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Thread: Air Travel: Check-in and Carry-on of Photographic Equipment and Notebook

  1. #1
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    Default Air Travel: Check-in and Carry-on of Photographic Equipment and Notebook

    Hi all,

    I'll be going on an airplane ride soon, and am carrying a fair bit of camera gear, which basically sees a DSLR with grip, a wide angle and a mid-range telephoto lens, a flash, a compact PnS with waterproof casing, two sets of batteries for everything, and a Manfrotto 055 tripod with head.

    I will also have a 14 inch notebook PC with me that I would carry-on. My airline has a 7kg carry-on luggage limit, which I think I will hit comfortably since my notebook weighs in at 2.2kg, and the tripod and head is 3kg. That leaves less than 2kg for the other stuff.

    Would the tripod have to be checked-in? Some people that I've asked are of the opinion that the airline counter staff might deem it part of a weapon used for forcibly taking over the airliner, or part of a bazooka, or something. Did anyone try to bring their tripod on board with them?

    My stuff, while heavy, have a relatively small form factor for the weight, can I get away with going heavier than the limit, since all that I carry are high-value, fragile items that I would like to keep with me?

    Hope that the frequent air travellers among us can fill me in on some details, though I am aware that the airline's degree of tolerance of overweight luggage varies from airline to airline (I'm going Singapore Airlines economy) as well as from person to person. Tips and tricks to gain extra baggage allowance would be very welcome too......

    Oh, and the check-in luggage allowance would already be maxed, I simply cannot place any of the abovementioned items into that side of the equation.

  2. #2
    Senior Member scud's Avatar
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    better check-in your tripod...... but why u need to bring a tripod? IMO, u do not need it

    better to hand carry:
    1. notebook
    2. cam bag
    3. those small & valuable items

    juz came back from jpn early this month, hand carry my cam bag which was full with dslr+3bat+charger, flash+2set of AA's+charger, bat grip, 1x wide angle, 1x 28-300mm, 1x portable storage, passport & tickets.

    tips: dont forget to bring travel adaptor as jpn dont have 3-pin plug!

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    hmm... best that you keep your tripod in a tripod bag. usually I would place the tripod in my check in luggage but since your quota for that is reached, suggest you bring in the tripod by hand carry. Best for you to keep your Dslr/ laptop/ lens/ PnS with you. Your tripod.. either get a lighter and smaller one or check it in as a separate luggage but label as fragile.

    hope it helps!

  4. #4

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    hey dude... how izzit going? havin a holiday eh? :-P

    no problems bring everything in one la. i can't remember the last time ANY airline weighed mine or anyone's hand luggage, as long as it isn't too big lor. i've seen lots of ppl bringin in huge and LOTS of hand luggage too. i can assure u, dun need to worry.

    i've both checked in and hand carried my tripod before. never had any problems too. but i suggest if u check it in, strap it to something, such as a hard suitcase or backpack so it has some backing and run get bent or something. at least have a bit of protection. if u hand carry and they suspect, just open and show them la. recently i hand-carried in a ceramic pistol back and it caused a HUGE hooha at the xray machine, but they still let me bring it, but through the buggage lor. haha... so dun need to worry too.

    if they insist, just show them what u have and ask them if they wanna bear responsibility if it breaks lor.

    so... moral of the whole story, they dun weigh hand luggage and dun need to worry abt weapons or what if u really dun have it. period. :-)
    Last edited by chongkm; 24th June 2004 at 03:42 AM.
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    I've travelled quite frequently, and I've never been asked to weigh my handcarry luggage before. Just try to pack everything in one bag, and when the counter staff asks you to show it to them, lift it up and try to act as if it's very light

    Check in baggage allowance is really quite flexible, especially if you are going abroad to study (which you sound as if you are. I've yet to see a casual traveller max luggage allowance before). Go early to check in (checking in late means the staff is already tired and grouchy, and there's limited space in the aircraft). Some officers are quite friendly and if you plead a bit, can allow you 2-3 kg more allowance. In fact, I've just sent my brother off at the airport after passing him my staff to bring back to Singapore. Total weight was 38kg, but a bit of pleading to the nice counter staff solved everything. Be warned though that excess baggage, if you must pay, is VERY expensive.

