7 Reasons NOT To Check Your Gear When Flying
It's probably the number one travel rule at Wayfinder.TV: never, ever, never – not even if the airline offers to pay you cold hard cash – never "check" your gear when you're traveling by air. That includes any and all baggage containing video cameras, still cams, laptops, battery packs, hard drives, lighting gear, and anything else that can't be easily and inexpensively replaced once you reach your final destination. The most obvious reason for this rule is to avoid the very real possibility of you ending up in Moscow and your brand new Canon HD handheld ending up in Madagascar. But if that's not enough to convince you NOT to voluntarily surrender control of your equipment over to some airline baggage clerk, we here at Wayfinder.tv have compiled this easy-to-pack-and-carry-on list of 7 other reasons you should never "check" your gear.
1. It Costs Money!!
Unless you've been living "off the grid" on a commune in Costa Rica for the past few years (which is totally cool with us), you've probably noticed most airlines are now in the business of nickle-and-diming passengers to death. In 2009, the top nine U.S. airlines reportedly raked in nearly $10 billion in "other revenues". And you can bet your bottom dollar a large chunk of those "other revenues" were raked in by charging you, the passenger, some sort of half-baked fee for the express privilege of checking your bag. And that's just the beginning: prices go up, up, and away the more bags you check, the heavier they are and depending on if you're flying out of the country or not. Crazy, huh? Welcome to the friendly skies of the 21st century, where you gotta pay to play...every step of the way. Hey, that rhymed! Anyway, at this point in the paragraph, you should be experiencing a growing feeling of disgust in your soul towards these airline industry fat cats and their outrageous fee gouging ways. Now harness that feeling and ask yourself: why on Earth would you ever want to wittingly contribute to this shameless consumer shakedown when you know all you have to do is just NOT check your bag?
2. Oh, So You Already Know A Really Good Digital Camera Repairman In Eritrea?
Because if you do–by all means–don't even bother using a backpack. Just drop that expensive and fragile new camcorder into a potato sack, and wing it over to the good folks at the check-in counter. They'll make sure nothing untoward happens, at least until they drop it onto the magical conveyer belt that takes it far, far away from the ticket counter. After that, rest easy with the knowledge some dude getting paid below minimum wage is stuffing, cramming and otherwise forcing your bag into the cargo hold of some overstuffed 747 that may or may not be headed to the same country you are. Once that's done, kick back and enjoy your flight while 2,000+ lbs. of other peoples' luggage bears down on your new camcorder for the next 16 hours. It doesn't matter, right, cuz you know a guy in Asmara who can fix it if it breaks, right? Right? But seriously, folks. Apparently, the percentages of having your baggage "mishandled" are pretty low these days. Still! Do you really want to take that chance?
3. Playing "Overhead Compartment Chicken" Can Be Fun!
You're no dummy! Ever since airlines started charging to check baggage, you've been outsmarting "the Man" by carrying your luggage onboard with you instead. Good idea, Joe Dollar! Unfortunately, everybody else and their mother have been doing the same exact thing lately. What's more, nobody ever seems to think they're the ones irresponsible enough to carry on a bag that exceeds the airlines' size limits. As a result, more and more passengers these days are being forced to face off and play the time-honored game of OVERHEAD COMPARTMENT CHICKEN. Sounds fun, right? It is! All you got to do is grab your bag, get onboard by hook or crook and jam that thing into the first available overhead compartment you can find, whether or not it's located over your actual seating assignment. Then, just sit back and wait for the sparks to fly! Maybe you'll get lucky and nobody will say anything. Or maybe your overstuffed North Face pack will get called out in front of the entire flight, just like back in grade school! You just don't know what's going to happen when you play OVERHEAD COMPARTMENT CHICKEN! Heck, sometimes you don't even get a choice whether to play or not! This goes for all passengers in boarding zone 8. And old people. Sorry. But you're slow, old people. And you certainly don't deserve to be elbowed in the face, but hate the game. Not the player.
4. You Won't Be Able To Film Compelling Footage Of Your Cool In-Flight Experiences
Oh man. There's nothing like a nice crowded 747 cabin full of haggard, grumpy people to get the creative juices flowing for a budding filmmaker! Just think of all the cool shots you can get! Perhaps a close-up of the guy sleeping next to you? Or how about a tracking shot of the backs of everybody's heads?! And don't forget about all of the candid journalism to be explored in front of the bathroom mirror. "Mile high" confessions, anyone? But seriously, how do people still get away with filming onboard a major airline while it's suspended 30,000 feet above the planet? We don't know either. There's just something about it that seems dangerous. And fun! Good thing we love both of those things! So, throw the camera in the Jansport and hop onboard. We're making a mini-movie about Mr. and Mrs. Salted Peanut before we land in Dili!
5. What? And Miss Out On Last-Minute Obsessive-Compulsive Inventorying?
Cause that's a blast! Ok, let me think, did I remember to pack my deodorant? I did? But it's not in my bag!? Oh wait, it's here in my pocket. Melting. What about my mosquito salve? I packed that, right? I didn't? Where is it? I probably put it in the little pocket on the outside of my bag, next to the big zipper. Why didn't I put it in my medicine bag? Why is the stewardess talking so loudly? Why do people still use the word "salve?" Ok, enough. Just be cool and unbuckle the "safety belt" that's magically going to keep me from taking part in the mass bonfire of molten steel and human flesh should this flight crash. Now stand up, grab my bag and find that gosh darned thing so I can hurry up and start obsessing about something else that I possibly may or may not have been packed!
6. Would It Kill You To Make The U.S. Department of Transportation Happy?
After all the hard work these good people have done on the behalf of your safety, the least you could do is hear them out before you drop off your luggage like a bag of so much unwanted fast food onto a check-in scale the first chance you get. Here. Click that link. It's the website for the Department's Aviation Consumer Protection And Enforcement, and on there, they list a passenger's "fly-rights." And on that list, Uncle Sam very specifically states, "certain items should never be put into a piece of luggage that you plan to check into the baggage compartment...[like] an expensive camera." Are you going to be traveling with "an expensive camera?" You are, aren't you? Yes, of course you are. And since that's the case, won't you also accept the U.S. Department of Transportation's advice?
7. Physical Fitness Is Key
Come on, lazy bones. Grab the bag and get on the plane. Now. Cause there's going to be a whole lot of huffing and puffing once we get on the ground, so you better just get used to "exerting" yourself. This ain't Carnival Cruise Lines, in case you didn't know. This is "we're-flying-to-the-Norwegian-archipelago-of-Svalbard-in-the-High-Arctic-to-film-God-knows-whatever-it-is-they-do-there". So, you should take advantage of the climate-controlled cabin while you still can, and get a workout in. Throw your bag over your shoulders and blast your triceps with some weighted dips in the main aisle. Or join the rest of us for squats after the in-flight meal. Whatever works best for you and your health.