"Bag and Baggage"

February 03, 2017

Originally posted Mar29, 2012

My late friend, Everett Phillips, had that slogan, along with an attractive pinup, painted on the nose of his P-38 photo recon plane, which he flew throughout the European Theater in WW II. When I searched my mind for a title for this blog entry – which is actually a product endorsement – it came immediately to mind.

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog, if indeed there are any of you out there, know that Cindy and I are traveling to Alaska this summer where we will, among other things, photograph the Alaskan Coastal Brown Bear. From the time this decision was taken, I’ve known that I have all the camera gear and more than I’ll need for that trip. What I did not know was just how I would be getting it there. Traveling with photo gear is a balancing act. You want a carryon bag or pack that will just fit in the overhead of any aircraft you are likely to fly on but not so big that they’ll try to take it away from you at the gate. That simply can’t happen. You can not turn several thousand dollars worth of camera bodies, lenses and accessories over to the tender mercies of the airline baggage handlers.

So I went looking for something that would accommodate a big telephoto, two bodies, three additional lenses, a speedlight, teleconverters, lens cleaners, filters, etc. My tripod I’ll carry in the biggest roller bag I have, which I’ll check. AND, the carryon has to fit in the overhead storage of the regional jet we’ll be taking on the first leg of the trip. I went at this project pretty deliberately and checked the dimensions and considered the features of several possibilities, measuring them against the published airline maximums.

Having gone through this process, I ultimately settled on the “Think Tank Airport Addicted” backpack, which sells for a little more than three hundred dollars. It arrived today, and I’m absolutely delighted with it. It is extremely well made, intelligently laid out, and comes with all kinds of useful information regarding such things as the slickest way to pack your gear in order to walk it efficiently through airport security and make sure it goes in the cabin with you. It has a detachable computer compartment, which does have to be detached for it to meet the international dimension requirements, but again, my notebook – which I use as a photo safe on location - is small enough and rugged enough to go in my roller bag stowed in its neoprene case and padded with clothing. There is a cable which can be used to lock the bag up, and I intend to get a TSA padlock for it, if I don’t discover one packed with the bag. I think it will be as close to perfect as perfect gets.

Of course, that still leaves the possibility of a flight attendant meeting me at the door of the junior jet and telling me the bag has to be checked. But like Toby Keith says, “We’ll burn that bridge when we get there.” I’ll courteously but firmly ask to demonstrate that it will indeed fit in the overhead, and I’ve reserved our seating on the regional jets to make certain we’re among the first to board, so there should be space available.

Of course, what I’d like to do in that situation is to have a screaming fit, but then I don’t think that either I or the Airport Addicted would get to Alaska!

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