As a travel photographer, you may have exciting plans or have already booked a flight. You’re confident you won’t leave your camera bag behind, but if this is your first time traveling with a camera and a gimbal, you might wonder if you can take your gimbal on the plane. Gimbals are essential for stabilizing your camera and taking steady shots, but you may need clarification about the rules and regulations surrounding traveling with your gimbal. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about traveling safely with a gimbal as a travel photographer.
Can we carry a gimbal in flight?
Gimbals are generally allowed in carry-on and checked baggage, but there may be restrictions based on size and weight. You use lithium batteries in gimbals. These simple tips can make your air travel experience smoother and more enjoyable.
1. Understand Lithium Battery Regulations
Gimbals often use high-power lithium or lithium-ion batteries, which have specific regulations for air travel. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and most airlines restrict the transportation of lithium batteries in checked baggage due to their potential to cause problems when depressurized. You should remove the gimbal’s battery before packing it in your checked luggage and carrying it in your hand baggage or camera bag.
When storing lithium batteries in your carry-on baggage, ensure they are packed securely to prevent damage. The weak spots of the battery, such as the connectors at the top and bottom, can be protected by placing them in a battery charger protective case. This will minimize the risk of potential damage to your gimbal battery during transportation.
2. Comply with Size and Weight Restrictions
Before traveling with your gimbal, check the airline’s carry-on, baggage size, and weight restrictions. Ensure your gimbal and camera gear comply with these limits to avoid any issues at the airport. Many gimbals are small and lightweight, but if you’re traveling with larger stabilizers, you may need to pack them in your checked luggage.
3. Familiarize Yourself with TSA and Airline Policies
Research the specific TSA and airline policies regarding carrying gimbals and other camera equipment in your carry-on and checked luggage. Different airlines may have varying restrictions or allowances, and the TSA may have specific rules for items like tripods and lithium batteries. Being well-informed will help avoid surprises or complications during the security checkpoint or boarding process.
|Airline||Gimbals Allowed?||Additional Information|
|American Airlines||Yes||Must fit within the carry-on size and weight restrictions.|
|Delta Air Lines||Yes||Must fit within the carry-on size and weight restrictions.|
|United Airlines||Yes||Must fit within the carry-on size and weight restrictions.|
|Southwest Airlines||Yes||Must fit within the carry-on size and weight restrictions.|
|JetBlue Airways||Yes||Must fit within the carry-on size and weight restrictions.|
|Alaska Airlines||Yes||Must fit within the carry-on size and weight restrictions.|
|Spirit Airlines||Yes||Must fit within the carry-on size and weight restrictions.|
|Frontier Airlines||Yes||Must fit within the carry-on size and weight restrictions.|
4. Invest in Durable Storage and Locks
When traveling with a gimbal, it must be protected with durable storage, such as a hardshell case or padded backpack. This is particularly important if you plan to pack your gimbal in your checked luggage, where you need more control over its handling. Many durable cases are also designed to accommodate additional photography equipment, such as your camera and lenses.
Some durable storage cases come with built-in locks, while others require separate padlocks. Airport security officers can inspect your luggage and may need to open your locks. If you’re using a lock on your checked baggage, use a TSA-approved lock that can open without damage.
5. Take Advantage of Media Rates and Luggage Allowance
Many airlines offer media rates or increased luggage allowances for photographers and videographers traveling with camera gear, allowing you to carry additional equipment at a reduced cost compared to standard luggage fees. Before booking your flight, research whether the airline offers media rates or special allowances for camera equipment. In many cases, simply showing your camera gear at check-in will qualify for these benefits.
6. Choose the Right Gimbal for Travel
If you don’t already have a gimbal or want to add a new one to your collection, consider investing in one specifically designed for travel. Travel-friendly gimbals should be lightweight, have high precision for capturing motion, and offer a strong battery life. Other factors to consider are the gimbal’s weight capacity and compatibility with your camera or phone. There are many options on the market, such as DJI’s mobile two gimbal, which cater to the needs of traveling photographers and vloggers.
7. Be Prepared for Airport Security
When going through airport security, be prepared to have your gimbal and other camera equipment inspected. Security officers may ask you to turn on your devices to prove that they’re functional, and they may need to examine your lithium batteries separately. Being prepared and cooperative can minimize delays and complications at the security checkpoint.
8. Check International Flight Regulations
If you plan to travel internationally, countries may have varying rules and regulations for traveling with gimbals, lithium batteries, and other camera equipment. Before your trip, research the specific policies for your destination and any layover countries. This will help you avoid issues when passing customs or boarding international flights.
9. Double-Check with Your Airline
Finally, before your trip, double-check with your airline regarding their policies on carrying gimbals, lithium batteries, and other camera gear. While most airlines allow these items in carry-on and checked baggage, confirming their specific rules and size restrictions is essential. The final decision on whether your gimbal is allowed on board ultimately lies with the airline and security officers. Being well-informed and prepared will help ensure a smooth travel experience.
In conclusion, traveling with a gimbal as a travel photographer is entirely doable and, with proper planning and preparation, doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. By adhering to the guidelines above, you can ensure that your gimbal, camera, and other equipment arrive safely at your destination, ready for your photography adventures. Remember to research airline and TSA policies, invest in durable storage and locks, and choose the suitable gimbal for your travel needs. With these tips, you’ll be well-equipped to capture stunning photos and videos on your journey.
Can I bring a gimbal on a flight?
Yes, gimbals are generally allowed on flights in carry-on and checked baggage. However, following specific guidelines, such as removing lithium batteries and adhering to size and weight restrictions, is essential.
How should I pack my gimbal for air travel?
When packing a gimbal for air travel, remove the lithium batteries and store them separately in a protective case within your carry-on luggage. Additionally, ensure your gimbal is placed in a durable, padded case to protect it during transit.
Are there any restrictions on lithium batteries when traveling by air?
Yes, there are restrictions on lithium batteries when flying. Most airlines require that lithium batteries be removed from devices and carried in your carry-on baggage. Additionally, there may be limits on the number of spare batteries and the watt-hour (Wh) capacity allowed on board.
Can I store my gimbal in checked luggage?
While gimbals can be stored in checked luggage, it’s essential to protect them with a durable, padded case. Lithium batteries must be removed and placed in your carry-on luggage, as they are not allowed in checked baggage.
When traveling, do the airline or security officers know about my gimbal?
While you don’ when traveling need to specifically inform the airline or security officers about your gimbal and be prepared for potential inspection at the security checkpoint. Officers may ask you to turn on your devices or examine your lithium batteries separately.
Are there any special luggage allowances for camera equipment like gimbals?
Some airlines offer media rates or special allowances for camera equipment, saving you money on luggage fees. Research your airline’s policies before booking, and don’t hesitate to show your camera gear at check-in to qualify for these benefits.