Flying with a tripod

Discussion in 'Travel' started by john_d|17, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. I will be doing some domestic and international flying in the next year. I have an expensive Gitzo carbon fiber tripod I will take with me. In the old days I would carry it on with me but now there are restrictions. I always carry on my camera bag, but how should I handle the tripod?
  2. My Gitzo always goes into my checked in luggage as it is too large/heavy for hand luggage, since I take cameras and
    lenses in the carry on hand luggage. Up until now I did not encounter any problems travelling in Europe, Africa and
    central America, choosing reputable airline companies.
  3. I have an ancient 1228 Mountaineer Gitzo carbon fiber. I replaced the center column with the smaller one from Gitzo. I
    unscrew the head and wrap it with clothing. I am then able to pack my tripod in my checked baggage along with the head.
    Seems to arrive ok, but I don't travel much these days so things might have changed. My 1228 has 4 piece legs so it folds
    shorter. Not sure how I'd transport a larger one but maybe in a hard shelled case or maybe a heavy padded tripod bag. I
    like the luggage though because it's less obvious that it is valuable.
  4. I've been packing mine in my check in luggage, have done that 20+ times with no problems. I do put a lock on my bag.
  5. david_henderson


    I always carry the head, put the legs in my checked bag.
  6. Never had a problem with a tripod in checked baggage, except on a flight in China where they managed to break the head off my Velbon travel tripod, which was in soft-sided duffel bag. I've traveled extensively with a large Manfrotto tripod in my checked luggage, but I did remove the head.
  7. Like David, I carry the heads for my mono- and tripods in my carry-on, while the rest goes into checked baggage.
  8. Another for "this is what goes into the checked luggage"
    Unless, you are the class photographer at Hogworts (or Mugwarts?) and can actually fly with your tripod.
  9. grh


