THE FRIENDLY SKIES, U.S.A. – The next time you fly for a vacation, think about this: that friendly flight attendant offering drinks and snacks could be a prepper.
So how do airline professionals pack for a SHTF event while they’re on the job?
Rick (not his real name) is a flight attendant for one of the largest, well-known airlines in the U.S. He is a former law enforcement officer, and has been prepping for years.
Shortly after starting with the airline, he wondered how he would get home if something crazy happened while he was working. How could he pack a Bug Out or Get Home Bag considering the rules laid down by the federal Transportation Security Agency? With no knives or guns allowed, what other restrictions would he face?
He didn’t worry about something happening while he was “in the air.” He really wanted to know how to get home to his family if he got stranded at some airport connection.
So he started thinking about what he could pack on his trips while working. Then he was pleasantly surprised to learn that he wasn’t alone.
Rick didn’t realize how many airline employees are former military and law enforcement officers.
It is common practice for airlines to hire pilots from the military, but there are plenty of regular citizens working in that industry that worry about a TEOTWAWKI event happening too.
“I’ve met pilots and married couples working for airlines that are preppers,” he told a PBN reporter. It’s not just men, he added.
The Rules and Considerations that Impact Airline Employee’s Prepping
There are two key parameters that prepper airline personnel need to consider:
- TSA has strict rules about what can be in a person’s carry-on luggage, and the rules also apply to the airline employees.
- Because pilots and flight attendants often work several flights on different planes to several cities in a single workday, checking luggage is not an option.
Preps and Checked Luggage
Travelers that want to check luggage on airlines can pack virtually anything a Bug Out Bag can hold. Firearms, knives, medical supplies, food and liquids are allowed with few exceptions.
TSA rules for what can be packed in checked luggage allows for virtually all survival gear. A partial list includes:
- Stun guns
- Night sticks
- Axes and hatchets
- Various tools
In the checked luggage scenario, firearms need to be considered carefully because of various state laws and conceal carry regulations.
And, if you check luggage containing all your valuable survival gear inside, remember that airlines do lose people’s luggage. So, plan accordingly.
Carry-on Luggage and Preps
For the traveller that doesn’t want to risk the airline losing his or her luggage, or prefers their gear to be at arm’s length, the rules change. SeatGuru.com offers an expansive list with explanations of what may or may not be allowed.
For instance, if a weapon makes a Get Home Bag feel complete, think creatively for carry-on luggage. Good replacements include:
One other thought that seemed ingenious was the idea of body armor. No prepper wants to bring a plate carrier on to a plane, but having some kind of plate in your bag should be legal. Some companies sell backpacks with plates.
Rick packs a “trauma plate.” He categorizes that as “something protective is better than nothing.” However, if you go this route, expect a long conversation with TSA before packing body armor in your carry-on luggage. And check state and local laws.
What the Prepper Airline Pros Pack
Rick suggests using a backpack as one of two allowed carry-on bags. Obviously, no one wants to walk a few hundred miles with luggage.
Here’s the contents of Rick’s TSA-compliant, carry-on Get Home Bag, and a few extras for good measure.
Food and water:
- Water purification tablets
- Emergency food ration vacuum sealed (S.O.S. brand, Mainstay 3600,
- Hydro bladder (Camelbak or similar)
- Range finder
- Reference guide (The Pocket Reference Guide, maps, etc.)
- “How To” survival book (356 Essential Survival Skills, How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It, SAS Survival Guide, etc.)
- Backpack (As a passenger, this can one of your two carry-on bags. You may also consider a lightweight backpack that can fold into your luggage. Or you may want to purchase a backpack as you begin your trek home.)
- Hand sanitizer
- Underwear (some experts suggest compression shorts to save space and facilitate walking long distances)
- Cargo pants
- Tactical instructor belt
- Baseball cap
- Scarf (cold weather specific)
- Mylar blankets (Note: Mylar products don’t offer concealment, but are very lightweight, and effective.)
- Mylar tent
- Mylar sleeping bag
- Specialized lightweight tarp
- Camping Pillow
- Flint and steel
- Large flex ties
- Individual First Aid Kit (Blades are not allowed, but a short pair of shears is OK.)
- Handcuffs (“Just in case I need to restrain someone,” Rick says.)
- Gun cable lock (“Think a Masterlock with a long cable. It loops nicely through the MOLLE, and adds no weight nor does it take up space.” Any type of lightweight locking device with enough length to lock several items will suffice.)
- Trauma plate (Rick carries this from his days as a LEO. While it’s a genius idea, research state laws before packing this.)
Rick says to bring enough money to purchase whatever you might need if you must find another way home. Items to consider for an emergency purchase include a knife, other weapons (potentially), food, water, appropriate clothing, and other equipment.
Also, keep in mind that armed Air Marshals are flying on many planes these days. If a SHTF event takes place, keep an eye out for someone handling the situation like a “professional.” He or she could be your new best friend.
Clearly, this list can be adjusted for seasonal changes, destinations, and personal preferences. But knowing that your next bag of peanuts is possibly coming from a prepper might make flying a little easier and a little more interesting.