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Author Topic: Guidance re: Europe cruise  (Read 2748 times)

CTJohn

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Guidance re: Europe cruise
« on: April 19, 2012, 08:15:41 AM »
Hi, I'm heading to Europe for a cruise of the Mediterranean in late June.  I've never traveled to Europe with camera gear, and am looking for some advice.  I have a camera/laptop backpack, and will be carrying a 7D, 3 L lenses (longest is 70-300), a Speedlite, plus filters, backup batteries/cards, etc.  I'll put my tripod in my checked in suitcase.  I'll be flying Swiss to Europe, and Lufthansa back.  A couple questions...do I need to worry about the size of my backpack for carry on? (it's been fine on U.S. air travel)  Do I need to carry copies of receipts for my gear to avoid any potential duty issues?  We'll be on shore excursions every stop.  Does anyone have experience that would advise for or against carrying a tripod on that sort of excursion?  Thanks in advance.
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Guidance re: Europe cruise
« on: April 19, 2012, 08:15:41 AM »

BillyBean

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Re: Guidance re: Europe cruise
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2012, 01:47:27 PM »
European carry-on rules are slightly smaller typically than what US airlines allow, so check the fine print on the airline websites. Also, US airlines tend to be  by item, not weight - two bags or whatever. In Europe, the weight is much more closely monitored typically - even for carry on. It depends on the airline how closely these are policed,  but the last thing you want is to be forced to put L lenses into the hold... My experience with Swiss and Lufthansa is that they are fairly relaxed about carry on. I generally have a small Kata camera backpack, and a smaller Kata bag, all of which stack together onto a system trolley which is just about within carry on limits, at least size wise. Then when I get on board, I put the camera bag in the overhead rack, and the smaller bag into my lap with magazines, ipods, etc. And if someone gets difficult, you can split the combo into three - foldable trolley (into the hold worst case scenario), camera bag on your back, and small bag.

You shouldn't need to carry receipts, though if it worries you, perhaps you should. With (presumably) a US passport, the serial numbers would in any case trace to US purchase, so even if push comes to shove you should be OK. I've travelled very widely (I work in technical sales) and I've NEVER been stopped in regard to equipment, either in the USA, Europe or indeed anywhere else, but there are no guarantees. Customs are looking for dodgy drug dealers and cigarette smugglers,  not honest tourists with cameras, as a rule. They are looking for things which are 'out of whack' - someone with no camera body but lots of lenses, for example. Bear in mind that no one (apart from US immigration it seems) are trying to turn away honest tourists.

Tripods - no use if it isn't with you, so pick something light and portable. The Gitzo traveller range are superb, if expensive.

One important point: NO FLUIDS in Europe in carry on. So don't pack bottles of water, and anything you buy in the airport will probably have to be abandoned at some point. Switzerland is not in Europe (well, the EU), so the rules are a bit different, for example on customs restrictions and allowances.

Have a great time, and don't tip what you usually do - Europe is half of what USA tips, as a rule. (10% not 20%) - even less in Switzerland.

Enjoy.

BillyBean

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Re: Guidance re: Europe cruise
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2012, 01:51:23 PM »
About US immigration: they are actually very nice these days...  ;)

t.linn

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Re: Guidance re: Europe cruise
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2012, 01:57:56 PM »
If memory serves, Think Tank Photo has a white paper on this topic up on their website—or at least they did.

7enderbender

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Re: Guidance re: Europe cruise
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2012, 02:50:46 PM »
Hi, I'm heading to Europe for a cruise of the Mediterranean in late June.  I've never traveled to Europe with camera gear, and am looking for some advice.  I have a camera/laptop backpack, and will be carrying a 7D, 3 L lenses (longest is 70-300), a Speedlite, plus filters, backup batteries/cards, etc.  I'll put my tripod in my checked in suitcase.  I'll be flying Swiss to Europe, and Lufthansa back.  A couple questions...do I need to worry about the size of my backpack for carry on? (it's been fine on U.S. air travel)  Do I need to carry copies of receipts for my gear to avoid any potential duty issues?  We'll be on shore excursions every stop.  Does anyone have experience that would advise for or against carrying a tripod on that sort of excursion?  Thanks in advance.

I used to fly quite a bit back and forth over the Atlantic but lately not so much. However, I just went through the exercise of of booking a flight to Germany for July. Not only are fares as expensive as never before but carry-on restrictions on the European airlines have become tighter and tighter.

That's why I made it a point to pick a US carrier which at least looks better for the long-haul part of my trip. I don't want to scare you - and some of the good people here actually reported that some of the restrictions, especially weight, isn't necessarily enforced. But you should check with SWISS and LH to see what their current size and weight limits are for carry-on. From what I remember it was in the 6kg neighborhood - which is the weight of my Pelican case...empty. Then again, you may still be within that limit, it may not be enforced - and some European airlines seemed to have moved away from this again. I think it was Icelandair where I noticed that weight allowance went up again starting this summer. BA and AF is also a little loser it seems.

I booked with Delta via France so I hope I'll be ok to bring my Pelican 1514 on board with a body, a few lenses and flashes plus a carry on laptop bag. If they make me check it at least the stuff is in a plastic container with two TSA locks on.

But check with the airlines and also see if any of the flights are code share with anyone else. Bon voyage.
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7enderbender

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Re: Guidance re: Europe cruise
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2012, 02:52:38 PM »
Oh and one more - do not pack any of your batteries in your checked baggage! It appears that's not allowed any longer.
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pp77

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Re: Guidance re: Europe cruise
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2012, 05:16:30 PM »
Swiss belongs to Lufthansa, both are rather indulgent concerning the weight of the on-board language, as long as it does not look really over-sized they usually do not check the weight.
Be aware that this is totally different with the european low-cost airlines like Ryanair, they are very strict and try to make extra money whenever they can.

