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How To Fly With Photography Gear

Aug 29, 2015

How To Fly With Photography Gear

S o, you’re off to photograph your dream destination and you have to travel there by plane. My condolences. Things used to be easier and simpler. Today traveling with cameras on planes results in silly, idiotic, restricting, and inconveniencing encounters with various people vested with too much authority and too little common sense, who simply cant think out of the box when it comes to photographic gear. This is definitely something that needs to be addressed by all airlines. It is my hope that this blog, on how to fly with photography gear will help, as I am experiencing these issues first hand. I have researched various websites to obtain this information.

What is one of your worst nightmares as a national or international professional photographer? Losing your luggage.  It happens all the time, unfortunately. Not just one airline in particular; almost all airline companies utterly fail in customer support when it comes to understanding professional photographers and the importance or value of their equipment or job.

I’m not going to tackle airline atrocities, Johannesburg Airport is well known for luggage theft, and more recently two people stowed away on a BA flight to London. Instead, I’m going to concentrate on just one thing: carry-on weight.

Under no circumstances am I ever ever ever going to check my camera or computer gear. It’s like waving good-bye to it as I feel like I’d never see it again. If I have to check my camera gear, then I’m not going! Most airlines allow you one piece of carry-on luggage such as a roller-board suitcase and a personal item such as a backpack, briefcase or ladies handbag. For me that means a backpack.

I have taken some time to review most of the airlines that depart from South Africa to international destinations, to see where we stand on how to fly with photography gear; in general, it is not very clear when it comes to photography gear. It has everything to do with weight or size! On the odd occasion, it actually mentions what size camera can be taken, and nowhere do they say we can be exempt from having our gear with us. There are options on some airlines to book an extra seat, where you gear can travel as a passenger next to you!

What International Airlines Say About Carry-On

Air France

International Flights

Flights within metropolitan France

Regardless of the selected fare, you can transport one baggage item and one accessory, up to a total combined weight of 12 kg / 26 lb.

Are you connecting to an international flight? The baggage allowance for your international flight applies to your entire trip.

Hand baggage allowance

To be accepted in the cabin, your hand baggage must not exceed the following dimensions: 55 x 35 x 25 cm / 21 x 13 x 9 in (including pockets, wheels and handles). Please note: a suit bag is considered as one standard baggage item.

Accessories

In addition to your hand baggage, you may also transport 1 accessory.This includes your choice of one of the following:

  • Handbag
  • Notebook computer
  • Camera, etc.

Air New Zealand

Cabin baggage allowance

  • Customers may take one piece of cabin baggage onboard with a maximum weight of 7kg (15lbs)
  • Business Class, Premium Economy* & connecting Business Class customers, Air New Zealand Elite**, Gold and Star Alliance Gold customers are permitted to carry two pieces weighing a maximum combined total of 14kgs (30lbs), with one of those items weighing up to 10kgs
    • To help our staff recognise your higher cabin baggage allowance, please use your Status name bag tag on your heavier cabin baggage item
  • In addition to your allowance, you may also carry onboard one small personal item such as a handbag, duty free bag or slim line laptop bag, which must be able to fit under the seat in front of you
  • As a safety precaution, all cabin baggage must be able to fit in the overhead lockers or under the seat in front of you. Each item should therefore not exceed total linear dimensions (length + width + height) of 118cm (46.5″)

Cathay Pacific

You are allowed to carry at least one piece of carry-on baggage for free (depending on the class you travel). Duty-free items are included in cabin baggage allowance. You may also carry other necessary items such as a small camera or a walking stick on board. Hand-carry items of value, such as keys, artwork, cameras, money, jewellery, precious metals, silverware, medicines, drug, dangerous goods, commercial goods or samples, personal electronic devices and odd-sized articles, etc.

Carry-on baggage

For all classes, each passenger (except an infant) can bring a free baggage allowance of one cabin bag not exceeding 56x36x23cm (22x14x9 in) in size. These dimensions include wheels, handles and side pockets.

CX-Cabin-Baggage-Dimension-en

The total weight entitlements of your cabin baggage are as follows:

Class Weight
First Class 15kg (33 lbs)
Business Class 10kg (22 lbs)
Premium Economy Class 7kg (15lbs)
Economy Class 7kg (15lbs)

+ For all travel classes, duty-free items are included in your cabin baggage allowance.
++ If you are travelling in two classes on one journey (split class or mixed class
travel), you can enjoy the greater allowance for the whole journey.

Croatia Airlines

Hand baggage allowance

Economy Class passengers: 1 piece

  • max. weight 8 kg
  • total sum of dimensions up to 115 cm (55x40x20)

Business Class passengers: 2 pieces

  • max. weight per piece 8 kg
  • total sum of dimensions up to 115 cm (55x40x20) or 57x54x15cm if it is a foldable garment bag

In exceptional cases, depending on the type of aircraft, hand baggage allowance for Business Class passengers can be restricted to 1 piece.

Heavy hand luggage must be stowed under the seat in front, except on seat rows on which there is an emergency exit.

What to pack?

Each passenger may additionally take:

  • 1 personal item with a maximum size of 40x30x10 cm (16x12x4 in) into the passenger cabin
    (e.g. 1 ladies hand bag or 1 laptop or 1 shoulder-strapped bag)

Emirates

Generally, the amount of cabin baggage you may bring depends on which service class you are flying.

First Class and Business Class customers are permitted two pieces of carry-on baggage: one briefcase plus either one handbag or one garment bag. The briefcase may not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20cm); the handbag may not exceed 22 x 15 x 8 inches (55 x 38 x 20cm); the garment bag can be no more than 8 inches (20cm) thick when folded. The weight of each piece must not exceed 7kg (15lb).

Economy Class customers are permitted one piece of carry-on baggage, either a handbag or laptop bag, that may not exceed 22 x 15 x 8 inches (55 x 38 x 20cm) and must weigh no more than 15lb (7kg).

Note: For customers boarding in India, the size of carry-on baggage may not exceed 45.3 total inches or 115cm (length + width + height).

Duty free purchases such as liquor, cigarettes and perfume are also permitted in reasonable quantities for all service classes.

