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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

latest on commercial airlines with camera gear
Brett Groehler, Photographer
Duluth | MN | USA | Posted: 8:50 PM on 04.08.14
->> What are the latest rules on flying with carry on camera gear and a mono pod?
I will be flying American carrying bodies and lenses in a Tamrac Epedition backpack and also a case with a 200 2.0 and my carry on size luggage. Exactly how many pieces
of pro gear are we allowed to carry on. I will not be checking any other bags or photo equipment. Is there a TSA/FAA regulation posted somewhere that I can show to an
ignorant flight attendant which I am a magnet for?
 This post is:  Informative (0) | Funny (0) | Huh? (0) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 10:04 PM on 04.08.14
->> .....wait for it......wait for it.......
 This post is:  Informative (0) | Funny (19) | Huh? (2) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (9) |   Definitions

Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 11:42 PM on 04.08.14
->> The rules are the same for all airlines -- one large piece such as a luggage bag that will fit overhead and one small piece such as a laptop that will slide under the seat.

You've stated you're carrying three -- two large and one small. You'll probably be stopped at the gate whereupon they'll tag one of your large carry-ons whereupon you get it back as you depart the plane. Some airlines add it to the regular luggage whereupon you get it at the carousel.

Suggest you call American and ask or check their website for their luggage carry-on rules.

The only airline I know that recognizes pro gear is Southwest. The number of carry-ons are the same. What they do is allow photographers and videographers to pre-board provided the equipment you're toting is "large." A camera bag won't cut it; a 400mm f/2.8 will.

One way you may be able to circumvent the two-bag rule is to wear a photo vest with large pockets and fill them with your lenses, flashes, bodies, etc. so you end up with one large and one small bag each.

Also find out what model plane you're flying in. It's on your reservation. Then look up the plane and see what size bags will fit in the overhead. Some airlines use commuter planes that normal carry-on bags and even backpacks won't fit in. If you're on one of them then both your luggage and backpack will be taken from you on the ramp outside the plane's door.
 This post is:  Informative (3) | Funny (0) | Huh? (0) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

Patrick Fallon, Photographer, Assistant
Torrance | California | USA | Posted: 12:38 AM on 04.09.14
->> 1 Large Bag, 1 small. Thats it.

Plan on checking your 3rd bag and pack appropriately.
 This post is:  Informative (0) | Funny (0) | Huh? (0) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

Travis Haughton, Photographer
Oak Park | IL | USA | Posted: 1:22 AM on 04.09.14
->> There's been a crackdown lately on carry-ons. Last week I got stopped and had to put my roller (TT Airport Security v2) in the sizing bin to prove it was legal size before I could go through the security line. It's amazing how perfectly engineered that bag is to fit exactly in the overhead compartments. I marvel every time I fly.

I highly suggest investing in a Think Tank roller and do everything in your power to get into an earlier boarding group to secure an overhead spot for you bag. If for some reason you have to "gate-check" your bag, have a plan for getting the gear you need into a bag that you can put under the seat. I use a Urban Disguise 50, which has a laptop slot and room for two cameras and 2-3 lenses.
 This post is:  Informative (1) | Funny (0) | Huh? (0) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
New England | | | Posted: 1:23 AM on 04.09.14
->> Brett,

You can print this

https://apps.tsa.dhs.gov/mytsa/cib_results.aspx?search=monopod

... and ...

https://apps.tsa.dhs.gov/mytsa/cib_results.aspx?search=tripod

The current carry on limits for American Airlines are 22" x 9" x 14" for a total of 45 linear inches. The airline has no defined side for the "personal item" bag. This carry on limit is standardized between American flights operated by American and those operated by US Airways.

Chuck either give a real answer or shut the hell up you bitter jackass. Why wait for it when you can just give the answer instead since you obviously knew it, right?
 This post is:  Informative (9) | Funny (5) | Huh? (3) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (3) |   Definitions

Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
New England | | | Posted: 1:26 AM on 04.09.14
->> Also, carry on baggage limits are set by the airlines, not the TSA or FAA. The TSA regulates what is a security risk. The FAA enforces the airlines submitted and accepted carry on requirements, the DOT has guidelines for belly cargo and checked baggage which airlines must adhere to for safety and security reasons.

