Air freight

Joe Duxbury

If anyone has had caving kit air-freighted abroad for an expedition, would they tell me which company or companies they have used, and what their experience was with them?
Is it better to use such companies to get the kit through customs, rather than try to do this yourself, at some foreign airport?


Well-known member
We used TNT (couriers not explosives!) to move our equipment to Crete and back for the SUSS 2006 expedition, allowing us all to fly cheap airlines. From memory it was a single pallet weighing about 200-300kg. Can't remember price unfortunately. Service was very good, took about a week either way (cheapest deal). We packed it quite badly on the way back and a drill box fell out somewhere on the way. They found it and posted it to us within a couple days, which was good.
This year we drove the gear out ourselves to save cash. Worked out more expensive in the end!!  o_O

Joel Corrigan

New member
I would say it depends upon where you're going. I've arranged sea freight for expeditions to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea and both times used the same shipping company. I won't give you their details because they were shite!  But essentially it's not hard to find a firm that will send your stuff abroad. Dozens of them around Heathrow.  Lots of things to take into consideration for shipping/air freight, though, including type of containers (some countries don't accept crates made from certain products, I think), bill of lading, insurance, etc...  You need to allow considerably more time for shipping than the agent tells you, though, but this can obviously lead to storage issues if it arrives too far ahead of schedule. Probably not such a concern with air freight.

In NZ we got a friend to nip down to the port and do the customs paperwork. Just had to produce the bill of lading, I think.  In PNG we had to use a local company to deal with the customs clearance and it was a long and tedious affair.  I imagine that it's not going to be too dissimilar for air freight.  So again, depends where you're going, I'd say.

Both times it was sea-freight rather than air freight.  I might be able to advise more depending upon destination as have plenty of contacts in various places.  Oh, and I know a CDG member who is a commercial pilot so he may be useful. 


This link might shed some light on the subject,
though it, like all the others seems to be a little vague on what is considered as D.A.C. or Dangerous Air Cargo.
I know from experience that some seemingly innocuous items can fall into this category, like some batteries, especially the wet cell ones. Diving bottles can also be a problem sometimes,as can some types of survey kit such as Clino's if they contain alcohol or some oils. Anything containing Mercury is a MEGA NO NO, :read: (I have seen at least one Aeroplane written off because of a broken thermometer  :eek: ).

Best advice would be to ask whichever carrier You choose to supply a full list of D.A.C. items, and their recommendations regarding packing.


I thought diving cylinders were OK, provided they are empty. I've checked cylinders in as luggage on a plane more than once without any problem. Has this situation changed?



My mistake, they do have to be empty, should have said, Life Jackets, daft as it sounds, because they're under your seat anyway,along with a small, highly flamable explosive device,( Emergency Oxy candle), they have been known to be problematic,with some carriers....just for fun, try checking in a parachute as hand luggage,  :clap: they definitely don't like that one.