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What do do when cameras can't fly in the aircraft cabin


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#1 Draq

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 08:30 AM

Over the past couple of days, Homeland Security has been talking about extending its cabin electronics ban to all transatlantic flights.  If that happens I assume it won’t be long before it gets applied to more flights such as from Indonesia, Philippines, maybe even the Caribbean.  I expect that if that happens, our British and EU friends would utilize the same restrictions.

 

I am hoping they will find a way to carve out some exception for cameras but I sort of doubt it.  So, I am thinking I need to begin working on a contingency plan to check my camera and lenses when I fly.  I am not happy about that, but I certainly don’t want to find myself at an airport and have them insist my shoulder bag with camera body and lenses has to get checked.

 

Besides looking into better insurance for theft and damage, I am thinking of getting a Pelican 1610 case and using trek dividers, or perhaps the Kaizen foam that looks to be an upgrade from the pluck foam stuff.  I was also thinking of trying the new Pelican “Elite” luggage in a similar size for the TSA locks and more streamlined design, but worry it may not be as protective.

 

I will undoubtedly have to pay extra checked bag fees and have more of a hassle getting through airports, but if indeed, cameras and lenses are banned in the cabin, I won’t have an option. 

I would love to hear what others do about luggage choices and strategies for checking cameras and lenses, since I have so far avoided that (except for one unpleasant incident at Gatwick years ago that resulted in a damaged camera body and two destroyed lenses).

 

I will just add that since the problem seems to be ability of bad guys to disguise explosives as batteries, anything with a removable battery should be able to fly in the cabin.

I wonder if there are any camera industry or photographic industry lobbyists or politicos who could try to influence this issue.  Anyway, I would love to hear suggestions, techniques, etc, fr dealing with this if it comes true.


Edited by Draq, 11 May 2017 - 08:31 AM.


#2 errbrr

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 07:45 PM

I'm relatively happy to check things in a pelican case - it's more concern about bags going missing than concern about damage that stops me. So far I have only checked the housing (with camera and strobes installed) on direct flights domestically within Australia.

 

And I guess the other point is that pelican cases are heavy. The pelican that fits my housing and 6 strobes weighs close to 7kg when empty. I doubt the airlines will be increasing baggage allowances to compensate.

 

It will be interesting to see how the regulations develop as the current terrorists-only-fly-some-airlines approach is illogical.



#3 DDT uk

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 05:02 AM

Nothing says expensive camera equipment quite like a peli case. A few years back they were quite popular but there were some parts of the world where they were almost guaranteed to go missing. Most travel insurance limits individual items to ridiculously low value, so unless you have specific camera insurance, a peli case is just not worth the risk IMHO.

 

What I have just done is to buy a normal looking hard shell suitcase and some meduim density foam. The plan is to have something akin to a peli case but lighter and indistinguishable from normal luggage.



#4 divengolf

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 05:13 AM

For years, I have used a bag in a bag approach to checked luggage containing valuable items, i.e., housings, strobes, etc. I pack a sturdy, reinforced carry-on size bag inside a non-descript, well -worn duffle bag, so it doesn't scream "valuable items inside" as a Pelican does. I use my tee shirts, swim trunks, etc. as padding. Never had a problem as it seldom gets looked at by TSA.

 

But I have never packed cameras or lenses in this manner. Those are always in my carry-on. If this new policy becomes more widely implemented, going to have to give this some thought.

 

One question: Do we know yet if the current policy from the Middle East includes lenses? My reading of the restrictions is unclear.

 

Also time to review my insurance policy for such items. BTW if you're eligible for USAA insurance, they have an All-Risk personal property policy that has zero deductible. And it's very affordable. I had a mechanical failure on a D70 housing years ago and they paid the claim promptly with few questions.



#5 Draq

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 05:31 AM

Since the risk is reportedly related to explosives that can look like the battery, it seems like it should not include lenses, but I don't know.  I suspect the rules will not break things down with sufficient specificity, and even if lenses are not the intended target or included per se, unless they are specifically excluded, I would hate to rely on airport security or airline employees to get that right.  I would not want to have this argument with some security guy at an airport somewhere and suddenly find I have to check all my lenses when I have not planned to do so.

 

I understand about packing a case within a case, and if I have to go this route I guess I will look into that if I have to go this route and will definitely improve my insurance situation.  I am as concerned about damage and mis-routing of bags as much as theft.  I don't think I would trust thousands of dollars in lenses to be safe just bundled up in a suitcase.  I have seen way too many destroyed luggage pieces to be comfortable with that.

