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Think Tank announces Airport line of carry-on compliant camera bags

By dpreview staff on May 4, 2012 at 02:18 GMT

Bag maker Think Tank has announced an update to its Airport series of camera bags. Designed to meet the restrictions imposed by airlines on carry-on luggage, the series includes a model designed for international flight as well as smaller versions for space-limited short-haul flying. The three bags are all designed with room for an iPad and increasingly large laptops, and give clear indications of the camera bodies and lenses they will accommodate. All three come with a seam-sealed rain covers.

Think Tank Photo to Release Three Travel-Specific Backpacks

Santa Rosa, Calif. – Think Tank Photo announced today that in May it will release the Airport™ series, a new line of travel-specific, high-capacity camera backpacks designed with maneuvering through airports quickly in mind. The three backpacks – the Airport Accelerator, Airport Commuter, and Airport Essentials -- integrate quick access pockets for both laptops and iPad, a top pocket for boarding passes, and three robust handles to ensure easy placement and retrieval from overhead bins.

The Airport™ series makes life easier for the traveling photographer. All meet international carry on size requirements. The two smaller bags, the Airport Commuter and the Airport Essentials, are designed to fit under-seat in regional commuter planes.

Their light, adjustable, contoured harness provides comfort along with lumbar support. The air mesh paneling keeps backs cool. The height-adjustable sternum strap

allows for the perfect fit. A removable waist belt, side water bottle pocket, tripod/ monopod mounting system and seam sealed rain cover extend their versatility.

Adding even more functionality, these backpacks can be used with Think Tank’s Pro Speed Belts for additional support and capacity by adding component pouches and cases from the company’s Modular Rotation Component System.

“For photographers who travel by air, these bags deliver on the three “C’s”: Carry-on size, Comfort, Capacity,” said Doug Murdoch, Think Tank’s co-founder and lead designer. “Their design, build quality and functionality are second to none.”

The three sizes allow photographers to select the best fit for their needs.

  • Airport Accelerator accommodates two pro size DSLRs, six to eight standard zooms, a 500 f/4.0, iPad, and up to a 17” laptop. The largest of the three, this one has a padded removable waist belt.
  • Airport Commuter accommodates a pro size DSLR, four to six standard zooms, (increased depth holds a 400 f/2.8), iPad and 15” laptop.
  • Airport Essentials accommodates a standard DSLR, four to six standard zooms, iPad, and up to 13” laptop.

Features include:

  • Bottom hinge opens bag completely for quick and unencumbered access.
  • Cable lock and locking YKK zipper sliders for added security.
  • Laptop and iPad stored in a separate locking zippered compartment.
  • Light, comfortable and contoured harness system.
  • Tripod/monopod mounting system.
  • Top zippered pocket for boarding pass.
  • Removable waist belt for additional stability when walking, running, etc.
  • Easily accessible front organizer pocket.
  • Seam sealed rain cover included.


• Airport Accelerator

Exterior Dimensions: 14” W x 20.5” H x 9” D (35.6 x 52.1 x 22.9cm)

Interior Dimensions: 12.5” W x 18.8” H x 6.8” D (31.6 x 47.8 x 17.3cm)

Laptop: 12.3” W x 17.5” H x 1.5” D (31.2 x 44.5 x 44cm)

Weight: 4.8-5.5 lbs (2.2-2.5 kg)

Airport Commuter

Exterior Dimensions: 12.5” W x 18” H x 8.5” D (31.6 x 45.7 x 21.6cm)

Interior Dimensions: 11.5” W x 16.3” H x 6.8” D (29.2 x 41.4 x 17.3cm)

Laptop: 11” W x 16” H x 1.3” D (27.9 x 40.6 x 3.3cm

Weight: 3.6-4.2lbs (1.7-1.9kg)

Airport Essentials

Exterior Dimensions: 11.5” W x 18” H x 7” D (29.2 x 45.7 x 17.8cm)

Interior Dimensions: 10.6” W x 16.3” H x 5” D (27 x 41.4 x 12.7cm)

Laptop: 10” W x 15.5” H x 1” D (25.4 x 39.4 x 2.5cm)

Weight: 3-3.6 lbs (1.4-1.6 kg)


Total comments: 61
By OttoVonChriek (May 14, 2012)

Last time I flew I just took the one camera. It was a full frame camera with a 35mm f2.8 lens.

