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Old November 26th, 2008, 03:55 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian Stark View Post
Leaving aside issues of potential theft, what are people's views on wrapping the lens, eyepiece, camera body, etc individually in tons of bubblewrap, burying them deep between jumpers, socks and underwear, then checking it as hold luggage on a transatlantic flight, adorned with 'Fragile' labels, of course?

I'm just a bit concerned that my Portabrace is about three inches bigger in every dimension than the carry on allowance for Virgin Atlantic passengers in any class.

Am I being a complete twat-head (as we so quaintly say over here) even thinking about it?

Guidance (and a stern talking to) welcomed.

Thanks,

Ian . . .
I'm not answering as a lawyer, but as someone with nearly 9,000 posts on FlyerTalk.com (a great resource for airline and travel information).

Never, ever, ever, ever place valuables in checked luggage. Never. Ever.

Airline liability is extremely limited for lost or damage contents in luggage, and electronics and photo equipment is excluded by the Conditions of Carriage of virtually every carrier.

There are two major vulnerabilities to which checked luggage is exposed: (1) in the U.S., TSA can, and will, open luggage at their whim, and (2) baggage handlers, who will "supplement" their meager income with goodies from passengers' luggage. This results in lots of finger pointing when things go missing or get destroyed -- TSA blames the airline, the airline blames TSA, and no one winds up liable.

If you MUST ship equipment, pack in appropriate containers, e.g. a Pelican case, insure it, and, preferably, ship it as air cargo. I'm sure there will be a long line of posts from people saying, "I've packed iMax cameras in an old duffel bag wrapped with underwear and socks and they've arrived just fine," but I will defer to the experiences of the 170,000 members of FlyerTalk, virtually all of whom are frequent fliers, on this. "Fragile" stickers mean nothing -- first, you're assuming that TSA TSOs and baggage handlers can read. In my experience, that assumes a lot. Second, you're assuming that TSA TSOs and baggage handlers care; many will view your "Fragile" sticker as a personal challenge.

If you can't carry it on, pack it properly, insure it, ship it by air cargo or, if you absolutely must check it, don't just bury it with your briefs. And, if it's not in your personal possession the entire time, have contingency plans in place so that you don't find yourself on location without your gear. I am only a lowly amateur, and I always carry-on my gear, regardless of where I fly in the world. I can't imagine a pro trusting his or her livelihood to either TSA or the airline baggage handlers.

Edited to add:

Two other points:

Though carry-on rules are rather liberal with respect to weight in the U.S., they are strictly enforced by some carriers in other countries. Don't assume that was is a legal carry-on in the U.S. will be permitted overseas.

Particularly in the U.S., but in other countries as well (China, where I am right now, comes to mind), carry-on space is at a premium. In the U.S., those with elite status on an airline board first specifically to grab the overhead bin space. Those who board later in the process frequently have to "gate check" carry-on bags. This is the worst of all worlds as, frequently, gate-checked bags won't even make the flight and, when they do, they are the last bags that are, literally (yes, Jack, "literally" ;)), thrown into the hold.
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Old November 26th, 2008, 07:03 PM   #17
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Why in the world would you want to let your expensive gear out of your sight, at the mercy of baggage handlers? I don't fly alot, but the few times that I do I've almost always been shocked by the condition my checked luggage arrives in:zippers broken, luggage scraped, contents rummaged through without any attempt to be neat. On one occaision I found my tripod, which I had packed rolled up in clothes, on top of the clothes. I cannot imagine what they would do with my camera gear.

Even carry on is not safe from "inquisitive" security people but at least they are doing it in your presence and you can get name/badge numbers if things get out of control.
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Old November 26th, 2008, 07:13 PM   #18
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At the International airport in my city, last year baggage handlers were caught re-handed THROWING baggage clearly marked as Fragile SEVERAL feet up into the air and allowing it to crash to the concrete. My understanding is that they were reprimanded but continue to work at the airport. Your call. I'd rather remove the temptation WHEN I CAN.
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Old November 26th, 2008, 07:17 PM   #19
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Old November 27th, 2008, 01:34 AM   #20
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Hang on to it

Keep the camera with you, keep the camera with you, keep the camera with you. That's the mantra. Never, everr let the camera stray from your sight. It is your livelihood. You can check the tripod and aux gear, but not the camera, and still survive when you get on the ground.

