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Thread: Taking fish home as checked baggage on planes, any problems?

  1. #1
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    Default Taking fish home as checked baggage on planes, any problems?

    Guys, I'm in Homer right now and have caught a decent amount of halibut from my 2 trips so far. I plan on checking these fish home after they're vacuum packed and frozen. I talked to some people on the fishing trip and they said that in the past that the fish were checked as baggage a portion of the fish were stolen/missing.

    Has anyone ever had this problem w/ shipping your catch home w/ you as checked baggage?

    Any tips to do it right?

  2. #2
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    Default Fish Air

    Just sent the last relative home for the year, and with a cooler full
    of fish. Vacumn packed and frozen, added 4 frozen cold packs.
    From Anchorage to New Orleans and frozen solid upon arrival.
    Worked well for us.

  3. #3
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    Default Sent PM...

    Subject says it all...
    When all else fails...ask your old-man.


    AKArcher

  4. #4
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
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    Default

    Generally no problems unless your bags meet up with a crooked greedy TSA inspector.

    The only other problem is if your luggage gets lost. All the fish from our 2004 trip was lost.... ended up in Chicago instead of Seattle. Didn't find it for 6 days and without refrigeration.

    All of this year's fish made it just fine.
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone."
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
    The KeenEye MD

  5. #5
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    Default Almost twenty years and over a ton...

    You read that heading correctly. During all those times my checked fish were never lost, stolen, or tampered with.

    Then again, it's bound to happen sometime and I am way overdue...

    http://www.alaskanauthor.com

  6. #6
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    Default Anchorage to Bangor, Maine

    Anchorage to Las Vegas(96 degrees at this airport) to Philadelphia to Bangor, Maine. Total 16 hours flying time and four hours driving time this past June. No lost fish and they were still frozen when we got back.
    Had them frozen and packed in a cooler (no added ice). Duct taped the cooler seal and around the cooler. Worked fine.
    If you take the woods out of the woodsman you have nothing left but a man in the woods.

  7. #7
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    Default

    I have taken fish and king crab when going outside to visit relatives and friends and relatives have taken their fair share home as checked bags. Usually I make sure its one of my two allowed so they don't charge me the $50 extra bag fee. Never had any disappear. I started using the styrofoam lined cardboard fish boxes and all have remained frozen after 16 hours.

  8. #8

    Default First Class

    We got back a little over a week ago. We all used miles to upgrade to first class so we could get all our fish on as checked luggage. Northwest allows 2 70lb and 1 40lb package for each first class passenger. We did better than we expected on Halibut and needed every once of our allowance.

    The 4 of us each used 2 62qt for the 70lb boxes and 1 fish box for the 40lb. All the fish in the 62qt coolers was still frozen solid, while the top fish in the boxes were just starting to thaw. In total the fish were in the coolers/boxes for about 20 hrs. So everything for us worked out well.

  9. #9
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    Default

    hope they don't lose it, I shipped vacuum sealed salmon with the wife to South Carolina and it got there fine. The return favor was that she would bring back shrimp from the father in law, that did not arrive and had to claim it. I got a call from Delta, which she did not fly home with and said "We have a cooler here and it is putting off a nice little smell, you might want to come get it" that was a week later. Hope works out but there is that chance.

  10. #10

    Default

    Annually, I have 60 groups of 4-5 fishermen per group, totaling more than200+ fishermen going all across the country via plane after catching fish with me. I usually hear of 1 or 2 per year that have their fish disappeared.

    My recommendation is to contact the airline and complain little good it will do but maybe some financial restitution. Even if you don’t get money back I would contact the captain of the boat, the lodge you stayed in, or the packing company. They all have invested interest with ensuring your package makes it home successfully so you can feed your friends and tell them about your trip.

    Usually, by the end of the season they have so much left over fish (yes, some fishermen catch and pay to package more fish then they can take home) they will gladly send you a box for the cost of shipping.

    It is not the same as your own fish, but at least it is something to stock the freezer with.

  11. #11
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    Default

    OK, I made it home this morning w/ all 230 pounds of Halibut. Other than one torn box at the cardboard corner everything is perfect. No gel packs and the fish was still frozen in the styrofoam box packed by Coal Point.

    Now let's see how it taste......

  12. #12

    Default Be safe

    Play it safe and ship it Fed-ex. If they open your box to inspect your fish they might go bad. Fed-ex has no problem like that and they can keep it frozen too

  13. #13
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    Default Frozen Fish Checked as Luggage Survives Desert Delays

    Fellow angler, I report the following:

    Taking every precaution for proper fish-preservation including immediate gilling, and timely filleting and transport to commercial freezers while in Alaska, our Alaska sportcaught fish (halibut, kings and reds) were VPF at three sources on the Kenai Peninsula: AfishHunt in Ninilchik, Peninsula Processing in Soldotna, and Captain Jack's in Seward. AfishHunt's shoddy VPF process required about 40% to be re-vacuumed and others are questionable. The quality of Peninsula Processing's work was excellent with 100% of the packages extremely tightly packed with no air. Captain Jack's work was also excellent, but Mark there desrves extra acclaim by accomodating our late night drop off (after 11pm) and very short notice last drop off of fish to be added to our order on the morning we left (with pickup in one hour). They delivered a perfectly vac-packed fish with the most professionalism and economy.

