in response to how to travel with freediving fins.


Well, because the length of freediving fins is MUCH longer than the carry-on baggage maximum size of your average airline.

Take for example Lufthansa (largest European airline) and American Airlines (largest US airline):

Both airlines have a maximum carry-on baggage restriction of 22 inches (55.9 cm) long.

Long freediving fins are on average 35 inches (88.9 cm) in length, which is much longer than the maximum carry-on luggage length allowed.

Don’t you think airport security won’t notice you trying to sneak on-board big clunky fins that are almost twice as long as the maximum baggage restriction length?

Most freediving fins cannot be taken on board planes because they are too long.

Most freediving fins are too long to be taken on-board as carry-on baggage.

What are you going to do if airport security tell you you’re not allowed to take them on board?

Leave them behind? Run back to the baggage check-in and pay extra to get them wrapped in thin glad-wrap and thrown onto the plane?

Doesn’t sound worth it to me.

Each time you try to ‘trick’ airport security by sneaking long freediving fins onto the plane…

Or tying them with rope/fishing line to your carry-on baggage backpack…

You’re really just rolling the dice.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend the week before my freediving trip worrying about those few minutes where airport security decide whether or not my freediving fins get to be on the plane with me on my diving vacation…or whether they have to stay behind because they don’t meet the baggage requirements.

I’m more than happy to pay a little extra for a bag like the Palantic Spearfishing Backpack, which is built specifically for travelling safely with long freediving fins.

2. “Build your own freediving fins suitcase”

This is another suggestion freedivers have on travelling with freediving fins.

And it’s probably the funniest of them all!

The same freedivers who are more than happy to spend $150+ on long freediving fins…

Can’t even spend a few extra bucks on a fin bag to protect their initial $150+ investment?

Absolutely crazy!

These freedivers go on to suggest building a freediving fin suitcase out of plywood, styrofoam or even bubblewrap…

Not only is that very fragile…but also attracts unwanted attention and even suspicion from airport security.

(not to mention many ‘wood’ types aren’t even allowed in strict quarantine countries…good luck exploring the Australian Great Barrier Reef, while your freediving fins are locked up in Brisbane quarantine never to be seen again!)

Building a suitcase out of plywood may lead to it getting quarantined in countries with strict travel security laws.

Countries like Australia have very thorough baggage security and quarantine processes.

Instead of spending several hours building a flimsy suitcase that could get you in trouble and risk you losing your several hundred dollar freediving fins…

Why not just invest the same money in a sleek freediving fins bag that won’t get any hassle at airport security / quarantine?

3. “Stuff your long fins into your current suitcase”

This is probably the most sane idea of all.


Well for starters, you’re not directly spitting in the face of airport security by violating their baggage size restrictions…

And secondly, you can actually pull it off, if you have a large suitcase and adjustable, detachable freediving fins.

Simply screw the fin blades off and put them in your large suitcase (if they fit!).

This is an option, if you don’t mind the hassle of playing ‘fin tetris’ – trying to fit 30-inch long blades into a suitcase that wasn’t built for it.

Long freediving fins tend to not fit in typical suitcases.

Most long freediving fins will struggle to fit in your average suitcase.

(not to mention you might actually break your fins squeezing them in your suitcase if you’re in a rush!).

As for non-adjustable freediving fins: these just won’t fit in the vast majority of suitcases (if any).

In my opinion, it’s better to just invest in an actual freediving fins bag to replace your current suitcase. Even when you go travelling without the intention of freediving, you can just use your normal freediving fins bag like it’s a suitcase. They’re built for travel anyway.

As for the actual backpack to take, I recommend the Palantic Spearfishing Backpack for carrying your fins. Let’s take a look below at why this backpack is so popular for travel among freedivers globally:

Palantic Spearfishing Backpack: How it makes travelling with freediving fins safer

  • Very long: The bag is 40 inches in length (101.6 cm) making it one of the only freediving fins bags that can actually carry almost any long freediving fin (even large carbon fins!! – monofins are the only exception).
  • Holds all your freediving gear in one secure place: The bag comes with dimensions of 40 x 11 x 4 inches, giving it a slim yet roomy build. This bag makes travelling for freediving an absolute breeze – it can easily fit all your freediving gear: weight belt, wetsuit, gloves, boots, speargun and towels etc.
  • Thick material to provide padding for your fins: The Palantic Spearfishing Backpack has a thick skin (literally) to protect your fins from any rough airport baggage staff.
  • Adjustable Back Straps: This backpack comes with padded back straps, making it easy & comfortable to carry. Also, the straps on this bag are sturdy enough to hold any reasonable weighing freediving weights without breaking.
  • Massive Padded Front Pocket: has an approximate size of 14″ x 7.5″, 6″ x 7″ inches (35.6 x 19.0 x 15.2 x 17.8 cm), making it perfect for storing gear such as your mask, gloves etc. Also the front pocket is padded with thick cushions to protect your gear from airport security and the general ‘roughness’ of travel.
  • The backpack weighs about 2.2 pounds (~ 1kg) Making it light as a feather (perfect for taking on hikes!). Also at the weight of just ~1kg, the Palantic Backpack is much lighter than your typical suitcase, so you can carry heavier things without getting charged more for baggage at the airport ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Salt Water Resistant Material The bag can withstand the elements: sun, salt, wind (and obviously water!). If it gets dirty you can simply hose it down.
  • Handy side straps for spearfishing guns.
  • The bag has dimensions of 40 x 11 x 4 inches (~ 101.6 x 28.0 x 10.2 centimeters)

Click here & scroll down to read the reviews of the bag on Amazon.

