It is a common theme for photographers and cameramen alike – whenever you have to travel by air, bringing along your equipment can be a tricky thing to arrange for. Most established media (TV, print press, etcetera) already know their ways with airlines. But for us independent freelancers, knowing how the procedures work is something that’s not easy to find out. For one, no airline website has any mention of a special arrangement for media.
As a professional who depends on equipment for a living, you simply cannot afford to check in your gear as regular luggage (although I do advice you to use normal suitcases rather than flight cases, as the latter only acts as an invitation to thieves and thugs). If you arrive at your destination and have no equipment, you may as well turn around – no gear, no job, it’s as simple as that. Of course, it all depends on how much you bring along. However, I always carry-on a trolley with the equipment that will enable me to shoot no matter what – even if the other luggage gets delayed, damaged or lost. For this, I use a ThinkTank Photo Airport International, which meets all the maximum specs for carry-on luggage, is sturdy like hell and safely protects the gear inside.This is a topic that is not easy to find out, although Philip Bloom has devoted a living post to it on his blog.
In June of this year, I travelled to Mallorca for the DSLR Masterclass. I flew with Transavia, a subsidiary airline from KLM Air France. I had flown to several destinations with KLM before and bringing my cameras on-board as carry on luggage was never really much of a problem. However, being a low-cost carrier, Transavia has much more strict policies in regards to carry-on luggage, although they did recently relax limits on carry-on. As I could not find anything on their website about a special arrangement for media and their call center only referred to existing policies, I ended up writing a complaint through their website.
Days before my flight, I received a phone call from Transavia indicating that they would make special arrangements for me – great news. Although they did have to check their system at the check-in counter at Schiphol Airport, the flight went without a glitch.
Today, this was followed-up by a phone call from Transavia to inform me how the procedure for media works. It comes down to the following – you can check-in your equipment with insurance at a premium or bring it as carry-on at reasonable costs (Eur 40 per extra carry-on bag, which has to fit in the compartment and not be top-heavy).
This is the procedure at Transavia: what you need to do when you booked your flight, is use their contact form on their website to request an SSR, or Special Service Request. If you only book a few days in advance, it’s best policy to call their service desk and ask for permission. Transavia uses the same policy as KLM, although I have not figured out how to make arrangements beforehand.
To be continued.