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Airlines/Airports with strict hand/cabin luggage rules

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As airlines get tighter on check bags, the focus has now shifted towards clamping down on cabin/hand luggage. This thread is to identify airlines and airports which do have strict hand/cabin luggage weight policies and enforce them. As we photographers try to carry our photographic equipment with us to save on weight (or in my case, to ensure I have equipment to shoot if all luggage gets lost), we now have to list the airlines and airports we have to avoid or get special permission to avoid hassles with ground crew.

 

My latest list (last 3 months) is as follows:

 

DUR: King Shaka Airport Durban, South Africa: June 2010:

South African Airways: Weighed my 2 hand luggage in Business Class at check-in counter for domestic flight. Allowed 2x 8kg(18lbs) bags (or 1x with economy class). Mine were both over but I showed them my (fake) continuing ticket on Virgin which allows 12kg bags (x1) but so I lied and said 2. They put a tag on approved baggage. I'll try to remove the sticker to see what they do next time.

 

LHR: London Heathrow, UK: May 2010:

Virgin Airways: Attempted to weigh my hand luggage but saw I was traveling Upper Class. Allowed 2 x bags combined 16kg (12kg max on any bag)

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Just returned from a trip to the Philippines flying on Philippine Air Lines (PAL).

At LAX check in counter, they are weighting every thing - checked baggage, carry on and some back packs. When weighted, they put a orange tag on the item.

I unloaded my camera case into the back pack and my cargo pants. Then was able to avoid the pack weighting.

Same on the return from Manila. This time I had carefully removed the orange tag from the inward flight and placed it on the carry on and again avoided the scale.

Both flights were 100% full. Read in the Manila paper that PAL had to cancel flights due to pilots and 1st officers quiting to go to other Asian air lines for more money. PAL officers making US$2 - 4,000 per month are now getting US$8 - 12,000 to jump ship!

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Came back from Manila on China Air 4 weeks ago. All carry-on weighed at check-in. Used stick-on tags w/flight info. Ditto weighing carry-on for the SFO to Manila flight in April. Getting much more difficult to travel with camera gear.

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Just got back from Indo - EVA weighed the rolling bag (20kg of housing, strobes, etc.) for the outbound in LAX. I talked to a supervisor and explained it was camera gear and she let it on pretty easily. I left the "Hand Carry" tag on it and had no problems returning from DPS.

 

My rolling bag was also weighed in DPS by Cathay 6 months ago. I begged and pleaded and they finally relented and allowed it on. It would have been easier if I had my "One World" gold card, so now I carry it with me.

 

Of course, no one's yet asked to weigh my backpack which with cameras, lenses and lap top is close to 10kg.

 

I'm getting tired of having to worry, skulk around and dodge gate agents and am now considering checking the u/w gear, depending on destination.

 

Phil

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I'm flying Thomson Airways to Hurghada soon. I've about 15kgs in my Pelican roller box which is airline cabin regulation size. Anyone know if Thomson weighs "hand" luggage? They say they only allow 5kgs of cabin baggage.....

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Tim

 

Been with them a few times - Manchester/Maldives - most recently in April. They have never shown any interest in anybody'd hand luggage as far as I could see and some folks had more than one item although we were told in advance only one was permitted. However, I never go too wild with what I try to get through - what is Plan B if some jobsworth gets interested at boarding and your main luggage is already in the hold?

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LOL, thanks JimG. That's well worth knowing.

 

Plan B is to do Plan A again, only better

 

 

(JimG/TimG ? Scary)

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We just got off the Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to LAX. No scales in sight. My wife tested the system by carrying on five bags :unsure: , the roll on, her carry on bag and three shopping bags with assorted stuff we didn't want to stuff in the already cose to over weight luggage. We keep a large duty free bag on hand for occasions like this. Nobody even blinked. They did a hand check of each bag in HK and were checking the size of the bags on the outbound leg but happily had no issues. I'm sure the business class ticket didn't hurt.

 

Cheers,

Steve

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I'm sure the business class ticket didn't hurt.

 

Ahh...

 

... American economic power!

(Not that I'm flying business class to Malta in a month, of course)

 

Tim

 

:unsure:

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Singapore Airlines SFO-SIN. I had Porter case (38lbs), smallish camera bag, and backpack in Economy. Allowed all three at gate, with no weighing or complaints on boarding. (was connecting from NYC via UA, so did not go through ticket counter.)