Sports equipment and musical instruments are subject to the same size and weight restrictions as other forms of cabin baggage. However, it is possible to transport these items on a separate, paid-for seat in the cabin.

Please note that certain conditions and limitations may apply when transporting musical instruments.

All cabin baggage must fit either under the seat in front of you or in one of the overhead lockers. Baggage may not be placed behind your legs, in the aisles or in front of emergency exits.

Etihad

Carry-on items

In addition to your hand baggage allowance, the following are carry-on items and can be taken on the flight for free:

  • Handbag, pocket book or purse
  • Overcoat, wrap or blanket
  • Umbrella or walking stick
  • Small camera and / or binoculars
  • A reasonable amount of reading matter for the flight
  • Infant food for the journey
  • Infant carry basket / carry cot
  • Braces or prosthetic devices (provided the guest is dependent on them)
  • Briefcase or portable PC which is not being used as a container for transportation of articles, regarded as baggage (laptops should not be activated without flight crew knowledge)
  • Mobile phone

Cameras, film, lighting and sound equipment may be accepted as checked baggage. If in excess of checked baggage allowance, you will be charged the applicable excess baggage rate.

Due to their bulky nature, we advise you to make prior arrangements with the station of departure.

Hand baggage (carry-on) allowance

Each item must not exceed dimensions of 111 cm (40 x 50 x 21).

When an infant is carried in either a carrycot or car seat, the following items may be carried free of charge provided the total weight (excluding the infant) does not exceed 5kg: bedding, napkins, feeding bottles and sufficient food for the journey.

 
Flights First Class Business Class Economy Class Infant
All destinations 2 bags total of 12kg 2 bags total of 12kg 1 bag up to 7kg 1 bag up to 5kg

Icelandair

Saga Class

Two carry-on bags per person, in addition to one small personal item, such as small hand bag or laptop. The maximum weight allowed for each carry-on bag is 10kg (22lbs).

icelandair

Economy Comfort

Two carry-on bags per person, in addition to one small personal item, such as small hand bag or laptop. The maximum weight allowed for each carry-on bag is 10kg (22lbs).

Economy Class

One carry-on bag per person, in addition to one small personal item, such as small hand bag or laptop. The maximum weight allowed for your carry-on is 10kg (22lbs).

Carry-on bag dimensions

The size of your hand luggage should not exceed 55x40x20 cm. Please note that any bag or item must fit easily into the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you.

Kenya Airways

Hand Baggage

 

Passengers  Free Allowance  Accessories
 Premier World 2 pieces (max L55xW25xH35cm each)
+
1 Accessory
Total weight max 12kg
-Handbag-Briefcase-Laptop-Camera bagOr any other item smaller or of identical size
 Economy 1 piece (max L55xW25xH35cm each)+1 AccessoryTotal weight max 12kg -Handbag-Briefcase-Laptop-Camera bagOr any other item smaller or of identical size

Extra Seat for Cabin Baggage, Cargo, Mail (CBBG) or Passenger Comfort (EXST)

Extra seat(s) can be booked for passenger’s comfort (e.g. leg rest, etc.) or for stowage of cabin baggage (e.g. valuables, diplomatic pouch, fragile items, musical instruments, paintings etc.)

Baggage Allowance for an Extra Seat Purchased

Acceptance Conditions

i. Extra seat(s) shall be requested and paid for in advance. Approval is needed from Revenue Management.

ii. The normal applicable free checked baggage allowance applies for every extra seat booked (EXST). For example, 1 passenger books 2 extra M-Class seats for comfort. The total checked baggage allowance for this passenger will be 3 x applicable free baggage allowance.

iii. If a seat is used to place items on (CBBG), these items may not weigh more than 46 kg per seat.

iv. (The kilos placed on a seat, shall not be deducted from the total free checked baggage allowance.) Items placed on a seat should be adequately packed to prevent damage.

v. Trunks and crates are not allowed as CBBG.

vi. Items must be stored on a seat and be properly secured by a safety belt or restraint device having enough strength to eliminate the possibility of shifting under all normal anticipated flight and ground conditions.

vii. The item shall be adequately packaged or covered in a manner to avoid possible injury to passengers and cabin crew members.

viii. Extra seats for stowage of items shall not be issued on the emergency exit row.

ix. The items carried on the extra seat shall not restrict access to or use of any required emergency or regular exit, or aisle(s) in the cabin.

x. The items stowed shall not obscure any passenger’s view of the seat belt sign, no smoking sign or required exit sign.

xi. Items may not cause disturbance to other passengers.

xii. Both passenger and CBBG shall be booked in the same class of travel.

The items shall be limited to the sizes stipulated below;

Aircraft Type Maximum Allowable size of items stowed on Extra Seat
B777,B787 48X73X40 (width x height x side length) CMS
B737 Series 48X60X40 (width x height x side length) CMS
E190/E170 43X60X40 (width x height x side length) CMS

KLM

Hand Baggage

Dimensions, number of bags and weight

You make the following as hand baggage:

Travel class Number & dimensions Weight restriction Permitted accessories
Economy Class 1 bag measuring 55x35x25 cm (21.5×13.50×10 inch) (lxwxh)* Your hand baggage inc. accessories, may not exceed 12 kg (26 lbs) 1 of the following: handbag, briefcase, camera, small laptop or 1 other item of similar or smaller size
Business Class 1 bag measuring 55x35x25 cm (21.5×13.5×10 inch) (lxwxh)* and 1 bag smaller than 45x35x20 cm (18×13.5×8 inch) (lxwxh)** Your hand baggage incl. accessories may not exceed 18 kg (40 lbs) 1 of the following: handbag, briefcase, camera, small laptop or 1 other item of similar or smaller size

* The sum of the dimensions may not be greater than 115 cm (45 inches), including wheels and handles.
** Exception for World Business Class passengers: on flights from India you may only carry one item of hand baggage. You may check in a second hand bag free of charge.

Lufthansa

Carry-on Baggage on Lufthansa

The number of permitted items of carry-on baggage* is determined by the service class booked.

Number and weight of items of hand luggage: Economy Class one item up to 8 kg, Premium Economy Class one item up to 8 kg, Business Class two items up to 8 kg, First Class two items up to 8 kg.

Dimensions for carry-on baggage: 55 x 40 x 23 cm; for foldable garment bags: 57 x 54 x 15 cm.