I carried it in my jacket pocket.

By jJCM (May 8, 2012)

Took the Accelerator to India carrying a Nikon 200-400mm, 70-200mm, two bodies, chargers and similar accessories plus a Macbook Air. Very comfortable carrying all that weight through the airport. More importantly, the bag fit into the overhead compartment of the small internal flights in India. This is a great bag.

By riknash (May 8, 2012)

Best to ditch all that heavy DSLR hardware and go mirrorless! Its amazing how much that mirror weighs!:)

Nice bags!

1 upvote
By JonB1975 (May 7, 2012)

Can they make your gear magically lighter???

Then don't fly with Virgin..... EVER.

4 kg weight limit on hand baggage. They are a joke.

By ScottRH (May 6, 2012)

None of them have roller wheels so they are not that special. They need to update the single roller-backpack they have now.

By diegonyc (May 4, 2012)

this looks great but im trying to make sense how this bag would work going from the airport to let's say a beach?

Les Kamens
By Les Kamens (May 4, 2012)

I switched from Lowepro to Think Tank and they are really amazing. fits everything I have 2 pro bodies 5 lenses 2 flash heads 15''macbook pro and misc. charger,chords,batteries,cleaning kit,ect... roller international 2.0 fits the bag sizer at the gate and have taken it on commuter flights by swearing it fits under the seat. so far so good. But i have heard the horror stories and have a back up plan. Those guys are exceptional in customer service I personally like having my tripod on the side of the case, rather than it on the middle over the lid.. felt it could bang against laptop / equipment Well thought out and always innovating.

1 upvote
By tinternaut (May 4, 2012)

I've been tempted to get something like this for a while now. As a very frequent air traveller, I'll brain dump some information:

- The biggest looks slightly too big for the European legacy carriers but should be fine for US carriers

- Some airlines are more forgiving than others but that can depend on where you're flying from (see examples below)

- Beware of airlines that make you weigh your bags (Qatar is one) since some nice, expensive glass will mak your bag heavy


Flying BA from Manchester, I'd expect them to be pretty forgiving of the slightly oversized Airport Accelerator. Flying back, I may be asked to try and fit my bag in the size guide (though note, having a Silver card with them and using the business class check in will in some cases help)

At Gatwick OTOH, I'm told BA are strict!

Low cost airlines are a mixed bag (Ryanair is bad, Easyjet not so bad but beware you may be asked to weigh).

*Botom line: Do your research before travel!*

1 upvote
By dbo (May 4, 2012)

Fully confirm. Problem is many times the depth of backpacks, 8" is allowed on european airlines, so the commuter and the accelerator would already be critical...

Lufthansa is quite fair in both size and weight, same for AirBerlin.
But only for regular flights.

I face these problems everytime with vacation flights. Especially their desks on balearic and canarian islands are quite nasty.
Last year I tried to pay for additional handluggage (as I'm doing for the luggage because i put everything non-body and non-optics in...) - no way. Unbelievable. I debated about sense and nonsense of their rules - a 250 pds Guy with 10 pds boardluggage is welcome on board whereas me weighting 170 pds with 14 pds boardluggage wouldn't be...

However, if someone reading this hasn't put his backpack on a scale - my Lowepro AW300 with the a900, a 70-200/2,8, a 24-70/2,8, a 85/1,4 and a 12-24 including some filters, etc. was something around 23 pds.....
And thats not an uncommon set of equipment.


Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
Jack Simpson
By Jack Simpson (May 5, 2012)

OOC, how about BMI from Heathrow, Manchester, etc.. ?

By tinternaut (May 6, 2012)

BMI have just been bought up by BA's parent company so I would expect their baggage policies to be aligned soon.

