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I'm heading to Philippines soon for a few weeks and PAL, Philippine Airlines, appears to be strict on carry on bags. While they allow 2 checked bags at 50lbs/ea they say one carry on at 15lb is all they allow. As we all know that's a tough one to deal with! I use a Think Tank 3.0 roller (and also carry a back pack) which size wise is fine for carry on and it rarely if ever gets weighed, I make it appear light :)  My dive bag hits the 50lb limit and carries lots of stuff and not worried about checking it. Think Tank has my D500 housing, strobes, ports, lens etc and weighs in around 40lbs. I am concerned about checking it even though it is a direct flight LAX-MNL. It is a tough bag for sure and I will have a TSA locked bag strap around it but it is by no means  hard shell luggage.  Any thoughts on PAL bag routines and getting around checking it at departure counter?  I've had to gate check on occasion with no problems. Philippines has just opened to foreign travelers so suspect no one has gone through this recently.  Thoughts appreciated on Think Tank holding up, being eyed as "expensive" photo gear etc would be greatly appreciated.

Steve

Edited by Eyematey

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I fly Philippines Air two or three times a year, and they are conscientious about luggage weights and sizes, that is, they check everything.  My dive equipment, housing, strobes are wrapped with my wet suit and and other soft clothes for protection, inside two large plastic shell suitcases. My camera bag with camera and two lenses and briefcase they also weigh so all my luggage is checked to be within weight limits. I use a baby scale in kilos to check weights. 

However, I often see other travelers checking in what appears to be the furnishings for an  entire home, which I am sure they are charged for.  Once, after we were seated and the airplane started to the runway, it was diverted to another gate, and inspectors boarded it, as it was over the safety weight limit.  We departed after the excess weight was removed.  After many trips on Philippine, and Singapore, Airlines I have had no luggage, equipment, or other problems, no losses or damage.

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Hi Steve

Could you put the ThinkTank inside a more nondescript bag to check in?

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39 minutes ago, Kraken de Mabini said:

I fly Philippines Air two or three times a year, and they are conscientious about luggage weights and sizes, that is, they check everything.  My dive equipment, housing, strobes are wrapped with my wet suit and and other soft clothes for protection, inside two large plastic shell suitcases. My camera bag with camera and two lenses and briefcase they also weigh so all my luggage is checked to be within weight limits. I use a baby scale in kilos to check weights. 

However, I often see other travelers checking in what appears to be the furnishings for an  entire home, which I am sure they are charged for.  Once, after we were seated and the airplane started to the runway, it was diverted to another gate, and inspectors boarded it, as it was over the safety weight limit.  We departed after the excess weight was removed.  After many trips on Philippine, and Singapore, Airlines I have had no luggage, equipment, or other problems, no losses or damage.

Excellent information, thanks. I've used lots of 'hacks' over the years to get past check in issues but think PAL maybe my nemesis. So, I'll consider last minute change to a hard shell for Think Tank gear (my buddy is doing that) but also think it is stout enough to make journey and am more worried about it being 'eyed' as something worth tampering with.  They are direct flights R/T with some PAL and CEBU Air domestic inter islands of only an hour or so.  Tim, that's a thought I've had except I'm trying not to purchase yet another piece of luggage.  BTW, one trip to FIJI years ago I apologized to fellow passengers in the check in line at LAX for looking like a 'mad bomber' with photo vest filled with cameras, regulators, computers etc. May  have that 'look' again this trip.

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I do not believe the ThinkTank bags are sufficient as checked bags.  Maybe, inside a hard shell case they would be, but then it is almost certain to get checked and why not just get a suitable case in the first place?  Although I know others here seem to have avoided the problem, I have seen and experienced carry-on bags "force-checked" when the overhead bins are full or because of weight.  I have had this happen to me twice.  As more and more people try to avoid the absurd luggage charges, and airlines keep reducing the number of flights and packing planes full, it will continue to be more of a problem.

I check the biggest and hopefully least fragile  stuff (housing, strobes, flat ports, etc) in a checked case that can withstand luggage diverters and baggage handlers, use a carry-on size but "checkable if necessary" carryon roller, and my camera and lenses go in a "personal item" shoulder bag that fits under any seat, and thus at virtually no risk of being checked.

I don't want to bore anyone with long stories of various experiences, so I will just add this:  Within the past month I was returning from a dive trip and connected through Newark.  In Newark, every overhead bin filled up before everyone was seated or had stowed their stuff and several carry-on bags were taken and forced to go in the hold.  There was just no room left.  There was actually something of a scene on board and takeoff was delayed. 

