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Air New Zealand & Virgin Australia Baggage Limits

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I understand (from this forum) that Air New Zealand is very strict about their baggage limits. We are flying from LAX to Auckland in Economy Comfort. We are cruising from Auckland to Melbourne and will travel in Australia via Virgin Australia. We then return to LAX via Auckland on Air New Zealand.

According to Air New Zealand's documents, we are allowed two "checked" bags at 50 pounds each which is more than adequate for us. However, the carry-on is limited to 15 pounds AND we are only allowed one bag. Domestic travel in the U.S. allows for one carry-on bag and a personal item (e.g. PC bag). I guess I can put my computer in the checked luggage. But, I have some expensive camera gear that weighs more than the 15 pound limit even though the dimensions of my bag are within the guidelines. At this point, my camera gear weighs ~30 pounds.

Does anybody have suggestions on how best to maneuver through the carry on baggage limitation? If I get stopped, what is the penalty amount? Is it based on the amount of weight over the limit of simply a fixed fee? Will I encounter similar issues on Virgin Australia?

Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Our trip is not until March, 2015 so I will have time to plan once I get the benefit of others' experiences.

Thanks in advance for any help ...

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