If you are flying a regional aircraft prepare to have at least one bag, the larger one "valet checked" at the door of the aircraft. It will be taken from you, placed in the rear cargo and returned to you at the door upon arrival.
 This post is:  Informative (8) | Funny (0) | Huh? (1) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

Sam Morris, Photographer
Henderson (Las Vegas) | NV | USA | Posted: 1:40 AM on 04.09.14
->> Damn Chuck. You are so good. And prescient.
 This post is:  Informative (0) | Funny (4) | Huh? (0) | Off Topic (3) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
New England | | | Posted: 2:10 AM on 04.09.14
->> Ahhh yes, once again the post ratings prove so relevant with the "huh" being checked off on my replies that directly answer the original poster's questions.
 This post is:  Informative (7) | Funny (0) | Huh? (4) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

Chris Coulter, Photographer
Seattle | WA | United States | Posted: 4:20 AM on 04.09.14
->> I'm a frequent flyer and usually get treated well with my 'home' airline and can ensure I get my gear placed properly. However, I do often have to travel on airlines where my frequent flyer status doesn't carry over. In those instances, I approach the gate agent as soon as possible (before the rush of inquiries or wait until they've died down). Smile, be overly polite and considerate--these people are used to passengers talking to them in a rude manner. I explain that I have camera equipment and it's critical that I get overhead space or be able to place my bag in a closet. This generally goes a long way to get the matter resolved.

Unfortunately, many gate agents and flight personnel in general aren't the most helpful and don't always succumb to my put-on charm offensive. So, when you board the plane, put that smile and politeness back in action, greet the first flight attendant and ask if they can help you secure a space for your extremely fragile and expensive camera equipment.

I've had to fly on smaller regional jets before where I didn't want to risk all my gear in the hands of the ground crew, so, I took out my 400mm, wrapped in a jacket and placed in the tiny overhead. I then put my 80-200 and 24-70 in my carryon backpack.

Good luck!
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Lance King, Photographer
Raleigh | NC | USA | Posted: 9:03 AM on 04.09.14
->> I fly quite often with camera gear. The Lowepro Pro Roller x300 works very well. On larger planes, it fits in overhead bins with no problem. On smaller planes (CRJ200, CRJ700, etc.), you can separate the outer shell and gate check that part. This allows you to carry on the inner shell as a back pack and it will fit in the overhead bins or under the seat in front of you (that is one reason I avoid the bulkhead rows).

By the way, I usually also carry a tripod (in a cloth case) and have no issues. If space is really tight, most flight attendants will allow you to store a tripod case in the first class coat closet.
 This post is:  Informative (2) | Funny (0) | Huh? (0) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

Brett Groehler, Photographer
Duluth | MN | USA | Posted: 2:35 PM on 04.09.14
->> Thanks Steven and all for the great answers. Chuck I am sure this has been asked before but my search yielded no real results. Isn't this why we are on this web site to learn from others like Steven who is an expert an flying with camera equipment? I appreciate those who took the time to answer, I hope I can reciprocate some day.
 This post is:  Informative (4) | Funny (1) | Huh? (0) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

Will Powers, Photographer
Denver | CO | USA | Posted: 3:33 PM on 04.09.14
->> I flew Southwest last weekend. Even SWA was adamant about the one overhead item and one under seat item. My wife had to put her purse in another bag so that she didn't have too many carry-ons.

