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10-07-2010, 12:27 PM   #1
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Tripods on airplanes?

I have tried searching the archives but can't seem to find a clear answer. I will fly from Phoenix to Florida and back in a couple of weeks and will not be checking baggage this time. My tripod does not have spiked feet or anything. I have searched both the airline and the TSA web sites to no avail. Question: Can I bring a tripod in my carryon? Does anyone have experience when it was problemmatic through screening?

10-07-2010, 12:52 PM   #2
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This was all I could find on the TSA site:

The only TSA page on the subject

Unfortunately as I am sure you've discovered, when you do a google search of 'tripod carry on' or 'tsa tripod' or anything else like that, all you are going to get is a bunch of back and forth forum posts like this one will turn out to be saying you will or won't be ok, that it is upto the discretion of the TSA officer etc, etc. And then you turn to the TSA site and find, well, nothing. Some agents probably won't care, and others would look at it as a billy club of sorts if they are grumpy.

I carry on my ballhead and pack my cheap tripod that I don't care if it breaks in the luggage. I think the worst thing likely to happen is they won't let it through and you'd have to check it - but I know I wouldn't want to check a tripod all by itself, don't think it would survive unscathed.

Edit: I think they might also argue it is a tool, of which hand tools greater than 7 inches are also prohibited, the prohibited list is here for others who are checking the thread:

TSA prohibited items list

Last edited by pxpaulx; 10-07-2010 at 12:58 PM.
10-07-2010, 12:54 PM   #3
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I read it somewhere (likely PopPhotography): According to TSA, you can't carry-on metal tripod. Non metal tripod (e.g. carbon fiber) is OK. The reason is that the parts of a metal tripod can be used as part of a weapon (e.g. a gun barrel). The possibility of using the tripod itself as a weapon is not mentioned.

But I think it largely depends on the checker and on the size of the tripod. If the tripod is not large, and it is accompanied by other photography equipment, you'll be OK.
10-07-2010, 01:11 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by pxpaulx Quote
Edit: I think they might also argue it is a tool, of which hand tools greater than 7 inches are also prohibited, the prohibited list is here for others who are checking the thread:

TSA prohibited items list
Thanks for the links - I had found them earlier. Tripods aren't specifically mentioned in the photographic equipment list or the tools list as disallowed items and maybe you could argue it is a tool. It is a nice carbon fiber and I REALLY DON"T WANT TO check it as a single item, for the obvious reasons. Do I hope for the best or pay the extra fee for checked luggage?

10-08-2010, 02:35 AM   #5
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In doing a fair amount of business travel, I have tried to take my stuff to some extent when possible. I try to never check anything, so I have slid my tripod in to my carry on, and have never been stopped for it. On the other hand they are VERY interested in my CPAP machine (every time - the rules), and once they asked me about my ball head - an Acratech GP - that does look somewhat strange, especially on the X-ray machine.

10-08-2010, 08:44 AM   #6
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I've travelled from Tucson thru Phoenix and on with my tripod which folds to 23" and is in a case. No spikes which I think is the key. Never had a problem.
10-08-2010, 09:31 AM   #7
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I never check luggage (light traveler), and my experiences are in no way meant to apply to all airports and screeners, but I've traveled both domestically and internationally several times with an aluminum tripod in my carry-on backpack with never a word mentioned by airport personnel.
10-08-2010, 11:19 AM   #8
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I've traveled domestically and internationally with a tripod as my second cary-on item (1st being camera bag) . it's never an issue, but soemtimes they spend a little extra time with it checking it out by hand etc...

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