checked baggage

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by schultz, Feb 7, 2018.

  1. schultz


    Jun 14, 2013
    Hi, don't know if in right forum,just like to know your views on checking your gear on longhaul flights.I'm due to fly to australia to work at the commonwealth games.i have my gear in a peli
    case as the carryon limit is 7k,not to happy to check it in but can't see any way around it.
    any views welcome.
  2. I Never ever check cameras or lenses but the pelican case is your best option
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  3. northrop


    Apr 20, 2008
    ThinkTank for carry on, then rent whatever else you need locally.
  4. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like you have much choice. I would hate to check my gear, but it I had to, I would be most comfortable with it stored in the Pelican case.



    Jun 4, 2008
    No matter what country you are in there is always the possibility of overhead storage being used up by other passengers and no way to place things under the seat. If I was on a job to cover an event like this I would go Pelican and check all of it in.
  6. Ann_JS


    Feb 18, 2015
    New York State
    If you are flying with United Airlines, just be sure that you use foam in the Pelican (instead of the dividers) and arrive in Australia three days earlier than you planned to.

    I have witnessed how United Airlines load luggage: they chuck it from a wagon onto the conveyor belt and, when one suitcase burst open (because it missed the belt and hit the tarmac) the crew just bundled the contents back into it and shoved it back onto the conveyor-belt without resealing the case.

    That of course depends on them actually loading your cases in the first place.

    On my recent journey to Costa Rica they failed to load my cases so I was without much of my equipment and a change of clothes for two days.

    Fortunately, my cameras and lenses were all in my carry-ons.
    • Like Like x 1


    Jun 4, 2008
    I'd echo the comments from Ann about using foam. I would not use dividers and I would give a few days to make sure luggage arrives.
  8. schultz


    Jun 14, 2013
    Thanks all for the replies,i have a thinktank airport roller i could use this by taking one of the d5 bodies /300/2.8 out and putting them in a ruck type bag as personal luggage,i'm not liking all the negative vibes about the check in .
  9. Ann_JS


    Feb 18, 2015
    New York State
    You are allowed a computer bag in addition to the carry-on. Get a fat computer bag, and you can then fit a D5 body and some of the smaller lenses into it. I put a second body, a 500mm (or the 200 - 400 mm) and the rest of my lenses into a carry-on Gura bag and pack tripods, chargers, flash etc into a check-in case.

    You might want to pay to check a second bag and split the equipment between the two in the hope that the airline won't lose both of them!

    A friend of mine had his case go missing on the way from Germany to South Africa. It was six months before the airline found it. It had apparently been sitting in Jo'burg airport all along!

    Concerning weight:
    If the bag does not look heavy, they probably won't weigh it. My wheels are removable so they can be removed to fit into bag-measuring cages or should the airline want to weigh my carry-on bag. (They never have which is very fortunate because it weighs about 15 Kg!)
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2018
  10. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee
    I have traveled with my 500/f4, 80-400 AF-S, gimbal, etc in a Pelican 1610 (with foam inserts) both within the USA and to and from South Africa. No problems at all! Check in was no problem at all....just went as standard checked luggage. I don't put camera bodies in the Pelican....but have had no problems sending large lenses and heavy metal (gimbals and heads) as checked luggage. YMMV.....

    Having said that, when I can, I put all my camera bodies and lenses, including the 500/f4 in my carry on ThinkTank Commuter backpack and carry on computer bag. It adds up to about 40 lbs, including laptop, 2 external HDs, chargers, card reader, etc. I keep the backpack to about 22 lbs and the computer bag to about 15-17 lb. And yes, I have a very nice large/padded computer bag.

    I have never had a problem carrying the 2 carryon's onto the plane. The ThinkTank Commuter bag easily fits in the overhead and the computer bag goes under the seat in front of me.
  11. RoyC01


    Jan 6, 2011
    SE USA
    If you just have to put your Pelican in the belly of the plane..... I have a 1535 Air that will hold a 800mm f5.6 and a lot of additional stuff and it goes into the overhead of most Jets. It also fits inside the bottom compartment of my Fishpond large roller bag. The lower compartment is designed for fly rod storage and has a hard bottom and sides up to about 4 inches. Place the Pelican Air in the bottom, pack rolled up socks, shirts and pants to fill up the balance of the space. Close up the bottom compartment and pack the upper portion with soft items. Kind of like having several inches of soft packaging material around the Pelican. You may have an excess weight fee to pay, but you should be good if they do not throw it out of the cargo door of a 747 to the concrete. :)
  12. I'd ship it ahead via UPS if possible, maybe to your hotel?
  13. Totally agree. As someone above mentioned, even if all of your gear will fit in overhead sized cases, if the overheads are full when you get on, you are going to be gate checked. It is surely expensive to pre-ship your gear, especially if you are going out of country and require air shipping, but there is too great a risk for damage, theft or mishandling if the gear leaves your hands during a flight. I agree that Pelican Bags are the preferred way to pack in order to protect the gear, but you also have to keep in mind that shipping something in a big Pelican Case is akin to carrying your gear in a backpack that has the yellow Nikon logo on it. Most thieves know that if you packed it in a Pelican, it was too valuable to trust to a regular suitcase. And - you cannot use the regular locks that I used to use with the Pelicans. TSA locks are a joke. If TSA can open them, thieves can too. Your gear can get stolen from FedEx and UPS too, but to my mind, anything is preferable to transporting valuables by airplane.