My gear was safe.

My understanding is PAL is strict.

I have a question:  I have thought of the photo vest or similar ploy, or at least carrying camera and lens on a strap, but then what do you do while seated for hours on the plane?  Unprotected stuff is not safe overhead and there is no room under the seat.  Just carry it on that way to save weight issues and then repack it once in the plane?

 

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3 minutes ago, Draq said:

I have a question:  I have thought of the photo vest or similar ploy, or at least carrying camera and lens on a strap, but then what do you do while seated for hours on the plane?  Unprotected stuff is not safe overhead and there is no room under the seat.  Just carry it on that way to save weight issues and then repack it once in the plane?

 

I've used photo vest in past (not recently) and have a good one made by DOMKE, they can hold lots of stuff and worked to get around check in counter. After passing that hurtle I would reload the bulky/heavy things into carry on backpack and board plane as normal and fold up vest and put in overhead. Hoping this works again on PAL. They do allow a laptop sleeve as a second carry on so that should also help making the 15lb carry on backpack doable. Another past hack/ploy is to have travel buddy watch some heavier stuff that's in backpack while you check in then do the same for them and repack  away from counter. One time in Solomon's they made me stand on scale with my loaded vest on, pretty funny scene. Was a smaller plane, can't blame them for wanting to know actual weight. As to Think Tank sturdiness, I find it seems as tough as the plastic luggage I've looked at and has way better wheels. Housing, strobes, cables, gears and ports are also 'tough' and well padded in it. Guess I'm paranoid that Think Tank is obviously carrying expensive gear although it looks like a normal carry on to me might be oobvious to someone looking for gear to mess with. Still debating but only a few days to departure.

Steve

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I've been traveling with a ThinkTank Airport International V2.0 for at least ten years.  I have 70% of my gear in it, which is almost always carry-on, but that percentage is decreasing every year.  In my experience there is a 10% chance that something will get damaged when it's checked.  The problem is the damage is so slight you don't realize it happened until your gear starts acting up.  Slightly crushed lens cap, cracked vacuum gauge, loose strobe switch, cold solder joint on the strobe trigger.  These were all recent issues I had when my bag was checked.

As much as I like my ThinkTank bag,  I will never intentionally again check it, and will be looking for an alternative in the future. 

In the absence of any future developments, I'm going to budget for additional baggage as part of our ongoing photography costs and possibly transition back to pelican-style box days.

At this point, the additional cost of excess baggage is far exceeded by the failure of gear we need when we're in the water and taking photos.

Edited by Redwing
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4 hours ago, Redwing said:

I've been traveling with a ThinkTank Airport International V2.0 for at least ten years.  I have 70% of my gear in it, which is almost always carry-on, but that percentage is decreasing every year.  In my experience there is a 10% chance that something will get damaged when it's checked.  The problem is the damage is so slight you don't realize it happened until your gear starts acting up.  Slightly crushed lens cap, cracked vacuum gauge, loose strobe switch, cold solder joint on the strobe trigger.  These were all recent issues I had when my bag was checked.

As much as I like my ThinkTank bag,  I will never intentionally again check it, and will be looking for an alternative in the future. 

In the absence of any future developments, I'm going to budget for additional baggage as part of our ongoing photography costs and possibly transition back to pelican-style box days.

At this point, the additional cost of excess baggage is far exceeded by the failure of gear we need when we're in the water and taking photos.

Turns out I have a version 2.0 not 3.0 and have been using for at least same amount of time but rarely gate checked, time fly's ~~~  Good points, thank you and agree hard case for 'checked' is way to go in future. Still stuck in present and only pelican style I have of check size has no wheels, grrr.

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Posted (edited)

When I see these discussions, or start thinking I would like to find lighter bags for photo equipment, or thinking I will gamble that they won't make me check my carry-on, I remember videos like these:

 

 

 

Edited by Draq
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43 minutes ago, stillviking said:

What's the solution, just Pelican?

Drive???

LOL, these are horrifying.....

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1 hour ago, stillviking said:

These videos hurt to see! What's the solution, just Pelican?

image.png.085fde0f6a206c01a995bded67019a26.png

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Up to December last year, I lived in and worked from the Philippines for nearly 20 years, and took hundreds (yes) of work and personal flights in/out including many on PAL from LAX, SFO, and YVR.  Never have I had an issue with luggage tampering, nor did I ever hear of it from colleagues in my large organization.  You may not believe the number of upscale dive bags, pelican cases, flat screen TVs, and $2000 Rimowa trunks on the belt at baggage claim.  Yours will not stand out and I would not worry about an item looking expensive.