I had an incident a few years back in Manchester when a BMI employee was about to take some hand luggage from me before he realised I had a gold card with them, after which he explained silver and gold card holders could take an extra piece. I suspect the medium sized Thinktank by itself will be fine on BMI (and I've never had them weigh a bag on me).

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
By Buchan-Grant (May 4, 2012)

I moved to a small roller from Lowepro, easier to lug around and takes a 15" macbook and an Ipad! dont see the point in these!

Andrew Booth
By Andrew Booth (May 5, 2012)

Rollers are a poor choice for the smart traveller.

The roller mechanism takes up unnecessary space and weight that you could be using to stow your gear. From the look of your picture, you should be fit enough to carry a backpack and not need wheels.

By PicOne (May 4, 2012)

Hmmm.. do you think the quick access pocket will work with other brands of tablets, or just iPads?

Tom Hoots
By Tom Hoots (May 4, 2012)

Yes, so long as they aren't bigger than an iPad. I own no Apple products whatsoever, but I've got a tablet and a notebook that would fit into the smaller backpack with ease.

1 upvote
By HaiderAfridi (May 4, 2012)

Haha that was funny.

1 upvote
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (May 4, 2012)

Actually, Toshiba is about to introduce a >12" tablet intended for uses at home or elsewhere that beg a larger screen: reading recipes in a kitchen, or browsing the web without a stylus. Some Windows "tablets" are large because W7 interfaces are hard to see on a small screen. Has anyone navegated the DPR site with a 10" screen and stubby fingers?

By tinpusher (May 4, 2012)

Quite useless really.

Only the smallest of the bags is suitable for low cost operators in Europe and I need provision for cables , chargers , sat navs plus at least one change of clothes and a wash kit.
Since 2008 I've used an Antler Back Pack with wheels and that's got me around the Globe a couple of times and through the States 3 times a year.
My cameras are packed inside it in a Domke bag.

Ipads are always removed for checking.

By 3dmus (May 4, 2012)

I checked 3 online, and out of those only for 1 (Ryanair) of the operators the medium one would be classed as too big, Easyjet even supports the big one and for Flybe it would be very close:

56 x 45 x 25cm Easyjet
55cm x 40cm x 20cm Ryanair
50cm x 35cm x 23cm Flybe

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
By ewelch (May 4, 2012)

IPads do not need to be removed for checking in the US. I have never needed to. I used to love Domke bags. But they don't last like they used to. Abd they get misshapen too quickly. The bottom bends too easily. I used them for 20 years. Now I only use them to carry extra gear downstairs to the studio.

By EDWARD ARTISTE (May 4, 2012)

Maybe not in the US, but mine got checked in Frankfurt.

Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (May 4, 2012)

Why not just a plastic bag? One that smells like old laundry or shoes might be thief proof and get express customs clearance.

By MPA1 (May 5, 2012)

Many bag makers believe there is no world outside the US - have you not noticed?! "Carry on compatible (for US domestic flights" is a common bit of small print.

1 upvote
By antares103 (May 7, 2012)

Well, Think Tank is a US based company, and for them to make a claim for international travel, they would need to constantly keep up to date on international rules (which seem to vary from country to country, of which there are well over 100).

If there is a market the rest of the world needs, which is not fullfilled by TT or others, perhaps someone in another country needs to step up to the plate and be innovative.

By farrukh (May 4, 2012)

Those bags are huge, have they not heard of micro four thirds? :)

1 upvote
By fz750 (May 4, 2012)

Fat lot of use because the airport authorities in Europe (initially pressured from their US conterparts and now arguably out of step with the trend in the US) insist that every computer or tablet is shown individually in its own try through the scanner.

Iit may not even be put on a soft case or cloth in Zurich (so your iPad back gets nicely scratched..)


Dapple 101
By Dapple 101 (May 4, 2012)

Blimey, a tricky situation indeed. Your example has indeed rendered the bags useless as a carry-on item.

Unless - and it's a bit of a long shot - you take the item out of the bag at the scanner, then put it back in on the other side.

