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UW photo gear in carry on - any no-no?

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Is there any gotcha with regards to carrying one's uw photo gear in a carry on? I suppose this is what most people do, but I'm wondering if there are painful lessons I should know beforehand. In particular, have you had any issue traveling with so many rechargeable batteries? How about the strobe arms?

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The biggest problem I have had trouble with and been lucky too at the same time is having to gate check your bag because there wasn't room or my bag was too big. Some of those smaller connecting flights don't have as big of over heads as the big planes do.

 

I have been lucky in this regard, no damage as of yet.

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Like Aquapaul pointed out, my biggest concern has been over weight. I travel with a Pelican case which is of legal carry on size, but it weighs about double what it should.

 

I was once challenged over the battery pack on an old Ikelite 225 but considering the battery was a collection of little cylinders wired together with a flashing light and wrapped in plastic, I'm not surprised!

 

I tend to check non-fragile items like strobe arms so no issues there. I think the worst that could happen with batteries is you might need to carry them separated from the strobe itself.

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Expect a hand-check of a carried-on photo bag, whether its underwater or just a full photo gearbag in general. Never had an issue with strobe arms specifically, myself, and mine are the bulky 'floatation' type. They're pretty clearly hollow by weight and sound when handled, which helps.

 

I've even had a couple small hand-built circuits (LED trigger for hotshoe mount) that were fine as long as I could short across them and flash the LEDs with a coin to show what they did.

 

The one caution I have regards tools - they can get kind of snippety about screwdrivers and even tiny allen wrenches, so might want to move those to your dive bag. A typical rubber-strap-wrench (for dome to port extension threads) typically goes uncommented though.

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I have a small SLR lowerpro (not that small but small for SLR)

Inside housing, wet lenses, video lights and strobe and laptop, the hardware and batteries I check-in as it is heavy and not fragile

 

The only issue I have experienced is when my wrench was confiscated in Manado not to be seen again despite being labelled, even at heatrow they let me go with it

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I traveled on Cathay Pacific over the holidays and discovered they were very particular about lithium ion batteries. There are limits to how many you can carry, depending on the size. These are stated clearly on their web site, and maybe other airlines are doing this now too, so it would pay to check with the airline directly.

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BahamasAir can be Naziesque when dealing with carry-on weights.

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I wish more airlines would be Naziesque when dealing with the weight carried on around some passengers waistlines . . . that would free up carry-on capacity for the rest of us!

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The only think I would say is remove the O-Ring from anything that you shut tight you take on the plane.

 

I've had the glass dome pop out of the housing on a Zen port, as I forgot to take out the o-ring in the housing.

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Know what your bag weighs and what you have to take out to make it 7kg's and make sure it does not exceed the dimensions. Use a light bag with less padding and bubble wrap your gear which is lighter. When you go through controls put whatever will put you over 7kg in another bag like a small backpack and your partners handbag. You are normally alowed to carry a personal item like a pc bag which can hold a lense, camera body etc...pass by the guard dogs and repack again into your camera bag...find out about bateries, I have been on Emirates and the one way they said batteries had to be in luggage and the other way the wanted it in my carry on....

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I'm going to buy a "travel vest" or a photo vest, and put some of the heavy stuff (rechargeable batteries in particular) in my pockets. That should help lower the weight of my pack. Of course I'll look like a dork. :)

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Similar to others, I was stopped for trying to carry on my wrench/spanner and Allen wrenches in Tel Aviv. Fortunately, I had enough time to go back out and check them in as luggage. I was rather annoyed though when they provided metal cutlery for the dinner service on the flight. I have to think the knife I was given was far more deadly than my Allen wrenches.

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Similar to others, I was stopped for trying to carry on my wrench/spanner and Allen wrenches in Tel Aviv. Fortunately, I had enough time to go back out and check them in as luggage. I was rather annoyed though when they provided metal cutlery for the dinner service on the flight. I have to think the knife I was given was far more deadly than my Allen wrenches.

Funny!! They are pretty inconsistent with their rules. I sell steel wire rope and travelled with a sample of 6mm wire rope which went right through however they confiscated by box tape!

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The inconsistency is so frustrating. I always print the dangerous goods regulations for the airline and take them with me, as the various staff through the airport can have very different ideas. Some airlines say one lithium battery in the device and one spare in carry-on. Others give specific sizes above which you have to declare them, but smaller ones are fine and you can do whatever. Others say some batteries must be checked and others must be carry-on. It's always good to be able to demonstrate usage to security on the way to the gate, so I try to keep enough bits with me to make the strobes work, for example.

 

For batteries I tape the terminals, and before putting a housing or strobes through X-ray I tell the security people what's in there. Easier than putting them on high alert then trying to calm everyone down while you fish a giant piece of metal out of the bag for closer inspection. Especially when you're travelling through airports that don't see too many scuba divers.

 

Beyond that...cross your fingers they don't try and weigh the bag, and look non-threatening. Good luck!

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I've had issues traveling with the camera body in the housing. A couple of times they have made me take it apart. Other issues, as many noted, are tool kits (a 2" mini-screwdriver is a problem, really???). I travle with quite a few strobes, and they really don't like those. Make sure they will fire. Waiting for the issues with Li-ion batteries to come up.

 

As mentioned, above, be sure to tape all ends of loose batteries for dive lights (better yet, buy a rechargeable light). Loose batteries can come into contact with metal and short out.

 

But I carry all of my high $ gear on with me, keeping within the "volume" measurements. Nothing worse than getting to a city, to go on a live-aboard, and find your gear is missing. :(

 

My family won't even go through security with me anymore, as my carry on is myriad of lenses, wires, strobes, regs, etc., all tightly packed. The biggest nightmare is when they want to "delayer it", and start pulling stuff out of my carefully packed bag. And it's a real pain if you're traveling through an airport that sees few divers. I'd freak, too, if I was running the scanner, if I say my own stuff and didn't know what it was!!!!

