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Old December 30th, 2009, 12:20 AM   #1
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Air Travel Hassles - and a future solution?

OK guys and gals,

This air travel thing is getting serious. I use a JVC HD series camera. I have lost luggage enough times over 20 something years of travelling to work (in news and current affairs, almost always in foreign news) to hand carry camera, radio mics, tapes, 2 x battery, charger, laptop and charger, iPod, something to read, and a spare pair of skivvies. That's the minimum. At least with this load I can work straight off the plane, even if my checked bags go to Bogota or Burundi by mistake.

Now, every time some prat tries to set fire to his underpants or shoes or whatever, my life gets a little harder. Combine a passport full of stamps to places like Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc, and 12 - 15 kgs of complex electronics in my hand baggage, and check-in becomes a fun-free zone.

I know that I am not alone in this...

And I wonder if we can start a little campaign here to make it slightly easier.

Almost without exception, musicians are allowed to carry their instruments on the plane with them. If it's something large, like a Cello or Sousaphone, perhaps they need to buy a second ticket. But there is a pretty much universal understanding between musicians and airlines that musical instruments don't go in the hold, and can be carried IN ADDITION TO the normal carry-on allowance.

Bob Atkins' blog - at http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/ - tells me that the TSA actually does specifically allow professional camera gear to be carried IN ADDITION to the normal carry-on allowance. So if this is the case, why don't the airlines follow the same advice? After all, I (my clients) spend probably USD50,000 a year on air travel.

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtrav...rial_1248.shtm

What can we do to lobby the airline industry to allow us professional camera operators to have the same privileges applied to our camera kit?

Is there a recognised body for professional camera operators that could (or perhaps does) issue a photocard, recognised by the airlines and TAS and Airport security, identifying the bearer as a Professional Camera Operator, which would help us get our equipment safely onto the plane with us, and not left at the mercy of the thieves, incompetents, and failed weight-lifters who seem to be attracted to the profession of airport baggage handler?

Thoughts and comments gratefully accepted...

Happy New Year, too.

R

Last edited by Robert Adams; December 30th, 2009 at 03:05 AM.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 02:05 PM   #2
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New TSB Ruling regarding Airline Flights

THis is OT, but thread may be of interest to those of us that will be traveling in the near future to a US destination.
Has anyone here yet transported your EX camera, in a suitable case on an airline flight?
I am trying to find information, don't want to get to airport and not be able to take my camera with me on board. Would it be safe to put in luggage, unlocked in a pelican case?
Canadian Air Transport Security Authority - Temporary emergency measures in effect. Expect delays.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 03:00 PM   #3
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Up until the last unsuccessful (actually it was very successful, it is causing huge losses and fear) attempt, there was no problem on larger planes as carry on if you have a correct size case.

I have often sent cameras lights etc in Pelican or similar cases as check in, I lock with zipties and leave more zipties and a note in the case thanking TSA and asking them to re-ziptie the case. I have been lucky and have never had a problem.

Whenever possible I book direct flights on large airplanes. I have also been known to ship gear FEDEX. And I always find out where the nearest rental house at my destination, just in case.

Now the TSA says they will not tell us what they let you bring on board, when you are searched and what you can do on the plane, it is supposed to be a surplice so terrorists don't know what to expect.

I hope I don't get in trouble for this. But it would be very nice if anyone traveling with equipment, tell us here what is allowed. I understand it may be a state secret.

My guess is that in a few weeks/months things will calm down again.

And I will add that airlines have always been very helpful with camera gear. American and a few others have special low overweight rates for camera gear. The people at the checkin counters don't always know this, so it is best to check the airline's website. I actually bring a printout of the overweight rates, that makes everything much smoother.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 03:26 PM   #4
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I usually use a Kata 195 bag for my Ex1 and Gear.
Would not be real happy to have to put it in my other pelican case and leave unlocked and send thru checked baggage. Has anyone done this?
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 03:41 PM   #5
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I've often checked in my EX1 or a PDW-700 in a pelicase. Never had a problem with either. In 25 years of traveling all over the world I have never had any camera equipment stolen in transit. It has been delayed, sometimes for some time, but it has always shown up in the end. I think the best thing to do is to pack the camera in a regulation size carry on case and make sure you leave plenty of time for security. Also make sue you have a charged battery and SxS card to demonstrate that the camera works.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 05:07 PM   #6
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Thread moved from Sony XDCAM to Home, Away from Home... so it's no longer OT.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 07:22 PM   #7
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I find that flying an airline system, mine is Star Alliance, helps a lot. I show the airline my frequent flyer status card and nicely explain the issue and they are always nice about it. It always put it on them. I say that I can't check the equipment because of the value and that I am sure that the airline doesn't want to be responsible for it if something happens. They always agree with me and let me carry it on.