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    You know, it always amazes me how people can prove a negative on the benefit of having a bit of experience in something.

    So you might not have had your luggage weighed, but then plenty of other people have. You wait till you find a flight that's full, they'll start confiscating luggage at the boarding lounge.

    I was thinking about answering the post but it seems that several people already seem to have all the answers. And lots of dodgy information too.

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    Jed, do please answer my queries if you feel you have something useful to add; I am not thumbing my nose at anyone since I asked for personal experiences, given the variable nature of check-in, I guess it can never be authoritative.

    Why is my check-in maxed? I'm as much a cycling enthusiast as I like photography, and I am looking at a 15kg-plus box just for the bike alone, add my cycling-related equipment.......you get the picture. Doesn't leave me much for clothing, luckily I only need prepare for mild weather.

    I will have to operate on a worst-case scenario (that being opening up my luggage at the airport and pulling stuff out to lighten the weight - I've seen that happen twice, both times to students going away to study) so I have to prioritize my stuff and load up smart.

    It is useful that the camera gear is small and heavy which means that IF carry-on baggage isn't weighed, I can load up to the volumetric dimensions as dictated by the overhead storage cabin (shopkeepers tell me a 35-litre haversack will fit), and I can load up beyond the 30kg check-in and 7kg carry-on weight limit, and get away with it.

    But at the end of the day, I am trying to have my cake and eat it........

    Which is worse, having no change of clothes, miles and miles of wonderful trails to ride and no bike to ride it with, or no camera to do the "been there done that thing"?

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    Senior Member Virgo's Avatar
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    Have been travelling to Australia recently. Check in my tripod with my luggage and hand-carry the rest of the stuff: cameras, lenses and notebook.

    Should not have any problem with the tripod check-in. The land staff experience enough to tell. No worries.
    Kind Regards
    My Picture Website

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    yah Jed, care to share the flip side of the story? I haven't experienced it before, so I can't comment on the ugly side. Perhaps you might?

  10. #10

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    I travelled frequently, in recent times with lots of camera stuff. Not once did I have to get my hand carry weighed. Most of the time the airline staff look at bulk. If the hand carry bag looks too big they will most likely ask that u check it in.

    It is better to put your tripod in the check-in luggage. It can be a sticky issue depending on the airline and the staff. SQ can be v sticky depending on situation.

    I assume u are not transferring to smaller airlines or planes. U will have have a problem with hand carry on some of these smaller planes.

    As a matter of comparison anything bigger than the Lowepro Nature Trekker will be a problem.

    If u travel by economy, u will likely have an allowance of 20kg for luggage. If u are not over by more than 5 kg u should be able to get thru.

    U are right, it all depends on the check in staff, so be nice and have a big smile for them. Explain your situation if they do query about weight, normally they are understanding chaps.

    Good luck and safe travel.

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    Default my take...

    Looks like you really bringing your whole arsenal there...

    Before that...: Bring what you really-really need and do not work on a too high redudancy approach....else...you will have problems in managing these items ...one way or another...

    Okay here's my tips...

    -For Camera and lens - If you have a Top loader or backpack...then use it.
    Back pack is good as it looks like a normal carry on luggage. Weight wise.....a typical Lowe Minitrekker size would be ideal. Even the load is large (heavy) due to the size of the bag...the checkin people at the gate will not fuss about it...unless you give that "Please sir my bag is really heavy "- look!!

    - For weight reduction on the bag:
    All cleaning kits, accesories, filters, batteries (leave one set for tuning it on upon demand), tripod, ballheads, blower etc....should go inot you main luggauge - to be checked in. You should bacsically have cam body, lens, flash in your main carry on camera bag....

    - Tripod preferably stored in luggage at the top part under some towels so that if scanned - its easily retrieved....else you need to rummage through undies etc and it will be tough at the airport .
    If you die die must hand carry.....than bring it to the gate and pass to the stewardess and they will tag it and stow it away safely....and remember to cmome get again before alighting...

