Is The US About to Ban Camera Gear on Carry-On Luggage for Planes?


If you’re anything like most photographers, you probably keep a pretty close eye on your camera gear when you’re travelling. Keeping it close and in your carry on luggage for flights, in many instances, is the preferred way to do that for a lot of photographers. That might all be coming to an end in the US.

Photo by The PixelMan

Following on from the US ban on electronic devices larger than a smart phone in plane cabins from 8 Muslim countries, news has recently come out that the secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, John Kelly, is considering expanding the ban to all countries and all flights into or out of the US.

For many photographers who don’t want to check their camera gear in the notoriously roughly treated an insecure check in luggage systems of most airlines, this could pose quite a problem. So too, at least one airline group has raised concerns regarding putting a lot of lithium-ion batteries in the hold of an aircraft (where presumably fire without the ability to fight it could be an increased problem).

Now, most of the rhetoric seems to have more to do with banning laptops from the cabin of such flights, but the specific language regarding any electronic device larger than a cell phone also encompasses a lot of camera gear among other things such as iPads and MS Surfaces.

The initial ban was said, by the Whitehouse, to do with intelligence that suggested terrorist were attempting to develop explosives, the size of a laptop battery, that were capable of bringing down a plane.

For photographers, it seems a lot of discussions about small cameras and Pelikan cases might be happening in the near future if this goes through. Either solution would seem the obvious way to get around the inability to take larger camera gear into carry-on luggage with you.

You can read the full transcript of the interview with Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kelly at Fox News where we would note that Secretary Kelly used enough weasel words to back out of this, so it isn’t yet a given.

Original story from Gizmodo and a heads up to our friends at Ugly Hedgehog for bringing it our attention.

About Author

Rob is the founder of Light Stalking. His love for photography started as a child with a Kodak Instamatic and pushed him into building this fantastic place all these years later, and you can get to know him better here.
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Hi flew last week on a regional flight to a major city centre to undertake a photo shoot CASA stipulates that all batteries must be self contained with no more then two together.

I travelled with two in a hand grip and a third by itself in a case and had no issues taking it on board after I spoke to the person at the desk before boarding my flight.

Like everybody else is concerned if it comes to buying a pelican case I’m just going to have to increase my insurance because no doubt thieves wherever they are will recognise these cases and take potluck at stealing one.

It’s going to be very frustrating

that is no USA holidays for me then. I have had too much gear stolen and suitcases lost to trust airlines with my camera gear. I also see too many cases thrown about , hope this doesnt extend to the UK many security issues do

What!!?? Does Kelly think that carry on is the only way to target a plane? Hmmmm, last time I checked, check in baggage flew in the belly of the plane.
TSA has never stopped an attack, Kelly is an idiot thinking that he can.
Mark my words, pretty soon the paranoia of this administration will result in the ban of all travel in and out altogether. Americans are fast becoming prisoners of their own country, and rightly so as they have some serious karma to pay. They made their bed, now they must lay in it. Besides, hitting rock bottom is good for the soul and believe me, America needs to do some soul searching.

Every time I have flown in the last fifteen years my luggage has been brutally opened, meaning lock broken, by the security team. This happened even when it was a special lock they could unlock themselves. I can’t imagine checking my camera equipment under any circumstances. Even if heavily insured, getting to your destination to find your equipment missing or damaged is not an acceptable solution. How do others deal with this?

Well then they will just then develop somethibg that will go in a smartphone.

Another way to control the world.

Why not banning passengers all together from any commercial flight, I think that’s they right way of going to get rid of all terrorist threats once in for all. At some point we should ask if there’s still intelligent life in government, it’s advisors, and contractors. We may be facing a airborne pandemic

Who the hell imagines ANYONE is going to put a smartphone worth around a thousand bucks in the luggage hold? – or camera gear worth 5, 10, 20 or more times that amount in the luggage hold?

Tourism with no cellphones and no cameras? Professional photographers can only travel inside the US by road or train, and can’t fly in or out of the country?

What became of “the land of the free”?

This is when it’s time to move to a mirrorless system. The time of the DSLR is coming to an end. This is the next big transition just like when photography moved to digital from film. In the early days of digital sensors, they where pretty mediocre so it made sense to make the sensor as big as you can but todays sensor tech and image processing has come a long way. Making DSLRs so big are a thing of the past. Moving from a Nikon APS-C camera to an Olympus MFT system has opened up my photography, allowing me to take my camera to more places easily.

When I travel overseas I carry a small camera bag to fit only my camera with a 25mm lens, spare battery and memory cards. It’s easy access and padded. For the rest of my gear its in a Padded GoPro hard case that fits in my carry-on; inside is a 45mm, 12-50mm, 45-150mm, flash, extension rings, 4 filters, cleaning kit and cable. I also carry a tiny camcorder bag to fit two lenses, cleaning kit and filters. Pretty much what I would need in a day so I can leave my gear at my accommodation and not carry everything; for flying I use the camcorder bag to carry all my charging cables and power banks instead as the rest of my gear would be in the GoPro case. The only thing I check in is my Tripod.

This is not a DSLR vs mirrorless subject. This is a potential ban on any electronic item larger than a cell phone. I’m pretty sure that covers all your equipment.

I think you are simply bragging about your equipment and have lost the plot completely with this story. Its about banning anything larger than a cell phone…

Just came back from 4thbUS trip..had a max size carry on with 2 Canon DSLRs..1 x 7D2 ..1 x 5D3..3 lenses..1 x 34/105 1:x 70/200 2.8…1 x 18/ 2 extenders 2 flashes 8 batteries all capped.n inspected 3 times. ..
Plus a laptop n tablet
.only issue was when i got back to Australia. ..they wanted to inspect every battey n lecture me on hsving them separated. 16 AA rechargeables for flashes..
Inspection guy in Sydney wanted to lecture me on the batterys….already capped n in contsiners.
Doubt id be sending them in the baggsge hold.
In Denver i was told carry.on was to go in yhe hold…i told them i had $15000 in camera gear n i wasnt going out of my sight…they relented n hostess packed it inside front door in first class.

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