Traveling by Plane With Tripod

Discussion in 'Travel' started by soren_nyquist, Jan 17, 2017.

  1. Hello, i'm flying out tomorrow to Washington DC to attend this year's Presidential Inauguration. I am planning on flying with my Manfrotto Befree Compact Travel Tripod, I am not checking any bags, everything is coming in carry ons, any tips for flying with a tripod carry on? Any help will be greatly appreciated.
  2. SCL


    I put mine in a tripod bag, as it then just looks like a longish piece of carry-on.
  3. This question has been considered before on various online sites. (Ex: Most comments encourage transporting your tripod as checked luggage. That said, the searchable TSA site says that a "tripod" is permitted as a carry-on item or in checked luggage. (Ex: I know checking luggage isn't what you planned on doing, but you might reconsider. Airport security screening could be much tighter given the fact that you're headed to the inauguration.
  4. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    You should be aware that TSA regulations say they are subject to immediate change without warning if security levels change, so David's advice is worth following.
    Testing edits.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2017
  5. In Houston where I live and some other cities, I have been told by TSA that tripods are weapons. They are usually classified as sports equipment.
    This is what the TSA says about a camera tripod in the first paragraph.
    "You may transport this item in carry-on or checked baggage. For items you wish to carry on, you should check with the airline to ensure that the item will fit in the overhead bin or underneath the seat of the airplane."
    And here is what TSA says about sports equipment: (The last paragraph also appears under the tripod answer.)
    "Sports equipment that can be used as a bludgeon (such as bats and clubs) is prohibited in the cabin of the plane and must be transported in your checked baggage.
    For sporting goods that are not prohibited, you should check with the airline to ensure that sports equipment will fit in the overhead bin or underneath the seat of the airplane.

    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."
    If you try and bring your tripod onto the plane be prepared to check it. And if that happens, that could make you go thru the TSA line all over again.
    Just so you know, tripods are not permitted to be used in DC at certain locations like near the White House. I learned this myself in DC on a trip about two years ago. I did use it at many of the memorials along the mall. But given the inuaguration, be prepared for anything.
  6. I put the head in carry-on (e.g., in a camera bag) and the legs in a checked bag. Any tripod worth using is likely to large or heavy for carry-on. In a pinch, you can buy a decent of legs in any large city, but good heads can take weeks or months to deliver.
    With excellent in-body and lens image stabilization, and useable ISO to 25,600, I seldom need or use a tripod with my Sony A7Rii. I do need one for time exposures and closeups, or do without to maintain a degree of convenience.
    A tripod is useless on a boat or other conveyance. Low frequency vibrations are transmitted to the camera unabated, not to mention rolling and pitching. In Washington DC and Chicago, you need a permit to use a tripod in public parks like the Mall or Millennium Park. Nor are they allowed in museums or historic churches, in the U.S. or abroad.
  7. I used to fly frequently with a carbon travel tripod in my roller carry on bag and TSA never looked into that bag. My shoulder bag with camera and lenses did get a second inspection a couple of times.

    TSA interpretation can vary, and with the current promise of demonstrations and protests concurrent with the inauguration, I suspect that a tripod should be flown into DC in checked luggage.

    The same caution is also applicable to using a tripod around the mall this week - it's normally permitted but the security folks will be edgy, and there will be restrictions on what can be carried near the inauguration events.
  8. I still think tripods are best carried as checked luggage. However ... here's an image just posted today of a tripod that was not only carried on but also USED IN FLIGHT aboard a passenger aircraft.
  9. stemked

    stemked Moderator

    Rather than worrying about the plane, you might want to check if you CAN use a tripod there. I went on the Capital Grounds with a cheap-o tripod when I was a teenager and almost had my lungs ripped out by the Capital police. No tripods allowed on the grounds.
  10. I think you should call your flight company just to be sure.
  11. You should know that in most Mexican airports, tripods are forbidden as carryon - this started a couple of years ago - have been forced to check mine almost every time coming back from Mexico..... and at US airports, the "weapon" clause can be invoked any time the agent feels like it..... it is easier to appeal your income taxes than a security decision!
  12. Many years ago, I traveled with a large camera to the San Francisco Bay area via the San Jose airport. I have a tripod bag that I used to transport my tripod as checked baggage (before the days when the airlines nicked and dimed you for every checked bag).

    But I recall overhearing a couple of TSA agents discussing that subject while going through security when leaving San Jose. The Bay Area has more serious photographers per square mile than just about anywhere else on the planet, so seeing serious photographic equipment would not be unusual for them. But they clearly didn't know what the rule was regarding tripods - allowed, or not allowed?

    I've read the rules, and can't find any explicit prohibition against carrying on tripods. But there are aspects of the rules that are open to debate, and I suppose that one could argue that a tripod could be used a s weapon.
  13. I have flown, within the US, with a compact tripod inside my roll-aboard luggage. Never had a problem with TSA.
  14. Even a fairly long unexpanded tripod can be put on top inside your largest bag.
    On the other hand, my very steady "iron-boy" tripod has never been accepted in carry-on -- too much like a shillelagh o_O

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