 

Silkair SIN-MDC Took all of the above onto the plane without any eyebrows raised, no weighing

 

LION Air MDC-KAZ (intra Indonesia) Strict weights with fees at 16,500Rupiah/ kg for overweight check in luggage, but was allowed all of the above on the Dash 8 flight over to Kau in Halmahera. Told them I had camera equipment, and they permitted it, flight was not full.

 

Silkair MDC-SIN (luggage checked through to NYC with UA) Allowed to check two bags, one was < 23kg, the other was 32KG :unsure: Both checked without any drama or excess fees. ;) however my final destination was the US, so that may have been a factor and I was traveling in F from SIN-NYC. No use of the size-wise carryon sizer at the gate ---- however I did notice it had a scale built into it! First time I have ever seen the sizer with a built in scale. Flight was really very full!

 

The above flights were all within the last 2 weeks.

 

Philippines Airlines -- have never had my carryon ever weighed before for Philippines domestic travel. Is this new?

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Philippines Airlines -- have never had my carryon ever weighed before for Philippines domestic travel. Is this new?

 

Not that new - they weighted all carry on last year in Manila.

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Singapore Airlines SFO-SIN. I had Porter case (38lbs), smallish camera bag, and backpack in Economy. Allowed all three at gate, with no weighing or complaints on boarding. (was connecting from NYC via UA, so did not go through ticket counter.)

 

Just to note - that on routes from/to Europe - Singapore Airlines will weigh hand luggage, particularly if it looks big. Their limit out of and into Europe is just 7kg - that is 14lb. And I have see this strictly enforced a number of times.

I have also personally had this enforced flying with Singapore out of Australia to Singapore - although because my final destination was Europe - I had to move my housing into my hold bag. I suspect had my final destination been the US, it might have been a different allowance.

 

Also note that Singapore Airlines baggage allowance is usually only enforced at check-in and most underwater photographers get around it, by wearing jackets or waist-coats with large pockets.

 

Alex

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EVA - LAX to TPE. They weighed the roller carry-ons. They did not weigh the backpacks we were wearing. My large roller was 7kg because I took out a shooters vest stuffed pre-stuffed with 7kgs of camera gear. After check-in. I placed the shooters vest back in the roller carry-on and wheeled my bag onto the plane.

 

Singapore Airlines - Houston to Moscow to Singapore. They weighed my carry-ons. We had already checked our bags in Dallas all the way to Manado. They wanted me to dump my lenses and stuff into a cardboard box and check it. I refused. We did get on the plane with the stuff, but it was touch and go and a big hassle.

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Just to note - that on routes from/to Europe - Singapore Airlines will weigh hand luggage, particularly if it looks big. Their limit out of and into Europe is just 7kg - that is 14lb. And I have see this strictly enforced a number of times.

I have also personally had this enforced flying with Singapore out of Australia to Singapore - although because my final destination was Europe - I had to move my housing into my hold bag. I suspect had my final destination been the US, it might have been a different allowance.

 

Also note that Singapore Airlines baggage allowance is usually only enforced at check-in and most underwater photographers get around it, by wearing jackets or waist-coats with large pockets.

 

Alex, quick flight!

Just to clarify... Since EU is a big place, does this only pertain to LHR SQ flights only or does this include other SQ destinations like FRA and CDG? I was in FRA earlier this year and they weighed nothing of mine. I also just took the SQ LHR business class flight last week and had nothing weighed at check-in or gate. I had my usual backpack with 2x15" laptops, housing with dome and a camera bag with 2 big strobes. Don't even ask how much they weigh cos I don't wanna know :unsure:.

 

I've found all international airports in Australia have strict cabin luggage rules, but I haven't travelled there in a while so I didn't want to rant about them again ;).

 

I find that it's the airports which push enforcement in many cases, which is why I asked to include airport as well. It could also be dependent on whether the flight is full or not. Which is why I started the thread topic to see if there is any consistency or pattern.

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Their baggage system is divided by IATA Areas - so there is one policy for Europe and one for US/Can flights, to quote from Singapore Airlines website:

 

"Please note that the piece system is applicable on flights to/from the USA and Canada (IATA Area One)"

"Customers travelling to/from Area One on the same ticket will have these baggage allowances applied at all points in the itinerary."