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Being honest will pay off and one will not get stuck. Find out what each airline's policies are and do just that. Be ready to pay extra and be ready to limit your carry on or find another airline. There is so much going on @ those TSA lines or flight check ins , dealing with excessive weight should not be one of the issues an agent has to deal with. I see it all of the time and it takes up everyone's time. Remember you are not the first one these agents have had to deal with and you won't be the last. Just do the right thing so everyone can make their flight.

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It varies by country, in general weight limits are enforced by the airline and what can go through by security. The other thing to be aware of is you are flying with a budget carrier who charge for checked baggage they often weigh carry-ons so they can charge you to check the bag.

 

I make sure all my batteries are in cases so they can't short out, the only batteries that get near the 100W-hr limit are laptop batteries. For example my 1DMkIV battery is quite a big battery and it is 26W-hr, make sure you know where to find the W-hr rating on your batteries so you can point it out if needed. Here is the FAA rules:

 

https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/hazmat_safety/more_info/?hazmat=7

 

you'll see there is no limit on batteries except large batteries like laptop batteries, smaller camera batteries should have no limits, though some airlines have limits on total batteries which could be an issue with NiMH batteries for strobes. I pack my NiMH batteries in small plastic boxes made for batteries, with 4 cells in each and have never been stopped flying into the US, Asia and throughout Australia. Something like this:

 

https://www.jaycar.com.au/4-x-aa-battery-container-pack-of-2/p/HB6359

 

otherwise each cell would need to be in a plastic bag by the regulations. Worth searching for so you can keep your batteries organized.

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howdy, I have done a load of travel with UW kit and general camera gear and never had any dramas with any lithium camera batteries as long as I am hand carrying them. I usually have 3x bodies and 7 batteries.

 

If you are flying in Europe definitely avoid air France out of France, as I have never ever been forced to check my think tank roller for the last 15 years even if it was a little over weight except by Air France in Paris, and then my 400mm was broken after I was forced to check the lightweight roller. Most airlines are reasonable when you show them it is camera equipment, the exception to the rule is Air France! 7kg max! nightmare!

 

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Several years ago I was made to gate check my rolling carry-on with the photo gear inside. I had only some minor damage, but I was also worried about the gear for the entire flight. My typical method of carrying gear now is that I put camera body, fisheye and zoom lenses and an 8" dome port in a small carry-on that fits under the seat and meets the airlines published "personal item" size limits. They never take those from passengers that I have seen. The housing, a couple of other ports, the strobes, maybe a macro lens and some other stuff goes in a Pelican carry-on sized bag. On small puddle-jumpers I have to check the Pelican case but have not yet had it taken from me on regular flights. When that finally happens, I think the stuff in the case will be safe, since the most fragile bits aren't in there and the Pelican is more protective than the bag I used to take. Arms, clamps and other stuff goes in a regular carry-on bag my traveling companion takes with her. Even if our checked luggage doesn't make it to our destination with us, I can still assemble the camera gear and rent what I need to dive and take pictures.

 

I use micro four thirds stuff. I doubt this would work as well with larger cameras, lenses and housings.

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Wheeled carry ons send out a message of "I am heavy" and Pelican boxes, large or small, almost have flashing lights on them "I am expensive what ever I am". Purchase "average" luggage that is well made and padded (Think Tank Logistics Manager 30 for baggage) and your chances of being notice will drop. Act like your 25 lb carry on backpack weighs 15 lbs and your "personal", 2nd carry on bag, weighs nothing. The vest is a good thing that helps balance everything out. I have tried them but decided it wasn't for me. When asked to store my carry ons else where I ask for a refund on the ticket. Their policies do state - "one bag under the seat and one bag in the overhead". Try hard to be an earlier boarder to avoid lack of overhead space and not be one of the last boarding - sort of a no brainer on that tip. Carry on super fragile equipment, camera, camera housing, all lenses, external hard drives, computer, dive computers, ALL batteries. Everyone has their personal tricks.

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Being in the aviation industry and having been through Dangerous Goods training recently, I would add make sure to remove/disconnect/isolate batteries/power sources from dive torches and video lights especially as they are considered as fire hazards since they can get quite hot.

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I accidentally left a 2lb weight in my Ewa marine bag. That earned me a hand check at security and I had to open up the bag for a full screening. 😆. But no issues at all on my return trip. I carried on a legal overhead bin size roll aboard specifically for my UW gear and it worked out great.

 

I also kept a small tote bag in the roll aboard. My plan was if they made me gate check it for my short flight on the smaller commuter plane I would put the most delicate items (specifically my housing and batteries) in the tote to be able to carry that on.

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I always get stopped for camera gear. Here's my biggest tips:

 

1) Have covers over your batteries! I've started carrying some gaffers tape for them.

2) If they do ask you to check your carry on, explain there is camera gear and batteries in there. Usually they will find you a small enough space if you are following #3.

3) Always use a backpack for the primary amount of gear. I've never been asked to weight my backpack. Messenger bags are a good second alternative. Anything rolling or hard sided gets weighed first.

4) Carry a collapsable duffle bag. This will let you spread the weight if you have to.

5) Check whatever gear you can safely. This is usually the metal stuff.

6) Be Nice! Rules only have to be enforced when necessary and most staff really don't want to have to enforce them.

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I usually carry my UW housing, Ports, strobes, and batteries in a wheeled carry on. It' s usually 25 lbs. and 15lbs is the allowable max. Most time's no one checks the weight. But I have been stoped and checked twice, both times I opened the bag and showed them the housing and large dome port and stated that it was camera gear and fragile. They let me go, no charge.

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