 

 



#6 TimG

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 05:43 AM

As a long-time pull-into-the-cabin Pelican guy, my heart sank at the latest edicts. I'm going to look into the nondescript disguise-o-case thing too. 

 

My reading of some of the guidance a couple of weeks ago led me to think that "modern" lenses, i.e. ones with autofocus systems in them, may well be included. I'm in and out of Schiphol, Amsterdam a lot and they always want to x-ray the lenses and camera bodies.

 

I can see travelling with dive gear and cameras is going to become even more of a pain  :sick:


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#7 troporobo

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 07:22 PM

Beijing airport is now asking to remove all photo equipment from cases and x-ray bodies and lenses separately. Also things like laptop power adapters and cables. So it's not just about batteries. The trend seems to be spreading.

#8 Draq

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 05:07 AM

Beijing airport is now asking to remove all photo equipment from cases and x-ray bodies and lenses separately. Also things like laptop power adapters and cables. So it's not just about batteries. The trend seems to be spreading.

 

Do they have you put the lenses and bodies in one of those plastic bins or would it work to leave them in something like a Pelican case if nothing but camera gear was in the case?



#9 TimG

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 11:12 AM

Do they have you put the lenses and bodies in one of those plastic bins or would it work to leave them in something like a Pelican case if nothing but camera gear was in the case?


Everywhere I've been so far has required items to be taken out of a bag and placed in one of the security system bins.

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#10 troporobo

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 03:32 PM

Nope, out of the bag and into the bins individually.

I was behind a guy recently who was carrying A lot of classic Hasselblad gear - two bodies, multiple film backs, and 6 lenses, all carefully packed in bubble wrap. They made him unwrap each item!

#11 giffenk

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 04:21 PM

security behaviour does not seem to be consistent. i just finished traveling thru europe (zurich, munich, budapest) and us (raleigh durham) now back in canada (toronto, vancouver) and no one asked for my camera gear to be removed from my carryon camera bag.

laptop, ipad and cell phone had to be removed most places. since i am a trusted traveller i got to keep my shoes on as well.

#12 Draq

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 12:37 PM

As part of a different discussion elsewhere, I just checked and learned that many airlines, and as an example, American Airlines, does not allow, and explicitly denies liability for any photographic equipment transported as checked luggage.  Their liability limits are often ridiculously low anyway, and one should have insurance to cover expensive items, but if you are required to check cameras and lenses and they go missing or are damaged, the airline has zero liability to you.

 

I can tolerate annoying security checkpoint practices but am not at all happy about the prospect of packing my camera(s) and lenses in a checked bag and hoping it arrives at my destination and arrives intact. 



#13 DrFiscus

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 03:52 AM

I'm guessing I'm going to be using my iPhone in a Kraken or LenzO case more and more - or just eliminate traveling anywhere but the US and the Caribbean. Oh well.

Andy


Edited by DrFiscus, 17 May 2017 - 03:53 AM.

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#14 giffenk

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 07:18 PM

... or just eliminate traveling anywhere but the US and the Caribbean. Oh well.
Andy

You do realize that this is a US problem caused by Homeland Security? It is best avoided by not travelling to the US.

#15 tursiops

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 12:16 PM

I received the following from a friend who just came home to the US from the Philippines, via Abu Dhabi.

 

"Still no info about Qatar Airways, but for those collecting anecdotes, Etihad Airways is doing a great job.  Sean and I passed through Abu Dhabi on the way back from Manila a couple of weeks ago.  They had suggested checking electronics at the start of your trip but for those not wanting to (like us), they collected them in Abu Dhabi.

 

They had us pull out our electronics in security in Abu Dhabi, where they had padded envelopes and boxes.  What worked out best was to have a small bag packed with just the electronics (which Sean, not surprisingly, had done in advance, while I reshuffled things on the spot!).  They put luggage tags on those bags, and we collected them in baggage claim in Dulles.  They did not come out on the baggage carousel -- we went to the baggage office where they opened up the boxes, checked our claim checks, and handed them back to us directly.  No extra charge.

 

The instructions from the airline had stated that the electronics would need to fall within your total baggage weight allowance, but it was not clear to me what that meant (i.e., checked bags or carry-on).  In any case, they did not seem to be weighing anything in Abu Dhabi, but of course the bags had been weighed in Manila.

 

Also, security personnel were interpreting the restrictions as narrowly as possible.  I was unsure about whether camera lenses would be included, and I assumed that the dive computer (console) would be, along with my noise-cancelling headphones.  However, their answer to each of my questions was "laptops, e-readers, cameras" with nothing else getting added to the list of prohibited items.  I suspect that may not be the case everywhere."