 

So if you are flying SYD-SIN (then on to LAX) you have different baggage allowances to someone flying SYD-SIN (and on to LHR).

 

Outside of Area One - their policy is single bag 7kg/14lb in Economy. Two bags in business and first class. But I am sure there is additional discretion for frequent fliers etc. Also as with all rules in the EU - they are enforced differently in different countries - the Common Fisheries Policy being a prime example! Sadly.

 

I should clarify, I have taken much more than this many times on Singapore Airlines. I have never been charged excess baggage by them and only once - had to move items from carry-on to hold.

My main strategy is to ask them several extra questions as I check in - to which I already know the answer such as "Do I have to check in again in Singapore" - this always distracts them, plus by the time they have explained it all to the dumb traveller (me) - they want to get rid of me and on to the next customer - so never check my 40lb hand luggage. But when travelling with groups - as I often do - I have seen plenty of people getting collared!

 

There is no problem per-se with hand luggage in Australia. I had two large pieces on my flights this year. No problem. It is airline and route dependant.

 

Alex

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I should clarify, I have taken much more than this many times on Singapore Airlines. I have never been charged excess baggage by them and only once - had to move items from carry-on to hold.

My main strategy is to ask them several extra questions as I check in - to which I already know the answer such as "Do I have to check in again in Singapore" - this always distracts them, plus by the time they have explained it all to the dumb traveller (me) - they want to get rid of me and on to the next customer - so never check my 40lb hand luggage. But when travelling with groups - as I often do - I have seen plenty of people getting collared!

 

There is no problem per-se with hand luggage in Australia. I had two large pieces on my flights this year. No problem. It is airline and route dependant.

 

Alex

 

Ah ok, the PC vs weight system for checked luggage. I thought you were referring to the hand/cabin baggage rules, which is different for airlines and enforced differently at each airport, but generally the 7kg/15.4lbs limit is across the board for many airlines, but some including UAL, BA and AA don't have stated weight limits while airlines like SQ, Cathay and Virgin do, varying from 7-15kg. Pays to know the airlines so you can tell the overzealous airport staff what's wot.

After having been stranded without a housing to shoot 3 times, I always carry the whole rig. Everything else can be bought or rented.

I'll refrain from talking about SYD, PER, CNS and BRI :grr:

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China Air out of SF was weighing everything on checkin, but I forgot to take my carry-ons to the counter. Returning from Manila, again all weighed and they objected to my 60 lb of carry-on, but supervisor relented when I said it was $25,000 of camera gear, but she looked in the bag first.

 

Philippine Air in country, from Manila, business class, check-in counter weighed, but tagged anyway. Problem was at security point, where the weighed all, and really fussed. Called supervisor over, and I explained cost of equip, but still not ok. While they stood around, trying to work out what to do next, I just took my stuff, and got on the plane. Flying back to Manila from Bohol, no problem with weight, but said I needed to check my walking stick, and the lithium batteries. I said I couldn't get on/off the plane without the stick, and regulations require that the batts be carry-on. This stumped her, and she didn't know what to do next. Again, I just went thru and got on the plane.

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Auckland International Airport - New Zealand

 

Check in was fine but once I got to the security section someone pulled me aside and weighed my carry on roll on bag. It was well over. I removed the housing, camera body and strobe which they let me carry through security in my hand and once threw the scanners replaced it all. I don’t know why they bothered.

 

Half the time I think airport staff are just following directives passed down and have as little clue as we do as to what they are meant to be achieving.

 

Kevin Black

http://www.kevinblack.co.uk

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I removed the housing, camera body and strobe which they let me carry through security in my hand and once threw the scanners replaced it all. I don’t know why they bothered.

 

I think I have had that happen at least 5 times the past two years, in Europe, Caribbean or US. If I'm correct: you're allowed to carry a camera in your hand no matter the hand luggage. So when they do check it and see it's pretty much way too heavy I just suggest this solution myself which makes the lady behind the counter happy because the problem is solved without any fuzz and all according to the rules. Of course, the moment I leave the check-in counter and I'm out of sight everything is back in the case in no time!