By 3dmus (May 4, 2012)

that's the way it would normally work; they ask you to take out laptop/Ipad etc, and then you put it back in at the other end of the scanner

By fz750 (May 7, 2012)

yeah, sorry, perhaps didn't make that clear - but it's just bloody annoying that 7 out of 10 people have to be taking their laptops out of their cases, using in individual bin etc, I just find it a pointless exercise, what are the machines for after all...

If you beep going through the metal detector at manchester UK, you have to go through a body scanner (whether you like it or not, or you simply can't fly..) and the staff are often obnoxious in any airport..

Same silly arguements about foodstuffs that are clearly not liquid (butter as an exanple) but they wouldn't allow you to take that through in hand baggage at some places as they class a wide range of stuff as liquid as a kind of "catchall"...

I hate flying these days, the airport procedures are just so annoying so I avoid when possible..

By MPA1 (May 4, 2012)

I'm glad that they are finally getting the point that WEIGHT is as important as dimensions when flying. With a 7kg carry on restriction, a bag that weighs 6kg empty is no use at all even if it fits under the seat!
I've recently gone over to the Dark Side and bought 2 Kata bags, one with a removable trolley.
Super light, super flexible and very tough. Having used both TT and Lowepro I much prefer Kata.

Laurence Svirchev
By Laurence Svirchev (May 4, 2012)

The Think Tank bags are quite seductive, as are the Lowe-pro. What is clear to travelers who hit remote areas, choice of bags is extremely personal. The disadvantage to some backpacks is the tripod mount to the side + the inability to carry/isolate a rain/cold jacket in a separate compartment. A heavy load of gear becomes unbalanced with the tripod in that position. A third choice is the Manfrotto series, very attractive because of the back-mounting for the tripod and the ability to pull out the 70-200 + body from the top of the pack (Manfrotto prices are at the high end). I sympathize with the photographer who built his own bag for $60, but that does not solve the issue for many: hiking into the field. I finally decided on a backpack to carry on the plane gear, put the tripod in the checked luggage, and sewing on straps to the bottom of the backpack to carry clothes/food/drink isolated from the camera gear (if necessary). Its called improvisation, something photographers excel at.

By MPA1 (May 4, 2012)

The disadvantage to all backpacks is that they are f all use for working out of!

1 upvote
Tom Hoots
By Tom Hoots (May 4, 2012)

ThinkTank makes great, high-quality stuff. I have an Airport Ultralight that just doesn't quite get the job done for me because it doesn't have compartments for my notebook and tablet computers. The new Airport Essentials looks like just the ticket for me!

Ran Plett
By Ran Plett (May 4, 2012)

I've never been weighed, but I easily take on 2x the allowable weight.

By Gary_Oz (May 4, 2012)

at 2.5kg, you won't fit much gear in there to come under the airlines 5kg or 7.5kg limits
Thank goodness for Micro Four Thirds :)

1 upvote
Rooru S
By Rooru S (May 4, 2012)

I have only travelled twice with a Pelican case and It's great, but having it as a checked bag sometimes worries me a bit of getting something damaged inside by cargo loaders. Thought of buying another Pelican as a Carry-on, but now I'm really thinking about this one as it's very lightweight and I don't need it to be rough as it's travelling with me in the cabin overhead bin.

By LoganVii (May 4, 2012)

I'm thinking on buying a camera bag, what would you recommend, a backpack or a shoulder bag?

Lenny L
By Lenny L (May 4, 2012)

Depends on how much gear you intend to carry, and for how long. Backpacks definitely make carrying heavier gear easier on long walks. I like the LowePro FastPack. I have the 200. It's way more comfortable to carry compared to a sling type, and you still have fast access to the camera without putting it down. And I use it as my carry-on when flying as well.

By LoganVii (May 4, 2012)

Thanks Lenny!

Bill Bentley
By Bill Bentley (May 4, 2012)

I went to the LowePro site and checked out the FastPack. In watching the video clip I don't see any way to access the contents without taking the pack off. I have a Slingshot 200 and it's very easy to slide around to the front of my body and remove the camera. I also don't find it difficult to carry. Certainly not any more difficult than a back pack.

