Recently this topic came up in the Poi Theory Group. Can I Fly with my fire poi? We’ve all asked this question, but each and every time we fly, there’s always a fear in the back of our mind that our toys won’t be there when we open our bags. And, due to the extremely differing nature of airport security, I’m sure it has happened. I’m here to depart my knowledge, as well as the knowledge of others, on how to fly with your toys, and hopefully not lose them. It’s worked for me thus far.
No matter what you bring, whether it be fire, LED, or even stage props such as contact poi, you as the passenger must have the attitude of compliance with the TSA and all other foreign carriers. They are like Gods in the airport, and if they don’t like your attitude, your stuff is not going to make it. Once you have the right attitude, the next step you must take is preparation.
Nobody accidentally ends up on a plane. So, it’s only safe to assume that you have time to do a few simple preparations before you fly. It only takes 5 minutes, and very little in the way of materials to almost guarantee that your stuff isn’t confiscated. For poi, make sure that you put your fire poi into a separate zip lock bag, and write “performance tools” or “circus gear”. Something which clearly explains to them that these are professional performance tools. Then you must ALWAYS check them. Trying to take fire poi via carry on is like betting on a blind hand. You have no idea what’s going to set them off, and if they do ask you what it is, it won’t sound very good having to tell them it’s anything associated with fire. If they don’t like it, you’ll end up throwing them away. Which means that, unfortunately, if you’re flying with fire toys, you’re checking a bag. And while LED poi are not suspicious to us, electronic equipment always puts the TSA on edge. Checking those isn’t a terrible idea either.
For hoops, it’s a bit trickier. There’s not way to hide a hoop, and you already have to check them in. But most airport personal have never seen something so round and large before. Oftentimes, no matter whether it’s a fire hoop, LED hoop, or just a normal hoop, they’ll have to call the manager over and check them out. Sometimes they’ve tried to charge me an oversize luggage fee, which can be a staggering $75-$100! Luckily, we’ve never had to pay that fee, and here are a few ways you can avoid that fate:
- For normal hoops, bring the smallest diameter hoops you’re comfortable playing with. The smaller it is, the less likely they’ll care.
- For multiple hoops, tape your hoops together at several places. We usually tape 5-6 times around all of our hoops. They don’t like the idea of hoops everywhere, and taping them together = 1 bag.
- For LED hoops, if they give you trouble on size, you can undo the joint, and roll it slightly tighter, then tape it. It’ll make the hoop smaller, and that usually appeases them. Just make sure they understand that it’s fragile, and you can only roll it SO much.
- For fire hoops, removable wicks are best. Take them off, and put them in a separate bag labeled “performance tools”. If your wicks aren’t removable, place zip lock or plastic bags around the wicks, and tape the bags in place. Also, if you have bendy wicks, try taping the wicks down to the hoop.
- If they still want to charge you, or are giving you a hard time, let them know that you’ve traveled with these before, and have never had a problem. Little white lies like this aren’t a big deal, and for some reason it tends to put their minds at ease.
I’ve never traveled with a staff, or buugeng, or any other large props, but I imagine similar rules apply. CHECK THEM IN! If anyone has any other advice, please feel free to comment.
Here’s what Alien Jon had to say on the matter in the Poi Theory forum,
At this point, whether I’m checking stuff or doing carry-on, I use gallon ziplock bags to contain everything (flowlights, charger, extra batteries, fire poi, etc). I label them juggling props in sharpie on the ziplocks with a few word description. For fire poi I put the chains in a separate ziplock from the wicks.
That’s our advice, and while it may not always work, it’s what’s worked for us. Good luck and safe travels!
Creator of GyroPulse and Co-Founder of The Gyronauts. Social Media Manager at Saatchi NY. Loving the Hoop since 2006. Loving the Poi since 2007. Loving the Burn since 2007 More from this author