Last second luggage (weight) concerns...

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Aug 26th, 2005, 07:19 PM
  #1
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Last second luggage (weight) concerns...

Okay, it appears pretty clear cut that Virgin Atlantic is strict about their carry on bag weight limit of only 13 pounds for economy and even premium economy class. I cannot believe how low this limit is when Business Class passengers are allowed to carry on 35 pounds.

I have bought this photo vest and it should be in my possession by Monday:

I just have no idea how much I will be able to fit in the pockets.

Now, my major concern is a suitcase. I am totally unclear on the new rules and regulations for locking a suitcase. Are there special locks that are allowed and others that are not?

Also, would anybody feel safe packing away their biggest telephoto zoom lens rather than carrying it on?

If I were able to pack my Sigma 80-400mm lens, along with one Canon 20d camera body, my monopod and ballhead, then I think I may be able to squeak by on the weight limits for carry on. I figure that the remainder of my weight will be in the neighborhood of about 19 - 20 pounds, but if I am able to stick 4 pounds worth of equipment in my photo vest and 3 - 4 pounds of equipment in my wife's carry on, then I will be okay.

I just don't know what to do with my Sigma 80-400mm lens and second camera body. Combined, these will weigh in at about 9 pounds, so it will make a tremendous difference if I am able to pack them away.

Please help with the suitcase / lock question and with your opinion on whether or not you would ever pack away your telephoto zoom lens. I will still have the Sigma 70-200mm lens and 1.4x teleconvertor in the event of theft or damage, heaven forbid.

I would like to caution anybody who is considering making the switch to DSLR photography to take the weight restrictions of economy class under careful consideration. I had no idea I was in for this hassle and just learned about what I was in for a couple days ago. Now I am scrambling to make sure that I am compliant.

Thanks for your prompt responses!
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Aug 26th, 2005, 07:21 PM
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http://www.lapolicegear.com/saphve.html
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Aug 26th, 2005, 07:42 PM
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bwanamitch
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Rocco,

I always carry my 2nd body in my main luggage, very well packed in t-shirts, socks and underwear. But I will NEVER put one of my big lenses in there. (Have you ever seen how airport personal sometimes throw the luggage out of the freight door? Better not.)

As far as I know security regulations for locked luggage are mainly an issue in the US, on the North Atlantic route and with US and UK airlines. So I can't tell you much about this.

I don't know much about the pockets of your Humvee vest. I've bought the VOMP by Tilley (www.tilley.com). This vest has a large pocket on the back where I can put my 100-400 in.

Mitch
 
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Aug 26th, 2005, 07:53 PM
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Rocco,

as far as I remember your 80-400 has an image stabilizer that gives you at least two f-stops. My recommendation: let the 70-200 at home.

Why a laptop? Buy a small image box as storage media (or an iPod).

Do you still have your satellite phone in the carry on?

Mitch
 
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Aug 26th, 2005, 07:58 PM
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Rocco-I have seen the tsa approved locks at wal-mart, there's a key all tsa personnel have that will open them if needed. if you don't have tsa approved locks you're out of luck as they will break open other locks and possibly ruin your luggage.
Dennis
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Aug 26th, 2005, 08:05 PM
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bwanamitch
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Rocco,

I always carry monopod (or similar), ballhead, flash, most batteries, spare parts etc., and even my binos always in the main luggage. For additional protection I use bubble wrap packaging for the binos and the 2nd body.

Mitch
 
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Aug 26th, 2005, 08:52 PM
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Recent Europe threads advise that only US officials are able to open TSA locks - SA officials will not be able to open them so may destroy if searching. Cable ties are recommended - but put a small pair of scissors in an outside pocket to open it. Someone also suggested using nail clippers which can be carried in carry on.
Have a great trip Rocco.
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Aug 27th, 2005, 05:23 AM
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Go with the cable ties. Hook your zippers tight. Pack a nail clipper (w/o the nailfile attachment) or small scissor in side pocket of the bag so you can cut the ties once at your destination.

The TSA locks are good for US travel and even with that many agents don't have the keys. Cable ties. A package of 100 can be bought for cheap at any hardware store.

As to your lenses or any of your camera equipement - do not pack any of these in your checked luggage. If they're not damaged, they may be stolen anywhere from any airport - just the way it is, so don't ask for trouble and being upset.

If need, pay extra to take on-board. You've spent too much money on all "your stuff" - pay a bit extra to have it with you on the plane.

Happy travels.
 
