Yesterday morning I got up really early to catch my flight to Chicago. I had checked all of my gear and closed up my ThinkTank Airport Security V2 bag the night before. I was a little nervous about flying with so much gear, as I didn’t want to have my bag gate checked and tossed under the plane. It’s a good place for luggage, but not for camera bodies, glass, flashes, and the like. My flight out was on an Boeing MD-80 and my flight back is on a 737, both of which are good size planes and can accommodate the Airport Security bag fairly easily.
Getting Through Security
I learned something very valuable yesterday. Your packing and organization can make a HUGE difference in how quickly you can get your carry-on bag screened with all of your gear in it. There was a guy about 3 people ahead of me in line who had a gear backpack with a video rig in it. Attached to the side of his bag was a HUGE video tripod. His bag went through the x-ray machine and they stopped him.
Apparently, his bag wasn’t very organized because the TSA pulled everything out of his bag to check it out. What a royal pain. He couldn’t do anything but stand there and wait. After witnessing this, the wheels in my mind are spinning out of control thinking I’m going to go through the same thing. Fortunately for me, my gear was packed neatly and organized well in my ThinkTank bag and TSA screeners didn’t even bat an eye.
Arrive & Check In Early
One thing that I know from the Misses being a former airline employee is that the best thing I can do is get there early. I checked in for my flight the night before and got my boarding pass. American Airlines boards by Groups, and I knew if I got in Group 1 or Group 2 that I would have plenty of overhead space to store my bag. If you’re one of the last to board the plane, you’re likely going to get screwed when it comes to overhead space. Now you’re stuck with two options: 1. Try and plead to the flight attendants to put your bag with theirs or in the closet in First Class; or 2. Your bag gets gate checked and goes under the plane in the cargo hold.
If you’re going for option 1, remember to be very polite and explain that you have thousands of dollars worth of photo equipment and you would like to do your best to avoid having something get damaged. If you bring the attitude, so will the flight attendant and you’ll be stuck with option 2.
The Bottom Line
I had minimal trouble with my ThinkTank Airport Security V2 bag on it’s maiden flight and I’m really glad that my thoughtful wife and kids got me the bag as a Father’s Day gift back in June! I’m also flying with my ThinkTank Artificial Intelligence 15 V2 laptop bag, which is small and unobtrusive for my MacBook Pro. It’s a killer combo for the traveling photographer. Not to mention that ThinkTank’s stuff is built very well… it’s made to last the abuse of traveling. If you haven’t checked out their gear yet, you’re really missing out.