Last second luggage (weight) concerns...

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Aug 27th, 2005, 11:51 AM
  #21
 
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Rocco,

I assume you didn't take my suggestion to buy a photo vest for Aleksandra...however, is she planning to take a jacket with big pockets on the trip? You could always fill the pockets with heavy stuff (and, being the gentleman that you are, carry the jacket for her).

One more way to lose some (luggage) weight...

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 27th, 2005, 11:55 AM
  #22
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Rule of thumb has always been - DON'T PACK ANYTHING OF VALUE IN YOUR CHECKED LUGGAGE!

I believe that your camera equipment would qualify!

In the US it's more likely that your checked bags will be jeopardized - but you can always "plastic/shrink-wrap" your checked bags @ USD$5/bag.

The current weight limits (more then a year now) per bag is 50-lbs (no longer 70-lbs - though a few carriers may allow this) even for Int'l flights, so double check this for Virin.

I've been caught in Europe (BA, KLM, AF) with an overweight carryon more then once and though the carryon fit the "sizer" the weight was off the scales. In these instances, the agent gave me a plastic bag to offload some of the items; I could still carry on both - the original carryon and the plastic bag. Once on the plane I just put the plastic bag into the carryon.

I also find that if you just keep moving and smile, this works very well - I'm with STD on that, but always remember to act very natural and never make a scene.

As to luggage inspection in SA - it's been a few years since we've been, but when departing for the States (all In'tl flights for that matter) every bag was weighed and opened/hand-inspected before we even got to the agent. Carryon, though xrayed thru a few security checks before entering the Int'l departure area went thru another security check when we arrived at the gate and before boarding. Whether things have changed since, I can't say.

denis - as to the cable ties at safari lodges or camps - don't use them. In these instances, if I even lock my bag, I use a combination lock. Cable ties have only been used for the darn Int'l flights in both directions. My valuables (cash, credit cards, etc.), are with me at all times if a safe isn't provided.
 
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Aug 27th, 2005, 12:12 PM
  #23
 
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Sorry Rocco but I would not put anything in checked luggage that I would be upset with it it was stolen. We fles from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls a few years ago and had an electric razor stolen which was in checked baggage.

Do you have these items insured on your homeowners? If so then if they are stolen, you can replace them. Needs to be a separate rider.

Also, I would bubble wrap any lens in the vest so that if you are bumped or shoved it will have some protection. Once you get on the plane, you can repack the backpack so you are only looking at one check in.
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Aug 27th, 2005, 02:03 PM
  #24
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I just rechecked my flight and found that I will be flying to London on Virgin Atlantic but upon my return to Los Angeles I will be flying on Continental.

Continental is very generous with their weight limits for economy class carry on baggage. Their economy carry on limit is even higher than Virgin Atlantic's Business Class limit! Continental offers a maximum of 40 pounds of carry on baggage for their peasent passengers in economy.

There will be Continental ticket holders on my flight to London even though it is a Virgin Atlantic flight. So what does that mean, that they are allowed 40 pounds of carry on, even though it is a Virgin Atlantic airplane?

The same thing occurs in reverse on my flight from London to Los Angeles. It will be on a Virgin Atlantic airplane but I am holding a Continental Air ticket. So, am I going to be denied my 40 pounds because the airplane happens to be Virgin Atlantic even though I will be holding a Continental Air ticket???

What a waste of my time and energy to have to worry about the excrementitious baggage policy of Virgin Atlantic!
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Aug 27th, 2005, 02:12 PM
  #25
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To complicate matters further (boo hoo), I checked and it appears to be a nearly sold out flight between LAX to London. That may definitely play a key factor in how strict the Virgin Atlantic staff is with the carry on baggage.

As far as the seating goes, I did consult seatguru.com or whatever website that is, and I did get the two best available seats. They are just normal seats but they are in the back of the plane and there is just an aisle seat and a window seat with the middle seat removed for whatever reason. This would give us plenty of room to put a carry-on bag if some anal stewardess...errr, I mean flight attendant, did not force us to put the bag in an overhead compartment.

The returning flight from London to Los Angeles appears to be more than half empty. This will be September 21st and since school is back in session, I suppose that there isn't nearly the demand. The sad thing is that I only chose the date that I did so that my sister, a school teacher, would not miss too much school but then she flaked out on the whole thing.

Ideally, I would have gone right after the full moon of September 18th. Yes, it would have been hotter, but at least the flights would have been less packed going over and the seats would have been about 25% less expensive.

Anyway I must call Virgin Atlantic and Continental to get some firm answers, if possible.

Next time I go to Southern Africa I am avoiding Europe altogether.
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Aug 27th, 2005, 02:59 PM
  #26
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I spoke to Virgin Atlantic and here is what I have learned.

Each person is allowed a 13 pound carry on bag AND a laptop computer (with case). So, our laptop which weighs about 7.5 pounds with the case and accessories, will not be counted against us, thereby allowing 26 pounds between the two of us. Assuming that Alexsandra will need about five pounds for her own things, I will have 21 pounds to work with.

21 pounds may just be enough since I will be able to put some of the items in my photo vest.

Tamrac 777 = 6.5 pounds
Sigma 80-400mm lens = 4 pounds
Sigma 70-200mm lens = 3 pounds
Sigma 1.4x teleconvertor = 0.5 pound
Canon 17-85mm lens = 1 pound
Canon 20d body = 3 pounds?
Canon 20d body = 3 pounds?
Other accessories = 3 pounds (excluding ballhead and monopod which will be packed away)

Grand Total = 24 pounds

Okay, with this laptop revelation, I feel much more at ease now. The telephone rep said that I probably will not be bothered by anyone but that I should be prepared to comply, if necessary. Had it been an emptier flight that would have been best, but at least check there were only three seats remaining for purchase. Being in the back of the plane will help some, but then again, my face will be just about @$$ level with the people waiting in line for the restroom! So, besides earplugs, I may just need noseplugs.

