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Re: taking fish as airline baggage

Sorry about the lateness of this response, but I don't check my list mail as often anymore.

I would like to share my recent experience....

Last month I took a two-leg flight for a speaking engagement. I was transporting fish packed in my check-in. They were in a fish box and the individual bags were contained by one large shipping bag -- to contain possible leaks.

I left Minneapolis airport with the bag going through an inspection. My luggage had been opened and a note said that it was thoroughly inspected. No problem.

When I left JFK, I dropped off this luggage for the "checked bags" inspection. About 10 minutes later I was paged to return to the inspection site. I gathered my resolve and reported there. The inspector was concerned for my fish. He didn't think they would survive the flight. He had asked the airline (American) about the fish's safety, and they had no advice. I told him that I had done it several times before and that a friend of mine made an even longer flight the day before from Logan and all of his fish survived. He didn't seem completely satisfied, but he accepted my acceptance of all responsibility.

So in this case, I received no grief, just concern from the inspector. And the airlines were informed and gave no objections. I believe that the response by the airline depends both on the particular airline and by the particular person being asked. I've heard so many different stories so that I am convinced airline personnel just give whatever response he/she thinks is reasonable as he/she does not really knowing any firm policy.

Furthermore, my wife has a friend who works as an inspector. He reported that they found a whole suitcase full of illegal drugs, but they are not authorized to report this (it doesn't threaten homeland security). All they could do was put the typical notice in the luggage that it had been thoroughly inspected. So I am compelled to believe that as long as the fish are packed so as the bags won't leak water, then the checked baggage inspectors have no interest nor authority to notify the airlines or hold the luggage.

One more point about check-ins.... I brought this point up a few months ago on this list, but no one really responded to the issue. I have heard that the checked baggage x-rays are more harsh than the carry-on x-rays. I've been told that a really harsh x-ray can sterilize. Some aquarist needs to send fish through this system and then see if the fish still produce viable eggs/sperm. Then the aquarist should report this. I assume the fish are not sterilized, but one friend of mine is skeptical and suspects that they will be. Until one or more aquarists try this out and report the findings, we are just assuming.


At 12:06 PM 5/7/2003, Mike wrote:
Unfortunately I won't be able to bring anything this
time. Ever since last December, when airlines started X-raying or visually
inspecting every piece of baggage, I have found it impossible to take fish
on aircraft as baggage - carry on or checked in. Before December I could get
them on mixed in my luggage, but not now that everything going on the plain
is checked out. Some airlines will take them as air freight at a high cost,
but that is all. Have others found this to be true? Does anyone know of any
domestic US airlines that permits taking fish as baggage?

Mike Wise

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