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|| News Item: Posted 2001-07-27

Road Warrior: Don't Check your Camera Equipment!
By Mongo

Photo by

This is a special travel advisory, (you know kinda like the ones the U.S. State Department issues telling us not to travel to a particular country after we bombed the crap outta them.)


If you're a long time Sports Shooter reader, you'll probably remember a similar warning from Capt. Ron in issue #5 (check out the SS archives at

Well it's time to sound the alarm again, 'cause the airlines have devised yet another way to screw over the working professional photographer.

Think back about your travels during the last year or so. You're leaving the baggage area of the airport and you stop at the doors to let security check your baggage tags. Keep that picture in your mind.

In a tower of gleaming glass and steel, on a floor so high up that it requires an elevator change to get to, amongst a sea of identical looking cubicles, sits an accountant. This is no ordinary accountant, nope, this accountant has been busy crunching numbers in an Excel 2000 spreadsheet, (hey wait a sec, that sounds pretty ordinary to me) and has figured out that Hold that thought.

Major Airport, Any City, USA. Today (no stupid, not the newspaper). You've just pulled your bags off the carousel, and you're walking out to catch the rental car shuttle bus. Did you notice that there was nobody at the door to check your baggage tags?

Yep, that's right folks; the airlines are doing away with security personnel for checking bag tags.

The major carriers ran the numbers and have determined that it's cheaper to pay out for lost baggage claims, than it is to staff the baggage claim areas!

Man you've got to admire those corporate bean counters for figuring this one out. Not that you could ever file a claim for lost camera gear anyhow. (photo gear is specifically excluded in the baggage rules) At least you had a theft deterrent factor with them checking bag tags.

What can you do?

Photo by

This isn't rocket science kids. With all the cool new roll aboard cases (Tamrac) and photo backpacks (Lightware) now on the market, there's no reason why you can't pack enough camera bodies and lenses in a carry on case that fits in the overhead (unless you're a total gear geek, see item 2).


Take your existing equipment cases, i.e. Anvil, Halliburton, Lightware, Tenba, etc. and put 'em in a oversize duffel bag. Eagle Creek, and JanSport, make excellent extra, extra large bags (8000 to 10,000 cubic inches) that run around $50.00 You can also go to any good sporting goods store and buy an Ice hockey gear bag for about the same price. Don't worry if the bag is to big, you can always stuff your clothing, an extra jacket, or a background cloth, in the bag to fill it out. The beauty of this setup is that the duffels weigh almost nothing and roll up into almost nothing.


With those greedy scumbags at United charging an outrageous $75.00 per extra piece of baggage, this option actually might save you some money. It all depends on how much your bags weigh and what level of service you use. (2 day or 3 day) You can ship directly to your hotel, which is nice cause then you can just have the bell staff huff and puff hauling your gear into the car. If you're in a time crunch and you can't wait till the traditional 10:30 AM delivery, consider shipping to a FEDX hold for pickup location. Some stations have packages ready for pickup as early as 8:00am.

PS. If you were looking for an article about mid layer insulation, you'll just have to wait 'till it gets colder. Bert says nobody wants to read about Winter Olympics preparation, during a heat wave.

(Mongo Johnson, formerly the director of the Hang Eight Surf School and Spam Culinary Institute in Maui, currently works as a travel consultant in Pismo Beach, CA.)

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