Okay, I am done with this issue and I will now proceed with the few outstanding issues I have to get ready for this "trip of a lifetime (until next time)."
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Aug 27th, 2005, 06:29 PM
  #27
 
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In all my years of traveling, and I have traveled on Virgin, I have NEVER had my carryon baggage weighed. It seems they are much more concerned with size, not weight, and I probably could have carried a small backpack filled with bricks, not a large pack filled with feathers. So long as your carryons are reasonable in size, you won't have any problem.
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Aug 27th, 2005, 07:52 PM
  #28
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Michael,

Thanks for the feedback.

I am concerned by the appearance of the Tamrac 777 backpack. It appears that it is slightly larger than the legal limit.

Virgin Atlantic Size Limit For Carry On Bag:

9in x 14in x 22 in

Tamrac Specifications:

External Dimensions: 12 W x 11 1/2 D x 17 3/4 H

So, it appears that it is 3 inches wider than the legal limit. However, even when I looked at smaller photo backpacks, they also appeared to be more than 9 inches wide. That is really very narrow and I would imagine that half the carry on bags may not comply.

One good development...the satellite phone comes in a case that passes as a laptop computer case. It will easily fit my Sigma EF-500 Super Flash, batteries, CF cards, my battery charger, lens filters and possibly my Canon 17-85mm lens.

I will keep my fingers crossed and hopefully everything will be fine.
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Aug 27th, 2005, 08:54 PM
  #29
 
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Rocco-when you get to London, you had better tell us how it all went! We don't want to wait til you get back!
Dennis
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Aug 28th, 2005, 03:57 AM
  #30
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I almost fell over laughing when you said you were actually on a Continental code-share flight with Virgin steel. Didn't you notice immediately that you had a CO flight number and that your Economy carryon baggage allowance would be that of CO? You've flown so often.

Well that said, yes, Continental has a more liberal policy and on most of their equipment has larger overhead storage bins (even in Economy and hopefully even on their Int'l routes [I rarely fly CO]) - Virgin planes don't.

So now you're safe with the weight... just need to be sure the size works.

You'll have to let us know how it all works out. You're too much, and Alexsandra has to put up with this? A good woman you have there.

As for me, I'm going back to laughing!
 
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Aug 28th, 2005, 04:50 AM
  #31
 
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Hello,

Michael, I'm not sure how recently you've flown with Virgin, but I fly them regularly (twice in the past six months) and they have become much stricter with the weight limit in the past year. They no longer size the carry-ons (luckily for me) but they now weigh them religiously. Six of one, half-dozen of the other...

The people who are asked to check their carry-ons if the plane is full are those with larger bags (usually roll-aboard suitcases, or a duffle or garmet bag that looks about that size). I am not good with size estimations, but I don't think Rocco wants to take that chance with his Tamrac. The fact that the Tamrac weighs 6 pounds unloaded is another minus.

I have also done the Virgin/Continental code-share, and in my experience the limits that matter are the limits of the airline you are actually flying.

In other words, Virgin imits for a Virgin plane (regardless of whether your ticket is Virgin or Continental) and Continental limits for a Continental plane. I'm not sure about LAX, but at SFO you need to check in at the Virgin desk for a Virgin flight, even if you are holding a Continental ticket. I believe this is true at other airports as well -- Rocco, you may want to confirm this.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 28th, 2005, 06:09 AM
  #32
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Julian,

You are correct. In my conversation with Virgin Atlantic, I specifically enquired whether or not I would be allowed more carry-on luggage since I was holding a Continental ticket, and the answer was "No." The rules of the aircraft that is actually flying always prevail.
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Aug 28th, 2005, 06:14 AM
  #33
 
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Rocco,

Did you find out which check-in desk you should use? It would really be annoying to queue for one and then be sent to queue again...

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 28th, 2005, 01:41 PM
  #34
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This won't help Rocco much now, however, while reading this thread I often wonder whether all those comments regarding carry on restrictions and security (and weight) checks that have been posted by me and other Fodorites during the last months, have been read at all.

Mitch
 
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Aug 28th, 2005, 02:53 PM
  #35
 
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Mitch-when it comes to carry-on or other restrictions i think people have the "they can't possibly mean me" syndrome.
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Aug 28th, 2005, 07:20 PM
  #36
 
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Rocco,
CO doesn't operate any nonstops between LHR and LAX, so your return flight should be on VS metal as well (unless you're connecting at EWR or elsewhere).

Julian,
Flight check-in is almost always with the operating carrier and at LAX, VS operates out of T2. My carry-on's haven't been weighed when flying PE (which technically is same allowance as economy), but I haven't flown VS recently. I do believe that with a full flight, they're more likely to weigh carry-on's especially those that appear to be on the large side.
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Aug 28th, 2005, 07:29 PM
  #37
 
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Rocco,
OK I see where you mentioned you're on VS aircraft from LHR to LAX. You confused me with the 'flying on Continental' thing

Good luck with VS and bon voyage!
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Aug 29th, 2005, 02:09 AM
  #38
 
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Rocco
Haven't been online over the weekend - it's a holiday weekend here and we've been out a lot - so didn't see the idea to post stuff to me.
I see you decided against it but just thought I'd point out I wasn't ignoring you!
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