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Old February 5th, 2003, 07:14 AM   #1
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Has anyone travelled (flown) lately with their equiptment?

Maybe I just havn't been paying attention, but my mom just came for a visit and she told me she wasn't allowed to lock her suitcases. I think we all know that there are some curious bagage handlers out there who may five finger something for themselves. I may be going back east to do a commercial, but I'm not sure how confortable I am checking my storm case and risking something getting busted or lost. Anyone have experience with this?
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Old February 5th, 2003, 07:33 AM   #2
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We've had a couple of threads about airline travel before, at:


However, with the recent change in baggage search procedures, you bring up an interesting topic. I would hand-carry the camera aboard, if it's small enough. There are hardshell and softshell cases specifically for carry-on purposes. You could also insist on being present while your bags are x-rayed and searched (in which case they can be locked, by you). Be sure to budget enough time for this, and check with your primary air carrier.

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Old February 5th, 2003, 12:37 PM   #3
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We've been having this same discussion because of the possibility of an upcoming shoot that is beyond a single day's drive. In the past we always flew, and I carried the camera in a Portabrace bag, and an assistant would carry the exposed tapes in another Portabrace. All other equipment was shipped in hard cases, usually between 6 and 10 cases, depending on the shoot.

However, my last trip was just before they initiated the checked-through bag inspection procedures. Except for the cases for lights, all my cases are old and don't have cut-to-fit partitions, etc. In other words, I pack all sorts of things into various cases and use pieces of one-inch and two-inch foam liberally. There is no way somebody could take stuff out of one of my cases and put it all back in securely.

So, in order to check gear these days, we would have to spend a couple thousand dollars, probably more, on Anvil cases designed for specific gear. And even then, I wouldn't want people to go through stuff without my being there and resealing the cases properly.

That leaves two ways to get from here to there and back these days: Ship the stuff in advance via Fedex, or rent a van and drive.

We're going to drive. Even though we'll have to rent motel rooms and spend the night on the way, it seems a better option for us at this point. It could be a couple of people drive with the gear, and everybody else flies a day later.

Anyway, driving isn't all bad--you can take things like C-stands, 4X8 sheets of foam core, sandbags, and things you probably wouldn't be able to send by air.
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Old February 5th, 2003, 03:29 PM   #4
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When I had my production company, I would almost always drive to my locations. I could carry all kinds of extra gear I would never fly with, spare cameras, lenses, better field monitors, etc. If the location was within about 2000 miles of Cincinnati, I would drive.

In '97 I was DP on a film for the NFL that required us to visit 20 NFL cities that spring and we drove it. Occasionally different crew members, producer etc. would get to fly, but not too often. There was too much gear to make it practical to fly. We couldn't always count on being able to rent the right gear in some cities. It only made sense to drive. I think we put just over 15,000 miles on the one vehicle in about 6 weeks. You get to see a lot of the country driving.
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Old February 5th, 2003, 03:43 PM   #5
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Yeah, and sometimes you can drive about as fast as you can fly. It takes me an hour from my house to the airport; say I'm going to Chicago. Got to get there 2 hours early with all the baggage to get it unloaded, pay excess baggage, etc.; so that's 3 hours. The plane will be about an hour late including when it really arrives and boards and when you actually step off at the other end, so that's 4 hours...if you check a tripod you usually have to go hunt it down someplace because it often will not come up on the luggage carousel, and by the time you get all your stuff, get the rental car and get things loaded, we're up to about 5 hours now. Then an hour to drive downtown, so that's about 6 hours from K.C. to Chicago. I can drive it in 9 and don't have to worry about all the hassle and can take more stuff.

Wouldn't it be nice if we had high speed trains in the U.S. like they do in France and Japan?
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Old February 5th, 2003, 05:56 PM   #6
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The problem with high speed trains here in Japan is a lack of luggage space. There's enough room for each person to have a typical carry-on and regular backpack...but that's about it.
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Old February 5th, 2003, 07:08 PM   #7
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I did a shoot in France for 3 weeks several years ago, and we regularly went between Lyon and Paris on the TGV high speed train. We were able to carry on 6 big cases and stick them in the luggage area with no problem. They had plenty of space. I guess the trains in Japan are more crowded.

They're a great way to travel...cruising along at close to 200mph, perfectly smooth, not noisy, plenty of room, big comfortable seats that lean back with a footrest that comes up, like a home recliner, a bar, food that's good, perfectly on time. And we get stuck in the U.S. with cattlecar type airlines that were rotten long before terrorism.

The last time I took my camera on (I knew enough from years of this to always have a charged battery)...I believe it was in the Spokane, WA, airport at around 6:30 in the morning. I almost didn't make the flight because the security person kept going over my camera with those little chemical sniffing pads that turn color or something if there's a strange chemical. I turned on the camera, proved it worked and wasn't hollowed out, but she still kept screwing with it, and I kept holding on to it. She kept trying to tug it out of my hands, but I wouldn't let her. And we had some difficulty because she couldn't speak English and I didn't speak her language. I finally got the supervisor, he looked it over and let me go. Barely made the flight.
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Old February 5th, 2003, 08:31 PM   #8
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I flew to Hong Kong from LA via Narita on January 28. I handcarried my GL2 and stuff in a Kata bag but once my check-in luggage was scanned at LAX I was allowed to lock it. The scanners at LAX, at least in the Northwest area, are out front and your bags are out of your sight only when they are actually in the scanner. The TSA guy was very polite and even helped turn my luggage so I could lock things more quickly. HK, incidentally, does spot checks on luggage to be checked prior to your getting to the check-in counter.

When I flew to Vancouver from Orange County in early January my large luggage (skis, one suitcase) were checked in my presence. My two smaller bags (ski gear, etc.) were checked somewhere in the bowels of the airport. I was not allowed to lock anything! This may have been because I had to change planes in Seattle; Alaska does not fly directly to YVR from SNA. Again, I hand carried my camera gear.

I fly to Vancouver from Orange County again on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if there are any procedural changes at that SNA.

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Old February 6th, 2003, 04:38 PM   #9
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It will be interesting to see if there are any procedural changes at that SNA.
SNA happens to be my home airport. I fly out of there all the time, including as recently as Monday of this week. SNA x-rays all checked bags, but does it after the bags have been checked at the counter. Accordingly, I suspect that SNA will be an airport that requires that you leave your bags unlocked, or risk having the locks forced open. The alternative is to use twist ties that can be clipped open by the TSA inspectors.

Personally, I simply refuse to check bags anymore. I've gotten very creative about cramming everything that I need into two legal (more or less) carryons.
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Old February 7th, 2003, 01:38 AM   #10
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OK you spoilt brats :-)
Let's hear from someone who has flown to or from Tel Aviv with a bit of equipment. I hear they open and look inside your ball point pens.

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Old February 7th, 2003, 01:53 AM   #11
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The new security procedures do, indeed, introduce the possibility of your checked bags being searched after they are x-rayed. Two weeks ago for a flight to Calgary my checked bag was opened by TSA. They seemed to have been very careful not to mess anything up, left a notice of inspection inside and then locked the bag with nylon ties.

I hand-carried my GL2 aboard in a PortaBrace case. It was, of course, inspected at both O'Hare and Calgary. Returning to Chicago, the Calgary security crew makes you remove all electronics from the bag before its x-ray scan...but does not make you turn anything on. Rather strange.
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Old February 7th, 2003, 10:42 AM   #12
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I will be flying to Patagonia in a couple of weeks, I will let you know how that works out.
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