I carry two cameras, my main unit, a Z7, and a backup, an A1U, plus lights, batteries, mics, cables etc. I do it in two bags. One is a Strut, made by former Porta Brace guys in Vermont. It is specifically designed to fit in the overhead. I can fit a the camera, with Matte Box attached, wireless and shot gun mics, cables, three NP970 batteries, tape, CF Cards, tool kit on the Strut.

I use a second bag, a Tarmac Strongbox, to carry the smaller camera, two LitePanels, a mini and a Micro and chargers. One final item is a three pound Stedibag with a shoulder strap incase the Tripod doesn't make it. Both the bags are black, look like standard hand luggage, not identifiable as camera gear, which helps me keep a low profile.
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Old November 27th, 2008, 04:08 PM   #21
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All sound advice. In the end I successfully carried the Portabrace (with camera) in the cabin (although on the return journey I did have to turn on the charm a little as the check-in clerk was a tad hesitant).

To all those who advised against putting it in hold luggage . . . of course - totally sensible advice. What was I thinking?!

To those who advised looking at other threads - I did actually do this, but those that I found looked a little out of date and I really wanted current guidance.

Thanks again to all.
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Old November 30th, 2008, 10:30 AM   #22
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We use this Kata bag when we are air travelling:
Video bags camera bags Kata - Manufacturer of camera bags
The camera we use it for is either an Ikegami DV7 DVCAM or a Sony XDCAM 530.
As soon as we have to prepare for a flight, we take the lens and viewfinder apart from the body, wrap them in foam or bubblewrap and convert the bag to the smaller proportion.
When we arrive at our destination, we convert the bag to its bigger size again whivh has enough room for the completely assembled camera, complete with battery.
The trolley is also a very handy feature on large international airports where you often have to take a long walk for your connecting flight.

Cheers and good luck.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 02:54 AM   #23
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That's a nice looking bag. Sadly, it blows the carry on allowance for British Airways, American Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic, even using the smaller dimensions.

I found this article which I thought was extremely useful and interesting. Note that it was originally printed in 2004 but was updated in November 2008.

Airline Luggage Allowance Policies and Guidelines

Basically, it all boils down to:

1. The airline's policy
2. The airport
3. The aircraft
4. How full the flight is
5. Where you sit on the plane
6. The person checking you in (how generous they are/what mood they're in)
7. Whether you are prepared to risk having your gear taken from you and put in hold luggage if it doesn't meet the criteria.

So, not too many variables there, then!?! It seems that there is no guaranteed and foolproof solution to the dilemma of how to transport larger cameras.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 01:58 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian Stark View Post
... It seems that there is no guaranteed and foolproof solution to the dilemma of how to transport larger cameras.
When I came back from CDG Paris in October there were two cameramen with large padded pro shouldermount cameras who just carried their gear through security and on to the plane - no bags, no nuffin'. The sound guy at least had his stuff in a bag. In the queue they had a quick discussion as to what their story would be if they were asked any awkward questions. They got through without apparent difficulty.
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Old December 2nd, 2008, 03:39 AM   #25
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Ah, but what if they had been refused? Then they would have been royally screwed!!
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Old December 2nd, 2008, 08:02 AM   #26
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Some UK Hand Baggage Dimension Information

Just to add some information. Possibility of me doing a big corporate shoot in Dublin early in the New Year so I've been studying how I'd get my EX3 into the cabin with me (no way it's going in the hold!). I don't fancy the drive to Hollyhead and Ferry to Ireland in my car as the Irish sea can be rough at this time of year!

