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12-11-2009, 03:50 PM   #1
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Airline Weight Check for Camera Gear

The last time I flew to Europe from the US I was asked get my carry-on bag weight checked by an airline employee standing near the end of the line at the check-in counter. We were flying Virgin and I had noted that they have a limit of 13 lbs for your carry-on bag. I knew I was over that, so I didn't say anything when I got to the counter and the person checking me in didn't ask.

Naturally, I always carry my camera gear on board with me. Have any of you ever had to get your camera gear weighed and had it rejected because it exceeded the carry-on weight limit? If so, did you have to check the equipment? Pay a fee?


12-11-2009, 04:31 PM   #2
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Wow 13lbs is pretty light - a lot of carriers have a 30-40lb limit for carry ons sure that was not kilos?

I took a charter once to Mexico and they had a 9 kilo limit for carry on. My camera bag was about 14 - Initially they wanted me to check it but when I opened it up and showed them it was all camera gear they gave me a dirty look and said ok. The main thing is it has to fit in the overhead.

I suppose they could have forced me to check it , I would never check into general luggage I woul take some stufff out and rent a locker at the airport - however that only works if you get dinged at home base. If you are in a transferr airport it could get tricky.

Not much of answer other than if they call you on it ,be nice , plea with them that it is sensitive and expensive electronics and it fits in the ovehead - hope you don't get the agent that decided to quit smoking that day
12-11-2009, 05:44 PM   #3
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the thing is, they have 2 limits, total carry on and per bag.

I have been hastled a little twice now over my backpack, which contains at least 10 lbs of note book, spare battery etc, even before I put anything else into it.
12-12-2009, 07:34 AM   #4
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You are allowed two bags plus a personal item. If your camera bag is too heavy, pull the camera with the heaviest lens out while the bag gets weighed. If possible have the laptop in a sleeve and pull that out as the second bag.

Thank you

12-14-2009, 06:38 PM   #5
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G'day Bob,
As one who travels a bit and is always pushing the carry on weight boundary I can pass on a few experiences.

Only once was I "forced" to check in my camera back pack. This was on a flight from Pr Rupert to Vancouver (the Queen of the North had sunk, which we were booked on ). The aircraft was a Fokker and as we walked out to it everyone was directed to put anyhting bigger than a laptop or hand bag on a trolley to go in the hold. No exceptions, no argument.

A couple of times check in staff had noted the straining straps on the back pack and said they assumed it was camera gear, they assumed it was heavy and get the hell outta here before I weigh it.....Yes Ma'am!!

I now try & work within the boundaries set by the airline, travelling with my wife helps because her carry on is always under weight, so I would have a bit of an 'averaging' argument there....maybe ( need for my wife to know this either ). One thing that has helped me for international travel is buying a back pack with a very low tare or nett weight. For example, my standard old faithful back pack (Delsey Pro) weighs in at a touch under 4 kg empty!! Its a great bag, but when the max carry on limit is 7kg it makes it hard. I have found another bag (Delsey Go Pix) that weighs in at a touch over that makes a big difference .

12-15-2009, 09:55 AM   #6
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My experience is that the limit is 7kg nowadays for one item; there is also a size limit. Airlines seem to be more concerned about the weight per item than the total weight of what you carry. Reason is that the overhead compartments are rated for a certain weight.

We once had to repack about 17kg (for 2 people) of hand luggage that was in 2 packpacks. After moving about 2kg or so into a plastic bag, we could continue.

If I remember correctly Air France has details on its website, so check the airline's website if in doubt.
12-24-2009, 02:58 PM   #7
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Aerolinieas in Argentina has a 5 KG carry on limit, but there rarely weigh unless in obviously too big and heavy. I had a 30L daypack with my camera gear at about 7 Kg and had no problem. I did see the argent questioning camera bags in Ushuaia with lots of folks with large camera bags coming back from Antarctica.
12-24-2009, 05:48 PM   #8
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Great to find this thread before flying out of country tomorrow.
I wanted to carry on a K20D plus grip, 3 FA limited lenses, a AF 540 flash, and a Manfrotto 709B tripod. Checking them in (for beat up by TSA people behind the scene) is the last thing I would like to do...

12-25-2009, 10:14 AM   #9
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I'd like to call myself a regular traveler, rather than a frequent flyer. I visit 2 or 3 countries per year and rarely visit the same place twice although some airports I passed through over 30 times, so I've had a broad range of experiences. As one can see from the other posts, experience varies greatly between individuals. It may be randomness or just the way things are packed.

- I always stay within the limit of one carry on plus one personal item.

- The personal item is the camera bag which currently is a Lowepro Nova 5. This is the largest camera bag that fits within 36 linear inches (width+height+length) which is the most common size-limit for personal items. It weighs 28 lbs when full but no one ever noticed. Size is easier to notice than weight, I guess.

- The carry on item is a backpack. Either it is a small one which is a detachable section of a large backpack or a larger one with laptop compartment for business travel. The large backpack is a Lowepro CompuRover. Regardless of which pack I carry, it always holds the spare camera, charger(s) and gorillapod. If I do not travel with a laptop, then the pack also contains the Addonics MFR to burn DVDs myself while on the road.

- The tripod is always in checked luggage, although one of my friends packs the ballhead in his carry-on and the legs in the checked luggage.

With this setup:
- I was never asked to check the weight of any of these items.
- I was never asked to check them in.
- The checked suitcase with the tripod always gets opened by TSA security.