Lufthansa will transport larger items of carry-on baggage in the hold as part of your free baggage allowance. If the permitted free baggage allowance is exceed in terms of number, dimensions and/or weight, the flat fee for excess baggage will be charged. Personal documents, medicines, valuables, mobile phones and laptops should be carried in cabin carry-on baggage.

The following items may only be carried in the cabin and not in the cargo hold: fuel cell systems and spare fuel cell cartridges, portable oxygen concentrators, safety matches and lighters as well as spare batteries (lithium metal, lithium ion) and electronic cigarettes.

Qantas

Restrictions on Cabin Baggage

Some items cannot be carried in the cabin of the aircraft. These include weapons, restraining devices, knives and sharp tools or cutting implements such as scissors and screwdrivers and some sporting goods such as bats and clubs. The list of prohibited items may vary depending where you board an aircraft. Please check with us or your Authorised Agent prior to travel. You may be able bring some of these items as Checked Baggage (but see 7.6).

If you try to include a prohibited item in your Cabin Baggage, we may take it from you.

We do not accept any responsibility for items which we refuse to carry as Cabin Baggage and which are not carried as Checked Baggage.

You are responsible for your personal items that are in your care and control.

X-ray equipment used at Australia airports does not damage:+

  • Computer CPU’s or memory;
  • computer storage media such as magnetic disks (hard drives, floppy disks etc)and other devices (CDs);
  • cameras (including digital cameras with electronic storage media) or
  • photographic film below asa 1000 (developed or undeveloped).

Enhanced security measures for passengers flying to the UK & US

The UK Government has introduced a range of additional security measures at the boarding gate for flights into the UK.
Customers travelling on flights from Dubai to the UK who are randomly selected to undergo additional screening may be required to remove footwear and from hand luggage all electrical equipment including portable electronic devices such as laptops, iPads, smart phones, and cameras larger than a standard mobile phone and power up the device to demonstrate functionality.
Passengers are advised to ensure that their electronic devices are charged before travel. Devices that do not power on may not be permitted onboard the aircraft.

Your Carry-on Baggage must:

  • fit under the seat in front of you or in an overhead locker (musical instruments must be placed in an overhead locker. See the Musical Instruments information below);
  • not exceed the Carry-on Baggage allowances; and
  • not include any Dangerous Goods unless permitted for carriage.

If your baggage meets the above requirements, but we reasonably believe that it is not safe for your baggage to be carried as Carry-on Baggage, we may require you to check it in.

Qatar Airways

Hand baggage allowances
First Class Business Class Economy Class
Two pieces, not to exceed a total weight of 15kg (33lb) Two pieces, not to exceed a total weight of 15kg (33lb) One piece, not to exceed 7 kg (15lb)
  • Maximum hand baggage dimensions are 50x37x25cm (20x15x10in) each
  • In addition to your hand baggage allowance, you can also carry personal items such as one ladies handbag or one small briefcase, one coat, cape or blanket, one umbrella, one pair of crutches or walking stick, one small camera or binoculars, limited reading material, an infant’s carrying basket, and duty-free items purchased on the day of your flight.
  • Laptops and laptop bags have to fit within your hand baggage allowance.

Swiss

Hand Baggage Regulations

There is limited space on board for hand baggage. There are clear regulations to ensure that you travel safely and in comfort. Your hand luggage must be stored in the overhead locker or under the seat in front of you. Please observe the maximum permitted dimensions and weight for hand baggage.

  • SWISS Economy
    1 x max. 8 kg Circumference max. 55 x 40 x 23 cm
  • SWISS Business
    2 x max. 8 kg Circumference max. 55 x 40 x 23 cm
  • SWISS First
    2 x max. 8 kg Circumference max. 55 x 40 x 23 cm

A foldable garment bag with the maximum dimensions of 57 x 54 x 15 cm can also be accepted as hand baggage. Any baggage items that exceed the maximum dimensions in the table must be checked in.

Other permitted items

Adults and children with their own seats may also take the following on board:

  • Handbag, laptop bag or shoulder bag (max. 40 x 30 x 10 cm)
  • Child’s seat
  • One pair of crutches, arm or leg splints, other kinds of prostheses
  • Medical equipment

Exceptions

If smaller aircraft are fully booked, we may have to check hand baggage in at the gate. If we do, it will be for your safety and comfort.

Countries such as Italy and the USA have stricter rules regarding hand luggage. Passengers in First and Business Class with a second item of hand luggage must check it in if travelling to those countries.

Special rules apply to hand baggage for flights from and within South Africa. Economy Class passengers may take one item of baggage (maximum circumference 56 x 36 x 23 cm, maximum weight 7 kg) and one thin laptop bag with them. Business and First Class passengers may take two items of baggage (maximum circumference 56 x 36 x 23 cm, maximum weight 7 kg) and one thin laptop bag with them.

TAM Linhas Aereas

Passengers may also check carry-on, as well as regular checked baggage. In either cases, the baggage must comply with LAN regulations.

Carry-on Baggage

This refers to those personal effects brought onto the airplane by the passenger, free of charge and considered under their custody and their responsibility. Each passenger may carry one piece of hand luggage plus a personal item, subject to space availability on board the aircraft. For safety reasons, if we do not have space available in the cabin, we will carry your baggage in the hold.

 

Pieces allowed

Economy Premium Economy – Premium Business
1 Piece of baggage Equipaje de mano 8 kg (17 lbs) 16 kg (35 lbs)
1 Personal item Equipaje de mano Equipaje de mano Purse, laptop or diaper bag.

In addition to the above, articles such as jackets, walking sticks, umbrellas, small cameras, binoculars, reading material or a small bag of duty free goods may be carried on provided the passenger keeps them in his or her possession or stows them under the seat in front of the passenger*

* Except for emergency exit seats and seats in the first row.

TAP Air Portugal

Hand Luggage

Adults and Children

Hand baggage suitable for placing in the closed overhead rack or under the passenger seat which maximum dimensions cannot exceed 115cm – 55x40x20cm.