    One possible space saver is a photographers vest - you can put some stuff inside too.

    THe key objective here is to be able to jetison ALL itmes for you to go through the security scan check .......

    Been on SQ and even in US security and so far no problems. The 7 Kilo load max may just be a guideline - for your own good too....as it will be hassle to move with all those stuff in crowded areas...

    Note: All Luggage bags check in Luggage are preferred not to be locked (If heading to the US - it must not be locked!!!!!!!)

    High apeed ISO 800 above....MUST be taken out...dont take risk....just dump all film into a netted zipper case - can get from Daiso at $1.99 in IMM.

    Well these are the basic practices from my part....

    Cross Pacific/Atlantic flights...normally weight limits are less tight....as they would need you baggage weight to compensate for the loss of fuel weight......through the flight....Be early for check in....preferably when gate just open....

    rgds,
    sulhan
    Last edited by sulhan; 24th June 2004 at 05:22 PM.

  12. #12

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    A few points from my past travel experiences, of which I have plenty.

    1. I got my hand luggage weighed by the counter staff in Amsterdam. My hand luggage was a little beyond maximum size (it was maybe 2 inches longer than max length of 21", but well within max width and depth ), but they weighed it anyway. You might get away if your bag is small. The question is : are you willing to bear the consequences IF yours is the 1-in-a-1000 case ? Oh yes, I had to check it in in the end coz it was 9kg, which is more than their 7kg limit by a miserable 2kg. Don't bet the house on meeting a sympathetic and generous counter staff.

    2. You are allowed to bring an extra "small" bag for your camera or laptop. You are pushing it if you have TWO extra bags, neither of which are small.

    3. If you have to check it in, you have to check it in. Don't give them the "are you willing to be responsible for damaging my equipment" threat. It antagonises them, and it doesn't scare them since its not their personal money anyway. Somewhere in the fine print there will be limits to how much the airline will compensate you, along the lines of a few hundred dollars.

    4. Bringing all that stuff makes you a nuisance to your fellow travellers. I see these people all the time, bringing in large bags plus extras, and I always feel like strangling them. Occupy your share of the luggage cabin, and no more. It's called "being considerate".

    5. Unless you really really really need the laptop, dun bring it. Use an XSDrive or something. On every trip, there will be times when I thought "Wow, a laptop will be really useful right now". But on every trip, I survive without it. For storage, I use an XSDrive. For internet, I just go to a internet cafe. For photoediting, heck, I leave that till I get home. Who needs to be worried about the safety of their expensive laptop anyway ?

    6. You don't need a large tripod and large SLR just to shoot "been there done that" photos. A small capable camera like a S50 will do wonders to your packing dilemma, not to mention being easiler to carry on a bike. On my last trip, I made do with a A1 (yes, its not small, but its not big either) and a tiny portable tripod. Did I wish I had something more sturdy ? Yes, at times. Did I regret using a small, light tripod instead of a monstrous backbreaking giant ? Nope. I would do the same if I had to do it again.

  13. #13
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    u can insist if yr bags are not grossly overweight,they do make provisions for such stuffs.

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    norm they dun really bother so much.. esp when its photographic equipments... they cannot afford to ask u check in with those.. they cannot bear the responsiblity man...

  15. #15

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    Dude,

    Not sure whether you're going overseas to study, or just for a holiday.

    If it is just for a holiday, would suggest that you don't try to do everything. I'm as much the cycling enthusiast as you, but do you seriously think you're going trailriding with a full DSLR kit AND a heavy tripod? And enjoy it?

    Stick to just the P&S. You'll still get the memories, without the heartbreak should you take a tumble and break the DSLR.

    I remember lugging my full DSLR kit (including about 4-5 heavy lenses) to Korea. In the end I used mainly one lens (Sigma 24-70) and the rest were hardly used. Travel light - you won't regret it.

    Although I don't travel frequently (maybe 1-2 times a year max), I did get my check-in baggage weighed once, on a trip to Australia (I think the Australians are quite ngeow about it - either that or the stewardess was premenstrual, but we won't go there). My cabin roll-on with laptop and camera gear was about 11 kg. Had to redistribute the stuff among my wife and 2 kids (now that's a good workaround, I suppose - travel with kids).

