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Can you fly with a yeti cooler? (Explained)

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Can You Fly With a Yeti Cooler?

A Yeti cooler is one of the more convenient ice chests to fly with. Though there are a few things you should do stay in the good graces of the TSA and the FAA.

While you can fly with a Yeti cooler, each airline will have their own rules on what size cooler you can check before incurring an oversized bag fee. Most restrict the size of cooler you can bring to the equivalent of the Yeti 6500 or smaller. 

You can put up to 5-pounds of dry ice inside the cooler, or even a small bag of clothes. Though you need to make sure the TSA inspectors can easily open and inspect the cooler at their whim. 

Should You Fly with a Yeti Cooler?

Flying with a Yeti cooler is your best option for bringing back fresh or frozen meat or seafood from an epic outdoor adventure. Every year thousands of destination anglers and public land hunters flying with stocked Yeti coolers checked into the cargo bay of a plane.

Though flying with a Yeti cooler isn’t the most convenient way of travel, and probably isn’t worth it for a more casual vacation.

How to Fly with a Yeti Cooler

There are some important regulations to be mindful of to be able to fly with a Yeti cooler or any other type of ice chest.

Just like all checked baggage, the cooler must meet the weight and size restrictions mandated by the airline. Each carrier is different, so make sure to check their rules well in advance.

Most will accept the Yeti 6500 or smaller without incurring an oversized bag fee.

The TSA will also need to be able to access the interior of the cooler. Consider replacing any sort of security padlock with a threaded bolt with washers and a finger-tight nut.

Can You Check a Cooler with Dry Ice on an Airplane?

Each airline has their own requirements on how much dry ice you can transport per person. The FAA sets the maximum limit at 5.5 pounds.

Yeti Cooler Travel Tips:

If You’re Flying with a Cooler Can It Be Filled? 

Technically the TSA will let you check a filled cooler. However, it needs to use completely frozen, sealed cold packs or up to 5.5 pounds of dry ice.

You also need to make sure that the TSA inspectors can easily access the interior of the cooler. If you like to padlock your cooler, you can simply replace the lock with a threaded bolt, washers and nuts that are finger tight.

This will let the TSA open and inspect the contents of your cooler before it goes on the plane without cutting the lock off. 90% of the time they put the bolt back on to keep your cooler sealed for the rest of the flight.

When flying with a cooler you also need to be mindful of the food and agricultural restrictions of your destination. Some states like Hawaii and many countries have restrictions about what is allowed through customs.

Does the Cooler Have to be Empty

A cooler doesn’t have to be empty to be checked onto a plane, or even used as a carry-on bag. Many people who fly with a cooler will put a small clothing bag in the empty cooler for the flight out.

You just have to make sure that the TSA can get easy access to the cooler to inspect the contents. If you padlock the cooler, the TSA will likely cut it, but if you attach threaded bolts, they’ll likely reseal it again for you afterward. 

Final Thoughts

I find it convenient to be able to bring a Yeti cooler when flying on a remote fishing or hunting trip. Being able to send my catch back home with me and safely chilled is much cheaper and more reassuring than having a co-packing processor ship it to my home with overnight fees attached!

The trick to flying with a Yeti cooler is to make sure that you are making it as easy as possible on the TSA. This includes limiting the amount of dry ice you use to 5 pounds or less, and keeping it under the size of a Yeti 6500.  

I’ve found that if you seal the Yeti cooler with a threaded bolt, washers and nuts that the TSA inspectors will put everything back together for you about 90 to 95% of the time. If you padlock the cooler, they’ll cut it off with bolt cutters to inspect the contents and just send it down the line unsecured. 

Even when you’re flying out, the cooler doesn’t have to be empty. You can stuff a small bag of clothes or disposable items inside the cooler and them simply check it like you would any other hard-sided bag.