Personally, I do find this setup bulky but I always act as if it was not. I think the smaller backpack even rarely gets noticed.

- Itai
12-27-2009, 11:16 AM   #10
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I have never been rejected; but, I make an extra effort to get down to brass tacks about what they expect. I have found that size and weight limits can vary dramatically. Often, it will be based on the type of airplane used.

It can get down to what airframe is used by what airline on what flight that's traveling how far.

I have seen as many as a dozen different sets of luggage requirements, based on those factors, for a single airline. I use my flight number when planning what can go on the aircraft. It's one of the easier ways to figure out what kind of plane they are going to use; and then what kind of restrictions match that plane.

International flights, because of the distance and hassle, seem to have the tightest limits. There are allowances, but I've never seen everyone weighed as they boarded a commercial flight. If they were very serious, everyone and everything that gets on the plane would hit the scales. This just doesn't happen for routine travel.

Every so often, I'll see an ad that says something like, "Complies with airline carry on standards," or something like that. Limited truth to be observed there, I think.

I haven't seen any kind of overall, good standard. I recommend looking carefully at your particular airline's web page about luggage. If you need to call someone and talk to them, it is almost always easier to call a person at a ticket counter at a specific airport, rather than try some kind of national or international customer service phone number.

Last edited by JPO; 12-27-2009 at 12:01 PM.
01-06-2010, 07:57 AM   #11
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I have been caught out a couple of times with weighing my carry-on camera bag. Local airport uses SAAB Turboprop small aircraft, so I can see their justification. However, I have caught out for the same breaching 7.5kg limit on larger domestic wide-body flights, including an incident where the check-in clerk wanted to dictate to me what lens to take out and pack into my main luggage unprotected.

Nine times out of ten, I am not queried and all is fine, but I find myself getting anxious about what to take onboard. Even going to the lengths of placing several lenses or known heavy items in a jacket I own that has almost infinite pockets but never looks weighed down. Leaving my bag half empty to get under the limit. Plenty of time once airside of the check-in counter to re-pack camera bag.

P.S. After travelling through many parts of Asia and what is classified as 5 KG of carry-on is rediculous. Especially in China where full sized suitcases are the norm, because travellers there are too impatient to wait by a baggage carousel.

P.S.S Why is there a strict set weight limit at the check in counter, but once through the security checks, I am confronted by a myriad of shops selling countless kilos of clothing, electronics and other items that I can take onboard the aircraft with me. Only to find when I board my plane, all the overhead locker space has been taken up with boxes and boxes of Krispey Kreme Donuts. Personal gripe, but travellers out of Sydney Domestic will understand.

Last edited by Livewireshock; 01-06-2010 at 08:03 AM.
01-06-2010, 09:35 AM   #12
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Most European Airlines use the following limits:

Economy class: 1 piece 55x35x25 cm, max 12kg (26lbs)
Business class: 1 piece 55x35x25 cm, max 18kg (40lbs) + 1 much smaller bag

Mostly you are all right if you have only one bag to carry on board and do not pass the check in counter (e-tickets), or when in transit.
However, when checking in on the airport, there is a serious chance that they will not tolerate your larger / heavier bags. It is up to you how to lower the size / weight. Also, over sized bags and over weigthed bags will only be taken on with extra payments.

Small airplanes (Fokker 50/70, Embrear 190, etc) cannot take bags into the cabin. They will go down below, this is done just before boarding the aircraft by the plane, as they do with strollers.

Flying in more remote areas (Africa, Asia) you may encounter situations where the total maximum weight is 20kg, or even 15kg for all bags.

The tric is the handhold at least 1 camera and a big lens....
01-06-2010, 01:23 PM   #13
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I do not know ANY Europan airline that would allow more than 8 kgs of carry-on luggage in the Economy class and that has to be packed into one bag. (Lufthansa, Air France, Swiss, Spanair, all of the typical holiday lines adhere to this 8 kgs limit, some allow only 7 kgs.)

Nevertheless I was lucky so far, that my carry-on never was put onto scales. The recipe for success is a British one: stiff upper lip - even if the weight of your gear is nearly bringing you down on your knees.

I have been travelling from Frankfurt via Londo to China, through several Chinese airports and then back from Hong Kong to London and Frankfurt with a Tamrac Cyperpack8, which just fits the allowed dimensions, but weighted in at 17 kgs. I always just held it below the counter or had it lazyly swung over one shoulder when near the counter... Worked. Years ago I had crammed 25 kgs of Leica equipment in my carry-on from Amsterdam to Iceland. The girl at the security nearly fell over the counter, when she wanted to lift it - but I got through.

It is all important to avoid suspiciously bulky bags. The moment they start questioning the size, the weight will be next...

01-06-2010, 04:07 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
I do not know ANY Europan airline that would allow more than 8 kgs of carry-on luggage in the Economy class and that has to be packed into one bag. (Lufthansa, Air France, Swiss, Spanair, all of the typical holiday lines adhere to this 8 kgs limit, some allow only 7 kgs.)

So it differs. Have a look, 12kg / 18kg:
Home>Information and services>Practical information>Baggage>Hand baggage

Uw handbagage - KLM

And 8kg for:
Lufthansa - Carry-on baggage

No weigth indication:
British Airways - Hand baggage
01-06-2010, 04:33 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by bymy141 Quote
Next time I travel with lots of equipment I choose KLM, then... British Airways stewaredesses already went mad, when I entered a Boeing with my Billingham 550. I had to store it on an empty seat and strap it down with the seat belt...


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