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Thread: Checking LF gear as baggage

  1. #1

    Checking LF gear as baggage

    Hello - I am new to this forum.

    Does anyone have experiences related to checking a large hardshell pelican case with several LF lenses etc for overseas travel? I am a little worried about damage from rough handling, and alternatively I can take a very reduced outfit as a carry-on.

    Thanks - Michael

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Re: Checking LF gear as baggage

    Michael. I'm not sure whether you're OFF on your trip yet. But, if you're using Pelican cases, and the innards are 'formed' via Pick 'n Pluck foam (or whatever), you will be in good shape... depending on how close pieces are situated within the case.

    A few things come to mind when I travel with my #1650's. a) I have the airline affix "HEAVY" labels. b) My company name is stenciled on the cover... JUST THE COMPANY NAME (if you're a business). Certainly, I won't suggest advertising "HERE I AM, PLEASE STEAL ME". c) All my Pelicans are secured with TSA locks. d) A few of my business cards are strategically placed within the cases. e) I carry extra insurance in addition to my homeowners.

    It's tough to be sitting at a window seat... look out the window and see the baggage 'guy' playing catch with your expensive gear. Although I doubt anyone is going to play catch with a loaded pelican case.

    Another option is to ship your gear via FedEx, UPS or any other reputable carrier and buy the insurance.

    The final option - I think - is the one you yourself suggested.

    Enjoy your trip...

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Washington, D.C.

    Re: Checking LF gear as baggage

    I use a Pelican case for video gear and it'll take rough handling no problem. The issue is theft by baggage handlers or other airport workers. I usually ship it by FEDEX and that works really well. Fully insured is a must, but if you arrive on location without your gear--it's still a major problem.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Re: Checking LF gear as baggage

    I was planning on shipping my lighting to Italy but the airline (US Airways) specifically stated that they will not be liable for damage or loss of photographic equipment among other exclusions. So while it is more expensive, I would plan on shipping via an insured shipper.

    Another issue is having equipment shipped to another country via UPS or Fedex (in this case Italy) one will very likely incur duties on one's own equipment unless a special authorization is obtained from the designated embassy. 20% of the insured value is what Italy for $20,000 of gear it amounts to $4,000 plus shipping.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Re: Checking LF gear as baggage

    UPS are weasels don't get me started.

    I took my film holders,tripod and head in my checked bags. My hardcase fit a duffle bag and was then mixed with clothes.

    Lenses? Just seem too tempting for somebody to steal. They came carry on.

    Nice thing about travelling winter was a big coat. Lots of stuff fits in one of those -)

  6. #6
    Glenn Mellen
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Southlake, Texas

    Re: Checking LF gear as baggage

    Major factor to consider when checking in baggage on an airline, as Donald mentions about US Airways... your equipment is NOT insured, not even for the minimal coverage they allow on other baggage. And... not only that, but you aren't allowed to put locks on your baggage. This is true of all airlines, and not just one. Should an employee steal your unlocked equipment, or if it should get broken or lost in transit, you're completely out of luck.

    I preship anything I cannot carry on-board via UPS in Pelican cases, and have never had anything damaged or lost. I do this at least 3-times a year, but have never shipped anything overseas this way. Preshipping does get to be expensive, especially when shipped in heavy Pelican cases... two months ago a trip to Death Valley cost $650 EACH WAYfor equipment shipping (one large Pelican, one medium Pelican, and a tripod bag). However, I'm allowed to shipped padlocked cases, and I feel secure that my equipment will arrive all in one piece... or... at least I'll be able to recover something from the insurance purchased.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Re: Checking LF gear as baggage

    It's all just so discouraging that I think you're forced to travel light unless you have the resources to do it like Glenn.

    Remember that in larger cities you can rent gear. For that matter you can rent from LA or NY (or European cities) and have it waiting for you at your destination.

  8. #8

    Re: Checking LF gear as baggage

    I take everything with me on the plane, if I can't carry it on it gets left behind, thefts have plagued society since the beginning of time. If you are determined then mailing it is probably the best option. Anything that goes in the belly of the plane should be considered expendable.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Milford Pa.

    Re: Checking LF gear as baggage

    Quote Originally Posted by anchored View Post

    Preshipping does get to be expensive, especially when shipped in heavy Pelican cases... two months ago a trip to Death Valley cost $650 EACH WAYfor equipment shipping (one large Pelican, one medium Pelican, and a tripod bag).

    WOW! you did not ship your models in those cases too did you? i shipped my LF gear round trip (an 8x10 and 4x5 camera, film holders, film and misc stuff) from NY to SLC insured for a fraction of what you paid. i think i paid like 150-200!

    i would say a well packed bag will do fine on the airlines. i try to fly non stop and this helps with keeping the gorilla handling to a min. i carry my lenses on with me (and i do not move lighting equipment) but the rest goes in the carry on or by the PO. my stuff is insured so even if the airlines do loose it or destroy it i can still have it replaced.

    My YouTube Channel has many interesting videos on Soft Focus Lenses and Wood Cameras. Check it out.

    My YouTube videos gallery

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Bend, OR

    Re: Checking LF gear as baggage

    I just did a 3 week stint in Patagonia and my solution to the luggage woes was to pack all of my clothes and non-camera items in a Lowepro Super Trekker. 1/2 of my film holders were also in the checked bag. Thes rest of my equipment- a disassembled Arca 4x5, tripod head, changing tent, 200 sheets of film, lenses, filters, loupe and the other half of my film holders were in a slightly overweight carry on bag (35 lbs!!!). I hand carried on the tripod which if the head is not attached I have not recieved any hassles over. Had they made me check the tripod, my second was at home ready to be Fed-Exed to the location if need be. I should also note that I was able to only get a single pass from keeping my film out of the carry on inspection x-ray and the film went through (on end) 5 times with no fogging or apparent damage during the trip. When I got to locations, the items in the bags were swapped, the film holders loaded and off I went a shooting. I dont think Id change a thing if I were to do this trip again today.

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