By spbStan (May 4, 2012)

I have the FastPack 250 and it has been good for 3 years of daily use, still looks great(does not smell great by now) but for the camera and one lens mounted it is a snap to get it out. Slide your right arm out of the strap and let the whole bag hang from the left shoulder. It will hang at a 45 degree angle with the zippered door on the side point up at you. Unzip it and pull the body out. Mine travels with the 70-200 2.8 attached and a hand strap in place, just reach in and pull straight out with your right hand(in my case, in the handstrap). It is ready to shoot.
The problem comes with changing lenses. It works for me only because I have a Black Rapid RS-5 which gives support for the 70-200 hands free when changing lenses or when shooting with a small lens.
I travel a lot internationally and any baggage is becoming a royal pain. Just got a larger pro body and another 24-70 to fit into my bag and leave a few important lenses home, like the 85 1.4 and 24 1.4

Lenny L
By Lenny L (May 5, 2012)

Bill, I have both. The Slingshot is easy to carry, just uncomfortable if carrying more gear for longer periods. So it all depends on the situation. For the Fastpack, slip right shoulder strap off, and swivel it around the front, just like the Slingshot.

Armando J. Rodriguez, Jr.
By Armando J. Rodriguez, Jr. (May 4, 2012)

What prices? I don't see how much they will cost.

By ayt (May 4, 2012)

there are prices at the think tank website.

airport essentials $175.75
airport commuter $199.75
airport accelerator $279.95

By Jogger (May 4, 2012)

Will an Android tablet fit?

By amicus70 (May 4, 2012)

No, only iPads... ;-)

By garyknrd (May 4, 2012)

You know I travel extensively. Asia back to the USA about 4 times a year. I was going to buy this bag for my 500 and 300 lens but. I just cannot justify it. I bought a cheap American Tourister bag. Carry on size. it fits my Canon 500 and 300 2.8 perfectly and a camera body. I bought foam padding at a local hobby shot and cut it to fit. All told, 65 dollars. I have a Low Pro bag that sits now unused. I paid 300+ for it. So in my opinion these bags are overpriced and just not practical for a lot of travel. For 65 dollars I have a custom fit bag with wheels that is not looked at twice in the airport carry on.
Also I find the quality of the cheap bags AS good or better than these bags.
I have been using this cheap bag for two years now and it is as good as new.. Amazing.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
By (May 4, 2012)

Yes, but my Airport Acceleration has been on my back as I hiked in Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite, and Alaska. These bags are worth every penny, depending on how you plan to use it.

1 upvote
Jonathan Reed
By Jonathan Reed (May 4, 2012)

ThinkTank makes the best bags out there. Worth every penney.

By dimitrir (May 4, 2012)

Yup. I travel with Urban Disguise 35 all the time.

Chaitanya S
By Chaitanya S (May 4, 2012)

their camera bag accessories are also very good.

By RayGuselli (May 4, 2012)

Having suffered a disastrous and expensive issue with Thomas Cook Airlines, for me there seems no solution.

Cameras and lenses all in flight case used before with no problem.
Officious Thomas Cook rep now said....not hand luggage too big
Demanded it go as checked in but would put fragile sticker
Charged £30 to send through
No fragile sticker
Case battered
Nikon DSLR and lens damaged
On way home, same airline, case allowed as hand luggage
Argued with T Cook and Baggage handlers....tough....your problem....not ours!!!

Now the issue is not size but weight as the case and cameras is about 11 KG....limit 5KG

Sp, packed the lot in big suitcase surrounded by clothes etc and had to send through as checked in baggage......

Case weighted 30kg.......

I suspect it will become a weight rather than size issue in the future...

One lesson learnt....Thomas Cook not interested in customer service.


