Hello Production Family. SteadiManNY here. Over the past few years i have been lucky enough to travel with my gear to some pretty amazing places. But recent changes in flight regulations, and excessive baggage fees, have made it a real challenge to not only get your gear where it has to go safely, but cost effectively as well. And with the rules differing from airline to airline, its hard to estimate the cost of traveling with your gear. Some airlines have strict weight limits. Others will not let you check your Lithium ion batteries. Delta's recent announcement that they would be discontinuing there "Media Rates" for excess baggage and weight, adds even more to the cost. And lets not forget those heart wrenching moments when you get to your destination the day of the gig, only to find out your equipment didn't.
So I wanna know....How Do you travel with gear? Over the Next few weeks, i will be posting pictures and advice on how i travel and sometimes, even ship my gear. I would love to hear from all of you. Share your stories, good and bad, and hopefully we can all learn something and save a ton of $$$$
Depending on production and travel requirements for myself and the production, I will either fly my bags on Delta or have them sent with most of the production gear through SOS Global Express. I mostly prefer shipping with SOS over Delta, because I don't have to haul everything through the airport, car rental and a hotel, and then everything is delivered exactly where it should be delivered. However, I do a lot of Live TV, and that provides better opportunities for shipping directly to the production compounds. If I'm shooting something else and there isn't a production compound, or I need to have my gear with me the same or next day, Delta is getting my bags. Also, if I fly my gear, I carry my Li-on batteries in my carry-on luggage. Where did you hear that Delta was discontinuing the media rate? I can't seem to find that online anywhere.
Edited by Matt Lingerfelt, 08 April 2016 - 06:00 PM.
As you know, I have traveled to at least 100 countries with my gear and domestically the travel costs are significantly lower than anywhere else.
One leg of a trip we were on the airline was charging 50 euro for every kilo we were over, the cost came to $27,000 US . . . . . Thanks god for credit cards. The cost of the gear to travel is just part of the production cost. All your gear should be under 70 lbs, under 50 is out of the question for our stuff and of course Media Rate always helps. If Delta is going to discontinue media rate, then tell production to fly you American if they want to save some money. Lastly, I can travel with just two storm 2950 cases and that includes batteries and a C-Stand.
If there is anyone in the WORLD who knows how to Travel with gear, It's R. Vuona. I've used his travel rig and it's amazing how he packs everything into those two cases. I still can't get everything in under 3 SKB's and 1 Tripod tube. I think he uses magic shrinking dust.
I refoamed my sled case so that I have a layer with all my essential accessories that sits on top. Requires removing my monitor when going in the case but gets all my essential gear including American Steadicam stand in two cases under 70 pounds. I can also strap them together and move it all in one go without a luggage cart. When I was working in NY and traveling by car service I didn't want to have to leave half my gear in the car to go back for more....
Case A (Pelican 1650, newer): <50lbs, carries sled, dock, monitor.
Case B (Storm iM2950): 54lbs, carries vest, arm, AKS, a hammock, excess gak.
Case C (Pelican 1650, OLD STYLE): 70lbs, carries batteries, power cables, BNC, chargers, etc.
I'm pretty sure the old Pelican 1650 (Case C) itself is excessively heavy, probably going to swap it for another iM2950 (which seems to feel like the lightest case).
Another question: so you're out of town, and sometimes you have to move cases from point A to point B, manually. Do you have them set up to roll? Does anyone travel with something like a Rock-n-Roller Maxi cart? Something that collapses down and fits inside the cases, but then can be busted out to carry the cases? I'm in Puerto Rico right now, and we traveled to a remote beach that had me pulling/carrying cases more than I prefer. It's probably a unique situation, but one that I'd love to avoid in the future.
It doesn't always work but I frequently can convince production that a first or business class ticket gets me more 'wiggle room' with excess baggage. So much so that it in some cases negates the extra cost for the first class ticket. I also let production know when they are first booking me that my baggage is typically around $500 each way so they can plan for it and it's a pleasant surprise if it's less.
I typically fly with 4 cases.
Two 1730's (one with sled and arm and one with vest, vehicle mount and all my personal stuff) both of which are over 80lbs. One 1650 which has two dual chargers, 12 Anton Bauer HC's and all my tools (also over 80lbs) and a Filmtools jr collapsable cart which weighs 99lbs with the trey, docking post, vest rack, etc.
Somehow I just went through United baggage check (literally typing this from the terminal) and they didn't charge me a cent for two 1660s (each weighing about 90 lbs) and a custom anvil sled case. I asked the agent and she said it may have something to do with being booked first class, but it should still cost me something. The computer seemed to disagree. I bet I just made the producer about $150 bucks happier.
They are so forgiving to 1st Class customers, I agree with Mike, it pays for the upgrade! In addition, whip out a "Media Card" - SOC card, IATSE Card, whatever you got... I made up a fancy card with pic ID for my company and showed all three last year to China and they only charged me $140/ each way and that's with this:
I try to keep things a bit modular, because different jobs have different requirements, but I fly for a particular commercial client a lot and usually I bring my rig, vest, arm, FIZ, wireless, tools, laptop, clothes, etc. and occassionally a spare DP7.
i almost exclusively fly delta. they have gotten stricter with their media regulations, but if you take the time to get on their list then youll be ok. I bring IATSE card, any credentials (usually none), a media pass ID that squeaks by, and a smile. A little sugar goes a long way. I have a few strategies. First, I pretty much always book early morning flights. The check-in agents are friendlier I've found, and they have less on their hands. I also have the highest delta credit card, highest delta status, etc, so that helps, but they still have every right to deny media rate. Also! after booking your ticket, call the reservation number and have the representative note on your ticket that you are media! There is a note associated with the ticket and a letter designation on the ticket as well! This helps. I dont play dumb about any of it. I walk up, turn up the southern drawl, tell them ive got XX bags, that 2 are oversize, overweight, and I have a media rate, check the ticket. I have all my delta paraphernalia displayed so they get the hint.
-thermodyne case for my vest, arm, sled and rig monitor, all steadicam aks (plates, tools, cables, etc) and I can even fit my wireless or a pelican 1400 with all my set tools and gak inside the vest in the upper deck of this case, but often I bank on the AC to have this stuff (I check with them beforehand).
-FIZ goes in a pelican 1510 and I check it
-depends on with wireless package Im taking, but my Thermodyne has cutouts into which I can fit all that.
-if i bring batteries, they are also in a 1510 and i carry on, but I often rent these or they are with the camera package and I just request they add a few extra.
-i have a mountain smith parallax backpack for anything personal plus computer, often i check this because i just bring a book and some headphones and an edible for the flight!
With media rate, this costs me $50, only paying for the thermodyne.
If I am bringing a spare 7" monitor, I will build out a 1650 and get my FIZ, monitor, wireless and tools all inside, often in their own cases. Ive also got some ARRI bags that I build out for shoving into the 1650.
I dont travel with a stand unless absolutely necessary. I dont fly Southwest with my gear. They are cheap and they let heavy gear go, but their insurance policy does not cover electronics, and they pass those savings on to you! The only time that Ive ever had a serious issue was when flying with an 23" EIZO monitor with an articulating arm and TSA repacked it incorrectly and the arm tore up the screen. Nothing I could do about it.
Never had trouble with LiOn batteries. Talk to John Ritter if you need some guidance. but the rules are pretty easy to understand.