  • Economy Class: 1 piece up to 8 Kg
  • Executive Class: 2 pieces with a combined total weight of 16 Kg

Thai Airways

Carry-on Baggage

In addition to the checked baggage allowance, each passenger is allowed to hand carry one baggage at maximum length 56 cm (22 inches), width 45 cm (18 inches), thickness 25 cm (10 inches). These dimensions include wheels, handles, and side pockets. Total weight of the carry-on baggage must not exceed seven kg (15 lb). Passengers are required to place the baggage in the overhead compartment or under their own seat.
Passengers can bring the following items free of charge :
• Handbag/wallet/purse with the maximum length 37.5 cm (15 inches), width 25 cm (10 inches), depth 12.5 cm (5 inches), or the total of three dimensions do not exceed 75 cm (30 inches) with the total weight not exceeding 1.5kgs(3.3lb). Notebooks, or portable personal computers are also applied with this condition.
• Walking sticks (crutches) used by elderly passengers, sick passengers, and handicapped passengers
• Camera or small binoculars
• Infant food

Turkish Airlines

Cabin Baggage

Cabin Baggage (Hand Baggage) is defined as any baggage of 8 kg and 55x40x23 cm, Each passenger is responsible for his/her own cabin baggage, which is carried at passenger cabin for free of charge.

Personal Items are defined as any items, which are carried at passenger cabin for free of charge. Each passenger is responsible for his/her own personal item.

Cabin baggage is excluded from free baggage allowance and assessed separately.

Free Cabin Baggage Allowance

Class of Travel Quantity Maximum Weight Dimensions
Business 2 pieces 8 kg (each piece) 55x40x23 cm
Comfort Class 1 piece 8 kg 55x40x23 cm
Economy Class 1 piece 8 kg 55x40x23 cm
Infant Passengers (Aged between 0-2) 1 pieces 8 kg 55x40x23 cm
  • Suit covers (114x60x11 cm) shall be considered as cabin baggage.
  • Duty-free products shall be excluded from the implementation of cabin baggage carriage regulations.

Regardless of flight classes and card statuses, the items specified below are considered as “personal items”, and will be carried free of charge, provided to be only one (1) piece.

Personal Items Symbol 
Male/Female purses, Kabin Bagaji
Small video camera or camera, Kabin Bagaji
Bag-type strollers, Kabin Bagaji
Tablet, laptop, Kabin Bagaji
Umbrella (except for those with sharp tip). Kabin Bagaji
  • In the event that the dimensions and/or weights of personal items reach to the cabin baggage limits, they will be considered as cabin baggage.
  • If the bag-type strollers cannot be placed under the seats or inside the overhead bins and/or they cannot be tied to the seats safely; they will be taken to the cargo deck without claiming any charge
  • Cabin baggage control is carried out at check-in and/or boarding.
  • In the event that the weight of the cabin baggage exceeds the limits during the weight check, performed as accompanied by the passenger; the passenger is required to pay excess baggage fee for the extra weight (weight of cabin baggage – 8 kg).
  • In the event that the weight of the cabin baggage is appropriate to be considered as cabin baggage, however, the dimension of the same exceeds the limits; then the passenger is required to pay excess baggage fee for the whole weight.
  • Passengers, who have completed online/mobile/kiosk check-in (who have not applied to the check-in counter), will be checked for cabin baggage during the boarding process. Therefore we kindly ask our passengers to present her/his online/mobile/kiosk check-in documents.

Refusal of Cabin Baggage

  • Carriers reserve the right to refuse cabin baggage in the event that,

    • It is liable to cause damage to property or persons,
    • It is liable to be damaged in the course of the flight,
    • It is inappropriately packaged,
    • Its carriage will constitute a crime under the laws of states of departure, arrival or overflight.
    • It is not fit to be transported by air for reasons of weight, dimensions or composition,

    It cannot be stowed in overhead lockers or under the seat in front and/or it cannot be strapped securely into a seat.

United Airlines

Carry-on Baggage

As your departure date approaches, you may be thinking about what to pack and whether or not to check a bag. Take a minute to review our carry-on guidelines so you know before you go, and your trip gets off to a smooth start. Please note that there are additional carry-on guidelines for United Express® flights.

Each traveler can bring on board one carry-on bag plus one personal item free of charge. To ensure a smooth boarding experience, it’s important to make sure that these items will fit into the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.

Carry-on Bag

The maximum dimensions for a carry-on bag are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), including handles and wheels.

Personal Item

The maximum dimensions for your personal item, such as a shoulder bag, backpack, laptop bag or other small item, are 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm).

High-value, Fragile and Perishable Items

United recommends that you do not pack high-value, fragile or perishable items in your checked baggage. United will accept such items as carry-on baggage (subject to carry-on baggage allowances) or as checked baggage (subject to checked baggage allowances). If you choose to pack high-value, fragile or perishable items in or as checked baggage in connection with travel within the United States, United is not liable for the loss of, damage to or delay in delivery of such items. For most international travel, United’s liability for destruction, loss, delay or damage to checked and unchecked baggage is limited.

Examples of high-value, fragile or perishable items for which United is not liable (in the case of travel within the United States) or for which United’s liability may be limited (in the case of most international travel) include, but are not limited to et al:

  • Backpacks not designed for travel, sleeping bags and knapsacks made of plastic, vinyl or other easily torn material with aluminum frames, outside pockets or with protruding straps and buckles
  • Photographic/cinematographic/audio/video equipment, cameras and related items

Virgin Atlantic

 

Little Red (UK domestic)

Number of items One
Maximum size 23 x 36 x 56 cm (that’s approx. 9 x 14 x 22 inches)
Maximum weight 10kg (22 lb)
Little Red (UK domestic)
Please note that a garment bag cannot be used as your hand baggage unless it fits the dimensions of the hand baggage allowance. If you’d like to bring one but it exceeds 23 x 36 x 56 cm, it will need to be as additional checked in baggage. If you want to take your laptop onboard, you’ll need to place it in your original hand baggage or check your hand baggage in. Please note, you must be able to place your hand baggage in the overhead bins unaided. If you are connecting onto Virgin Atlantic and travelling in Upper Class, you will be entitled to the Upper Class baggage allowance. Virgin Atlantic Little Red flights are operated by Aer Lingus.

