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Thread: Air Travel Conundrum

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Sep 1998
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    Oregon and Austria
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    1,894

    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    I travel internationally with 4x5 field gear (wooden folder, lenses, filters, spotmeter, etc.) several times a year.

    My recommendations:

    Don't worry about having a hard-shell case for your carry-on. In fact, you don't even have to carry your camera backpack on with your gear.

    What you do need is a bag that is relatively small and meets the carry-on requirements as to size and weight so you won't have to check it at the gate. I carry my bag on small commuter flights as well, stowed under the seat because it is a bit large for the overhead bins on the smaller planes.

    I pack my camera (together with its ground-glass protector) in a thick-walled cardboard box that I have cobbled together myself using a box cutter and duct tape. All my lenses go in similar boxes. The boxes protect on five sides, but are lidless. I've never seen the need for a lid, but you could make one easily as well. These boxes go into the carry-on bag along with other items. My meter has its own soft case and travels in it. FWIW, I use these same boxes in my photo pack when in the field now. Good for protection from small bumps and dings.

    I only carry-on the most fragile and valuable items. Important is to decide what you really need to carry on and what you can check. Less fragile items can go in the checked baggage (empty film holders, cleaning gadgets, exposure record book, dark cloth, lens hoods, even filters if you have cases for them and pack them between soft items).

    For many years I had a carry-on lined with closed-cell foam (again homemade using an old sleeping pad). I no longer use that, but it is another option for you if you feel you need extra protection.

    I often travel with loaded holders inside Europe. In that case I carry about twenty holders plus extra film and an empty film box or two for changing. These go in my checked baggage and my very gracious and understanding wife carries a row of holders in the bottom of her carry-on as well. I've never had a problem just running these through the carry-on baggage scanner.

    However, to avoid possible problems, pack cables and other electronic gear in a separate bag in your carry on and take these out and run them through the scanner separately. The only times I've had to have my film holders rescanned was because of other x-ray opaque items in the bag that blocked the view enough to require unloading and running things through separately. I have had my bag visually inspected a time or two. Last trip, the security person was understanding enough to exempt the film holders from a rescan and sent the rest of the carry-on contents through the scanner. The problem was a ball of computer cables, not the holders.

    Take a sample sheet of film with you and learn the phrase "unexposed/undeveloped film" in every language you plan to encounter on your trip just in case English doesn't work (Google Translator can help here, but most airport personnel now speak pretty good English). Don't ask for a hand inspection anywhere but in U.S. airports. You just won't get one and you'll slow things down. Make the scanning personnel's job as easy as possible and don't worry about having your film scanned a few times. I've had 400/320-speed film scanned up to eight times with no ill effects.

    Hope this helps,

    Doremus

  2. #12

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    719

    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!
    Dan, Hi

    presumably you've booked somewhere to stay in Scotland? - why as Will says, can't you ship it ahead with, say, FedEx to that address

    I'm not advertising for the UK per se but we have a very decent Courier set up here and I see no reason why it shouldn't work

    good luck

    andrew

  3. #13

    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Hamilton, Canada
    Posts
    1,377

    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    I have always used the Think tank airport backpack. This is the new model.
    http://www.thinktankphoto.com/produc...celerator.aspx
    I also pack a shoulder bag in my suitcase, filled with socks etc. for daily use.
    Bill
    "There are a great many things I am in doubt about at the moment, and I should consider myself favoured if you would kindly enlighten me. Signed, Doubtful, off to Canada." (BJP 1914).

  4. #14
    Youngin Daniel Stone's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Los Angeles area
    Posts
    2,012

    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    I purchased a ThinkTank Airport Int'l V2.0 rolling bag before my trip down to Australia. It was designed to conform to int'l "standards of sizing" for international flights(although some domestic carriers worldwide might be different, keep that in mind!)

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...nal_V_2_0.html

    Anyhow, I was able to stuff the following into it:
    1. 5x7 Deardorff
    2. (6) 5x7 holders(in 8x10 Photobackpacker case, 2 will fit per zipper pouch) *(6) more were in my checked luggage)
    3. (5) lenses(in Bass Pro Shops reel case)
    4. Spot meter