What it going to be a bugger is now there are times when you will be limited to one carry on no matter what. it will really limit what you can take on.

It seems that the biggest problem are with small airlines and airports where security and ticket agents don't care or don't speak your language. I identification such as a Press Badge may help, but if the agent can't read it, it doesn't do much good.

Life certainly isn't easy with traveling these days.

The bigger issue for me is customs agents who are getting more restrictive on what you can and can't bring into a country.

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Old January 3rd, 2010, 09:59 PM   #8
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Don't be too sure about being able to take cameras aboard in the future. It was a rigged ENG camera which was used by a suicide bomber to knock off a Mujahadeen leader in Afghanistan not too long ago before the Taliban were first defeated.

It may come down to renting cameras locally, shipping them in well beforehand or worse for those of you who travel, local stringers having to be hired instead.

Last edited by Bob Hart; January 3rd, 2010 at 09:58 PM. Reason: error
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Old January 4th, 2010, 02:34 AM   #9
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I have the Pelican 1510 case, which will pass as carry on luggage. I have been allowed to bring it as my carry-on except once when I was flying Philippine Airlines. They wanted to weigh it, and it was over. I had to check it and pay the penalty. Not sure if the rules have changed in the states regarding the use of TSA approved locks, but if still allowed, then I recommend if you use a Pelican case, use two short-shank locks, one at each end. Otherwise the case can be pried open part way. Also, if you plan to hand-carry, always keep a couple TSA locks in the case anyways just in case you have to check it. If you want to lock it after your arrival in-country, I'd recommend using something other than the TSA locks, which can be opened with a master key. If they won't let you lock it when you check it, you can always try leaving the locks open with a note to the inspector to lock it once he's finished. Never tried it, but the most nervous part of the trip is at the luggage carousel wondering if you'll ever be reunited with your gear again...
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Old January 4th, 2010, 07:02 AM   #10
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Anyone flown recently?

I'm a little worried in light of the recent aviation-related incident. I have a film fest to attend in another city and state. I had planned to bring two bags. . .one with regular luggage, the other with dvds, posters, post cards, etc. I was going to check the regular stuff and carry on the other. Better to lose my clothes than all my publicity stuff. I heard you can ask for a hand check at security instead of running through the conveyor belt (in case you have tape, etc. that you're worried about being damaged by the X-rays). Am I going to be shot by nervous people if I try this now? Am I hosed?
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Old January 4th, 2010, 07:26 AM   #11
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Why are you worried about X-Rays? There's no problem putting digital media through X-Ray machines.

Your biggest problem is losing checked baggage, which happens to me regularly in the US -I'd hand carry as much as your airline allow. Also, if you're flying from Houston, make sure you don't crack a joke - jokes are banned at George Bush Airport and they will arrest you, I kid you not!
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Old January 4th, 2010, 08:08 AM   #12
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Just ship your gear via FedEx or UPS using next-day delivery. Insure it for its replacement value. The shorter the transit time, the less of a chance for loss or damage. And not having to struggle with it at the airport makes the flying experience that much more tolerable.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 08:25 AM   #13
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I have been shipping mine for years it's just easier. With what the airlines charge for overweight and extra bags these days not much more cost wise.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 10:29 AM   #14
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options not options...

I know I'm in a minority in terms of where I live and work - but there's not much in the way of rental houses in most (pretty much all) the places I work. There's often not stringers who can do the job properly. And fedex-ing 50 grand's worth of kit from Harare to Goma ain't ever going to be a winning proposition...

I take your point, Bob - I was in the region when Ahmed Shah was killed... even the Taliban got jumpy about cameras! And the Iranians have always insisted that before filming a major event (an interview with the Pres, for instance, or Khomeini's annual remembrance service) you leave all kit with security for 12 - 24 hours before the event so they can check it out thoroughly.

I guess I come back to the musician/camera operator connection - and I know this is not the time to be arguing against the machine; but if we as a profession could somehow work on the security/airline industry to make it easier for us to do our job, and theirs, surely everyone would benefit?

Maybe I'm just being naive. Maybe the answer is to fly business class, smile a lot, (but not too much) and stick with airlines you already have a consumer relationship with...
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Old January 4th, 2010, 10:43 AM   #15
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Im only going on a month long holiday,with a few shots i might use at a later date.
Don't want to get at AP and have to put my Kata 195 with EX1 thru checked luggage.
If they won't allow it as carry on, which it now says cameras are allowed.The 195 bag is legal size for carry on. The 195 would not make it thru checked luggage without wrecking the camera.
My Pelican case is possible carry on legal???, but do not like idea of sending it unlocked thru the checked baggage.
Wife says to leave it at home.....
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