Expensive Cameras in Checked Luggage
This is a blog post about the problems of being forced to check expensive camera equipment on airplanes:
Well, having lived in Kashmir for 12+ years I am well accustomed to this type of security. We haven't been able to have hand carries since 1990. We also cannot have batteries in any of our equipment checked or otherwise. At least we have been able to carry our laptops on and recently been able to actually use them (with the batteries). But, if things keep moving in this direction, and I'm sure it will, we need to start thinking now about checking our cameras and computers and how to do it safely. This is a very unpleasant idea. Two years ago I ordered a Canon 20D and had it "hand carried" over to meet me in England by a friend. My friend put it in their checked bag. The bag never showed up. She did not have insurance and all I got $100 from British Airways for the camera and $500 from American Express (buyers protection) that was it. So now it looks as if we are going to have to check our cameras and our computers involuntarily. OK here are a few thoughts.
Pretty basic stuff, and we all know about the risks of putting expensive stuff in your checked luggage.
The interesting part is one of the blog comments, about halfway down. Another photographer wonders if the TSA rules for firearms could be extended to camera equipment:
Why not just have the TSA adopt the same check in rules for photographic and video equipment as they do for firearms?
All firearms must be in checked baggage, no carry on.
All firearms must be transported in a locked, hard sided case using a non-TSA approved lock. This is to prevent anyone from opening the case after its been screened.
After bringing the equipment to the airline counter and declaring and showing the contents to the airline representative, you take it over to the TSA screening area where it it checked by a screener, relocked in front of you, your key or keys returned to you (if it's not a combination lock) and put directly on the conveyor belt for loading onto the plane.
No markings, stickers or labels identifying what's inside are put on the outside of the case or, if packed inside something else, the bag.
Might this solve the problem? I've never lost a firearm when flying.
Then someone has the brilliant suggestion of putting a firearm in your camera-equipment case:
A "weapons" is defined as a rifle, shotgun, pistol, airgun, and STARTER PISTOL. Yes, starter pistols - those little guns that fire blanks at track and swim meets - are considered weapons...and do NOT have to be registered in any state in the United States.
I have a starter pistol for all my cases. All I have to do upon check-in is tell the airline ticket agent that I have a weapon to declare...I'm given a little card to sign, the card is put in the case, the case is given to a TSA official who takes my key and locks the case, and gives my key back to me.
That's the procedure. The case is extra-tracked...TSA does not want to lose a weapons case. This reduces the chance of the case being lost to virtually zero.
It's a great way to travel with camera gear...I've been doing this since Dec 2001 and have had no problems whatsoever.
I have to admit that I am impressed with this solution.
Posted on September 22, 2006 at 12:17 PM • 118 Comments