View Full Version : Anyone test new rule for camera bag on airplanes?
Now that the Department of Homeland Security is permitting an additional carry-on bag for camera equipment on airplanes, has anyone had the chance to test this? Are the inspectors aware of the new rule? I am concerned, for example, that inspectors might see 4x4 metal lens boards and a metal camera - as potential weapons and disallow the equipment as carry-on luggage. Do you dare to permit your camera equipment to go in the hold? Or would you ship equipment by Fedex in advance? What about packing a tripod? Do you put it in a box, a soft sided bag, or a dedicated hard case?
I flew Continental EWR to PDX yesterday and hand carried a briefcase with computer and electronics and a camera bag. No one asked or said anything. Total time - checkin to gate - less then 5 minutes at 2PM at one of the busiest terminals at one of the busiest airports.
I was also flying with 2 Rimowa aluminum suitcases, a 30" 4 wheel case and a 26" wheeled case. Neither created a question nor were they opened. The small case was full of photo and electronics.
Keep in mind that it is the lessor of the rules between the airlines and the TSA. I.e. If the airline says one personal item and a carry one, and the TSA says: one personal item, a carry on and a camera bag, the airline's rule applies.
On many airlines flying internationally, the rule only helps you if you are flying Business or first class.
Also keep in mind that the weight restrictions on many airlines can be the limiting factor for large format.
Many airlines limit you to 15# per bag carry on and some are as low as 8#. My roll a board weighs 8 pounds empty!
Over Christmas, I carried a backpack containing a 4x5 metal camera, lens, film, etc. on flights to and from the US. The security people had no problem with it and they were happy to hand check the film. In the last year, I have also carried a Gitzo 1325 tripod on flights in the US and Europe without anyone so much as blinking an eye. At Christmas I decided to put the tripod in with clothes in a checked luggage bag. The tripod survived the ordeal.
A Rimowa Salsa Plus polycarbonate 2 wheeled 30" case weighs 8 lbs empty. The wheeled carry-on weighs 5 lbs.
With weight limitations on air travel luggage why would someone want to take up most of their weight allotment with the weight of a heavy suitcase? And the polycarbonate material is extremely tough stuff - they make bulletproof glass from it!
David A. Goldfarb
Around Christmas I took four flights and carried on my Crumpler Fux Delux with Linhof Tech V 4x5" kit, five lenses, the usual accessories and laptop. Two were short commuter flights on which carryons were not checked. One flight the Crumpler bag went through the X-ray with no additional inspection. One flight they were suspicious of my focusing cams, which looked like scissors on the X-ray, but they were okay with them once they saw what they were. I don't carry any film faster than Tri-X, so I let it go through the X-ray in a lead bag. I check my tripod in a Tenba TTP case.
I may be missing something but the real question to me is "which airlines willnow let you carry on three (3) pieces?"
If I correctly understand the new TSA rules they allow a THIRD piece in addition to a carryon bag and a 'personal item (read reifecase, etc.).' As a frequent flyer I am not willing to risk the iarline's willingness to go along with three items, even if I am sitting in First Class, until I check with them in advance. On most of my short hops I make do quite well with two carryon pieces but I am head out to the West Coast for a longer trip later this month and will call and check in advance if I decide to thry a third piece as carryon; it is that third piece that none of the responses seem to have answered unless I missed something.
Another issue, of course,is where you can put this camera case. Unless you get on the plane early early you will frequently find no room left in the overheads. I have even had this happen in First Class.
Well when I checked with a local airline awhile back the rule was the camera bag didn't count. Now I don't know what they mean by camera bag.
According to Northwest's website, passengers are allowed to carry on one piece of luggage conforming to size and weight restrictions, plus one personal item (purse, computer, etc.), plus one "special" item, such as coats, umbrellas, diaper changing beds, small camera bags, prostheses and canes, etc. On the other hand, United's website makes no mention of cameras or camera bags, and American's site notes that "Small book-bag style backpacks" and "other similar items that do not exceed 36 linear inches (length + width + height) will be allowed such as a small tote bag or shoulder bag." Other airlines may have their own variations on TSA's new guideline. I'll be taking my Crown Graphic to Scotland in a couple of days -- we'll see how it goes.
David A. Goldfarb
Well it's finally happened--Here I am in Maui and my tripod bag got left with what seems to be a whole crate of other passengers' luggage in Newark airport. Fortunately, I brought my Tech V, so I can shoot handheld today until the airline delivers my tripod.
That said, I put the camera bag through the X-ray with film in a lead bag and was not subject to further inspection at Newark airport. I've made up a little case with all the things that draw the attention of the inspectors, so I can put it in my checked luggage, and then transfer it back to the camera bag when it arrives--Linhof cams, cable releases, spanners and small tools. I keep one lens with cam and cable release on the camera, so that if my checked luggage doesn't arrive as it hasn't this time, at least I've got one cammed lens to shoot with. I've got two empty Grafmatics and a 6x7 back as well in the missing bag, but I brought one loaded Grafmatic and two boxes of film on the plane, so I've got something to go with.
I was also carrying a totebag with some books and other things and didn't have any problem with that plus the Crumpler Fux Deluxe, either with the TSA or with the airline.
Last time I flew (in Mar 05) I had to open my tamarac bag, open up my wooden 4x5, and allow each lens to be inspected. That was a first. Not surprisingly, the screener had never seen anything like a LF camera before. We had a nice little conversation, it was not a problem- beyond the fact that the extra time used up made it impossible to get anything to eat before a no-meals cross-country flight. Oh well! I'm glad that I had shipped my film and holders ahead.
I can't say I tested any new rules, but I just returned from a six-week trip to Europe and I'm pleased to pass on my experience -- perhaps it will help someone.
I flew with three pieces of luggage; my Canham DLC with three lenses, a Leica M3, assorted meters, filters and other necessities went into a Lowepro AW wheel-along back pack. I loaded three boxes of sheet film and 15 rolls of 35mm film into the Lowepro. My small Gitzo and less fragile photo stuff like film holders, darkcloth, Graphmatic and the all-important Harrison Pup Tent went into a carry-on sized roll-along with my clothes. Lastly, I carried a knapsack type backpack with essential small stuff.
My plan was to gate-check the largest bag with tripod if required to do so. I would keep the Lowepro and knapsack in the cabin even on smaller planes. The system worked fine for the entire trip. I boarded aircraft in San Francisco, Frankfurt, Firenze and Paris. United Airlines in SF allowed all three pieces in the outbound 747. The gatecheck scheme worked at the other airports.
Security at Firenze and Paris required a careful manual check of the Lowepro. English speaking security people couldn't be more courteous and chatty when performing the check. Both said, "Oh, you are a professional photographer" when they spotted the ground glass of the DLC. Of course I said yes. They didn't even examine the three sealed boxes of sheet film. I had the distinct impression that the guards were more interested in my reactions to being searched than to what they saw in the luggage which may explain all the questions and conversation. At least, it doesn't hurt to be positive and friendly.
My film, FP4, HP5 and NPS, went through four X-ray screenings. I can see no radiation effects on my developed negatives.
My only camera related problem during the trip occurred when I broke the glass protective plate on my Maxwell GG fresnel. Fred at the View Camera Store shipped a replacement the same day, but it got lost in the French customs labyrinth. Fortunately, the Maxwell focused just fine without the glass backing. I now carry a spare Maxwell with an acrylic backing in case I perform the same stupid stunt again.
Traveling with a 4x5 was a snap for me and I certainly will not hesitate to do it again.
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