Travel Warning: Don't Pack a Pelican
Posted 18 April 2005 - 12:37 PM
In the last year, I assembled two DSLR rigs. One Aquatica S2 and the other a Sea and Sea DX-70. Both had dual Inon storbes and the works. Following the lead of many posters here on the board and that of the agent who sold me the Aquatica rig, I packed them carefully in Pelican 1610 cases. I put no camera or scuba related stickers on the cases and I secured them with TSA approved locks.
We departed last Saturday for Bonaire on American Airlines. We laid over in San Jaun and then flew via Turbo prop the next day. This overnight was the usual unexpected delay. Our bags did not make it to Bonaire until the following evening. All four bags made it, but one Pelican case had its lock cut and had been cherry picked for the housing, gears, and ports. OK, so we still had one rig to use in Bonaire and had a pretty good time.
We left for Austin the following Sunday and our bags did not make the connection in Dallas. When they were delivered today, guess what? Both Pelican cases made it home, but the Aquatica rig was no longer in the case nor were the ports, gears, or strobes.
This has made me very sad to say the least. Most of it was insured, but that still does not make it OK. I wanted you all to hear this story because I feel certain that the "expensive nature" of things enclosed in Pelican cases made these high value targets in the San Juan airport. Be warned if you are traveling with your rigs in one of these cases. They must scream "TAKE ME, I can be sold on eBay".
For future flights, once we have recovered from this theft and reassembled our kits, we will not be packing in Pelicans. I will be carrying my housing on the flight along with my lenses and computer. What else can you do?
I hope this helps some of you not experience the loss that I did in the last week. Sherri and I are devastated at the total lack of security and regard the airlines have for their passengers that pay thousands of dollars to fly with them.
Best regards all,
Posted 18 April 2005 - 12:51 PM
Thanks for the heads up
Posted 18 April 2005 - 01:20 PM
Not to go on a rant here, but it seems like AA is always having problems like this. I haven't had anything stolen yet and I try to avoid flying AA if I can.
Dual Ikelite Strobes
Photo site - www.reefpix.org
Posted 18 April 2005 - 01:37 PM
I use one of the Storm Cases that is made to fit in a carry-on size compartment. I pack my housing, strobes, ports in there. And then I have a Camerea/Laptop backpack for my camera bodies and lenses.
Just be prepared for long delays in the security line after they X-ray your storm case. :/
Posted 18 April 2005 - 02:47 PM
Beyond your personal loss, what makes me really upset is what a one-way street this seems to be with the airlines. We all need to play by the rules and submit to all the security, but the airlines cannot maintain security over their own employees. Seems that we can't walk in witout several checks, but employees are able to walk out with things that don't belong to them!!
A sad comentary on an industry!
Posted 18 April 2005 - 03:04 PM
Seems like there isn't really much you can do except take out insurance, and as james suggests - perhaps not fly AA!
Thanks for the warning.
"It's much better down there... It's a better place..." Enzo, Le Grand Bleu.
Posted 18 April 2005 - 09:47 PM
I have always struggled with checking my pelican case - I can carry it on but this means I'm also carrying on my regulator, DSLR camera and lenses plus my flight amenities. This makes for *very* heavy carryon without wheels.
One thing I have done is that I put my pelican case inside another suitcase and use clothing to fill in any gaps. While this won't deter someone who may open my bag, it at least doesn't call attention to itself from the get go. This of course is not secure and I don't stop fretting about it until I actually pick up my bags.
Having good insurance will help take the sting out of it but it's always an inconvenience. Interesting that people have had bad experiences with AA. I fly them almost exclusively and have not had any issues yet...
I'm traveling to Hawaii next month on American so I will think very carefully about how to pack my gear for this trip. Thanks for sharing.
Posted 19 April 2005 - 02:06 AM
Posted 19 April 2005 - 07:20 AM
Posted 19 April 2005 - 07:37 AM
I've had problems with other airlines and late luggage.. I dont think it is airline specific but airport specific. My wife and I have noticed big problems with certain carriers at certain hubs.....and now try to avoid them.