Economy

Number of items One
Maximum size 23 x 36 x 56 cm (that’s approx. 9 x 14 x 22 inches)
Maximum weight 10kg (22 lb)
Economy

Please note that a garment bag cannot be used as your hand baggage unless it fits the dimensions of the hand baggage allowance. If you’d like to bring one but it exceeds 23 x 36 x 56 cm, it will need to be as additional checked in baggage.

If you want to take your laptop onboard, you’ll need to place it in your original hand baggage or check your hand baggage in.

Please note, you must be able to place your hand baggage in the overhead bins unaided.

Premium Economy

Number of items One
Maximum size 23 x 36 x 56 cm (that’s approx. 9 x 14 x 22 inches)
Maximum weight 10kg (22 lb)
Premium Economy
Please note that a garment bag cannot be used as your hand baggage unless it fits the dimensions of the hand baggage allowance. If you’d like to bring one but it exceeds 23 x 36 x 56 cm, it will need to be as additional checked in baggage.

If you want to take your laptop onboard, you’ll need to place it in your original hand baggage or check your hand baggage in.

Please note, you must be able to place your hand baggage in the overhead bins unaided.

Upper Class

Number of items Two
Maximum size (each item) 23 x 36 x 56 cm (that’s approx 9 x 14 x 22 inches)
Maximum weight (combined) 16kg (35 lb)
Maximum weight (individual item) 12 kg (26 lb)
Upper Class

In Upper Class, your hand baggage can also include one garment bag, 20cm (8 inches) thick – again, this shouldn’t exceed 12kg in weight. This will count towards your two bag limit.

Please note, you must be able to place your hand baggage in the overhead bins unaided.

The Upper Class hand baggage allowance also applies to children age 2+.

What Southern African Airlines Say About Carry-On

Air Botswana

Air Botswana operates an all economy cabin and allows per passenger, 23kg checked luggage. Infants not occupying a seat are entitled to a free luggage allowance of 10kg. Air Botswana also accepts only one piece of hand luggage of not more than 7 kg.

There are strict weight restrictions in place on any itinerary which includes light aircraft transfers.

This is due to the following:
• The aircraft are designed with a maximum bodyweight and luggage weight allowance.
• Most of the airfields are over 1000 metres above sea level and are located in the tropics, and therefore the permissible aircraft carrying capacity is reduced.
• The aircraft have physical space restrictions.

Some Important Issues For Air Transfers

• Luggage, including camera equipment and hand luggage, is restricted per person travelling on seat rates to 20kg (44lbs).
• Only soft bags will be accepted – no wheels, frames or rigid structures can be transported as they physically cannot fit into the aircraft.
• The maximum dimensions of the soft bags which can be accommodated are as follows: 25cm (10 inches) wide x 30cm (12 inches) high and 62cm (24 inches) long.
• Please keep in mind that the baggage compartments on the light aircraft are only 25cm high (10 inches), so the pilots must have the
ability to manipulate the bag into the compartment.
• A collapsible wheeled luggage frame/trolley (separate to the bag) is allowed, as long as basic dimensions are similar to that of the bag.
• Please inform us in advance if you weigh more than 100kg (220lbs) as additional weight allowance on the aircraft must be purchased for safety and comfort. The costs for this are calculated on request according to specific region and routing, and provides for a maximum of 70kg (154lbs) excess weight.

As no formal clothes are needed throughout most of southern Africa, we recommend that luggage is limited to the basics. More formal attire is usually required only when staying in the more prestigious city hotel establishments or on any of the luxury trains. On a wildlife safari, casual clothing is the order of the day. Please refer to the suggested packing list as a guideline.

Most safari camps / lodges and hotels provide basic toilet amenities and laundry can usually be done on a daily basis.

Excess Luggage

If you need to bring luggage in excess of your allowance, you may have the option of buying an extra seat. This “seat in plane” allows for a maximum of 70kg (154 lbs) excess weight, on the proviso that the bag(s) conforms to the dimensions 40 x 40 x 80 cms (16 x 16 x 31 inches); soft bag i.e. no wheels/frame/rigid structures; able to physically fit onto a light aircraft seat; able to be physically secured with one seatbelt; will not impact on the comfort of other guests on the flight.

The additional cost of this varies depending on your flight schedule so please contact your agent for further details.

On arrival in either Maun or Kasane, you also have the option of sending your excess luggage ahead at an additional cost. If the safari begins in Maun, the excess luggage will be forwarded to Kasane and stored. If starting in Kasane, the excess luggage will be forwarded to Maun for storage. You can then collect this excess baggage at the end of your Botswana trip.

We need to know in advance if this service is needed so that arrangements can be made and the transfer can be handled smoothly. Please note that the same dimensions as above apply to this unaccompanied baggage.

Should you be starting and ending your safari in Maun, and do not require the excess luggage to accompany you on your trip, arrangements can be made to store this for you in Maun at no extra charge. But guests must ensure that they are in possession of full travel insurance including luggage cover.

Air Namibia

Carry-on Baggage

We are pleased to offer our passengers a generous free hand baggage allowance, which they take onto the aircraft with them. There are size and weight limits that apply – see below:

Carry-On Baggage Allowance
Passengers Business Class Economy Class
All Passengers 2 pieces of hand baggage, max weight 10kg each, max size 55X38X20cm plus
1 Overcoat
1 Umbrella or walking stick
1 Ladies hand bag
A reasonable amount of reading material
1 Small camera
1 Small laptop
A fully collapsible invalid’s wheelchair and/or a pair of crutches provided that the passenger is dependent on them
1 piece of hand baggage, max weight 10kg, max size 55X38X20cm
1 Overcoat
1 Umbrella or walking stick
1 Ladies hand bag
A reasonable amount of reading material
1 Small camera
1 Small laptop
A fully collapsible invalid’s wheelchair and/or a pair of crutches provided that the passenger is dependent on them
Infants not occupying a seat Free checked baggage allowance will remain
10kg checked baggage
1 piece of hand baggage
1 fully collapsible stroller
Free checked baggage allowance will remain
10kg checked baggage
1 piece of hand baggage
1 fully collapsible stroller

Fragile & Perishable Items

Fragile & Perishable ItemsAir Namibia recommends that you do not pack high value, fragile & perishable items in your checked baggage. Air Namibia will accept such items as carry-on baggage (if it adheres to carry-on baggage allowances) and as checked baggage if it adheres to checked baggage allowances. If you choose to pack high value, fragile or perishable items in or as checked baggage Air Namibia is not liable for the loss of, damage to or delay in delivery of such items. Air Namibia’s liability for destruction, loss, delay or damage to checked and unchecked baggage is limited.