    Sad fact is that there really is no "easy" way to carry gear if a flight is involved.
  14. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee
    Actually -

    1) I have made numerous trips, both domestically and internationally (even recent trips) and NEVER been gate checked. Nor has my husband ever been required to gate check his camera backpack. And a Canon-sponsored pro and good friend who leads trips all over the world always takes his gear in his camera backpack as carry on. Avoid bags with wheels - just use a camera backpack. If your bag has wheels it is much more likely to be singled out for gate checking.

    2) There are heavy duty TSA approved locks for the Pelican case. EXTREMELY durable and the extra thick hasp would required a serious tool and time to cut. Search Alert Extended hasp TSA approved locks. I put my 500mm, 80-400, gimbal, etc in a Pelican and flew to, within and home from South Africa with no problems. I used the same method for a trip to Texas and back. Again no problems.
    3) Pelican cases are used for lots of purposes.....not just camera gear. Sure you can find stories of folks who have had problems with using Pelican case, but you can also find stories about gear that was shipped.

    4) Personally, I would prefer to have my gear in my sight the entire length of the trip. Which means that my preferred way to transport my gear is on my own two carry on. But if necessary, I would use my Pelican case with foam.
  15. no way I'm shipping mine, the pelican is a good enough back up plan, even with insurance if the package gets lost and you just paid to shoot tough luck
  16. Karen - all points well taken. In fact, you were kind enough to share your gear shipping recommendations with me just last week in a private conversation about a proposed trip of mine.

    My reply had more to do with what might happen if your gear and you were separated on a flight. There is absolutely no argument that the ideal solution is to carry the gear onboard yourself and never let it out of your control. My default solution. My problem has to do with failing to secure overhead space. On a trip to FL several years back, I was late for a flight and found that every inch of overheads were filled and, while my backpack was relatively modest in size for that trip, it still would not fit under the seat in front of me. I asked the attendant if he could stow the gear in the first class cabin or in a closet, explaining the very high cost of the gear and its fragility, but I was told gate check only. I chose not to fly on that flight and spent a couple of weeks arguing with Jet Blue that there should be no penalty for changing flights. I won by the way.

    And you are also right when you point out the PCases get stolen from a UPS or FedEx truck too, but apparently I have less faith in airlines than you do. Regarding TSA locks - my problem is not with the robustness of such locks. My problem is that there are too many TSA keys floating around and not all of them are in the hands of TSA agent.

    It was sure easier before the terrorist threat levels and fees for checked bags.
  17. Replytoken


    Jan 12, 2018
    Puget Sound
    A couple of thoughts come to mind.

    First, pack as much essential gear as you can to carry on. If the rest that you checked in does not arrive, at least you are not totally out of luck.

    Are there nonstop flights that you can take? This minimizes the amount of handling of your luggage.

    Can you pay for a priority boarding? First passengers on board get the pick of the litter for storage and overhead bin spaces (or should I say that the last on board get whatever is left and are often forced to check bags).

    You could try to bring all of the gear into the cabin in an extra bag and gate check it if you are not allowed to bring it on board. This also minimizes its handling as they usually just send it out and down the stairs of the boarding ramp where it is immediately loaded in the cargo hold.

    Peli cases are amazing for the protection they offer, but to somebody looking to steal high value items, they are also a bit of an advertisement. Not much you can do about that, nor the number of TSA keys in circulation as Rick mentioned above.

    Good luck,

  18. Ann_JS


    Feb 18, 2015
    New York State
    South African Airways adopts speicial handling for fragile items if you ask for it.

    Such items are not placed on belts and carousels but are handled and stored manually and you collect them afterwards from a separate area in the airport. The service doesn't cost anything extra.

    I mark my bright orange Pelican with a huge printed label which says that it contains "GLASS" (which it does!).

    Unfortunately I have not found any other airline, apart from SAA, that offers a similar service for fragile articles but it is always worth asking should you need to send such items in the cargo hold..

    My unfortunate experience with United last month was the first time that I have ever suffered from lost luggage (but I did get it back eventually!); and I have never experienced in-flight theft despite having made numerous trips over my lifetime to some rather remote places with all sorts of airlines.

  19. Yup, their "Fragile Service" :eek::rolleyes::oops:
    • Funny Funny x 1
  20. jiannazzone


    Jul 12, 2013
    I limit myself to a pack or bag that will fit under the seat to eliminate the risk of having to check my gear. Only the tripod goes into my regular luggage.
Similar Threads Forum Date
Proposal To Ban Camera Gear in Checked Baggage General Discussion Oct 20, 2017
How I check roof gutter before cleaning General Discussion Oct 8, 2017
This $11,000 Camera Lens Shows Why You Don’t Check In Gear When Flying General Discussion Aug 17, 2017
Camera batteries in checked luggage General Discussion May 11, 2016
Check your umbrellas! General Discussion Dec 8, 2014