    I also carried a backpack(my airline allows for (1) carry-on, and (1) "personal item", so essentially 2 bags in total. Thankfully I didn't have any issues whatsoever getting enough overhead room to accommodate BOTH of my bags. Film(approx 150 sheets, mostly E-6 and some C-41) went into my backpack. Hand checks were requested(and thankfully granted) at all x-ray points in the US as well as in Fiji(my connecting flight through Nadi). I carried a bum sheet of 5x7 film to show TSA/airport officials what I had inside the film boxes.
    Call me paranoid(considering so many here and elsewhere on the interwebs claiming success with such) about x-ray damage, but frankly, I'll keep asking for hand checks wherever I go, as much as possible. If they insist on opening boxes, then I'll concede. Until then I'll smile, smile some more, and kindly ask for a hand check . Hasn't done me wrong yet on 2 overseas trips, and I do my best to plan ahead, so NO surprises.
    Have your film clearly marked as such, and be prepared to x-ray it SEPARATELY from your equipment bag. This was recommended to me by a fellow LFF member who travels extensively, whilst shooting 4x5 for his projects(Noah Addis). He recommended such(he doesn't request hand checks, just x-rays his film), but sends his film through the machine OUTSIDE of his equipment bag. The thought behind this logic is that if the x-ray technician wants to up the power to "see deeper" into what's in his bag, that his film doesn't receive a higher dosage of nuking than normal. Sounds totally plausible to me, hence my forwarding of his recommendation to you.

    Enjoy your trip! I've found that to include LF photography in your trip's plans, it's best to plan ahead accordingly, carry your irreplaceable items with you during travel, and pack efficiently. Maximize space in your bags.

    cheers,
    Dan

  5. #15

    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Posts
    1,218

    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    Thanks everyone for relating your experiences and providing a number of suggestions. I think I have several avenues of approach for my upcoming trip as well as air travel in general. I will recommend that this thread can be closed out.

  6. #16
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    SF Bay area, CA
    Posts
    10,591

    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    My regulation carry-on is soft-sided cordura, but with the typical wheels and telescoping handle. But it also has padding, and tucked away backpack straps as well
    as a hip belt. So it almost instantly converts into a backpack - not adequate for strenuous hiking, but comfortable enough for a few miles at a time. I configure any camera system I need in there, and carry the whole works on - a full 4x5 system fits in, including tripod, and I have Tupperware style containers with dividiers for lenses etc - all waterproof and well protected. There's even room for a changing tent and holders. Then there's a zippered-on accessory mini-pack which contains things like books, sunglasses, water and food - which can be quickly separated at the airport to count as a personal bag, with the main one going in the overhead bin. If I was planning on a more rigorous backpack trip, I'd ship a real pack empty, or check it in relatively empty and collapsed - certainly devoid of any kind of camera gear or anything else which would tempt pilferage. No need for an expensive hard-sided carry-on. I think those are more likely to tempt a quickie
    thief anyway.

  7. #17

    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    1,049

    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    One item no one has mentioned, but is critical for view camera work, is the tripod. When I have flown overseas, I had the camera, lenses, and film in a photobackpacker bag that stayed with me, and packed the tripod and head in my checked suitcase. That was fine, but of course I worried about theft (if the average baggage handler has a clue to the value of carbon fiber tripods and good quality heads...). Does everyone do the same, or other methods for the tripod?

  8. #18
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    SF Bay area, CA
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    10,591

    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    You obviously didn't read what I said on two different threads, Peter. I would never check in anything of value or that I simply cannot do without, like a tripod. As much as I like wooden tripods, for airline travel, I carry a four-section carbon fiber Gitzo which will fully collapse inside the carry-on. This works for everything up thru 4x5 format. My CF tripod for 8x10 use is a bit too big for even this, so if I were to bring it, I'd try to get them to stash it toward the front of the plane, in its own carry bag, much like they do for golf clubs. It's a pretty narrow pkg, so I could probably get away with it, though would certainly ask the specific airline first. The only time I have traveled with a big wooden tripod, I made certain it was a heavy clunker and not my prized Ries. Theft from checked baggage is pretty rampant in quite a few airports. Things get misplaced too. So I'd certainly prefer to know exactly where that tripod would be at all time. Fortunately, carbon fiber makes the portability and wt issue quite manageable.

  9. #19

    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    249

    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    Track and Field official.. Light travel set up is two sets of dry fit shirts, similar easy to wash and dry pants. Every night when you take your shower throw the days cloths in the bottom of the shower, add soap. walk around a lot while showering. Rinse and hang. The set 2 works tonight and tomorrow. Gets washed day 2. Leaves much room in baggage for official equipment in standard size travel bags.

  10. #20
    jp's Avatar
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    May 2009
    Location
    Maine
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    Re: Air Travel Conundrum

    Pelican used to make a padded camera bag with dividers and shoulder strap for their 1500 series case (which are generally ideal for carrion. I don't see them on their website at the moment. I also have a fishing reel bag http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004I8T9CA which fits neatly inside a 1500 case and has padded dividers and shoulder strap. I use it presently to organize lenses.

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