Hi Zack! Can you give an idea of how to travel with lighting gear? How do you deal with this kind of odd sized items on a flight? Thanks.
Piece of cake! I have this system down.
First, I have a Think Tank Logistics Manager bag for lighting and grip. It holds 3 heads of light (Einstein/Alien Bees), extension cords, clamps, rolls of gaff tape, speed rings, etc. It also holds two Vagabond Mini’s without the batteries. The FAA doesn’t like the batts in checked bags so they are carried on with me on the plane. It also has my tripod head. This bag weighs exactly 49 pounds. The Logistics Manager is quite possibly the coolest photo bag ever made. It’s $500 but worth every single penny. It has kept my gear safe on many, many, many a flight.
Next up is my Lightware 48” roller bag for stands and modifiers. It holds 4 60” umbrellas, Big Mama (50” softbox), 4 light stands, a monopod, cross bar, tripod legs, and misc other modifiers or small grip gear. Guess what it weighs? 49 pounds. Just under the 50 pound mark. Some airlines allow larger bags to weigh 70 pounds but sometimes skycaps don’t know that or whatever and you get grief at the airport. Keep these bags under 50 and you are fine.
I have a Flashpoint Beauty Dish Case that I usually ship to location. I stick an $79
salad bowl beauty dish in it that sometimes has cost me $100 each way on a flight to move around. You could pretty much just buy a new dish, ship it to a hotel, throw it away at the end of the shoot, and save money. Problem is, Paul Buff doesn’t make the dish I have any more. I’ll fly with it if the client is paying for it. I’ll ship it if not. Or just live without it if I can or borrow/rent one when I get to where I’m going.
About four years ago Meg convinced me to just stick with one airline. I used to fly Cheap Air so I went with whoever was cheapest. I never accrued mileage on any one airline so I never made the upgrade levels of service and all that. Once I stuck with one airline (Delta) I started to move up through the upgrade levels.
I can now fly with two or three bags for free depending on my flight and if I get upgraded. When I flew with Dan a lot (He’s moved to NYC) he had gold status and got a few bags as well so we typically flew these past few years without paying any baggage fees. Makes taking the salad bowl easier when if flies free.
One more travel tip - When putting your stuff through the xray machine put it through in this order… Tub with shoes and belt. Tub with laptop. Laptop bag. Camera bag. Your camera bag is going to stop the belt as they blast it with xrays trying to find out what’s in there. While they are staring at your camera bag, your shoes, belt, and laptop are out. You can get dressed and be ready to grab your camera bag and go once it’s out.