    Hope that helps.

    Another alternative could simply be to rent a bike while you're overseas. Sure would save you a lot of hassle, although might not be as good as your own bike, I suppose.

    Oh yes, the tripod. Check it in if you really have to bring it. If neccessary, pay for the excess check-in baggage weight.
    Last edited by StreetShooter; 25th June 2004 at 10:59 AM.

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    My 2cents worth.

    I've travelled on business and on pleasure on to and from quite a few countries and even had my shoes examined.

    Outbound from SG, checkin is determined by weight. Given for econ class is 20kg, with grace of up to 10kg. By right, anymore will charge, especially if the amount of difference from 30kg is substantial (like +8 kg or more). They can waive it if it is 1-2kg (hey, between your meals and visiting toilets before flying, the difference is covered ). But more, it is hard to get a waver. BTW, I've paid like >$100 for overweight luggage (don't ask).

    Outbound from other countries/other airlines may be different, so check with the airline directly.

    Carry on allowance is 1 bag + 1 carry-on. The carry-on should fit the cabin size as given. At most +1" or so. This is not because of ngeow. It is because you need to fit into the cabin spaces. Also, the weight must not exceed 7kg for safety reasons. +1-3 kg should be fine, but I couldn't get a bag that fit into that dimensions but weigh 28kg Why ?Safety. In the event of air turbulent, a too heavy bag is very dangerous. Also, to lift up into the cabin space, you may injure the staff's back or your own.

    As for equipment, laptop + camera + tripod are usually carry on but I have checked in the laptop before... cushion it well.

    BTW, I've travel with check-in and checked in > body weight luggage several times before .

    Don't bet that you can carry everything properly. Aim for the limit so you will have less trouble...
    Last edited by Watcher; 25th June 2004 at 02:02 PM.

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    Thanks to all who've contributed to this thread so far with their invaluable experiences.

    As some have corrected guessed, yes, I'm bound for Australia for studies, heading down to Brisbane in Queensland. Otherwise I wouldn't be attempting to move so much stuff - its tiring just walking around with a full camera bag and a tripod in hand!

    I don't see myself slinging a 3 foot long tripod across my back while I ride - that's what the PnS camera is for. Having never been to Australia (and hearing horror stories about photographic equipment prices there) I do want to have my tripod with me to capture the scenery I would get to see. In photographic terms with respect to weight I suppose the only extravagance is the large tripod.

    SIA has nicely granted me 30kg for check-in and a nominal 7kg for carry-on, that is pretty much the standard for travelling students. I had to show my university acceptance letter to get that extra allowance, but its there.

    It will be tricky to spread the weight out (where I can get away with it) but I'm bringing the bike and one DSLR, 3 lenses (wideangle, mid-range zoom and 50mm prime), one flash, one PnS and the tripod. And the notebook. Whatever's left over will be filled with clothes, with one or two postal boxes of the rest of the clothes I'll need. I figure it'll probably be cheaper and less risky to ship clothes than ship anything valuable and fragile.

    But well, there's still time to decide if bringing the bike is worth the trouble. It'll cost about $200-odd to ship it there airmail.

  18. #18
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    Default looks like going down under.......

    Hiee R32....

    Been that route b4....hahah same place Brisbane....(me used to be in QUT). BTW....then i did use DHL jumbo box service for books and clothings....and PC CPU too....

    Well......i personally would like to wish you best for your studies!!!! And have great experience down under.......

    rgds,
    sulhan

  19. #19

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    To all overseas student-wanna-bes.

    Use Singapore Post's surface mail. That is AFTER u have got a confirmed address in your overseas country. Or maybe you have a friend's address.

    It's dirt cheap. I mailed 20kg to myself. It took about 7 weeks. But the cost is just S$54.80. From Singapore Post Office to your door in Australia. That's only S$2.74/kg. Or would u rather pay S$30-35 for excess luggage at airport :-)

    Of course, be sensible and pack those stuff that can "wait" (eg your stationery, extra realms of paper, etc)

    Anthony

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