Examples of high value, fragile or perishable items for which Air Namibia is not liable or for which Air Namibia’s liability may be limited include, but are not limited to:

  •  Backpacks not designed for travel, sleeping bags and knapsacks made of plastic, vinyl or other easily torn material with aluminium frames, outside pockets or with protruding straps and buckles
  •   Computer hardware/software and electronic components/equipment
  •  Items checked in sacks or paper/plastic bags that do not have sufficient durability, do not have secure closures or do not provide sufficient protection to the contents
  •  Items checked in corrugated/cardboard boxes, including cardboard boxes provided by Air Namibia, except for items that otherwise would be suitable for transportation without the cardboard box (e.g., bicycle, garment bag)
  •  Electronic and mechanical items, including cell phones, electronic games; and other related items
  •  Eyeglasses, binoculars, prescription sunglasses and non-prescription sunglasses and all other eyewear and eye/vision devices
  •   Photographic/cinematographic/audio/video equipment, cameras and related items
  •  Any other similar valuable property or irreplaceable property included in the passenger’s checked or carry-on baggage with or without the knowledge of Air Namibia

Perishable items must not violate agricultural rules for the destination country. Perishable items may be packed in hard-sided ventilated containers with a maximum of 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg.) of dry ice. Air Namibia will not accept perishable items packed in Styrofoam coolers or in containers that include wet ice.

FlySafair

We keep our fares low by excluding the price of a bag so you can travel light and keep your wallet full!  Even adding a bag will not break the bank – should you wish to add a bag to your flight this can be selected on our Extra’s page during the flight booking process for only R150 per bag. If you are calling in to make your reservation, please advise our Consultants if you wish to take luggage. Remember that hand luggage is included in our fares.
A second and/or subsequent bag/s is subject to a R250 charge per extra bag.

A maximum limit of 32kg per bag is allowed for checked in luggage; anything over this will need to be transported as cargo at the passenger’s expense and may not be transported on the same flight as the passenger. All arrangements to transport the bag as cargo will have to be made by the passenger.

Extra bags can be accommodated up to four hours prior to flight departure online, costs are as below:-

At the airport : R250 per bag payable in cash or by card
Call Centre/Website : R250 per bag payable by card

Hand luggage weighing in excess of 7 kg per bag or which is too large to fit into the overhead stowage compartments will need to be checked in the hold. Hand luggage maximum size dimensions (56 x 36 x 23cm). Checked-in baggage maximum size dimensions (90 x 75 x 43cm).

Kulula

Baggage

Your kulula flight entitles you to one free checked bag weighing up to 20kg and one piece of hand baggage weighing up to 7kg plus a slimline laptop bag or small handbag. For anything more, you can simply purchase extra bags online at a discounted rate or at the airport. Any bag weighing between 20kg and 32kg will incur a heavy bag fee at the airport.While not all luggage is created equal – all luggage must abide by the baggage rules.Both your checked and hand baggage should not exceed the standard limitations which apply to all passengers, infants, children, and adults alike. Luggage such as sports, musical or medical equipment may require special handling due to their size, shape or fragility.

Their policy says the following:

Fragile or perishable items must not be packed in baggage, checked into the hold.

  • cameras and other photographic equipment, telescopes and binoculars

Mango

Their website does not discuss the transportation of photographic gear as hand luggage. However do discuss recreational equipment:

  • Mango transports tennis racquets, surfboards, fishing equipment and golf equipment. Guests can take their tennis racquet on board the aircraft provided there is adequate space in the cabin. The number of surfboards that Mango is able to carry in the cargo hold is subject to the aircraft space availability. Please ensure that fishing equipment is boxed or encased, and that golf equipment is adequately sealed.

NEW CARRY-ON BAGGAGE REGULATIONS

When you’re packing for your next trip, here’s what you need to know about the newly implemented Carry-on Baggage Regulations which came into effect 2 February 2015.

These new regulations are as follows:

  • Economy class carry-ons are restricted to a single piece with a maximum weight of 7 kg and within specified dimensions (36 cm x 23 cm x 56 cm), together with either a handbag and/or a slimline laptop bag.
  • All carry-on baggage exceeding the specifications must be checked in.
  • Multiple carry-on baggage items may no longer be taken on board the aircraft.
  • Outside of carry-on baggage, all other baggage must be checked in.

Despite these regulations, Mango Guests can rest assured that we are the only low cost airline in South Africa that allows 20 kg of check-in luggage per Guest without penalties on the number of bags that make up the total weight.

In my case, my wife and I flew to Zanzibar just this month; we had our travel agent email their person or manager at Johannesburg International Airport.

This is what was agreed upon:

The client will need to weigh the camera bag along with the checked-in luggage, any kg’s over the
allocated 20kgs, the client will need to pay in the R 45.00 per kg.
The camera bag will be marked with a fragile sticker and the bag will be taken on board the plane
with the client. The client will then hand over the bag at the door of the aircraft and the bag will be
placed in separate hold for fragile items. Upon arrival the client will collect the camera bags before
departing the aircraft.

The weight of each of our bags was 15kgs for mine, and 10kgs for my wife’s, as well as an additional Manfrotto tripod case. Their was no issues at check in. We weren’t required upon boarding the plane to hand our gear over to anyone as per email. Upon arrival in Zanzibar, and our exit we had no weight issues during check in; however on both occasions during the scans, they did want to see what was in our camera bags. All in all, we had a pleasant flying experience.

