View Full Version : Flying a saddle... to Europe?

Mar. 26, 2011, 05:36 PM
Hey guys, so I just found out I am going for a few weeks to go ride in Europe and my saddle needs to come with me. I know within North America it is very easy to fly with them as carry on or as fragile, as you can explain to the security what a saddle is, and that there is no contraband inside of it. However here is the dilemma, we have a connection in Austria and no one I am flying with speaks the language. To get the saddle over there I will be fine to explain to the security in Canada that this is a harmless item, and on our way back from the destination I can also speak the language. I am just really concerned with the Austrian airport and see it going either one of these ways:
a) saddle is shredded searching for drugs or other contraband while I stand their crying on the sidelines at the first round of security

b) saddle has to be left at the gate because the boarding security does not clear it and it ends up in the garbage because I wont have time to go put it into the cabin (not that doing that would make it any better, as the tree would get crushed) again this situation would make me cry

My coach said when he flew down to Florida he checked it into fragile, I have no idea how that works though, or if I even have that option. I was thinking of doing carry on, but I am nervous about the second round security not clearing it.

Has anyone flown a saddle over there before? I was planning on calling the airline one of these days, but I just wanted to see what others would suggest


Mar. 26, 2011, 06:09 PM
yes I did fly a saddle and I guess I got really lucky on that one.

Like you, I had in mind to get it in as "carry on", but I was not allowed to.
what I should mention is I was flying from Paris, stopping in Austria, or Germany, cant remember , then heading to Miami.
They did not tell me WHY i could not take it, their excuse was " it will never fit in the carry on " although they were right for the first airplane, the second one had enough space for a saddle.
as you know, when the plane goes up, and when you land, everything must be up on the "closet" or under your front seat.
My saddle would not have fit but on my lap on the first airplane, so I guess their " excuse" was right LOL :D
the second one though, I was really upset I could not take it, the trip was longer, more people meant more luggage crushing my saddle :cry:

because I was arguing with the security guard, and was late for my plane, I had to added with my other luggage with no other protection but the bubble wrapping at the airport.
I was lucky my saddle came in intact, as if nothing had happened, but I was ready to fight the french airport if it would have. ;) not that it would have take me anywhere :lol:

Flashy Gray VA
Mar. 26, 2011, 06:29 PM
Call the airline and inquire about your options for carrying on fragile items and security requirements, period.

Have you ever travelled to Europe previously? They do speak English no problem in Austria in addition to German and other regional languages. I'd be shocked if you have any issues getting proper assistance during your transfer.

And I doubt you'll be standing around crying while someone willfully damages your saddle, either.

Pixie - sorry, but did you think they'd really let you carry a large heavy object on your lap during a flight? It's got to be secured, I don't think they were offering an "excuse." Why get in a fight about it?

I have a few close friends in commercial aviation, both pilots and flight attendants. Seriously, picking fights with personnel over clearly written safety issues will simply never get you anywere.

Mar. 26, 2011, 06:31 PM
You could ship it back to the states, fully insured. This way you can track it and if something happened to it, replace it. I bought a saddle from Europe and it arrived safe and sound. UPS does international shipping from the US and several countries world wide. I would contact them and see what they can offer.

T-storm chick
Mar. 26, 2011, 10:29 PM
Check the carry-on policy for your airline. US airlines in general conform to the "one carry-on plus a personal item" policy put forth by the TSA, which should allow you to take your saddle as your larger carry-on and then have a small bag with you such as a purse, laptop case, etc. If you are flying with other clothing, etc., in this situation it will probably mean paying to check an additional bag. Even though I am Canadian, I have not flown domestically on a Canadian airline in many years and I am not sure what they allow for carry-on bags at this time. Many international carriers enforce a ONE carry-on bag policy. If you carry your saddle on as the one bag and bring another very small piece of luggage with you in the cabin, you should be able to squeak by. Again, you will probably be checking your clothing, etc. in this situation.
If you wind up checking your saddle--put it in a CRUSH PROOF container, wrapped and padded so it can't move too much inside the box. Some airlines will put fragile stickers on things but if they do this they usually make you sign a waiver--and I would not trust that your item marked fragile will be treated any better than it would be otherwise.
If you can afford to, shipping it with an international courier like FedEx, UPS, etc. might be a good option. I would trust them to handle it better than an airline, but would still go for a crush proof container. You can get an idea of what it will cost by putting dimensions and weights into the calculators they have on their websites. It would probably be much cheaper to take it with you on the plane, though. My guess is FedEx from Ontario to Austria for a saddle would be in the neighborhood of $250 one way.

Mar. 27, 2011, 11:49 AM
You can get a hard case for it and check it just like the rest of your luggage if you are really concerned. I have carried mine on several times (putting the stirrups, which can be considered weapons, go figure) in my checked bag.

You can carry it on, most of the time - removing the stirrups and rolling the flaps, to ensure it fits in the overhead compartment. Or you could ship it there and back... using Fedx or similar.

Mar. 27, 2011, 01:56 PM
Rest assured that the average airport security employee in Austria will absolutely know what a saddle is. Europe is extremely horse friendly, and unless you're flying from a shady destination, your saddle will be just find. Additionally, you won't have any problem in Europe if none of you speak the languages- you'll do just fine speaking to any airport security employees in English.

Carry it on as you would in the states, and don't worry about it.

Mar. 27, 2011, 04:57 PM
Thanks everyone! We are calling the airline tomorrow, upon initial measurements it seems like it will fit in the overhead or under the seat for both airlines we need to catch. We just need to figure out if we need any specific security clearance for the tree and stirrup bars. And if they wont let it fly in the cabin they have options to send it in a section designated for sports equipment and musical instruments we are looking into that. I just need to find a crush proof box if thats the case. Any one know where to find one of those? My friend who works for UPS or one of those companies said she sees people ship in rubbermaid totes with a bunch of padding inside. All I could find for crush proof boxes were fishing ones.

Mar. 27, 2011, 05:57 PM
When I flew with my saddle in the States I had no problem getting it through security to carry on. I too took my stirrups off and rolled the flaps. The first plane I was on was smaller however and it was a bit of a struggle getting it in/out of the overhead bin. My connecting plane was much larger but was packed so people kept piling their luggage on top of it. I would call the airline ahead of time but you should be fine carrying it on. Just try and sure people don't start shifting it and cramming stuff on top of it once it's in the overhead.

Have fun in Europe!

Mar. 28, 2011, 03:11 PM
Hey guys, just an update, we called Austrian airlines they said it should not be a problem to carry it on if it fits in the dimensions allowed. And that we should just let security know ahead of time about all the metal in it, so that they do not find it themselves. They basically said that they have no control over what security allows and denies, however they said it shouldn't be an issue. Now I am on the hunt to find the perfect saddle bag for it lol.


Mar. 28, 2011, 04:39 PM
Where are you going in Europe? :D

Mar. 28, 2011, 07:37 PM
Slovenia mostly, but we also plan to go to Italy and Hungary :)