Ryan Air (Stansted to Dublin) baggage allowance is only 20 x 55 x 40cm
BMI (e.g. from LGW) 23 x 55 x 40cm + e.g. laptop bag for the MBP as well
BA (e.g. from LHR) is 25 x 55 x 45cm + e.g. laptop bag for the MBP as well

It so happens I can get my EX3 in a fairly typical Samsonite carry on roller bag if I take the fragile Sony microphone holder off (2 screws in 2 minutes...I never use it anyway). It fits snuggly and nicely between the two internally raised bits that surround and protect the contents from the externally extending handle. Looks almost made for the job. I'll post a pic soon. I can surround it all in socks/bubble wrapp etc and still have enough room for Rode NTG-3 in it's WS7, spare batteries, headphones, charger etc., SxS/KxS/KxT etc. and the total maximum bag dimensions will then be 24 x 55 x 40 cm, maybe 25 x 55 x 40cm if I add the amount of bubble wrap I'd like.

It's not the most ideal camera bag(!).....but does have quite a few extra pockets etc. My Petrol roller bag (PWR-HDV) that my EX3 normally lives in is way too big for these allowances. The Libech LS37 tripod will have to take it's chances and go in the hold in it's bag (ironically it's previous owner was in Ireland!)

Looks like it has to be BA then, or if I'm feeling brave BMI. Ryan Air won't get any of my money, even though Stansted is only 40 minutes away.

Edit: OK, here are some pics. 1st is of the Petrol bag and others show EX3 in Samsonite bag. Obviously, I've not removed the mic holder or packed it as it would travel but this shows just how much useful room is still available for the ancillaries and you did not want to see my socks anyway! BTW, my bag lock security code is not 0 0 0, I'm far too smart to leave it on what it was for everyone to see! Also, I don't know the Samsonite Bag model number or I'd post it. I bought it in Hong Kong about a year ago (it's a legit Samsonite.)
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Airline transportation-akw-ex3-samsonite-bag-shut.jpg   Airline transportation-akw-ex3-samsonite-bag-shut-24cm.jpg  

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Last edited by Andy Wilkinson; December 2nd, 2008 at 09:54 AM. Reason: adding pics
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Old December 2nd, 2008, 11:25 AM   #27
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I have to say I seldom encounter any trouble when it comes to carry on cameras.
Most airlines are less strict when it comes to camera bags as they do understand that a camera canīt be sent in normal luggage.
I mostly travel with broadcast cameras in Portabrace or Petrol bags and I have always managed to get it in the overhead compartment..
I travel out from Norway, and I mostly travel in Europe, but I traveled overseas as well.

I would actually recommend to use a camera bag and not a "normal" suitcase
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Old December 2nd, 2008, 12:13 PM   #28
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OK, thanks for the info. Sounds promising!

I've done a heck of a lot of air travel but never before 'as a cameraman' so this is all new territory for me. My EX3 will also fit in my other Petrol camera bag, a PCCB-2N, it's a little bit of a tight squeeze with the viewfinder on the EX3 but that does just about meet BA dimensions. I'll look seriously again at that. I do think my main EX3 Petrol roller bag (the PWR-HDV mentioned above) would be way too big though and risk being an issue but your experience suggests I might get away with it.

Anyone else got any European experience to share in this area and specifically maybe with this bag?
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Old December 2nd, 2008, 04:13 PM   #29
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I fly internationally A LOT with gear. I ALWAYS carry on the camera.

Here are a few points:

1. Fly a regular airline. Earn mileage points and status. This will help with carrying on extra or oversize gear. Know the plane you will fly in. Be prepared to kiss some backside to get it on the plane.

2. Don't take to much gear. I have gotten my travel kit down to a very small package. When you carry on your camera don't be afraid to go up to the people at the gate ahead of time and ask for help in getting the camera on the plane. If they think you are trying to sneak the camera on they will not be helpful. Act like a professional!!!

3. Try to get on the plane early if possible. When you earn status on an airline you get to board early and make sure that the gear is packed safely before the "tourists" get on board.

4. In a pinch i have thrown out the line "this camera is a professional piece of equipment that costs tens of thousands of dollars (or euros, or pounds). I am responsible for it and I need your help in making sure that it gets on the plane and doesn't get damaged." This works every time.

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Old December 2nd, 2008, 05:53 PM   #30
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Check this out. It is a Tamrac 5551 rolling strongbox.
Attached Thumbnails
Airline transportation-baraboo-001.jpg   Airline transportation-baraboo-002.jpg  

Airline transportation-baraboo-004.jpg  
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