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Thread: Air Travel Conundrum

  1. #1

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    Air Travel Conundrum

    I've read a lot of threads about planning and packing for air travel, but I still am faced with this basic conundrum: using a rigid or semi-rigid rolling case for carrying the LF gear on the plane, but wanting to use a soft backpack case to tote the gear around once I am on-site. I feel like I should have the heavy protection for the camera and glass when it gets smashed around in the overhead bin, but that kind of case just won't do when I'm walking around extensively for shooting.

    So, how do I solve this conundrum? Do I take both, and switch from the travel case to the backpack once I land? Or are any of the backpacks robust enough (and sized appropriately) for stuffing in the overhead bin and also for walking around with the gear on the ground?

    Thanks in advance!
    Dan

  2. #2
    Will Whitaker's Avatar
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    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    Seems you'd be more likely to end up having to gate-check your bag because the flight is over-booked and all the overhead space is taken. Ship it ahead and save the stress.

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    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    Quote Originally Posted by Will Whitaker View Post
    Seems you'd be more likely to end up having to gate-check your bag because the flight is over-booked and all the overhead space is taken. Ship it ahead and save the stress.
    I forgot to mention that the destination is overseas (Scotland), so shipping the gear is really out of the question. So for my upcoming trip as well as cross-country flights, I'm looking for the most practical solution that involves bringing one carry on bag and checking the rest.

    Thanks!

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    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    What size? Dealing with a 4x5 is considerably different from an 8x10. (There's probably no easy answer, anyhow.)
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

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    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    Quote Originally Posted by djdister View Post
    I forgot to mention that the destination is overseas (Scotland), so shipping the gear is really out of the question. So for my upcoming trip as well as cross-country flights, I'm looking for the most practical solution that involves bringing one carry on bag and checking the rest.

    Thanks!
    If you pack your gear in a good camera type backpack with dividers chances that any of it would be damaged in the overhead compartment are quite slim. I have traveled this way with my equipment for more than three decades and have never had any damage.

    One problem you may have for connecting flights in the US is the small overhead compartments on jets like the Embraers 145 that are used by many airlines. If your bag won't fit you will have to gate check it, which increases risk of damage. But on international flights you should not have any problem finding room for your camera backpack.

    Sandy
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    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    Quote Originally Posted by djdister View Post
    Or are any of the backpacks robust enough (and sized appropriately) for stuffing in the overhead bin and also for walking around with the gear on the ground?
    I'm not sure what kind of backpack you have, but I've never had one for which I worried about protection in an overhead bin. That's a pretty protected environment, and you are the one placing and removing it from there, so you can take as much care as you like. I worry more about having to gate check it. So make sure your pack is tolerably close to the regulation size (and maybe weight for an international flight) and try to board as early as possible.

    Bob

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    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill_1856 View Post
    What size? Dealing with a 4x5 is considerably different from an 8x10. (There's probably no easy answer, anyhow.)
    Oh, good question. I have two LF cameras - a Horseman 45FA and a KB Canham 5x7 traditional (wood) camera. The Horseman is much better protected because of how it folds up, while the Canham is a bit more fragile. Because of that difference, I will probably take the Horseman on the overseas trip.

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    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    Quote Originally Posted by sanking View Post
    If you pack your gear in a good camera type backpack with dividers chances that any of it would be damaged in the overhead compartment are quite slim. I have traveled this way with my equipment for more than three decades and have never had any damage.

    One problem you may have for connecting flights in the US is the small overhead compartments on jets like the Embraers 145 that are used by many airlines. If your bag won't fit you will have to gate check it, which increases risk of damage. But on international flights you should not have any problem finding room for your camera backpack.

    Sandy
    Thanks for relating your experience, Sandy. I realize the additional problem with the commuter planes and will try to avoid them for my "shooting" trips. Luckily I have three departure airports to choose from in order to get on the bigger planes (BWI, DCA and IAD).

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    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    Quote Originally Posted by biedron View Post
    I'm not sure what kind of backpack you have, but I've never had one for which I worried about protection in an overhead bin. That's a pretty protected environment, and you are the one placing and removing it from there, so you can take as much care as you like. I worry more about having to gate check it. So make sure your pack is tolerably close to the regulation size (and maybe weight for an international flight) and try to board as early as possible.

    Bob
    Thanks for the advice. I've got the Lowepro Pro Runner 450 AW, which may be borderline for size, but also has those unruly straps sticking out all over. I'll measure it again for international flights, and figure out how to contain all those straps. Thanks again.

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    IanG's Avatar
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    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    I travel frequently with LF equipment between Europe & Turkey, stick to one LF format though, my camera goes carry on with all the film, everything else goes in checked luggage.

    Sandy King is right about the over-head luggage compartment and most airlines have a maximum allowable size and weight, although few enforce this rigidly I did get coaugt out once and my small backpack was over weight and had to go in the checked luggage, I forgot their was film in it - luckily only a small pack of J&C chinese 5x4 which remarkably survived the X ray scans. All my exposed films were already processed.

    It's also worth remembering a coat pocket can hold a few boxes of 5x4 film, or the odd lens, I carry my TLR through the check in around my neck again saving valuable space.

    Ian

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