SA Airlink

The following is classified as hand or cabin baggage: (particularly camera gear)

  • Small camera and/or binoculars
  • Passengers traveling with photographic equipment pertaining to lenses and cameras will be allowed to carry the equipment on board as long as the allowance is within the current hand baggage regulations – total dimensions 115cm and max 8kg.
  • Any other photographic equipment i.e. lighting equipment, tripods, props etc. must be packed in cases or boxes as Checked Baggage.
  • Should the weight and dimensions exceed the allocated 8kg hand luggage allowance, an excess charge will be raised and the passenger will be allowed to carry the equipment pertaining to lenses and cameras to the aircraft. The bag will be tagged with a Sky Check tag and will be placed on the Sky Check Facility for loading into the hold of the aircraft.
  • All passengers travelling with Airlink must advise the airline at least 3 business days prior to departure that they will be carrying photographic equipment.

South African Airways

Hand Luggage Information

For your own safety and comfort, it is important to be aware of what you can and cannot bring on board before you check in.

Hand luggage allowance

baggage-infographic

The amount of hand luggage you may carry depends on which service class you are flying.

 

Travel Class Max Weight Per Piece Max Dimensions Per Piece
Business Two pieces: 8kg (18lb) each 56cm (L) 36cm (W) 23cm (H)
Economy One piece not exceeding 8kg (18lb) 56cm (L) 36cm (W) 23cm (H)
Please note: If your hand luggage does not conform to the size specified, you may be denied entry into the departure area or sent back to check-in.

 

  • All hand luggage must be of a size that fits under the seat in front of you or in one of the overhead lockers.
  • Hand luggage must not obstruct emergency exits or aisles.
  • One (1) Small personal (E.G. Small purse, small laptop case) is also allowed.
    Larger laptop bags and standard/bulkier briefcases will NOT be considered a personal item and will count as a normal piece of cabin baggage, which may not exceed one piece in economy and two in premium (subject to dimension & weight restrictions).

What Other Options Do We Have?

Consider a Basic African Safari Kit:

  • Backpack
  • Two camera bodies (I’ll use D300’s in this illustration; D3 users be prepared for more misery)
  • 200-400mm lens
  • 70-200mm lens
  • 16-35mm lens
  • 50mm lens
  • TC-14E

What do you think that weighs (not including filters, cards, or batteries)? Well, we clock in at 8.9kg with a completely stripped ThinkTank Airport Ultralight. In other words, even a very basic kit of gear is going to be over the weight limit at the most restrictive airlines. Sometimes they check, sometimes they don’t.
It isn’t that they’re actually concerned about the weight. Because the usual way around the problem is to take items out of your pack and hang them around your neck (camera and lens) or stuff them into your vest pockets (you are wearing a vest with lots of pockets when traveling by plane, aren’t you? If not you should be!). In the above example, just taking one D300 out and putting the 16-35mm lens on it and hanging that around my neck gets me just under the weight limit. And they’ll let you walk on board like that, at which time you put the camera back in the bag and put the bag in the overhead. This tends to slow down the plane loading process for no good reason, but I told you the airlines have tunnel vision.

So what do you do when you need to travel by plane these days and carry a fair amount of photo gear? Well, here’s some advice in a nutshell:
Get the lightest backpack that’ll carry your gear comfortably and that has some padding. The ThinkTank Airport Ultralight is one such bag,which weighs 1.8kg or less but have enough padding to be minimally protective of your gear. The bag has to have padding, otherwise the infamous forced gate check will ruin your day.

Don’t overpack the bag. Find another place for your filters, cards, cleaning equipment, and other miscellaneous gear while on the plane. A small hardshell bag that goes in your checked luggage is one possibility. But basically strip out all but the things that have to go in the carry-on. You’d be surprised at how fast all those little extras add weight.

Wear a vest. As a starter, put all your batteries into vest pockets until you’re safely on board. Since you pretty much have to carry batteries in your carry-on now under current TSA regulations, a handful of batteries adds weight really fast, and you don’t want that burden in your bag when it’s weighed. Lowepro make a really decent package which is cheaper to purchase at B&H in New York than locally.

Have one camera and lens ready to go. If it looks like they’re weighing all carry-ons, pull the camera out and hang it around your neck.

The computer goes in your “personal bag.” Almost everywhere you’re allowed a small laptop bag in addition to your carry-on, so make use of that (it’s a good place for those extra cards, too).

Rethink your kit. There’s usually a lower-weight alternative that doesn’t sacrifice too much. The 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 instead of any of the AF-S wide angle zooms, for instance. The 70-300mm VR is half the weight of the 70-200mm VR, so if you absolutely don’t need f/2.8 there’s a big savings right there.

Look and act light. Don’t take off your pack in front of airline personnel and then moan and gasp as you try to lift it back onto your back. Stand tall, walk with a spring in your step. Leave the pack on your back as if it weighs nothing. Except at dedicated weigh stations (which unfortunately are appearing with more regularity), no one wants to weigh everything. But they do want to weigh things that look heavy. So don’t look heavy!

Candor sometimes works. Once in Kenya, I was trying to head home and both my checked bag and my carry-one were overweight. The ticketing agent weighed my checked bag and sent me out of line to the notorious “we’re going to charge you more per extra kilogram than high-grade caviar” line. When I had paid my toll and came back to the ticket agent, she eyed my backpack and asked “how much does that weigh?” I rolled my eyes and said “you don’t want to know.” She hesitated a moment, but having already having extracted at least one weight penalty on me, she eventually chuckled and said “asanthe” (thank-you) and added “next time you lose some weight.”

Be prepared for the infamous Gate Check. There will come a time when the airline gestapo absolutely insist on separating you from your bag. They’ll happily “gate check” it for you. I’ve had more equipment broken when gate checked than in any other situation, plus it is more vulnerable to theft. So make sure you have a padlock for the bag. Bring a big and very visible Fragile sign that can be hung from the carrying handle. Have everything in the bag already wrapped with an additional protective sleeve, if possible. As a last resort remember to remind the airline personnel insisting on the gate check that you’ve got thousands of Rands of fragile equipment in there and would they please acknowledge that they’ll insure it if it gets damaged (they won’t, but sometimes this is enough to convince the agent maybe they shouldn’t force a gate check: see “Candor,” above).

Be a frequent flyer or fly a higher class. If you concentrate your flying mileage and work you way up into the higher levels of most airline reward programs, the agents you encounter along the way that can most cause you trouble tend to go easy on you. They know that their livelihood depends upon regular travelers, so they don’t often take their anger out on them (conversely, if they think you’re flying with them for the first and only time, watch out! Indeed, outbound from Africa tends to provoke more weight checks than in-bound).

