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Thread: Air Travel with ULF

  1. #1

    Air Travel with ULF

    I am interesting in taking an ULF on an airplane trip. I think an 8x20 could be taken as a carry on. It is too long to meet carry on requirements, but the other measurments are fine, so it might be possible to get it on the plane without questions being asked. A 12x20 would need to be checked. I am concerned that the camera would get broken. I would like to hear from people who have traveled by air with an ULF camera.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
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    Air Travel with ULF

    William,

    I don't have a ULF camera and haven't traveled recently, but I was wondering how you travel with large amounts of camera gear since I may make an European trip soon. So I asked a person who does know - Jim Andracki at Midwest Photo Exchange. Jim goes on buying trips several times a year and returns with a lot of the good things we buy from him.

    He suggested double boxing gear in heavy-walled or double wall cardboard boxes with good packing material of course. He indicated he'd never had a problem. This method also seems appealing because it is a "generic" container that doesn't scream "steal me" like some cases. It's also light.

    I could add just packing your Pelican, Lightware, Lowe, Tenba or similar case inside a sturdy cardboard box to disguise the case, which I've done when shipping inside the US.

    Steve

  3. #3

    Air Travel with ULF

    Emile de Leon travels extensively with his 12x20, last I heard he had gone on a trip to Europe with it, so drop him a line I am sure he will be glad to give you some advice.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jun 2002
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    Air Travel with ULF

    I check my 4x5 gear in a Lightware case, with all the expensive lenses too. I insure it and add foam wraps and clothing to keep it from bouncing around inside - no problems. Use carry-ons for film and hand cameras.

  5. #5
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Air Travel with ULF

    I think Strebor makes cases that are considered suitable for shipping.

  6. #6
    Clay
    Join Date
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    Asheville, NC
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    Air Travel with ULF

    I have flown with a 12x20 in the last year, and the two major hassles are the new weight limits and the film.

    First, I have a strebor case for my camera that looks like half a coffin. I thought I was being clever when I had them build the case with slots for 2 filmholders on either side of the camera. Alas, when I got to the checkin, they weighed the thing in at 55 pounds with case, 4 holders and the camera. On the way out, the curbside checker kindly took $10 in lieu of tagging the beast with a "Hernia Here" hang tag and charging me an extra $50. On the way home, though, an alert gate agent made me pay the excess baggage penalty. Naturally, when I had the case made, the per bag limit was 65 pounds, but recent changes in airline policies made this a real 'gotcha'. So beware of that. The Strebor case is a beefy item and completely protects the camera by the way. I can't say anything negative about their cases.

    The second gotcha is the film. You really just need to be prepared to hand carry the box of film on the plane and ask for hand inspection when going through security. Depending on the phase of the moon, the number of espressos the security guy has had, and how close you are cutting your flight time, the procedure can vary from completely no-hassle to everything short of a cavity search. Good cheer, politeness and plenty of spare time are the keys here.

    Hope this helps.

  7. #7

    Air Travel with ULF

    Clay,

    Sorry for the amateur question but how does the security person hand-inspect a box of large format film? don't they require to see what's in the box? how to inspect without exposing the film?

    thanks

  8. #8
    Clay
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
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    Air Travel with ULF

    When they 'hand inspect' the box, they take it behind a glass kiosk and wipe the exterior of the box down with little sample wipes, which they then test for things (nitrates, I suppose) that shouldn't be allowed on airplanes.

  9. #9

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    Air Travel with ULF

    I flew with my 4x5 gear for the first time just a couple of weeks ago, from Denver to Calgary and back.

    In years of traveling with 35mm and MF, I've never noticed an effect on my film from the carry-on scanner. So I put all of my film in the carry-on, but for insurance, I also had my changing tent in there as well as the camera body, lenses, etc. I wasn't surprised when they told me they would need to open my bag and inspect it. But I was surprised when the TSA agent told me why - he said there were some 'thin loops of metal' that he couldn't identify. Of course, these were the flexible frame of the changing tent. He didn't care about the camera, lenses, film, or anything else. Just the changing tent. I showed it to him (folded up) and explained it, and there wasn't a problem.

    I put the changing tent in the checked bag on the way home. Sailed right through security this time.

    BTW, my carry-on was a backpack that exceeds the allowable length by a couple of inches (Kelty Redwing 2900). No one mentioned it at all.

  10. #10
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Air Travel with ULF

    It's often something you wouldn't expect that they want to see. I've started putting my cable releases (look like syringes or trip wires on the X-ray), Linhof cams (at the right angle, two crossed cams look like scissors), and multi-purpose tool in my checked luggage, and I'm stopped less often. I usually let my film go through the X-ray (in a lead bag if it's small enough, but not for 8x10") and haven't had any fogging, and the lead bag hasn't led to any hand searches, oddly enough.

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