Well folks, it's getting close to that time again, when questions start popping up about the best way to ship meat, hides and antlers home from Alaska. And guys like me start pointing people to the archives where we've written volumes of info on the topic already. Okay, okay, I'll give it one more go, this time with an Alaska Airlines twist, since they're passenger carrier serving Alaska with the most available seats and greatest frequency of flights.
Certain federal requirements must be met with respect to interstate transport of game meat and trophies. This is especially true with labeling and such. Also remember that the inter-state transport of an illegally taken big-game animal is a felony under the Lacey Act, and could land you in jail.
AIR CARRIER POLICIES
Every air carrier has slightly different policies concerning the transport of game meat and trophies. This includes cargo carriers as well as passenger airlines. For example, some cargo carriers (such as Northern Air Cargo) will allow you to simply toss your game bags on a pallet and they'll forklift it right onto an airplane. When you pick it up in Anchorage, it will be sitting there on a pallet for you. Other carriers require that the meat is placed inside a plastic bag, then inside a wet-lock box (a fish box). There are a number of reasons for this, mostly having to do with protecting other people's belongings from blood and other fluids from your meat and trophies.
ALASKA AIRLINES POLICIES
The largest carrier flying passengers in and out of the state of Alaska is Alaska Airlines. They have a lot of information available online that covers their policies on meat and trophy transport. Here is a synopsis of their current policies concerning the transport of meat and raw hides.
1. Shipment(s) must be tendered for transportation a minimum of 2 hours prior to flight arrival.
2. Minimum tender time 2 hours.
3. Must be encased in a heavy-duty polyethylene bag regardless of outer packaging.
4. Must be in leak proof outer container (no Styrofoam).
5. Must have no noticeable odors.
6. Maximum weight per piece 100 pounds.
7. Labeled appropriately (FROZEN OR COOL). NOTE: Some airports don't provide coolers or freezers, and your meat / hides may sit outside.
8. Dry ice (up to 5 pounds) or gel ice can be used. No wet ice allowed. NOTE: In most cases, simply freezing the meat will suffice instead of ice.
9. Interline shipments (those transferring from one carrier to another) accepted subject to meeting connecting carrier's rules and regulations.
10. Cooler or freezer space not guaranteed.
11. Federal Lacey Act requires specific labeling of all interstate shipments.
12. All charges must be prepaid.
13. All surfaces must be clean of blood and dirt.
14. Alaska Airlines has specific policies with regard to shipments of antlers; be sure to read their publication on the Antler Express program at alaskacargo.com under "Fishing & Hunting".
Best of luck to all of you this fall!