You get to tell me.

So Canada has gone even crazier than the USA in cowardly kowtowing to the terrorist morons.

A clear terrorist suspect tries to blow up a plane with his underwear, and in response our Canadian masters decide the same day that we cannot bring hand luggage on airplanes, must not use our iPods, cannot read books, and may not use the washroom. Ludicrous. Rex Murphy calls it exactly right, here.

But worse. This is real, folks. Much as I resent the decrease in my liberties for no other reason than our moronic and kneejerk-oriented masters’ cowardice, I also have very real practical problems with this. Which is why I am asking for your advice.

I am planning another US trip in late February. Meaning I fly to the West Coast and teach pros and emerging pros how to use flash properly. So this means I need to bring my standard camera bag. This contains a Canon 1Ds MkIII, a 7D, a 70-200 f/1.8, a 16-35 f/2.8, a 24-70 f/2.8, a 35mm f/1.4, a 50mm f/1.4, four speedlights, pocketwizards, and more. Total value around $25,000. I guess I could cut it down to $20,000 if I really tried.

So at Christmas, some idiot religious kid tries to blow up his underwear, and we react by making it illegal for me to bring the above into the cabin. So now I need to check this.

Right. Meaning a very good chance it will not arrive, or will not arrive in one piece. And I mean 50-50. Luggage gets scanned and there are no video cameras down below where the unionised workers open it. Who knows. And we have all seen how luggage is thrown around.

So what do I do? Go, and run a 50-50 chance of losing $25,000 (and getting $100 back from the airline)? Or just cancel my US appearances forthwith and change my market from 300 million North Americans to 33m Canadians? Or drive, and increase my prices eightfold to cover the 8 day drive?

Well, I see no solution. I think professional photographers can no longer travel. It seems to me that we have given Al Qaeda yet another significant and easy victory, totally unnecessarily. This is not Al Qaeda’s fault: it is ours. Our “leaders'” fault.

The odd thing is that I have seen virtually no-one agree with the idiocy. And yet it thunders along, destroying our way of life, bit by bit.

0 thoughts on “You get to tell me.

  1. Just wondering: do the same rules apply for flying domestic. I assume so but I am not sure. If not, it’s time to drive to Buffalo.

    • It appears that in the US, the rules are less clear, meaning it may or may not be allowed. Apparently, telling people what is allowed creates more terrorist danger.

      Of course leaving it to chance is not really an option. Otherwise, yes, Buffalo would be the way to go.

  2. How about getting a “pass” by presenting your case directly to the airlines and explaining how you need to carry your camera with you? I never place my camera and my laptop inside my luggage.

    If you cant get a pass (I think you’re allowed a small backpack?), you can carry your lenses inside the backpack and have your cameras on you. Quite awkward and annoying walking around like that on a plane and around the airport. And maybe if they don’t like the idea of having cameras on you, have the batteries taken off and put them inside your luggage. That should convince them you can’t do anything with the camera. If they do, I think those people have seen too many movies where people assemble weapons from stuff you wouldn’t think of…

    I agree totally with you on this Michael, this situation is ridiculous. I’m pretty sure (or I hope) the airlines freaked out for a second and things are gonna change soon.

    btw… just asking.. do u keep the bag containing the camera and the lenses beside you/underneath you on the plane or do you place them on top where the handbag goes?

    • Alas, it is CATSA, i.e. the government, more than the airlines. And a bag plus cameras is definitely not allowed. Seems pretty much until this silly hysteria is over, I am grounded. Again, we are giving the Al Qaeda idiots exactly what they want…

  3. Well I think this is wrong. I think our leaders do not know what to do; they have to show us that they are doing something; this is what they come up with. I do not fly too much, haven’t in a few years. When I did I just walked on to the plane. I know this idea is off the wall: Could a space be rented on the plane where live stock is kept, I am sure they have to be kept in cages and the area is clean, I hope the airline wouldn’t treat pets as they do people luggage. I think you’re right; photographers will not be able to travel.

  4. CATSA says, here:

    “U.S.A. bound passengers are permitted zero carry-on bags effective immediately and lasting for several days. Passengers travelling within Canada are still permitted two carry-on bags (although to make the screening process most efficient, fewer carry-on items is preferred).
    These rules will be strictly enforced during this period. There will be no flexibility.”

    A downloadable PDF on the page above, dated yesterday (incidentally just after I wrote to senior CATSA people asking for clarification) gives some hope that professional camera gear “in purpose designed carrying cases” will be allowed. But not in bags that are not purpose-designed camera bags. There is a funny picture of two PC bags: one allowed, one not allowed, where the difference is hard to see, other than the wheels on the not allowed bag, and it’s bigger. Oh joy, this will be fun at airports: I can see it now.

    • Funny thing about the two PC bags. The allowed one looks like the one I carry. The disallowed one looks like the one my boss carries. There is justice after all!

      Just kidding.

  5. One solution is to pack unbreakable and less pricey equipment. Then rent cameras and lenses from a photographic house at your destination.
    I know this is not satisfactory but will mitigate the impact of foolish decisions taken by those in control.

  6. I could be wrong, but given the looser domestic requirements particularly, everything I’ve read has suggested this was forced on catsa by the American authorities. Doesn’t make it much better, but still. Renting would definitely be one option. American rental companies have much better reps than Canadian ones and very good customer service generally.

    Don’t know exactly how much stuff you’ve got, but a photo vest is another possibilty. Cameras and equipment worn on your person have never counted for carryon requirements (size or weight). So if you wore both cameras with lenses attached, flashes and other lenses I. The pockets and checked anything less fragile like tripods, you ought to be ok. Pain in the ass but better than no trip at all.

  7. Craig,

    Canada’s restrictions are much worse now than the US internal restrictions or than anyone else’s, so to me it looks more like our Canadian authorities rolling over and being extra eager to “work toward the US masters” without them even asking.

    I thought about the vest but I doubt it would work today. I have written to CATSA and asked. I await a reply. I have been awaiting a reply for a while. 🙂 When I receive it, it will be posted here of course.

  8. I used to bring expensive equipment with me when I traveled and was able to check it into special baggage services. I had my gear in a special rugged cargo case and they would also shrink wrap it at the airport. I believe I could also insure it. Its been a few years and I am not sure if this service is still available however it may be worth checking into.

    I also used to Fed-ex my gear 2 or 3 days ahead of time to my hotel or hold for pickup at the terminal or Fed-ex location. It was overnight service and it can be insured. If there was a delay for some reason it could be worked out in a day and my gear would still be on time.

  9. I’ve thought about Fed-Exing my gear ahead to LA but I’m wondering about the customs end of it. I’ve always had my lil’ green Canada Customs Y38 form to show I intend to bring this stuff back.

    Ed: How did you fill out the FedEx customs form to ensure things didn’t get held up for days as someone in FedEx’s Memphis customs area tries to figure out if you’re exporting it to the US?

  10. I believe there was a certain declaration form that was used and recall it was the same one that gets used for tradeshows. I did not complete this paperwork myself. In more recent times we used a customs broker to complete the transactions for us. The broker typically posts a bond for the return of the goods. I think its pretty standard protocol these days however its going to cost more.

    Michael yes its true that you cannot lock the luggage however when I insured the package with special services they put the shrink wrap around it to avoid easy openings me thinks. Not sure if these services are still available however

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