Note how small the plane is. Travel within some countries can often be by very small plane. Flights from Nairobi to the Masai Mara, for instance, are typically on as small as 12 passenger planes (it can be smaller, but most people are flying on SafariLink or one of the larger carriers, and they tend to use 12-36 passenger props). Bush flights in Alaska, internal flights in Botswana and a host of other countries are often on something as small as a Cessna 172. I once flew a Dash 8 to Somalia, there was no space to swing a dead rat in there! Once you get down into the single or dual engine turbo prop realm, things change. Very small planes generally have very critical weight limits for takeoff, and those are even more critical if takeoff or landing at altitude or in heat is involved. If every passenger averaged 300 pounds of total weight, for instance, most Cessna 172’s would be over their safety limit. You actually want these small “airlines” to weigh you and everything you carry: they simply shouldn’t be taking off without an accurate and complete weight check. You just need to be prepared for what will happen when you are weighed and told that you exceed what they can carry. Usually that means that you have to have some of your gear come on a subsequent flight, which means you need to be already packed for that possibility (e.g. know what you absolutely need and have it packed separately from what you can do without for a few hours or even a day). You also need to be prepared to pay for that extra flight and perhaps ready to grease some palms to make sure that your unattended bag gets met by someone and catches up to you.

Travel with someone. Share the load between the two of you (or more), that way you know your gear is secure.

Hire your gear. As a last resort, if this is financially possible and practical, it may be your only choice!

Where To Stow Your Gear

Place your bag under your seat. Overhead compartment availability and regulations are just too wildly different to be trusted, in my experience. Your absolute best move, your most powerful ally, is your under-seat bag.
Even if you do all your homework and you have an overhead bag that totally fits, you still might find yourself on an over-booked flight with zero room left in the overhead bins. Unfortunately this problem cannot be solved by just arriving super early and being the first person on the plane, because layovers are common and you never know what situation a delay can put you in. Also the boarding procedures may be in rows or groups.
So, take advantage of the under-seat “personal item” option.  It is by far the most liberal and unregulated option.  Yet with the right packing method and the perfect size camera bag, you can easily fit two camera bodies, 2-3 medium or large lenses, a flash, and a laptop.  Your absolute minimum set of equipment for getting the job done right, and it fits under your seat which is a space that no flight attendant will ever hassle you about.

  • Extra seat(s) shall be requested and paid for in advance.
  • The normal applicable free checked baggage allowance applies for every extra seat booked (EXST). For example, 1 passenger books 2 extra M-Class seats for comfort. The total checked baggage allowance for this passenger will be 3 x applicable free baggage allowance.
  • If a seat is used to place items on (CBBG), these items may not weigh more than 46 kg per seat.
  • Items placed on a seat should be adequately packed to prevent damage.

A Few Other Tips

Memory Cards

They belong in your pocket. Even as you go through security, they should not leave your sight. I put my card wallet in the same little bowl that you put keys. Luggage can get lost, bags can get stolen or damaged, but your memory cards should never, ever leave your possession. Losing them is losing your hard work, more so if you weren’t able to back up your images. Back your images up to the cloud if it is at all possible.

Register Your Gear Before Departure

The last thing you need is to pay taxes on gear you already own, make the time to call passed customs and complete the relevant paperwork.

Know The Airline Legalities and Policies

The biggest tip here is that because airlines are not able nor willing to offer insurance for expensive gear, they cannot force you to check equipment of extremely high value. Notice, however, that I didn’t say “force you to check a bag of equipment.” They can still force you to check the bag.  Unfortunately, this may mean, worst case scenario, that you literally empty your overhead bag and wear your equipment around your neck onto the plane.

It is a known fact that airlines will not cover the losses of photographic equipment if placed in the hold: cameras, lenses and electronics are NOT covered by the airline’s lost or damaged luggage policy, so if at all possible photographic equipment (and computers) should be placed in your carry-on baggage and NOT in your checked baggage. In fact most airlines won’t compensate you for anything that they lose or damage in your checked baggage except for clothing.

Be Polite and Professional

Contrary to popular belief, “making a scene” isn’t never the best option. Depending on the mood an employee is in, complaining loudly might only dig your grave deeper. As long as you can, be professional and polite even in extremely frustrating situations. I totally understand the “hold your ground / let them know how upset you are” mentality, but sometimes friendly compromise and a personal connection can make a world of difference! If you can speak their language, do so, it has helped me many a time to fly under the radar when I have been overweight with my hand luggage.

Contact The Airline

Email the airline and see if you can get it in writing that you will be carrying photography gear, the size meets their requirement, however the weight doesn’t, can they assist you?

If you have any questions or comments feel free to post in the comments below. I would really like to hear how my fellow photographers manage their air travel affairs, and the experiences they have had, both good and bad.

CRAIG FOUCHÉ

I am a Western Cape Winelands photographer based in South Africa, photographing locally and internationally. I am a registered NPS (Nikon Professional Services) member, a contributor to Nikon South Africa's social media pages and website. I photograph a broad variety of genres, using film and digital medium and are very passionate about my work.

My work has been published several times in SA4x4, HIGH LIFE (British Airways Magazine), Getaway Magazine and Wildside Magazine, and I am also a contributor to Media24, which is the print media arm of the South African media company Naspers. I finished as a Top Ten finalist in the 2016 Getaway Magazine Gallery Competition, finishing with Highly Commended.

Please feel free to comment and share. You can also click on the social media buttons in the footer below and see what I am currently doing, or sign up for my newsletter and follow me.

Until next time, thanks for your support, appreciating my work and reading my blogs.

Craig Fouché, Dubai 24H, Dubai Autodrome, UAE
©2017 Craig Fouché Photography


The Law and Street Photography in South Africa August 2015 – Zanzibar Photoshoot
The Law and Street Photography in South Africa
August 2015 – Zanzibar Photoshoot

Comments to “How To Fly With Photography Gear”


  1. Reply

    saa doesnt check hand luggage weight the only place your hand luggage might get weighed but probably doesn’t is at the scanners


    • (Administrator)
      Reply

      Thanks for the heads up Marc!



  2. Reply

    Thanks for such an informative article.


Reply





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