D2X and D80 / Nexus / Ikelite / Inon / Heinrichs iTTL controller
Posted 19 April 2005 - 08:33 AM
When I use my Pelican case, it travels inside my dive duffle, wrapped in neoprene. Of course, TSA and others can still find it, and I could still suffer a loss -- but it does make it scream "steal me" a bit less.
Subal ND70 + 2X DS125 ... mostly 10.5, 16, and 60
Posted 19 April 2005 - 09:46 AM
I fly with American at least 20 flights a year, and up until quite recently, I flew through San Juan to St Croix on a regular basis. I've never had a loss. The only difference is that I never check my cameras and housings. The cameras go into a Lowepro soft shoulder bag and the housings, ports, strobes and laptop etc go into a wheeled carry on bag that fits in the overhead compartment. The only things I check in are clothes and my beat to hell looking (but perfectly serviced and working) dive gear.
Posted 19 April 2005 - 10:46 AM
Or the old asia travelers' trick: Pack you expensive items inside a duffle wrapped by all your most smelly clothes and underwear!
But seriously, sorry for your loss. I hope you ream AA a good one, maybe if they know about the loss they can do something about it. A polite, but firm, letter asking for compensation above and beyond insurance might net you a travel voucher or something.
I think the days of checking Pelicans is over for me. They do make a new one that just meets airline rules and has wheels. But I think the LoewPro, soft baggage carry-on is the way to go.
Optical Ocean Sales.com Nauticam, Sea & Sea, Olympus, Ikelite, Zen, Fix, Seacam, Gates, 10Bar, Light & Motion, iTorch/I-DAS & Fantasea Line - Cameras, Housings, Strobes, Arms, Trays & Accessories
Blog & Gallery: Optical Ocean Sales Blog
Flickr Gallerys: Optical Ocean on Flickr
Posted 19 April 2005 - 12:19 PM
I do hope that you give the airline a hard time and get compensation.
During the last two years I have twice had my aluminium case (similar in size to a Pelican) go missing on flights when my other bag - a big green holdall has come through.
Finally at the beginning of this year I decided that the ali box attracted far too much attention and now my housing, ports and strobes travel in a hard plastic suitcase - that looks like everyone elses. May not be as strong as a pelican or an ali box. But I am hoping that it won't attract the attention either.
After reading your story I am glad that I have.
Posted 19 April 2005 - 12:39 PM
Posted 19 April 2005 - 03:37 PM
Hiding stuff in old clothes etc doesn't work too well any more, TSA xrays all the checked bags, especially the "heavy metal" bags.
It infuriates me that the airlines & airports get away with next to no liability for property that is in their care, custody, and control. If they were legally liable for the thefts, they would monitor the baggage areas with cameras. As it is, it's not their problem so too bad for you. I can't stuff all my gear in 2 carry-ons, I just worry the whole trip and open up the cases on the spot as they come off the carosel.
BTW, it was no cooincidence that your luggage was delayed and then jacked. They needed time to move your bag to a place where they could paw through it. It really sucks, and you have no recourse.
Nikon D800, Subal, Sea&Sea D1's
Posted 19 April 2005 - 03:45 PM
I couldn't help but wonder after reading this thread yesterday because immediately before my daily dose of WetPixel I had just finished my daily eBay sweep and found the following item for auction that seemed to be listed for a pretty cheap price... particularly the "Buy it Now" option.
I found it very co-incidental and don't mean to cast aspersions on what may be a legitimate sell, but as per above I couldn't help but wonder upon reading of a stolen Aquat / S2 / Inon in your thread here so soon after looking at a pretty cheap (and just listed) Aquat / S2 / Inon on eBay... <_<
Hope you are back into a replacement rig soon.
Posted 19 April 2005 - 05:22 PM
Hope all turns out well for you.