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Thread: Dry Ice in the Cooler or Not Needed?

  1. #1

    Default Dry Ice in the Cooler or Not Needed?

    I'm finalizing my plans for flying into Anchorage on Tuesday night and I have begun to think about the logistics for my trip home. I am planning to have my vacuum sealed fillets of salmon frozen and in a 48 qt cooler. I have heard people say I should put a towel or newspaper on bottom and top. Should I also put in dry ice and will the airline let me? I know they allow up to 5 lbs of dry ice, but there is some lingo in their requirements about the package being properly vented and I'm not sure what that means. I did read somewhere that meant the drain plug would need to be left open (is this right?). Here is the dry-ice info on the american airlines web site. I appreciate any input from those that have done this before. Thanks!


    American Airlines Info on Dry Ice
    5lbs for check baggage (or 4.4 lb for carry-on) or less for packing perishables may be carried on board an aircraft in a hard plastic or heavy gauge Styrofoam container, provided the package is vented. Ticket or gate agent must be advised.

  2. #2
    Member chico99645's Avatar
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    I ship fish out twice a year. Save your money with the dry ice. I wrap each and every vaccum sealed package that is frozen solid with one sheet of news paper for added insulation and for abrasion resistance. Pack your cooler tight and fill all of the void. If you don't have enough fish to fill it, fill the void with balled up newspaper or styrofoam peanuts. Don't want the packs move which could crack or break seals. I pack my box or cooler the night before and stick it back in the freezer. Not really nessessary but once that cooler is ice cold, it buys extra time. Air is not your friend. Tape that plug and seal your cooler as tight as possible. I tape the heck out of it. A shipping box is good for 2 days this way. A cooler would be good for at least 3. Last but not least, don't add ice either. It will defeat the purpose and use up your space. If the ice melts, it will effect your frozen fish.

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    Member Sierra Dragon's Avatar
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    Also note that most cargo bays of 737's while heated are not maintained at the same temp as the cabin. looked around online and it looks like they maintain it just above freezing. it would take quite a long time to dethaw a frozen cooler if that was the case.

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    Member power drifter's Avatar
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    When I fly back to see family I also do the newspaper and after 5.5 hrs of flying and about the same time in a car, when I open it up it hasn't even started to thaw.

  5. #5

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    Thanks, I would rather not mess with the dry ice. The part of the return journey that worries me is the final leg. It was 104 here today, but I am flying back at night so that should help.

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    Wife and I got back to Missouri this morning. Left Soldotna at 10AM, departed Anchorage @ 3:30pm with flights thru Seattle and Atlanta before landing in Kansas City this morning at 9AM. Got fish home in upper 90s temps to the freezer at about 12noon (about 23 hours out of freezer). Brought back over 300# of filets. Almost all were froze rock solid (had a few where the box liner had cracked that had a slight give when pushed on) and packed as mentioned by chico99645. No dry ice or gel packs added to any of our boxes. We have brought fish home like that the last 6 years- never dry iced or gel packed- came home prefect.

  7. #7

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    If you have access to a large enough freezer, you will add days to your shipping time if you can freeze the entire package if its insulated (Styrofoam, cooler, etc) including the box for 24 hours or longer. It helps even to have the cooler "frozen" prior to packing. Not as good as chilling everything down but better than packing it in a warm cooler. Filling the voids is a key as other have said as well.

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    Agree - you don't need ice, as long as the fish are frozen.
    FILL the cooler. I'd add extra clothing for insulation (rather than paper); may help you with your bag count.

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    Member DRIFTER_016's Avatar
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    I brought a cooler full home last year and after the 4 day road trip almost all were rock solid with a few on the top a tad soft.
    This year I will put some newspaper over top to add some more insulation to the setup.
    No ice or dry ice was used.

    FYI My cooler is a Coleman Marine 100 Qt.

  10. #10
    Member Salmon-Thirty-Salmon's Avatar
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    All good points above - I will add that as you mention some carriers, such as American, still allow those heavy styro coolers. However, if you have any flight that is "codeshared" - i.e. you bought your ticket on American but the first leg is ANC-SEA on Alaska, they do not allow [exposed] styrofoam coolers as checked baggage. Also, no carrier allows wet ice. The fish boxes with stryo lining are fine. Fish box or coolers --- freeze your fillets --- wrap em in paper --- tape them up good -- put your name and good phone number all over the box -- and you are all set. Also, if you use coolers I don't recommend anything with flimsy handles or wheels - sure they are handy to carry around, but the airline will not cover those if broken. They just aren't built for the rigors of belt systems and transfer carts...and yes a ramper moving a 50# cooler from one place to another and those cheap plastic handles with cheap plastic rivets break right off. If you have that style of cooler - tape those handles down firmly as well.

    I've always used boxes - and they last as long as a cooler. I'm still flying around with a box I got out of Dutch 14 years ago.

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