Airline Travel With Camera Kit

Started Aug 10, 2007 | Discussions
Dejan80501
Dejan80501 Contributing Member • Posts: 950
Airline Travel With Camera Kit

Has anyone had trouble traveling with their camera and lenses? If so, some advice please. I am planing to travel in November and will be doing the carry on thing with my camera.
--
Dejan Smaic

D200
Just an assortment of Nikon lenses
Desire to take great digital images
http://dejansmaic.smugmug.com

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(unknown member) Forum Pro • Posts: 14,338
Re: Airline Travel With Camera Kit

Dejan80501 wrote:

Has anyone had trouble traveling with their camera and lenses? If so,
some advice please. I am planing to travel in November and will be
doing the carry on thing with my camera.

Do NOT carry any lens (and especially sensor) cleaning fluids!

If you plan on taking a load of batteries (camera or flash) I'd suggest placing those in checked baggage. That's the kind of thing that makes the security goons very twitchy. And, of course, be sure to remove that Swiss Army pocket knife from your camera bag!

Bill Randall
Bill Randall Forum Pro • Posts: 21,969
Re: Airline Travel With Camera Kit

I carry my camera, flash, cards, lens and lens cleaning fluid with me. I have never had a problem although it has been about a year since I last flew.

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FINE PRINT: I reserve the right to be wrong. Should you prove me wrong, I reserve the right to change my mind.

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owenleve
owenleve Senior Member • Posts: 2,793
Re: Airline Travel With Camera Kit

First, look at the TSA website with regards to brining fluids. You are only allowed a certain amount. You would most likely get away with cleaning fluids though they are most lilely prhoibited as they are flamable.

As for gear, batteries, etc.. I routinely, as in just flew yesterday, fly with tons of gear. Two bodies, lenses, flashes, batteries and external battery packs with all types of usb and synch cables. The only times I've had issue, whihc really isn't an issue, is with my 300 2.8. I've been told that it has a lot of led in the glass and it's impossible or difficult to see through it on xray. Now, having said that, it's about a 50-50 rate on the bag being searched. It REALLY makes you wonder who is getting searchd if I'm not, with all the gizmos.

A few things. Be prepared for an overworked and angry TSA agent to open your bag and take everything out. Meaning don't pack in such a way that things like a lens will drop out when the bag is unzippd. Also allow for some extra time incase you do get searched and they swab your bag for explosives, etc... More often than not I walk right through but there have been a few times when my bag and my person have been searched-I had a condom in my pocket-metal foil...

Oh, lastly, technically there is a weight limit on carry on bags. I exceed this 10 out of 10 times and have only one person in India give me any issues and weigh it. I explained that if they would personally be responisble for $20,000+ worth of gear I'd check it. I was nice about it and they waived me through. And one more thing. There was a sign at the gate, under the flight info that I've never seen before. It stated that the FAA only was allowing 1 carry on item. I asked a pilot about it, he said it's always been that way and never enforced. So, if you do come across a problem and have two bags, don't be jerk since I'm guessing agents would have every right to disallow one of your bags..... I guess you get to choose, your laptop or gear....

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(unknown member) Forum Pro • Posts: 14,338
Re: Airline Travel With Camera Kit

Bill Randall wrote:

I carry my camera, flash, cards, lens and lens cleaning fluid with
me. I have never had a problem although it has been about a year
since I last flew.

As it happens, it's exactly one year ago today that the perceived threat from liquids on aircraft first emerged:

http://www.tsa.gov/approach/mythbusters/liquids_ban.shtm

Just leave the lens cleaning fluid at home. Sensor cleaning fluids are an even bigger problem because they contain chemicals specifically regulated by the FAA. You'll find that most suppliers will not ship them by air because the cost of obtaining the special permits is prohibitive.

Matt_Anderson
Matt_Anderson Veteran Member • Posts: 3,787
On my way to Maui ...

Thru Ohare, I had to take everything out of the pelican porter case (loaded with lenses and laptop) to be "sniffed" by the machine. Took 20 minutes.

On the way back, smooth sailing.

Flight to and from San Juan with Pelican case, smooth sailing.

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AndrewMG Regular Member • Posts: 442
Re: Airline Travel With Camera Kit

I've never had any problems. I even was allowed to take my tripod a couple of times.

DigitalJay Senior Member • Posts: 1,507
See this link.....
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Vetteran
Vetteran Senior Member • Posts: 1,443
Re: Airline Travel With Camera Kit

As you know, the rules reagarding carry-on liquids and gels changed last year. A quart size bag with contents in 3 oz. or less quantities.

I traveled internationally from Spain Mexico, and the Dominican Republic all with digital camera gear. No problems; either with media or batteries. Film may be another story if you don't want it scanned.

Recommend contacting your carrier directly to verify any additional or special restrictions. Sometimes things change.

Good luck.

P.S. travel light; you'll thank yourself later.

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(unknown member) Forum Pro • Posts: 14,338
Re: Airline Travel With Camera Kit

AndrewMG wrote:

I've never had any problems. I even was allowed to take my tripod a
couple of times.

