I REACHED THE MONARCH AIRPORT CHECK-IN to discover that, although the company had taken the money from my bank account, there was no computer record of my booking for excess baggage.
This resulted in hasty repacking of some of the contents of one bag into the other, and sending the remaining stuff back from Gatwick to Twickenham in a rather expensive taxi.
Luckily, Monarch offers a 5kg additional free allowance to divers on production of a PADI certification card.
The check-in clerk would not accept my BSAC, TDI, SSI or any other card, and I had to rummage around for a PADI Instructor card that I had been awarded rather a long time ago.
He studied the photograph, and I was sure he was going to accuse me of stealing it from some handsome, youthful-looking diver, but he resisted.
It had not been a good start to my trip but I was grateful that I had with me the capacious and otherwise simple Seac Flight Mate bag. It meant that I could just chuck the extra stuff in before the sighs of those behind me in the queue got any worse.

The Bag
The Flight Mate is made from tough 1600-denier polyester fabric in a simple rectangular shape measuring 75 x 42 x 32cm. It weighs 3.5kg empty, and internal volume is 100 litres.
It has a single external pocket, which I found useful for cable-ties with which I sealed the bag shut, and the small penknife with which I could later cut the ties to open it. You don’t want to get caught with a pen knife in your carry-on.
A double-action zip runs around three sides, giving easy access.
There’s a carrying handle and an extending handle for dragging the bag on its trolley wheels, and this is zipped away safely when not in use. The wheels are wide-spaced, so there is no annoying falling-over when towing the Flight Mate over uneven surfaces.
I can’t tell you much more about it except that it has served me for two trips to the Red Sea without yet sustaining any damage, but is relatively inexpensive to buy.

Aqua Lung Traveller 1550, £129
Scubapro Caravan, £115
TUSA RB Roller, £132

VOLUME 100 litres
WEIGHT 3.5kg
CONTACT DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%