    I don't think this would work for international travel, but I read about this tip for travel within the US.
    Buy yourself a starter pistol, the kind they use for track events. Pack it in your suitcase, be very open about its existence (i.e. declare it) and you will then be required to lock and secure your checked baggage. Can't have firearms easily accessible, can we? That would be enough to deter most of the thieves working at the airports.
    Pretty sure you couldn't fly out of the states doing this, though.
  10. I have 4 section reversible Sirui that I can put into my overhead bag and so far have had no problems bringing it on. I
    have a smaller ball head on it that stays on. It will supposedly hold 10lbs.
  11. My Gitzo goes into one of my checked bags along with clothing. I take the head off and the legs fit diagonally across the inside of the suitcase. Head stays in the same suitcase rather than carry on since it wouldn't be of much use to me with the legs anyway.
  12. I put mine in my checked bag for both international and domestic travel. My bags have been inspected a time or two (I know because they put tags on the outside of my bag), but no delays or questions resulted.
  13. In the US and Canada I've carried a tripod on board several times if I know its a larger jet (i.e. not a regional jet) without even a question from TSA or the flight crew. I normally remove any projecting handles, etc. just so they don't get caught on things. I've asked TSA people more than once if there's a problem with tripods and they've always said that tripods are quite acceptable as carry-ons. However, you should check ahead and figure out if you are on a regional jet - there's just less room to bring stuff on board and it may need to go at your feet.
    For international I remove the head, store the tripod in a larger suitcase (along with the tools to reassemble) and check it in.
  14. I fly with all my photo gear in a carry-on duffle bag. That includes a manfrotto tripod and I sometimes throw in a gorillapod as well. The bag will usually have bodies, lenses, batteries, SD cards, speed light or two, reflector (a small one of course), sometimes a portable soft box, and a mix of other misc. photo stuff. I've never had a problem with security about the tripod. And I flew probably 40 round trip flights (mostly domestic) last year out of a range of airports with a range of airlines. The keys are that it needs to be a bag that will fit size regulations (which means your tripod needs to fit), I personally prefer soft-sided (makes it easier to cram in to crowded overhead bins) and you need to be willing to carry it (b/c it is going to be a carryon). But seriously, I've never had a problem, even on a few international flights, with my tripod.
  15. As you can see you get different reports regarding what you can and cannot do in the US. I have been told by the TSA at two different airports, Houston, TX and Grand Junction, CO, that tripods and monopods are "weapons" and cannot be taken onto airplanes as carry on items or placed in carry on luggage. That rule also applies to ball heads for tripods in that they can be used as weapons. All of this gear can go into your checked baggage. I also know that other photographers have been told the opposite by TSA at different airports. I have seen expensive ballheads confiscated at the Houston airport that were in carry on camera bags.
    Tools 7 inches are less are OK as long as they cannot be used as a weapon. If pool cues and sky poles are specifically not allowed, why would monopods or tripods be allowed ? The TSA site clearly states that anything which could be used as a weapon is banned from the aircraft cabin. Look for "Traveling with Sports Equipment" at this link last updated June 13, 2013.
    Joe Smith
  16. As opposed to anecdotal information, I thought I would check with TSA. From their website, regarding tripods: and enter tripod in the search box - specifically says "you may transport this item in carry-on or checked baggage"
    Of course the weasel-wording at the bottom allows them to do what they want, but the "allowed" wording confirms my experience on about 30 flights over the past 3 years with a tripod.
  17. Hi David, thanks for posting this link. I never knew they had it. You are right about that wording. Here it is word for word: "Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns. The final decision rests with TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane."
    Even with a Yes for tripod and monopod, at this link, I would encourage all to print out that Yes answer so you can show it to a TSA agent and then pray that they let you take it on the plane. I will probably still check mine in the future.
    Joe Smith
  18. Good point Joseph - always have a plan "B", because in this case Plan A is at the whim of someone else who might just be having a bad day. As a well-known author put it, you should always know not just when, but how to get out of Dodge.
  19. I have always put my tripod head in my carry on without any problem but that has been a few years ago. I was told my tripod could be used as a weapon so I started packing it in the check on bag. That was in the days I could lock it. Now they cut the lock off. I may just buy a cheaper tripod for flying and not risk losing my Gitzo to a baggage handler.
  20. I have always (well, 10 years) have flown with a tripod attached to a Lowepro camera case and brought it as my personal item. My small suitcase is my carry on bag. I take the head off, store it under the seat in front of me, and place the legs in the overhead. The legs fit in the small area in the back of the overhead, and does not impede the carry on bags. However, smaller planes, I gate check my carry-on and bring my tripod and camera case on board with me, But that is only because the carry-on will not fit in the overhead.
    I fly out of New York area airports with no delays or questions from TSA. I have also flown out of smaller airports (Lexington, KY, Wilmington, NC) again with no questions or delays. I have only traveled in the US, so I do not know if this is the norm internationally.
    The only time someone told me I could not fly with my tripod was a customer service rep (not TSA) at LaGuardia. He came up to me, without any reason and said I cannot consider this a personal item and would have to pack differently. I asked him when this became the policy, he said this was always the policy. I advised him I have been flying like this for 10 years this was the first I was hearing about it. Like the past 10 year, TSA allowed me to pass without delays.
  21. I had always checked mine - and paid the fee for extra baggage fee - but on the last we flights the check in people
    encouraged me to just carry it on board. You have to remove the head, or TSA will think that it's a bludgeoning weapon.
    I pack the head in the suitcase with my clothes, which is always checked. Camera backpack and headless tripos (in a
    Gitzo bag) go on board with me now. Note: this might not be feasible on small "regional" planes.
  22. I agree with Dan, I ran into a local carrier (in Kona) that would not allow me to take the tripod on the plane (to other islands), yet when I was returning to SF...that was no issue. Much depends on the airline and their size restrictions. By the way, my tripod had a gear head attached to it. Yes, normally that might be seen as a "weapon". It's (usually) easier to have tripod in check-in baggage and make sure you have insurance....just in case it disappears between point A and B or C.
  23. it


    Without reading the whole thread, there are a lot of these "can I take my tripod on the place" questions. I always put mine in my check in luggage. I have never had use for a tripod while flying, so I will continue to do this.

Share This Page