For the price of a tank of gas, you can invest in the Palantic bag to safely protect your fins during check-in baggage travel.

And also…you won’t have to stay awake at night worrying about trying to sneak your fins passed airport security! ๐Ÿ˜‰

One last thing I will say on this, is that some freedivers don’t like the idea of investing in a freediving bag.

I always find this funny seeing as the cost of a good fin bag is nothing compared to the price of buying new replacement freediving fins…because they broke from travel (or because airport security took ’em!).

Click here to check the price of the Palantic Spearfishing Backpack on Amazon.

How To Travel With The Palantic Spearfishing Backpack

Most long freediving fins are 35 inches (88.9 cm) in length

The average freediving fin is 35 inches (88.9 cm) long!

Now that you’ve got yourself your freediving backpack, you’ve only won half the battle in safely travelling with your freediving fins.

Below, I’ve outlined the specific packing and travelling instructions for the Palantic bag, so you can thoroughly protect your fins with it.

Step 1: Lay the bag horizontally on the table and then unzip the very back pocket (the larger one).

Step 2: Stack your long freediving fins on top of one another, with the top sides facing each other.

Step 3: Wrap your fin blades in your wetsuit to pad them for extra protection.

Step 4: Put your freediving fins in the bag, with the blades facing down (there’s more padding down there for protection and it’s also wider).

Step 5: Fill the rest of the bag up, putting as much soft clothes (gloves, booties, neoprene socks, underwear) in with the fins to act as padding. If you have a freediving torch, put it in this pocket as well for protection.

Step 6: Fill the front pocket with your mask, shoes, other accessories.

Step 7: Print out a whole bunch of ‘FRAGILE’ labels (about 10 will do) and stick ’em on the bag. Also, tell airport security the bag is fragile and remember to explain why.

And there you have it!

Follow the above 7 steps and you’ll arrive at your travel destination and open your freediving fins bag to see your fins have been completely unharmed, unscathed and ready for some deep-diving action!

Tips to take your Palantic Spearfishing Backpack as carry-on luggage

I’ve never taken any freediving fins in the Palantic Backpack on-board a plane as carry-on luggage.

As mentioned above, I strongly recommend not taking it as carry-on luggage, and instead just checking it in as normal luggage.

BUT, if you insist on taking the backpack on-board as carry-on luggage, here are some tips other freedivers told me:

Don’t put a neoprene glue bottle in your fin bag if you’re trying to sneak it on the plane as carry-on luggage. If there are bomb sniffer dogs in the carry-on luggage security area, the dogs will sniff the glue out, mistaking it for a dangerous chemical.

This will attract attention and security will start asking why you’re taking such a long bag onto the plane and may even lead them to holding it back.

Do pack lightly. If you plan on taking the Palantic bag as carry-on luggage; don’t squeeze too much stuff into it.

As a general rule, all carry-on luggage must be able to be stored under your seat or on the above-head compartments. So keep it flat and flexible to fit in tough spots.

Also, seeing as you’re packing your freediving bag lightly to keep it slim for carry-on luggage, you’ll need to distribute more clothes into your current suitcase. If you don’t have one, grab a simple, affordable one like this one here.

And finally: Have a back-up plan/story for when security catch you taking it on-board as carry-on. The last thing you want to have to do is abandon it in a foreign country during a connecting flight!

Other bags for freediving you may find useful

I think a proper freediving fins bag is a must for any freediver who travels.

Here are some other bags you may find useful, but are not a necessity, in addition to the Palantic backpack:

Bayute Water Proof Dry Bag (keeps your mobile, wallet & towel dry for boat dives).

Speedo Deluxe Ventilator Mesh Bag (drys quickly & very handy for carrying bits and pieces for shore dives or even great as airplane carry-on backpack).

Mares Mesh Duffel Bag (Dimensions of the large bag are about: 37.5″ x 15″ x 15″ inches so can be a cheaper replacement for a long freediving fins bag, but I’m concerned it might be too short for some long freediving fins).

About the Author Gerrie van Niekerk - Apnealogy

Gerrie is a passionate Freediver, Spearfisher, Digital Marketer, and author for the Apnealogy website. Gerrie is an SSI Level 1 certified Freediver who loves geeking out about freediving and spearfishing gear and lives for his family and adventure.

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