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Singapore Air in Manila and Singapore (Sept. 7) and Male (Maldives) and Singapore (Nov. 10-11)

Hawaiian Air in Kona and Honolulu (Sept. 6) and Manila and Honolulu (Nov. 11)

 

In all cases I was able to get onboard with both a full roll-one (Porter Case) and a full knapsack (Lowepro). No carry-on was weighed except in Manila, where Hawaiian Air weighed both before tagging as cabin luggage, and said nothing, even though both had to be over their weight limits.

 

The oddest thing was trying to get onboard with drinking water. At U.S. airports, I have to dump the water before passing airport security then refill the bottle before boarding the plane. On Singapore Air (except outbound in Male) I could get through airport security with a full bottle, but they took it away at the additional gate security check before boarding the airplane - even when it was a sealed bottle I had just bought in the "secure" area of the airport!

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I just flew Continental from Canada to Roatan. The Calgary-Houston flight wasn't picky, but before departure in Houston someone with a scale weighs your check-in luggage. Mine was 2 pounds over the 50lbs limit and was told it would be a $50 charge. However, they allow you to move some weight into your carry-on which was never weighed and they allow 40lbs for the carry-on and mine was stuffed to the rim. Luckily the Houston luggage screening didn't ask me to take the camera out because it would have been a real mess.

 

Bart

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At U.S. airports, I have to dump the water before passing airport security then refill the bottle before boarding the plane.

Oh, don't get me started on US airports! I'm American, so unfortunately every flight I take includes at least one US airport. Out of the dozens of countries I've visited, none have been so strict--and at the same time so inefficient--as those in the States.

 

*shakes head*

 

-Gina

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I ogenerally only fly Continental and EVA.

 

Continental weighs your checked bags and possibly won't allow a third bag on even for money, even first-class. They have never weighed my carry-on.

 

EVA weighs my carry-on but not my backpack. I simply set the carry-on to 7kg and carry everything in the backpack. I have not tried the camera-in-the-hand bit but it makes sense. Also, many airlines allow a laptop.

 

I am flying in-country from Manila and Cebu and will be well over their 30kg limit for checked luggage so i expect to pay.

 

Regards,

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Oh, don't get me started on US airports! I'm American, so unfortunately every flight I take includes at least one US airport. Out of the dozens of countries I've visited, none have been so strict--and at the same time so inefficient--as those in the States.

 

*shakes head*

 

-Gina

 

I guess you have not transited through Japan then.

 

Not entering from outside airport, but just changing planes after arriving to Narita or Nagoya, they make you go through a security check even when transiting. They took away a partially full bottle of Coke from the person ahead of me. Said "no liquids", unless in the little bag.

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I had a pleasant experience the last time I flew on Sunwing Airlines out of Toronto to Liberia, Costa Rica. This trip was a cut rate all inclusive vacation with the air charter operator Sunwing Airlines.

 

When I checked Sunwing's website for baggage allowances, I was shocked to find that they want to weigh your combined check-in and carry-on baggage to make sure that it is under their 25 Kg weight limit. They will still carry 20 kg of scuba stuff for free in addition to the combined weight allowance.

 

My Aquatica D2x housing, camera, and Ikelite DS200 Sunstrobes come in at about 13 Kg so that does not leave me very much weight for extra lenses, laptop computer, and a few clothes. Funny part of it is that I purchased some new light weight dive gear for the trip and was able to come in at about 13 kg for the dive gear.

 

Knowing that I would not be able to make the weight limits imposed on me, I contacted my travel agent for the trip, who coincidentally happens to be a diver and who was also accompanying us on the trip.

 

Well to make a long story a little shorter, she was able to coax Sunwing Airlines into allowing my dive buddy and I, an extra 20 kg. of baggage allowance free of charge. Baggage check-in staff also had prior knowledge of the extra baggage allowance so check-in was very smooth. The return flight check-in went just as smoothly.

 

I have to admit that I didn't think there was a hope in hell that I wouldn't be paying excess baggage fees, so I was very pleased with the way things worked out.

 

So I guess what I'm trying to say is, there still is a place in the world for a good travel agent in this world of on-line trip bookings.

 

I liked the service my travel agent provided so much that I booked another trip with her to Port Hardy, B.C. in October coming.

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