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Re: Guidance re: Europe cruise
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2012, 05:16:30 PM »

AJ

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Re: Guidance re: Europe cruise
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2012, 05:34:31 PM »
You should be fine with a 7D and three lenses.  That's what I commonly travel with, and I haven't had a problem.  I have crossed the Atlantic about half a dozen times in the past few years. 

I usually have some books in my carry-on as well.  They add to the weight, and my backup plan was to dump the books in case of a weight issue.  But I've never had a problem.  Recently I had a netbook in there too (Canada-US flight) and again, not an issue.  I suspect the times you will run into issues is on very small planes, not the big jumbo jets.

As for the tripod - are you sure you want to bother with it?  What about a gorillapod?  You can attach it to railings and things like that.

CHL

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Re: Guidance re: Europe cruise
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2012, 05:47:18 PM »
Lufthansa rule:"A piece of hand luggage may not be larger than 55 cm x 40 cm x 23 cm and may not weigh more than 8 kg."

If you get into trouble weight wise with your carry on take the camera with the heaviest lens on your shoulder. A camera is not hand luggage! When I need to travel with a lot of equipment and my bag is about ten kg I put the 70-200/2.8 on one camera body and carry it on my shoulder and no one has ever complained to me.
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Drizzt321

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Re: Guidance re: Europe cruise
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2012, 06:27:59 PM »
My father has also gone into one of those duty free shops that seem to be in all the major airports (at least here in the US) and used that as a way to get a bit more onto the place as a carry on, at least if what you have is more bulk (such as a largish lens or what not). Never tried it, but he says it works.  :o
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briansquibb

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Re: Guidance re: Europe cruise
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2012, 07:40:37 PM »
Wear a poachers coat and fill the pockets - there is no restriction on your weight :)

AmbientLight

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Re: Guidance re: Europe cruise
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2012, 07:58:04 PM »
I have been a frequent flyer with Swiss for many years, typically carrying a small-looking backpack with up to two camera bodies and usually three to four L lenses plus teleconverter plus my laptop, so I have been around quite a lot flying Lufthansa and Swiss, usually carrying around 12 kg of hand luggage.

Some of the previously made suggestions are really good. What is important is to be aware of the current limitations, because nowadays ground staff handling check-in and boarding at European airports are much more likely to thoroughly check size and weight of hand luggage than in previous years.

This is a result of those rather largish trolley bags having become a common sight. Since most such bags will only barely fit into the overhead racks, these bags are frequently sorted out and put in the hold. Be aware that those nice ThinkTank bags looking exactly like standard trolley bags may become prime candidates for ending up in the hold.

In case you carry a backpack you are pretty safe from this, because ground staff usually assume that your backpack is reasonably light. Of course it helps if it looks light on you. If you show in the way you move that your backpack weighs a lot, they are much more likely to check its weight. It is also important to remember that in case your hand luggage is overweight, you can remove your camera plus your largest lens and also your laptop or ipad, which then do not count against the weight limit, because one such item per person is allowed. This will work even with a 70-200/2.8 or similar white lens. I had to remove my laptop and my camera like that several times, but then you should be sure to stay below 8 kg with the rest of your kit. I second the suggestion not to bring a regular tripod, but bringing a Gorilla pod.

Because of the currently more thorough checks I have stopped carrying a second camera body, bringing a spare battery instead and I tend to minimize the number of lenses I carry, aiming for a target weight of 6 kg, before adding my laptop and my camera back plus largest lens.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 08:01:52 PM by AmbientLight »

BillyBean

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Re: Guidance re: Europe cruise
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2012, 04:25:59 AM »
...
In case you carry a backpack you are pretty safe from this, because ground staff usually assume that your backpack is reasonably light. Of course it helps if it looks light on you.

Some really good advice in this post, which I agree with. Couple of additional thoughts: if you get a backpack which can fit onto a foldable trolley, as I do (Kata do one, maybe others) you can put the thing casually onto your back for check in, and then put it back onto the trolley frame later. This works wonders... Looks small, is actually big and heavy ... The secret is flexibility, and several bags. Avoid the giant Peli case at all costs, unless you are willing to check into the hold and pay excess luggage costs, and risk losing it (almost a certainty at Paris CDG... lost my luggage TWICE there). Remember also that baggage handlers take great delight in smashing so-called indestructible cases - I swear they drove an aircraft over my Samsonite one time... split it in two.

Secondly, I've found Lufthansa pretty relaxed as a rule, but I agree with the comments about large trolleys. These may just get labelled for 'at the gate' into the hold, which you get back at the gate on arrival (not at baggage collection). Probably not going to happen on long haul, but on the smaller feeder aircraft, this is very likely. So avoid the big trolleys! At the gate handling is perhaps better than getting the full 'drive the truck over it' baggage handling experience, but not by much! Be aware that in Europe, jetways/air bridges are not so common as in the USA, so remember that you may have to carry the thing down the aircraft steps at some point, especially on smaller feeder aircraft. If you are older or infirm, this may be an issue.

Remember that if you are changing planes somewhere, they are not going to check luggage size or weight in the layover airport.

One final trick: arrive at the gate early, and stand near the gate, so that you are at the front of the boarding queue. Even travelling economy (coach) this means you will have plenty of room in the overheads for your kit (ok some other poor guy will have no room for his coat, but that's life...) Otherwise, you could find some friendly lady taking your $10,000 kit out of sight up the aircraft, to sit above the organised crime boss in seat 2A... (at least, that's how it feels at the time...)

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Re: Guidance re: Europe cruise
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2012, 04:25:59 AM »