I would like to comment in response to complaints about Chuck's comments. I've seen many times that a simple question like this one brings out a lot of complaints about the question. For instance, why don't you call the airline you stupid lazy idiot?
I felt Chuck's comment braced me for such inane comments, I know they will come and have come. Did Chuck's comment hurt anyone. It seems Fish over reacted.
Chuck is often the one who sees through all the BS and makes a funny comment. Sometimes he's off base, so what.
Not every comment on the board is on target, so what. Chuck often adds vital insights, sometimes he's silly. I like laughing more than whining.
 This post is:  Informative (1) | Funny (0) | Huh? (0) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 5:14 PM on 04.09.14
->> Brett, it wasn't directed at you....I should have emailed you with my vast and copious knowledge. But the fishing expedition was VERY successful. Reeled in a big one! Carry on and good luck.
 This post is:  Informative (0) | Funny (7) | Huh? (0) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (3) |   Definitions

Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 1:31 PM on 04.10.14
->> Watch out for American, especially in Boston. My story: Waiting to board a flight to LA. Gate clerk announces there was no more overhead space on the airplane, thus, carry-ons had to be checked, all the way to Fresno. I argued for a long time. Screw you, check your photo bag. So, I handed it off, and sure enough I lost a 1D MKII (I know, it's old, but I still use it as a backup). Filed a claim and so far they are telling me to pound sand.

Here it comes... here it comes... We get on the airplane and there is tons of overhead available. Several passengers were furious, myself included. The desk clerk just counted heads and after a certain number just arbitrarily decided no more overhead. Even the flight crew was irritated.

So, if they say "No more overhead", especially at American in Boston Logan, make them bring out a flight crewperson to confirm.
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Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
New England | | | Posted: 5:24 PM on 04.10.14
->> Phil,

Gate agents will start saying all overhead are full before overhead is full. Many do it by eye balling how many people are on the flight, rather than speaking with flight attendants to determine how many overhead spaces are full or available.

While the airline's Contract of Carriage (
http://www.aa.com/i18n/customerService/customerCommitment/conditionsOfCarri...) , Section 9, Baggage: Liability, Legal Action, Missing Items, Loss/Delay, Damaged, Claims ... under Checked Baggage ... Liability ... states

"American does not assume liability for any of the following items in or as checked baggage: antiques, artifacts, artwork, books and documents, china, computers and other electronic equipment, computer software, fragile items (including child/infant restraint devices such as strollers and car seats), eyeglasses, prescription sunglasses, non-prescription sunglasses and all other eyewear and eye/vision devices whether lenses are glass, plastic, or some other material, furs, heirlooms, keys, liquids, medicines, money, orthotics, surgical supports, perishable items, photographic, video and optical equipment, precious metals, stones or jewelry, securities and negotiable papers, silverware, samples, unique or irreplaceable items or any other similar valuable items."


... the airline, and other airlines, have lost in court when sued for bags that were force checked at the gate. You as a passenger had no intention of checking the baggage, your intention was to bring the item on board, in a bag that was within the carry-on size requirements and you did not exceed the maximum allowance for carry on bags ... thus the airline could not reasonably expect you to have packed in a manner than prepared you to give up your bag at the gate to be checked under the aircraft.

With Camera Gear/Computer Gear you can also ask for a gate supervisor and then state you'd like to be denied boarding and rebooked due to the need to place your bag under the aircraft and since the airline's force checking the bag could violate your insurance policy as well your arrival with any damaged or missing gear could result in a 'trip in vain' which means you could fight for and win a full refund of your airline fare. Generally the gate supervisor will find a space in the cabin for your carry on baggage rather than argue with you and delay the flight pushing off the gate.
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Patrick Fallon, Photographer, Assistant
Torrance | California | USA | Posted: 5:51 PM on 04.10.14
->> Worth Mentioning: Many of our cameras and computers have batteries that are Lithium-Ion. I've heard stories of people making a fuss to "make sure all the lithium batteries are removed from all their equipment" - and GA's allowing their bags to go aboard vs. the delay and upsetting any FAA regulations on the storage and transportation of batteries in the hold.

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-10-08-faa-lithium-batte...

