View Full Version : HELP! Urgent advice needed re: air travel with camera
08-10-2006, 01:28 PM
I mostly just lurk and look at photographs here but a situation has arisen which has prompted what (I think) is my first post.
As you are probably all aware there is an ongoing major terrorist alert originating in the UK. I live in London and am due to fly out to Chennai, India, on Saturday. This is my first photography trip and I recently bought an Olympus E-500, an extravegance on my limited budget. I have 2 lenses and a slightly inadequate bag. I was to take the camera in my hand luggage but Heathrow Airport is no longer allowing hand-luggage, for this weekend at least. Putting it in my backpack in the hold is obviously out of the question so my only other option is to buy a special travel case and arrive early to have it checked in seperately.
Never mind the inconvenience of not being allowed books or magazines on a long-haul flight, or the prospect of being blown from the sky by a crazed madman. I want my camera and I want it in one piece! Of course it is insured but that isnt the issue. If it is broken on arrival it will ruin my trip.
I am on a budget, I am starting my doctorate in September and I am already badly in debt. I have one day to find a case. I will have to travel to a specialist shop in London I am sure.
So, what sort of case should I buy? How much will it cost? Do I have other options other than an expensive case? And, finally, do any of you, especially the brits, know where I could go to find one of these things?
Thank you for your time, I will make sure to post some of my pics from the trip.
08-10-2006, 01:42 PM
Well, ill try to help you as far as i can.. That means, i cant help you with what bag etc..
Last december i travelled from Thailand to Copenhagen via Amsterdam.. Well, thats not really my point .. My point is that i had an acoustic bass in a cardboardbox, you know .. Not wrapped in anything, but this cardboardbox and a little plasticbag (about 0.1 mm thick?) ... Of course, it had SEVERAL fragile stickers on it, but it made the trip with NO SCRATCHES.. So my point is, if i can transport a hollow box made of wood, so that it gets no scratches, why cant you transport a camera and lenses and so on in a bit harder box? :)
Try it out, and you could eventually phone the airline company and hear their suggestion..
As far as i've understood, its only flights from UK to the US that cant have personal loggage on-board?
Anyways, my best advice is to call the airline company, and remember to use a lot of fragile stickers ^^
08-10-2006, 01:50 PM
Pelican hard cases aren't cheap, but they're terrific. Their modular foam is easy to customize to fit your gear, too. It might be most efficient to take your fragile gear (not cables, etc.) to a camera shop and find a Pelican which will hold your gear with no foam yet (and no camera bag/backpack). At home, customize their foam to cuddle your gear. Then throw your soft camera bag/backpack into your non-fragile luggage bag. You can easily re-assemble on the other end. This case isn't to be set up for ready grabbing like your camera bag. Even pack the body (with cap) separately if that makes for compact-ness.
No gorilla (or forklift) will damage a Pelican case. Even the leaky contents of another bag can't get into the Pelican. Worth every d.
If it was me I'd consider flying it out seperately by UPS next day air or whatever you have that is equivilant. UPS is VERY good and it would have door to door availability WITH INSURANCE (extra but worth it fee). I'm not just saying that because UPS is the biggest employer in our town. Those guys/gals are good.
08-10-2006, 03:13 PM
Ah thank you both.
Chobby - I had it suggested to me by somebody else so yes, that is an option. I change planes at Frankfurt so that is an added worry, it will get thrown around twice! But it is an option I will seriously consider.
Brucep - first thing in the morning I am every london camera shop until I find one with pelican cases on the premises then jumping on a train straight into town! I have a feeling I won't be the only person in this situation so want to be the first in town.
Heathrow website (run by BAA) states that all flights are subject to these restrictions, not just the US. I do understand why they are doing this. In fact my mother flew back from the states this morning, sat on the tarmac at Heathrow for more than an hour. On 9/11 she was due to fly to NYC from Heathrow (!!!) that afternoon. I would rather have to buy the case and adhere to their regulations than risk getting on a plane with a nutcase who has slipped a bottle of "shampoo" through security. It is all madness really.
ETA - JimL - now THAT could work...
08-10-2006, 03:36 PM
Jim's suggestion of shipping it ahead is a good one... even to a destination of yours beyond the airport city, where it'll have ample time to get there. Stephen Faust has mentioned shipping studio gear ahead before. I haven't done much traveling (hey, I like northern California!), but if I'm asked to do an extensive shoot at Sanford, our Santa Barbara winery (500 miles south of here), I'll ship my more bulky gear ahead just for convenience. It'd be waiting right at my final distination.
Welcome to the Photozo, Spootfish. I'm looking forward to seeing your photos.
08-10-2006, 05:17 PM
the only problem i may have with shipping is that i have no destination as such. Am gonna find a hotel when i get there, then a few days later will reach my final destination, a remote village in Southern India. Perhaps I could have it sent to a depot in Chennai where i could pick it up.
All this hassle! I woke up in a good mood this morning too..
08-11-2006, 10:08 AM
Well, there are very few Pelis left in London so if you need to get one in the next week or so, just do it now.
I got the Calumet brand case which was identical to the 1500 or 1520 or something, it was a little cheaper anyway then had a further 10% off. It is far too big for my current equipment but I know that I will acquire at least one more lens, poss 2 in the next year, and *perhaps* a film camera. The Calumet staff said that most of their customers over the last 2 days had come in for Pelis! The one I got was last in the store in itsd size, the one a size smaller was sold out. The similar Pelis were still available but, again, almost out.
Get one now if you need to travel to ro from the UK in the very near future!
08-15-2006, 08:01 AM
Just to let you know that the bag did its duty and the camera arrived in one piece. Unfortunately BAA and Lufthansa did not carry out the most basic of obligations which is to deliver the baggage at the same time as the passenger and I have spent 3 sleepless nights wondering where the floof my 3 bags were.
It can only get better from here. I will put up some of my better photos when I return!
08-15-2006, 04:18 PM
Thanks for the update, Spoot. You were our 'scout.' It's good to know we don't invest in a Pelican or Calumet case and check it in at the airport baggage counter and never see it again.
I'm looking forward to seeing those photos.
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