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Aug 27th, 2005, 07:51 AM
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bwanamitch
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Pay extra for carry on? Sorry, which airline does offer this? The only option I know is buying a second seat (at full rate).

Mitch
 
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Aug 27th, 2005, 07:55 AM
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bwanamitch
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Sarvowinner,

Do SA officials open your luggage? Never heard of this before.

Mitch
 
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Aug 27th, 2005, 08:11 AM
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If I remember correctly, Rocco's only problem with carry-on weight is from L.A. to London. From London to Johannisburg he is flying business class and is allowed more carry-on weight. Once in London he can transfer his weight to a carry-on, then take off the tsa lock which i'm sure LAX has keys for. If they cut the cable tie in L.A. his bag will go unlocked.
sandi-if you use those cable ties while on safari, say to lock your camera in the bag during dinner, can't a thief cut the tie, go through your bag, take what they want, then put on another one of your cable ties from your luggage and you would have no proof that your bag was rifled? i'm curious as to what to do...
thanks dennis
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Aug 27th, 2005, 08:56 AM
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Bwana, Rocco

I was referring to the flight between LAX & LHR. I was just warning that the UK officials don't have the keys for the TSA locks. I don't know if SA checks luggage as I haven't been yet - 5 months to go .
THis is oneof the threads that discusses this issue.
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34609313
Mat

Wouldn't you carry regular style locks to use in the camps?





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Aug 27th, 2005, 09:07 AM
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Okay, so what I am getting out of this so far is...

I should pack away the extra weight from LAX - London as securely as possible. Maybe even pack away my entire Tamrac 777 in a locked suitcase using a TSA lock.

http://www.virgin-atlantic.com/en/us...allowances.jsp

According to this link, each individual allowed up to two bags weighing a maximum of 70 pounds each, for a possible maximum of 140 pounds each.

I am thinking that if I packed my Tamrac 777 in a suitcase that it would provide the maximum protection from damage, but again I am concerned with theft.

I had considered sending by UPS about a 10 pound package, containing possibly my Sigma 80-400mm lens and a Canon 20d body to Kavey or Julian in London since I am meeting them for lunch, but if I were to do it today, it would cost about $150 and not arrive until Noon on Wednesday (we are meeting for lunch at 3:30PM). Plus, I did not want to give anybody motivation/temptation for not showing up for lunch!

So, should my luggage contents be safe from theft on the LAX - LHR leg?

Now I have to find a baggage storage facility at London Heathrow, unless I choose to have a car and driver with me for my entire visit in London, but I would be a little freaked out about leaving all my stuff in a vehicle. This whole situation is bad, but I will just have to figure it out.
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Aug 27th, 2005, 10:16 AM
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You've certainly picked the wrong airline but there's nothing to do about that now. I wouldn't use the Tamrac on the flight because it weighs too much empty. (I have a Lowepro rolling camera backpack that I don't always use because it's too heavy.)

Go find the lightest backpack or small suitcase you can find. Fill the vest with all the heavy stuff. Get out the bathroom scale and weigh the cameras and lenses and put the heaviest stuff in the vest and everything else in the lightweight backpack. You will be carrying it (or rolling it if you can find a lightweight rolling one) in the airport and on the planes so it doesn't have to have all the extra padding that the Tamrac has. You just need to find a way to get your photo equipment there safely. Between the two of you, you should be able to carry all your camera equipment and the laptop on the plane. Your wife doesn't have to actually carry hers. You can carry both of them. If you can fit the Tamrac in a piece of luggage to use between camps, then great. If not, pack some dense foam rubber or quilt batting to protect everything from bumping around.

I carry almost the same stuff you have - 2 Canon DSLR's (10d&20d), a Canon 70-200 2.8 IS, a Canon 300 2.8 IS, a Canon 16-35 2.8 IS, a 28-135 3.5/5.6 IS, a 1.4x, 2.0x, portable hard drive, laptop, and all the accessories on trips, by myself. Of course, the weight is too high to get on Virgin or BA but I can fit it in a very light rolling suitcase that I bought at wmart for less than $20. With the photo vest filled with all the heavy stuff and your wife's help, you shouldn't have a problem.

I fly SAA and haven't had a problem with carryon yet. I did look at the vest you bought and I bought one for myself. It will be in my carryon luggage and if I ever get caught with overweight carryon, I'll pull out that vest and fill it up.