And weight to this Fish?
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Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
New England | | | Posted: 10:05 PM on 04.10.14
->> Patrick,

As per the FAA's January 9th 2014 update "Except for spare (uninstalled) lithium metal and lithium-ion batteries, all the batteries allowed in carry-on baggage are also allowed in checked baggage. "

However, I do not believe the DOT (who is the FAA's parent agency) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, who actually oversees aircraft hazmat has adjusted its official wording.

I believe the DOT PHMSA still says that LiOn batteries exceeding 25 grams of equivalent lithium content are equal to about 300 watt-hours cannot be checked ... and or the total equivalent cannot be checked. Chances are no one exceeds this, but how many gate agents know that. I do know someone who is in computer design who tried this and ended being involuntarily denied boarding and in a long conversation with a DOT official at either MIA or FLL.
 This post is:  Informative (0) | Funny (0) | Huh? (0) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 12:00 AM on 04.11.14
->> Ya know, I just gotta say..you can print out all the stuff you want to...carry it in your pocket...act like you know what you're doing ...but the bottom line is you are SCREWED if just one little "man" wants to exert his power at the gate. Yes, the FISH has all these rules and regs and knowledge that he passes out...but folks...I gotta tell you that don't mean crap when you're at the gate dealing with some nitwit who DOES NOT know the regs. Several years ago at Southwest (who I loved) refused to let me board first with my gear. Although I SHOWED them their own regs (printed out) it made the gate attendant VERY angry. So instead of all this nonsense of confronting these folks here's what I suggest...I got VERY tired of arguing three years ago and my new stategy been flawless. These "rules" depend entirely on what type of plane you're flying on. ONE: When I choose my seats I fly in the back of the plane (always). I fly on an airline that I have a credit card with...this means no matter what I board in Zone 2...there is always PLENTY of overhead when I board. IF I'm not flying on an airline with my credit card I'm not a cheapskate and pay the $20 to board early. This solves any overhead problems 99% of the time. And guess what? I'm not pulling out a bunch of papers that ALWAYS piss people off. This all demands on advance planning. Remember your six "p"'s = Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance". Last but not least...learn to pack correctly for a job. I use the Airport AirStream and Shapeshifter. No matter what plane I've been in I have all of my gear, all of the time. The combination of those fit EVERY airplane, even puddle jumpers. You just have to choose the proper seats. Some of the advice you receive on SS is great theory but useless in real life. You can spout rules and regs all you want but for the most part it's like arguing with the police. You're pounding sand and are going to lose which ultimately means you'll miss your flight. or have your gear stolen or broken. So please be careful of the "experts" you listen to.
 This post is:  Informative (5) | Funny (0) | Huh? (1) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
New England | | | Posted: 1:13 AM on 04.11.14
->> Ya know Chuck,

If you print the rules for the TSA about monopods and tripods and someone stops you, you ask for the STSO or TSM and have them inspect it and it will then pass. Never heard of a monopod or tripod being stopped.

If you bag fits in the overhead bin and the tell you it must be checked, you ask for a supervisor and more often than not your bag will get on the plane.

If you as media have an issue pre-boarding with SWA, there are controls in place for media to deal with that if there is time, and their media team is extremely easy to work with.

I am sure you did make an SWA Gate Agent angry. If you act like the person you present yourself here, I am sure you could probably get Mahatma Gandhi to throw a swing. There are always issues with travel. There are 447 commercial airports in the US, 116 overseen by airport authorities, 192 by municipalities, 105 by counties, 18 private, 16 run by states, 1 by the military. Add into that the fact that not all airport security is run by the TSA at the check points, all the airlines operating in the U.S., that many airline gates and ground agents are third party contractor, and that regional airlines operate under the name of the mainline carrier, but operating with their own staff and regulation … yes, complications will arise from time to time. But overall those complications and issues are a small fraction of the overall passenger experience.

But you know, what the hell do I know. I have only racked up enough miles last year to reach Delta Diamond, Alaska Gold and Turkish Gold, while consulting with airlines, consulting with airports and dealing with the TSA for what has become my living. Feel free to discount everything I say .

