Jump to content


Photo

Tips, Tricks, Traps of flying with Camera Package


  • Please log in to reply
5 replies to this topic

#1 Michael Morlan

Michael Morlan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 212 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Austin, Texas

Posted 31 August 2008 - 06:06 PM

Hi all,

I'm shooting a feature in Puerto Rico and my 1st ac and I will be handling the camera package on the flight from stateside. While I have Fedexed camera packages and other gear, I've not flown with one before. I will have several flight cases with my RED One, lenses, sticks, personal kit, collapsible camera cart, etc.

Some questions:

Do I check multiple flight cases like normal luggage or go to another location to handle this cargo?

How far in advance of the flight do you typically arrive?

How can I streamline my experience?

Thanks, in advance, for any advice.

Michael
  • 0

#2 Robert Starling SOC

Robert Starling SOC
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 101 posts
  • Steadicam Operator
  • Los Angeles and Las Vegas

Posted 31 August 2008 - 07:09 PM

Obviously add more time. You can request a "Media Rate" for baggage from most airlines and you should call to have your flight record marked in advance. Be prepared to show proof you are a legitimate business with business card, contract, script whatever you have. These days the media rate is usually just a bump allowance in weight but every airline is different and not all gate agents know what a media rate is or means. You don't have to be with a news agency. Call the airline until you get a human and ask them to give you their specific page locator and code where you can tell the counter agent to find their media policy. Yes, you'll check your bags at the normal ticket counter. It used to be you could check-in with a skycap and tip them out to avoid excess baggage charges but that doesn't work anymore so no need to "over-tip" thinking you'll get a deal.

Airlines are desperate to turn a profit these days and their baggage charges now compound; meaning you not just pay one excess bag charge, you'll pay progressively higher for extra weight, over-sized and extra bags. Bring your Visa, MasterCard and AMEX and be prepared. The cheaper your ticket is discounted the more you pay for baggage. I started flying First Class years ago because it gave me extra free baggage allowances and by the time I paid for bags it was not that much more than coach.

Another new thing to know are the limits on grams of Lithium Ion in the batteries you are carrying. There are limits and restrictions as to what you can carry AND what you can check; not all batteries for cameras qualify to fly. Read about this online.

You'll also want / need to have a Customs Declaration Form CBP 4457 for all your equipment. It's a small form where you list each piece of gear, especially high value items and then you take the form AND the gear in-person to US Customs BEFORE you leave the country so they can see the gear and stamp the form. This is to allow you back into the US with your gear showing you owned it before you left. I think that form is CBP 4457 still. There is not much room to write in your gear but you can use multiple forms. Last year when I took the forms into Miami Customs before my trip the agent told me I could not use the downloaded form off their web site and had to fill out "official" forms which was a pain on the spot and time consuming. Over the years I've simplified it by not itemizing every single item and just using "lighting kit and accessories", "camera accessories" for lots of misc items. All they want to do is be able to prove you left the country with it and are returning with it but not returning with something new you bought.

TSA locks are helpful but buy the heavy duty TSA locks from Pelican / FilmTools; the consumer grade TSA locks just get sheared off when a heavy case hits them and the hasp is not secured on each side. I also use fluorescent colored nylon zip ties on each lock / handle / hasp and then tape it all down with 2" colored gaff tape. Add business cards and local destination contact info inside the cases since most luggage agents complain that once the outer ID tags get torn off, few people put contact info inside their luggage.

Lastly, check that your insurance covers your kit in the destination you are traveling to. Theft can happen at any airport but I've personally had a bag roll off the conveyor in San Juan with the zipper wide open and my iPod missing; stupid me for checking an iPod but I know it happened in baggage handling between the plane and the conveyor since I saw the bag come off the plane and it was zipped closed.

Enjoy your trip!
  • 0

#3 Michael Morlan

Michael Morlan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 212 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Austin, Texas

Posted 01 September 2008 - 08:03 PM

Robert,

Thank you for that excellent and thorough reply. It was great to read all that in one place.

This is a production in Puerto Rico, a territory of the U.S., so I'll check with customs about what import/export documentation I might need. Certainly, the forms you note are necessary for travel elsewhere.

Michael
  • 0

#4 Robert Starling SOC

Robert Starling SOC
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 101 posts
  • Steadicam Operator
  • Los Angeles and Las Vegas

Posted 02 September 2008 - 12:52 AM

Glad to be of help; I do a lot of work in the Caribbean and Mexico so I know the drill pretty well.

The flights in and out of San Juan are considered International and you'll have to clear Customs in either Miami, DFW, Houston or wherever your port of entry will be. San Juan is the connecting hub for all the Caribbean or at least most of it, thus you'll have to clear when you hit official US soil with everyone else.

Good luck with your shoot!
  • 0

#5 Dino Giammattei

Dino Giammattei
  • Sustaining Members
  • 63 posts
  • Other
  • A mile west of the crossroads and the old circus grounds

Posted 03 September 2008 - 04:44 PM

Is it too late to take a boat?
Just kidding.
Having spent the last 25 years hauling ridiculous amounts of TV gear on commercial airlines, I can tell you that it?s gotten to the point where I just freaking hate to do it. This new battery thing is such an unnecessary inconvenience, READ pain in the ass
I assume that because the battery rule is so new, the agents are still getting used to it. On my last flight from San Antonio back to Virginia, I was sternly but gently taken aside to have my carry-on inspected. I got the distinct feeling that seeing the two dionics on the xray scared the bejeesus out of them. They certainly didn?t appear to know anything about any darn rule. I tried my best to tell somebody before, during, and after the scan that they were in there, but it got kinda tense for about five minutes .
Hopefully, the TSA robots have been properly reprogrammed by now.
All kidding aside, I?m always real nice to those guys. Doing a damn near impossible job definitely gets my respect. You should however immediately check out the official regulations about the way the battery must be packaged. If it doesn?t meet the requirements there?s a possibility it could be confiscated.

dino
  • 0

#6 Michael Morlan

Michael Morlan
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 212 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Austin, Texas

Posted 03 September 2008 - 08:23 PM

Yep, batteries and the TSA were discussed ad nauseam on the reduser site. I think I got a handle on that issue.

Thanks for the insight.

Michael
  • 0


The Slider

CineTape

Rig Wheels Passport

Wooden Camera

Paralinx LLC

Aerial Filmworks

Broadcast Solutions Inc

FJS International, LLC

Willys Widgets

CineLab

Opal

Metropolis Post

Visual Products

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Technodolly

Ritter Battery

Glidecam

rebotnix Technologies

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Tai Audio

Abel Cine

Opal

CineLab

Technodolly

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Rig Wheels Passport

CineTape

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

rebotnix Technologies

Metropolis Post

FJS International, LLC

Visual Products

Wooden Camera

Abel Cine

Willys Widgets

Ritter Battery

Tai Audio

The Slider

Glidecam

Paralinx LLC