You guys rock!
I was very nervous and in panic mode last night. I went to TSA and they allow fishing rods and poles so I was going to go with that if asked.
I really appreciate it.
If the TSA and airline "rules" were fixed and applied consistently, life with kites would be much easier. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, they aren't. Some will tell you that they use their Rev roll-up bag as a carry on and haven't been stopped. But, since the Rev bag doesn't even come close to meeting the carry-on size limits, some folks have been hit with gate checking and/or excess baggage fees. If you don't mind gambling and are able to go with the flow, that's not really a problem.
If you want to be as hassle free as possible, get a copy of the airline rules and carry it with you. It won't guarantee that you'll not be questioned, but it'll set the tone that you've already checked and are probably in compliance with the rules. I once heard, that when confronted, David Gomberg makes a bet with the individual ... if David's right he gets an upgrade and if he's wrong he'll pay the extra fees with a smile. BTW ... buy David a drink some time and ask him if he likes to mess with TSA.
I travel with both Revs and big kites, hate to bet on a friendly TSA agent, and hate to pay for extra baggage. Thus, this is my methodology:
The Rev rods are pulled from my kites and inserted into a $20 fly rod
case that has been cut down to slightly less than the airline maximum. If you tell the average person that you fly kites, they wonder if you're taking your meds ... but, if they see you with a fly rod case they tend to say "yes sir" a lot. The fly rod case counts as a personal item.
The large kites and inflatables are all spar-less. Those go into a compression sack ... amazing how much they can hold. The sack is sized to meet the carry-on maximums. Actually, since the sides assume a round shape, it's a little too wide for the official maximum size limits. But, if called on it or I find the overhead compartment is too slim, the compression straps are let out a little and one of the side dimensions is squeezed to fit. Again, this is my carry-on piece of luggage.
The checked piece of luggage contains the Rev kites (rolled up around a piece of water pipe insulation), ground stakes for the Rev (buy some cheap re-bar stakes for the large kites if you can't borrow some at the flying field), lines, straps, etc.. And, the rest of the room is given over to clothes.
The only hiccup I've had with this process was coming out of Mexico one time when they wanted to do a boarding inspection on my compression bag. I was one of the last dozen people to board the aircraft, they'd just smiled and waved through a guy that looked like one of the FBI's top ten most wanted terrorists, and now they want to inspect the compression sack of a white haired old man!!! My wife keeps telling me not to tilt at windmills ... well, her actual words are "don't be so childish." Couldn't help it ... went into a passive aggressive mode ... told them they were welcome to inspect it, but it would take at least ten minutes ... and it did ... I made sure of that!! After the inspection, everyone was most helpful to see that I got to the plane without any further delay ... seems I was the last to board.