As for weight, I've also never had my carry-ons weighed (a roller and a large briefcase on business trips, a pelican and a backpack on personal trips) but I defer to others who have.  It never seemed as if anyone was paying attention and I frequently marveled at the truly prodigious volumes of luggage that Filipinos carried on when returning home with cargo for family and friends!  

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Thanks for encouragement troporobo, PAL experience is one of the main things I was looking for. Those video's Draq are a nightmare to see but also quite entertaining, ouch!  So, because Think Tank is my favorite and all set up with gear I decided to get a 'outer shell' for extra protection. A 26" hard side, sort of, roller shell, very light weight and in my mind sacrificial to some extent. I'll be PO'd if everyone is boarding with multiple carry-on's and the 'kitchen sink' so to speak!!  I have other flights to deal with in country so hopefully this is a satisfactory compromise. Thanks for all the input pixeler's, not getting any easier to move around the planet.

Steve

CCD003D4-817B-4E9D-AB93-E6CA06EE38B8.jpeg

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Eyematey said:

 

CCD003D4-817B-4E9D-AB93-E6CA06EE38B8.jpeg

So your ThinkTank International Airport 2.0 is fully enclosed inside this and you intend to present this as a carryon and stored in the overhead compartment with the confidence that it can go checked if challenged on weight or dimensions?  

Showed this to my wife, dive buddy, and dive model,  who worked in the airline industry for years and she concurs.  She suggested we get two of these.

Edited by Redwing

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5 hours ago, Redwing said:

So your ThinkTank International Airport 2.0 is fully enclosed inside this and you intend to present this as a carryon and stored in the overhead compartment with the confidence that it can go checked if challenged on weight or dimensions?  

Showed this to my wife, dive buddy, and dive model,  who worked in the airline industry for years and she concurs.  She suggested we get two of these.

The Think Tank 2.0 fits perfectly inside with room for some other soft things BUT it is NOT legal carry-on size I don't think. Think Tank 2.0 is max carry-on size on it's own.  PAL allows 2 checked bags up to 50lbs, one 15lb carry-on (backpack in my case) and this 26" shell  will allow me to "check" my Think Tank with a bit less worry about being beat up in transit. Will post after arrival in Philippines on current check in status as far as carry-on's, if I see someone boarding with a 'kitchen sink' or 'comfort chicken' will be sure to take photo.

Cheers

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Off topic but I see an inlaid hardwood bowl from the Solomon Island s in your photo.  I lived and worked there in my first overseas posting, and have a lot of their crafts, so those things jump out for me.  Nice to see!

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2 hours ago, troporobo said:

Off topic but I see an inlaid hardwood bowl from the Solomon Island s in your photo.  I lived and worked there in my first overseas posting, and have a lot of their crafts, so those things jump out for me.  Nice to see!

Good eye, can't remember which island but 'whispered' a deal with the maker. Two weeks aboard Bilikiki with Graham Abbott, great trip.

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, Eyematey said:

The Think Tank 2.0 fits perfectly inside with room for some other soft things BUT it is NOT legal carry-on size I don't think.

It's technically about 2" too long on the long side, but would probably make pass 90% of the time as carryon, with an added peace of mind that if checked, it will arrive undamaged.  The key is surrounding the gaps between the ThinkTank and hard shell with cushioning to minimize any shock impact.

Edited by Redwing

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Redwing said:

It's technically about 2" too long on the long side, but would probably make pass 90% of the time as carryon, with an added peace of mind that if checked, it will arrive undamaged.  The key is surrounding the gaps between the ThinkTank and hard shell with cushioning to minimize any shock impact.

Yep, I'm very satisfied with fit and added a few items to help lighten load from my Stahlsac dive bag.

Edited by Eyematey

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On 3/9/2022 at 4:42 PM, Redwing said:

It's technically about 2" too long on the long side, but would probably make pass 90% of the time as carryon, with an added peace of mind that if checked, it will arrive undamaged.  The key is surrounding the gaps between the ThinkTank and hard shell with cushioning to minimize any shock impact.

Fiji Airways is an example where the 9" depth is shrunk to 7.8, and they do inspect (or did on my last pass) very carefully.  But like many, they do not apply the weight restriction against camera gear.  

I picked the smaller Airport Advantage to meet these tighter restrictions, and it can take a good amount, though only ports for M43 or smaller.  

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