On my last flight (to China) I placed a monopod in a checked bag but left the small head wrench in my carry-on camera bag. They did a full search of my camera bag (D200, two lenses, flash and various accessories). The one item that appeared to cause concern was the monopod wrench. The goon stared at it for what seemed like 10 minutes (but was probably 2) and silently placed it back in the bag

It doesn't matter how silly these things get, you just can't argue or reason with these guys. Next time, any wrenches or other such tools will go into a checked bag.

justahack Senior Member • Posts: 1,130
FAA Gotcha's, TSA M0r0ns, and "The Gun" Strategy

Be aware that just because FAA says you can take certain stuff through security does not mean the airline will let you board. This is particularly true with international carriers.

The monopod thing. I actually spent 2 weeks to-and-fro with TSA trying to get a ruling on monopods in/out of carryon bags. You guessed it. No one with a backbone would commit to policy. This in a country that will let you board with ignition sources and sharp objects up to 4" or something. M0r0ns.

If you want to avoid your checked bag getting openned by security without your presence, and you are flying 100% in the USA, easy solution... you guessed it. Check a gun in your checked luggage. I think even a fake one will do. They will inspect in your presence only and then make you LOCK IT.

When I travel I put all fluids and tools and spare batteries in checked luggage. The only stuff I carry on are bodies (one battery charged in it to prove it's a camera)and glass and memory cards (plus my laptop).

I have had great success with ThinkTank's Airport International Bag. It even made it on board several QANTAS flights (and if you have ever flown to Australia you know how those QANTAS gate agents can be).

Read the TSA website carefully, there is a section for photographic equipment, I believe an extra bag is permitted. However, take note of the gotcha above and confirm with your airlines. Get policy in writing if possible.

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Cheers.

...Please don't rub up against my glass...

anotherMike Forum Pro • Posts: 10,072
Re: Airline Travel With Camera Kit

This is what I do when travelling with the gear - you can decide if any of it is helpful or not as travel strategies tend to be personal and different for everyone.

First - absolutely none of the banned stuff and none of the questionable stuff. I actually double check all pockets and compartments to make sure no knives or other banned items exist that I may have used during normal "non travel" use.

Second - I ship the Tripod (minus head) to my destination - usually calling the hotel/motel a few days ahead of time so they know it's coming.

My packing strategy.

I use a Think Tank "Airport Acceleration" backpack and a Think Tank "Airport Checkin" laptop bag as follows (both carried on the plane):

14" Laptop and chargers go into the laptop bag, along with a spare set of clothes (one of everything just in case) as well as travel stuff like travel alarm clock, advil, other meds, tissues, etc. The laptop a/c adapter and any net cables, and my verizon air-card also go in here. I often use the little ThinkTank pouches to hold the loose stuff, and I always use the ThinkTank cable management 10 transparent pouch for chargers and cell phone chargers and so forth.

The backpack gets the camera gear, tripod head, plus a spare pair of slacks (in the laptop flex compartment) and a t-shirt or two that lie on the camera gear when it's all done, plus spare batteries and of course the CF cards.

I pack so that the stuff can be easily removed in case I get a "full on" TSA inspection.

This has worked (knock on wood) extremely well so far, but I don't travel on regional jets - and the pack goes up in overhead luggage - perfectly, I might add - ThinkTank really has thought out how their gear FITS on a plane more than other manufacturers - and the laptop bag (more like a briefcase) fits under the seat easily and nicely. BTW, I remove the extra padding from the laptop bag and wrap the laptop in a Domke lens wrap instead - makes it easier to take out for security.

I don't (and won't) check any luggage. Anything more that I need (clothing wise, etc) gets shipped to the location beforehand, usually with the tripod.

The basic idea is to pack so it can be inspected easily if needbe, and repacked easily, while carrying everything I need in a relatively safe manner.

Hope this helps...

-m

SysConsultant Contributing Member • Posts: 555
I use FedX

My strategy to avoid the headaches of traveling with expensive camera gear is to pack it in foam filled and locked pelican cases and FedX it to my destination hotel. I pack the case in a plain cardboard box to make it less obvious to someone scanning a shipment for likely high value targets for theft.

I call the business office at the hotel ahead of time and arrange for someone who's name I record to secure the shipment as soon as it arrives. If time permits I ship the gear far enough ahead of time so that I can contact the hotel and confirm it's arrival before I actually take off myself.

It isn't cheap to ship a high value shipment (insurance adds $$) but the carriers actually take better care of these shipments because they don't want to pay a claim.

Your gear is more likely to get to it's destination on time via FedX than traveling with you on a commercial airline.

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cegusa New Member • Posts: 1
Re: Airline Travel With Camera Kit

I traveled between Raleigh and Chicago acouple of times last weekend without even a second look on the bag I was carrying which contained my D200, 3 lenses, wireless and wired remote, and numerous filters. I have however heard from a fairly reliable source who works in the airline industry that there may be coming additional search requirements which will involve anything electronic including camera, iPods, DVD players etc. to be removed from you bag prior to the screening process just as laptops are already.

archer69 Senior Member • Posts: 1,253
No problems so far

I just came back from a trip to Seattle (I live in Chicago). No problems at all either in Chicago or Seattle with my camera gear.

