Contributors to this thread:
carrying meat home on a plane..need help
going to do a diy bear hunt in the heat out west in a couple of weeks..cheapest best ways to get the meat and hide from the ground to the plane ride home..coolers?dry ice?frozen? need help
I travel with game meat all the time. I use a 48 qt. wheeled cooler that will hold 40-50 lbs. of meat/capes and 10 lbs. of ice without a problem. I line the inside of the cooler with a heavy duty garbage bag and pack the meat in sealed in zip-lock bags inside with layers of frozen water bottles. The heavy duty bag prevents any leaks or condensation from the water bottles from leaking out of the cooler. Don't close up the bag until you get to the airport. I tie-wrap the bag closed AFTER TSA visually inspects the cooler which they will. After you close the bag inside, use duct tape to wrap around the lid of the cooler to keep it from opening. The ice stays relatively frozen in the bottles even after 10-12 hours of flights. Your meat will stay frozen if it has already been frozen and it definitely stays cold if it has not been frozen yet. A frozen cape should still be rock solid when you unpack the cooler.
You can use dry ice but it is expensive and not permitted by some airlines. If you do use dry ice, check the TSA website. TSA only allows 5.5lbs of dry ice per package and it must be packaged a certain way.
Also keep in mind that most checked bags are limited to 50 or 70lbs. maximum depending on the airline. Check with your airline and weigh your cooler packed before you get to the airport. Good luck on your hunt!
FWIW......the news is saying the airlines are having quite a few problems these days with delays, cancellations and such. It maybe a smart approach to reverse engineer this to protect your investment in your hunt. Say you want the cooler contents to stay cold for 48hrs (pick a number). Start there and figure out what it's going to take for the contents to stay cold that long.
Jbruce, find a friend that has a corporate FedEx account through their business. Ask them if you can use the FedEx account number. Freeze the meat. Pack it in an insulated box and ship it 2 day. Cheapest and most efficient way I’ve found to do it.
I've only flown to one hunt, but I ended up bringing the meat in my carry on bag. I paid a little extra to have a local processor cut/wrap/freeze the meat of a blacktail deer. I then packed the frozen meat into a Kuiu Taku 3000. Worked great for a deer, but it probably isn't big enough for meat and a full bear hide. It also helped that I had a direct flight from Washington to New Mexico.
check for excess weight charges. You will probably find it cheaper and easier to use 2 coolers. Coolers weigh about 6-7 lbs so you can only get about 42# in. Find a way to weigh to cooler once packed. The will not give you a break on even a pound over the 50# limit.
If the meat is frozen it will keep for a day or so without adding dry ice.
Carry on bag and personal items never get weighed. I take 100 pounds in those 2. The rest checked baggage. Always your cheapest option.
I had a problem with the airlines once. I ended up shipping the meat and cape UPS next day. I did take the antlers with me as carry-on. I know shipping is somewhat expensive, but the meat and cape was home and still frozen when I received it. I've done that ever since that day. I have it butchered there and shipped. It's bad enough getting through the airports these days as it is with a bow and/or firearms and other equipment. One less thing to be concerned about.
Yep I'd ship it by another carrier.
Both my trips to Alaska, Ive packed several heavy duty contractor bags and some duct tape. If you happen to be successful, go buy the coolers you need, double bag the meat/hide in each cooler, add some dry ice per airline regs [its not as scary as some make it out to be] and tape the hell out the coolers. Check as baggage
Someone PM'd me and asked how I get 100 pounds as carry on:
Personal items are a lot bigger then you think, you can look it up - and they have "frames" at the airport to check. I see TONS of people taking much bigger personal items and carry on bags then are permitted. I would not test this but my point is if you are a little over 99% sure you are okay. I typically use a carry on bag, standard black size everyone has - I get 70 pounds in every time. Personal item usually a backpack or simply a bag! 30 pounds in it. I do this a LOT - at least 2 times a year and never ever had the slightest issue. TSA always checks them (they look like a bomb on xray) but I am ready and polite and I say I have "fresh meat" not dead deer. I use my backpack as a checked bag - to long as a carry on. Many get in with bags like that but some do not.
Keep in mind TSA does not carry about airline bag size/weight regs, only the airline. Be nice to EVERYONE, really nice and do not stick out. The only issue you can have is carry on and personal item bags have weight limits. I have never ever seen anyone - o heard of anyone who has had an issue. I travel a lot and have asked many close friends who travel for work and they agree.
LOL! Reminds me of the time I flew to Utah years ago on a combo ski/backpacking trip(April). Had to check our skis/boots with luggage so our internal frame backpacks were our carry-ons. (I checked ahead of time and they just made the dementional requirements) Had to remove my sleeping bag when it went thru the x-ray because it was so dense it showed up as a dark “blob!”
I used a similar method as Firehuntfish with a few differences. I don't use ice or dry ice. I only freeze the meat. If I couldn't get the meat totally frozen I'd resort to dry ice. I simply freeze the meat solid, fill an 18 gallon Rubbermaid tote with 48.5ish pounds of meat inside a construction grade trash bag and then seal it up with gorilla tape. An 18 gallon tote fits in the scanner and I've never had TSA open my totes. I write my name, address, phone number, meat type and license number on the outside with a sharpie. So far it's worked like a charm.
I regularly bring frozen venison from the East Coast (Newark NJ airport) back to Alaska in my checked luggage.
Once the bag of 48 lbs of frozen ground venison got mistakenly diverted and did not get to Fairbanks when I did. In fact it arrived (spoiled of course) after spending 4 days in Kona, Hawaii.
I instructed the airline that next time, how about making sure the meat went on to Fairbanks and just mistakenly send my fat ass to the beach in Hawaii for 4 days! I would have been glad to call Fairbanks and have the meat picked up and dumped into my freezer!
Airline approved seafood boxes with foam insulation. These hold the right amount of meat to weigh in at real close to 50#. I don’t know how many times myself and others I know have flown home from Alaska with several boxes checked with luggage and I don’t know if anyone who’s had a box lost. It seems the airlines pay a little more attention to items marked perishable, frozen and seafood. Alaska Air in Juneau this year even stored my boxes in a cooler because my flight was leaving a couple of hours after my brother in law’s.
Last year coming thru Anchorage airport with a moose rack and the meat
I had moose meat processed in Alaska and they mail (fly) it to my local airport from theirs when it is finished. They don’t process the organs so I froze the liver and heart and carried in a collapsible cooler as a carry on. They don’t want to see any ice packs, so just frozen meat works. After I got through check in line I went and got some ice put in baggies and put it in my cooler just in case. For the long 12 hour trip.
All my experience is in the US (MT-TN) but I've always shipped my clothes and stuff home. I packed my bags to the weight limit with meat as checked bags and had a carryon that was 48 pounds. I just freeze it and bag it in garbage bags. One tip sit right by the little podium with the carry on frequently they will say it's going to be a full flight and they will offer to check carryon bags to your destination (free) which in my case usually means I don't have to lug it around in the airport. It is a pain when TSA unpacks the carryon and swabs every package but that is the price of bringing back meat on planes. I would drive but I'm always hunting alone and it's a really long drive to MT and I don't have the extra vacation time. It would be nice to skip the rental SUV with crappy tires though but that's drifting off topic.
If you go the cooler route get a few news papers.After packing frozen meat put several layers of papers on top.This will greatly increase the insulating that the cooler lid doesn't do.