Pack the tripod and it's accessories in your checked luggage. If that stuff gets stolen it's not going to ruin your trip. If your cameras/lenses or anything you need to download the photos get stolen, you'll be in bad shape. On your way home, if your stuff is insured, do whatever you want. Just be sure to keep the CF cards secured and the portable harddrive and laptop. I have read several stories about people leaving their camera in their luggage on the way home and they are stolen. Plus, the memory cards were in the camera and stolen also. The people wouldn't have been quite so upset if they still had their pictures.

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Aug 27th, 2005, 10:50 AM
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Hi Rocco,

If you want to post anything to me it's fine -- my address is at the bottom of the emails I sent you. Kavey may be a better choice though, as she lives closer to London than I do (and the Oxford post office was in the bottom 10 in terms of timeliness on the last Royal Mail audit).

I agree with Mitch -- it makes the most sense to leave the 70-200 and the laptop at home. You don't really need the laptop since you have a portable storage device (if I recall correctly, you bought an Epson P-2000). And the 70-200 range is covered by your other lenses.

In my experience from many, many transatlantic trips, your luggage is much more likely to be opened in the US than anywhere else. So the TSA locks will be fine for that situation. However, there are definitely documented cases of TSA employees stealing from luggage, so I would NOT put anything you can't live without in there.

If I recall your itinerary, you will be in South Africa for at least a day or two. If that's the case, pack the ball head, tripod, etc in the suitcase -- if the worst happens and they get lost, you can replace them at Sandton. The camera equipment would be a great deal harder to replace.

Look forward to seeing you in London!

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 27th, 2005, 10:52 AM
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sundowner,

Yes, Virgin Atlantic sucks about the weight limitations for us peasants in economy class.

My Tamrac 777 weighs 6.5 pounds empty, meaning that I would only be able to carry on a single Canon 20d body and my Sigma 80-400mm lens.

Good idea about keeping the photo vest in the carry on luggage.

Alexsandra is telling me not to worry about it, thinking that she can fast talk or sweet talk our way on board with all of our carry on. I told her that the chances of this are slim, especially with the recent terrorism in London and the fact that we just lost our passports (doesn't help that her parents were born in Iran if that kind of information pops up since it is certainly asked while filing for new passports).

In the future I will always check baggage restrictions for any airline that I am considering.

I am really going to have to make a game plan to figure out my luggage and how it will be handled through each airport.

I am so used to cruising through these things so it is a real shock to my system to have to think so hard and take all the right actions.

Hopefully it will all prove worthwhile and I will be able to capture some amazing images during my 19 night holiday.
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Aug 27th, 2005, 10:59 AM
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Rocco,

Forgot to mention on my last post that there is a left luggage facility conveniently located right in the international arrivals hall. It's on the far end of the various little shops in the hall. It is open from 0530 to 2300 and it costs about £4 per item for 24 hours of storage.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 27th, 2005, 10:59 AM
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Julian,

Actually, I didn't buy the Epson P2000 but instead bought the laptop. Originally I was slated to buy the Sony Vaio, weighing in at only 3.4 pounds, with a 10" screen, but then I ended up with a Compaq Presario that is 5.4 pounds with a 14" screen...don't know what I was thinking other than it was half the price of another Sony Vaio that I was looking at with just as much memory and only two ounces heavier.

All the software is already installed on the Compaq Presario and I do think it will come in useful. I really did not learn about the weight restrictions until just a couple days ago, but that is my own fault. Somehow I will figure it out, but I just hope my camera gear does not get stolen. I do feel that I will be able to protect my gear if I pack my Tamrac 777 within a suitcase, mostly loaded.

If I did pack away my Tamrac mostly loaded, then I would only carry the following:

Lighter backpack (unpadded)
Canon 20d body
Sigma 70-200mm lens
Canon 17-85mm lens
Batteries & battery charger
CF Cards
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Aug 27th, 2005, 11:01 AM
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and 1.4x Sigma teleconvertor

If anything, I am placing more importance on my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens than on my 80-400mm f/4.5 - 5.6 lens.

The 70-200mm lens with the multiplier factor of the CMOS becomes a 112-320mm lens at f/2.8 and a 157-448mm f/4.0 lens with the 1.4x teleconvertor.
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Aug 27th, 2005, 11:48 AM
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Mitch,

Also, I know what you and others are saying about the 80-400mm lens featuring optical stabilization and thus making it really one or two f/stops better than advertised, but it just does not FEEL as fast as the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 even when I attach the teleconvertor to the 70-200mm lens.

However, I don't feel any safer with ony one telephoto zoom lens than I would feel safe with only one camera body.
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