Jay Jenner
By Jay Jenner (May 4, 2012)

Exactly. My wife has just flown to Morocco with Thomas Cook and didnt realise till she checked in that they have a weight allowance for carry on bags which is 5kg/11lbs. So she had to do a major repack and stick loads of stuff in the hold bag. What would she have done if she was just travelling with the carry-on? I have travelled all over the world on many airlines and have never come across this nonsense. So if I rocked up with my normal Lowepro Fastpack 250 containing E3, couple of lenses, laptop, couple of books etc - I would not be able to take it onboard. I have had stuff stolen from hold luggage before. The airline will not take responsibility and blame baggage handlers, and vice versa.
I HATE budget airlines.

By Goreyo (May 4, 2012)

Thomas Cook are indeed not that interested in service, but I have little sympathy for people who don't check their baggage allowances prior to travel. If you buy your ticket through the airline all the information is right in front of you on their website. If booking through an agent get them to tell you or find out for yourself. Its the well being of your possessions at the end of the day and the airline is not at fault because you didn't check what your allowances were.
If your traveling with expensive items or equipment you can contact the airline and often special provisions can be made to give you slightly more weight allowance or larger dimensions for your carry on (with budget airlines it will usually involve a cost, internatonal carriers less so).

By AlanClements (May 4, 2012)

I normally travel with KLM and they have the usual big airline allowance. Sometime, I have to travel with Thomson and that is a nightmare. They are not interested in individuals and have terrible weight limits (sometimes enforced and sometimes they add your hand luggage to the checked luggage and consider only the total). Sometime they are liberal on the outbound flight and fanatical on the inbound flight (Malaga).
The only solution is an understanding wife and pockets. I have a Canon 1D4 and 5D3, white lends, and laptop. My wife carries part of the load in her hand luggage. Then, we stuff prime lends (and sometimes a body) into our coats and batteries and chargers in pockets at check in. Then we have to put everything in the hand luggage before security. It's a mess but the only solution when you have to use a charter flight.
I'd be happy to pay extra for some sort of photography pass that let you carry expensive lends as extra luggage.

1 upvote
Al Bond
By Al Bond (May 4, 2012)

We travelled recently on Thomson airlines (on a package holiday) and I thought the weight allowance was 10kg. (And the carry-on luggage with all the camera gear in was 10kg.) We had to do a repack but the guy at the check in suggested that we carried our cameras over our shoulders (they were in their own bags). Even with the cameras removed, the bag was 6kg but he let us through.

Afterwards, I put the cameras back in the bag so I only had a single carry on bag. I got away with it but I'll know better next time!

Kurt Friis Hansen
By Kurt Friis Hansen (May 4, 2012)

I agree with Goreyo.

I see the same thing at airports all over the world. People WILL NOT read. Even if they read about the weight restrictions, they try to get around them anyway.

I've seen a (european) lady trying to get 20+ kg hand luggage on a domestic chinese flight with max. 5kg (as is standard on all domestic Chinese flights). The same restriction applies to all domestic flights within Brazil, and in a lot of other countries. It applies to all carriers.

It will not be upheld on all flights, but wait till you hear the moans and screams and protests and...

Why use Thomas Cook, when you - at least officially - are allowed any weight on bord EasyJet (as long as you can lift it yourself), up to 23kg - max 2 units - hand luggage on BA (again you must be able to lift it yourself), and for i.e. KLM/AF you are allowed 12 kg, on Iberia 10 kg and most Star Alliance flights 8 kg, 2 x 7kg with Qantas domestic within Australia etc.

It's not even a case of "pay up or shut up" ;-)

By Mousehound (May 4, 2012)

Get a ScottEVest!

Jay Jenner
By Jay Jenner (May 4, 2012)

Well yeah, fair enough - read the small print and all that - but weight allowance on carry on is unprecedented in my experience. I shall certainly check on all flights in future.

By RayGuselli (May 6, 2012)

Hi Goreyo
Just to clarify... traveled many times with Thomas Cook...knew the baggage allowance.
Have carried the same bag and cameras on the airline as hand luggage countless times without problem...suddenly, out of the blue, decided to enforce the rules.....BUT...on the way back...they did not.

There needs to be a consistent approach to baggage....

...preferably linked to a level of customer service when they get it this case, neither applied


By RayGuselli (May 6, 2012)


Comment edited 16 seconds after posting
Total comments: 61