    Our fish was tightly packed in our fish boxes: one a recycled box from Ed's Kasilof with a two-piece "AquaPak" styrofoam box inside cardboard and the other a Coleman 40-qt cooler. The VPF fish was tightly packed with newspaper and the AquaPak contained two gel packs. While the Coleman should have been filled with reds, its volume was supplemented with one gel pack, two sets of waders and my laptop, tightly packed.

    Removing the fish from freezers, we drove from Seward to Anchorage and, checked as baggage in first class (to gain the 70-lb per box priviledge and other accomodations (like checking one more large bag as a courtesy), we alit in 5 hours. We had to sign a waiver for spoilage due to any delays in transit. I assume the high-elevation flight of 6.5 hours to Vegas was mostly cold storage in the cargo hold. At hour 11.5 in Vegas, USAirways cancelled our next flight (mechanical) requiring our fish to change planes and delayed departure of our flight to Phoenix for another 4 hours. One hour later in Phoenix, our ground transit took another 1.5 hrs for a total out-of-freezer time of 17 hours.

    The fish was almost entirely still hard-frozen, with the exception of those last reds which Cap'n Jack's VP'd and froze for one hour and even those were still acceptably cold. Everything is still sushi-grade!

    I'd like to learn exactly how long fish cared for and transported in this way can last without any damage. That information would have set my mind at peace whereas I wasted a lot of energy fretting about this fish during its delays in the 100-degree desert valleys of Vegas and Phoenix.

    Laser Landin'.

  14. #14
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    Default AK Sportfish Survives 6 hours of 100° Heat

    Fellow gourmet anglers, I report the following in June, 2007:

    Taking every precaution for proper fish-preservation including immediate gilling, and timely filleting and transport to commercial freezers while in Alaska, our Alaska sportcaught fish (halibut, kings and reds) were vacuum packed and frozen (VPF) at three sources on the Kenai Peninsula: AfishHunt in Ninilchik, Peninsula Processing in Soldotna, and Captain Jack's in Seward. AfishHunt's shoddy VPF process required about 40% to be re-vacuumed and others are still questionable. The quality of Peninsula Processing's work was excellent with 100% of the packages extremely tightly packed with no air. Captain Jack's work was also excellent, but Mark there deserves extra acclaim by accommodating our late night drop off (after 11pm) and very short notice last drop off of fish to be added to our order on the morning we left (with pickup in one hour). They delivered a perfectly vac-packed fish with the most professionalism and economy and even band-strapped our box and cooler securely.

    Our fish was tightly packed in our fish boxes: one a recycled box from Ed's Kasilof with a two-piece "AquaPak" styrofoam box inside cardboard and the other a Coleman 40-qt cooler. All of this VPF'd fish was tightly packed with newspaper and the AquaPak contained two gel packs. While I should have been able to fill the Coleman with reds (curse my un-landed ratio this time), its volume was supplemented with one gel pack, two sets of waders and my laptop, tightly packed.

    Removing the fish from freezers, we drove from Seward to Anchorage and, checked as baggage in first class (to gain the 70-lb per box privilege and other accommodations (like checking one more large bag as a courtesy), we alit in 5 hours. We had to sign a waiver for potential spoilage due to any delays in transit. I assume the high-elevation flight of 6.5 hours to Vegas was mostly cold storage in the cargo hold. Landing in Vegas 11.5 hours into fish transit , USAirways cancelled our next flight (mechanical) requiring our fish to change planes and delayed departure of our flight to Phoenix for another 4 hours. One hour later in Phoenix, our ground transit took another 1.5 hrs for a total out-of-freezer time of 18 hours with a third of that in 100-degree heat.

    Upon arrival home, the fish was almost entirely still hard-frozen, with the exception of those last reds which Cap'n Jack's VPF'd for only one hour and even those were still very nicely cold. Now safely in our cold storage, everything is still sushi-grade!

    I'd like to know exactly how long fish cared for and transported in this way can last without any damage. By knowing the bounds of the heating curves, one’s mind could be at peace, free from anxiety about their precious fish if it encounters any significant delays in 100-degree heat.

    Has anyone already seen any published graphs or tables of thermodynamic data related to the transport of sportcaught fish and/or have any other related experiences more extreme than mine?

    Keith C. Evanson, PhD.
    Med Laser Sourcing, LLC
    Gilbert, Arizona
    land: (480)759-7355
    river: (480)239-6108

  15. #15
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    Default Fish as baggage

    We have brought fish home as checked luggage when we flew into MPLS.
    Have used coolers & soft sided insulated bags we bought at Sams Club.They happen to be the right size. Did not even have freezer packs. All got here fine.Even sent a bag home as carry on with the boys when they came up to fish last yr.as they had there own checked fish coolers. Also sent the boxes UPS here to WI. They were shipped out at 4:00 & got here at 10:00 the next am. All the fish have been frozen when they get here.
    Hope to have a lot more fish to bring home this yr. Fly up on July 1st.
    Good luck on yours.

  16. #16

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    Do you guys completely seal the coolers before checking them? Isn't it guarantied that TSA will open them, and not seal them right again?

  17. #17
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    Default Packing fish ...

    When I fly out of Kenai I never tape my box before going to the airport as TSA is going to open it and inspect it. They then tape it for you. Haven't had a problem yet with missing fish or fish not frozen when I get back to Colorado.

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