I had a Tamrac Expedition 5 (with 1 external lens and 1 assecory bag attached on the outside) loaded with the following:
1 D200 w. 18-200 VR
1 50-500 Bigma
1 1.4x TC
1 Coolpix 5700 (backup)
1 MC-30 remote
4 Filters (in case)
1 Epson P-2000
Various memory card, batteries, cleaning cloth, lens and body caps.

TSA didn't even look twice. Same last year while traveling to Hawaii.

As I had enough room in my checked luggage, I put my tripot (and monopod) in there, but I don't think it's an issue to take with you as carry on as long as it's not too large (and then most likely the airline will give you more problems).
--
Regards,
JH
http://www.jh-photography.net

Diddlbiker Contributing Member • Posts: 608
Re: Airline Travel With Camera Kit

malch wrote:

(snipperdy-snip)
that makes the security goons very twitchy. And, of course, be sure
to remove that Swiss Army pocket knife from your camera bag!

Not to advertise or anything, but Leatherman now sells a pocket-tool without the blade - basically because you can take it with you aboard airplanes.
--
Cheers,
Bart

DigitalJay Senior Member • Posts: 1,507
Re: Airline Travel With Camera Kit

Excellent suggestions, Mike.

On a recent trip out west, my friend and I pre-shipped a fairly good size box with batteries film and gear to our motel. They were pleased to receive it.

My ball head went in my rolling carry-on, which was packed to the gills with digital and film bodies, other gear and laptop.

I did bring a large check-in bag with clothing and my tripod. If stolen, I would have cried about losing my tripod, then immediately bought another one. As far as replacing clothing, a quick trip to Wal-Mart would take care of that. Of course, on the way back we shipped all the gear we shipped out, plus dirty clothes. the new clothes we bought ( who doesn't load up on new T-Shirts from Yosemite and Mono Lake) we transported in our luggage.

Worked great, but somewhat expensive.

Jay

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funnelwebmaster
funnelwebmaster Senior Member • Posts: 2,886
Re: Airline Travel With Camera Kit

On a flight between SFO and DFW I was asked by a very angry flight attendant to STOP photographing my food. No joke, I was fooling around with my D200 and 65mm microNikkor, snapping some macros of my "chicken parmesan with braised vegetables , rice and salad" and was told that it was not allowed to photograph the contents of the food trays. I laughed her off but soon had two male attendants hovering over me, asking that I remove my memory card from the camera at once. Since I didn't want to create a scene, I complied (reluctantly) and stowed away my gear. By then the food was cold so i asked if they would reheat it for me, and they said "no."

Anyone else have this problem lately?

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artorius Contributing Member • Posts: 753
Re: Airline Travel With Camera Kit

I travel from Seattle/Tacoma to the Caribbean on a regular basis. I use a KATA HB-207 maxxd out, normally over the carry-on weight limit. I have only been stopped once, and I was allowed to take a body and my heaviest lens and-use that as my personal 2nd carry-on.

I have just returned this week from Jamaica and even had my 400 ASA hand inspected.

My worst experience was when I left Vegas last December, I was pulled aside and had to have all my photo gear sniffed. They(TSA) said something about a black spot,(a 20MM lens on the bottom of the bag) and I had to sit and wait with the screener until he could get a sniffer and open the bag. Never had this problem with international flights.

I have found that a business card helps wonders, even if not a Pro, make one up and stick a few in the bag. It worked for my brother-in-law, as he wasn't stopped on the way back from Vegas.

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-Respect-
Art

“It rubs me the wrong way, a camera... It's a frightening thing...Cameras make ghosts out of people.” Bob Dylan

Devendra
Devendra Veteran Member • Posts: 3,584
Re: Airline Travel With Camera Kit

I suppose this is in regards to the travel with-in the US?

I travel extensively (every week) and I am lugging around my D200 with a few lenses (what a hobby!) in my work backpack - along with my books and a laptop.

The only thing that I remove from that backpack is my laptop for the scan, while the rest slides through smoothly, which is nice as it will is quite a hassle to remove everything.

I have even carried my huge sigma 300-800mm (in a sigma provided duffle bag) without any problems, only to get wows and curious looks. Just be polite and you will be fine. Its either people are more aware or either the machines are more effective, or both.

2 carry ons are still acceptable and arrive early! Check-in to the airlines website within 24hours and print your own tickets in case you are not checking in any baggage. That saves an awful lot of time.

-Devendra

PS: read up on the 3.oz limitations as you don't want to drop your fav perfume/booze into the garbage.

Dejan80501 wrote:

Has anyone had trouble traveling with their camera and lenses? If so,
some advice please. I am planing to travel in November and will be
doing the carry on thing with my camera.
--
Dejan Smaic

D200
Just an assortment of Nikon lenses
Desire to take great digital images
http://dejansmaic.smugmug.com

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Nikon D200 Nikon 1 J1 Nikon D800E Sony Alpha NEX-3N
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