Happy Flying!
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Scott Serio, Photo Editor, Photographer
Colora | MD | USA | Posted: 3:28 AM on 04.11.14
->> Southwest
Credentialed Media

No overweight (up to 100 pounds, after that you have to ship it)
Preboarding if you are above B1 and need to stow gear
First two checked are free

That said…of the last 10 times I have flown with my Pelican case and remote gear, the random screening has managed to search it exactly 10 times. I have lost TSA-approved locks. I have lost add-a-taps, lens caps and have had a 300/2.8 dropped and the rear housing crushed - after they took the rear cap off.

From experience….
1. If you check gear, ask to have TSA search it in front of you
2. If they won't, and i have resorted to this after they denied a $600 repair because I left the airport without checking first…open your case in the airport. Literally I record myself opening it with my iPhone.

TSA sucks. Watch your gear. I have probably guaranteed myself a cavity search or two on my next flights, but folks need to know.
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Jack McCoy, Photographer
Baldwin | NY | USA | Posted: 8:32 AM on 04.11.14
->> "If you print the rules for the TSA about monopods and tripods and someone stops you, you ask for the STSO or TSM and have them inspect it and it will then pass. Never heard of a monopod or tripod being stopped."

I disagree. Depends who you come in contact with at the always entertaining airports you travel to/from. TSA Agent at JFK (my home airport) would not let me fly with a monopod a few years ago. Told them I did it all the time showed them NYC press pass. They still said no. I asked to speak to supervisor and he also denied me from carrying it on. Made me check it in a box that could have fit a pair of alpine skis. I have flown since then with no issues but like I said depends who you encounter.
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Patrick Fallon, Photographer, Assistant
Torrance | California | USA | Posted: 1:12 AM on 04.12.14
->> Brett,
Message me if you want a link to sign up for one of the AAdvantage cards - they offer 1 free checked bag, priority boarding, annual fee waived first year and a miles bonus. You don't have to buy the ticket to receive the perks, its just linked to your AAdvantage number. With this, you should be able to get overhead space and you won't have to pay that bag fee, solving some of your issues for this trip.

Of course, it does depend on what sort of aircraft you are flying.
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Thomas E. Witte, Photographer, Photo Editor
Cincinnati | OH | USA | Posted: 4:17 AM on 04.12.14
->> Chuck can piss further.
 This post is:  Informative (6) | Funny (2) | Huh? (1) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

Will Powers, Photographer
Denver | CO | USA | Posted: 5:51 PM on 04.12.14
->> Does he have a head start?
 This post is:  Informative (0) | Funny (0) | Huh? (0) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

David Seelig, Photographer
Hailey | ID | USA | Posted: 8:06 PM on 04.12.14
->> I had a TSA guy make me check my monopod. It can happen be prepared Chuck I hate to say it is dead on. I have and Southwest people read there rules and then deny me pre boarding..
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Keith Simonian, Photographer
Martinez | CA | USA | Posted: 10:17 PM on 04.12.14
->> Brett,
You can print this out. Imagine the agent at the gate handing it to you.

Hello Mr. Photoman,
Thank you for your piece of paper with the rules printed out.
Do you see that airplane outside the window that you want to get on?
Do you see that door and the walkway to the jet airplane you want to walk through?

Here's a fact. I AM the GATEKEEPER. You will do as I say, or you won't pass through the door or get on the plane.

Do you understand Mr. Photoman?
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Steven Limentani, Photographer
Charlotte | NC | United States | Posted: 11:43 PM on 04.13.14
->> One other trick for checked luggage is the "gun trick." Buy a cheap starter pistol, put it in your pelican case which you then lock with standard padlocks. Tell the counter person that you want to check a firearm. They will ask about ammo, which you of course do not have. You are allowed to lock your case and if TSA wants to search it they must do it in your presence. Has worked for me multiple times.
 This post is:  Informative (2) | Funny (0) | Huh? (0) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

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Thread Title: latest on commercial airlines with camera gear
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