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Flying with gear. Gun in case? Insurance? Current state of media rates?


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#1 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 01:24 AM

I have a gig or two that I will be flying to Texas for so I need to figure out the best way to get my gear there without spending a bundle. For timing reasons it looks like that is going to mean checking it at the airport.

One tip that I have heard from a number of people is to put a starter pistol in your equipment case as then you get to lock it after they search it and it is actually illegal for them to open it or search it when you aren't present. I was thinking of using an airsoft gun for the same purpose as they are cheap and would be more useful on set than a starter pistol :-)

A few sources seem to confirm that this should work: http://www.tsa.gov/t...orial_1666.shtm http://southwest.com...enter/guns.html

So has anyone done this? Seems like it might take a little more time at the airport but it seems to add a good level of security and from what I have heard your case gets special handling and is tracked a lot better since they really don't want to be responsible for losing a firearm.


Do most people have insurance that would cover their equipment being lost by the airline? I know the airlines themselves won't cover such loses. Can anyone recommend insurance to cover? Does your regular equipment insurance cover this? I don't have any sort of equipment insurance at the moment except what is provided to me on the jobs I do.

I figured out tonight that I can get my sled case under 50 pounds but it is over the 62inch size restriction(l+w+h) so falls in the oversize category. Looking around I haven't been able to find a sled case that falls within that. Both the Pelican and Storm case that would be appropriate are a few inches over. So the real question is has anyone actually had them measure a case or bag or do they really only care if it is grossly over?

What about media rates? How hard is it to get them to give you media rates on checked baggage these days? I think I am going to end up flying Southwest which in addition to still giving you two free checked bags seems to have a good policy on film equipment:

"Camera, film, video, lighting, and sound equipment
will be accepted when presented by a representative of a network or local television broadcasting company or a commercial filmmaking company. A fee of $25 will be charged for each item in excess of the free baggage allowance. Media equipment will not be assessed oversize or overweight charges."

If that is the case then it shouldn't matter if my case is oversized and overweight. Anyone have experience with southwest on that? What will I need to show to get the rate? Will my business card be enough or do I need to get something else?

~Jess
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#2 Tim Tyler

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 04:13 PM

It's sad, but none of the airlines have official discounted media rates anymore (as of Fall '08). I think United will still allow overweight bags at the 50# rate though, so it sometimes can make sense to have 70# cases.

If your client is a network or production company with clout, you can try having their travel people contact the airline ahead of time for discounted excess baggage arrangements, but that's hit and miss. It worked for me on a PBS/WNET doc last October.

I've also found that it just depends on the agent that checks your bags in too. I've had friendly agents (usually in smaller airports) who have let all my cases slide for free, and most recently, an Alaska Airlines rep who insisted on $100/case no matter how much I begged.

It's starting to make more sense to send gear off via UPS ahead of time.
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#3 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 04:16 PM

I was just offered Delta miles for the plane ticket so I went to their webpage to see their policies:
"A $175.00 charge per item applies to media representatives carrying camera, film, video tape, lighting, or sound equipment." And that's their media rate.....

So the baggage fees for taking only my sled case would be more than the ticket on Southwest which looks like they don't charge any additional fees for up to 2 bags.

Looks like Continental is $50 for overweight (50-70pounds) and $100 for oversize, but I can't seem to find any media rate online. Definitely better than Delta. Anyone know what their media rate is?

~Jess
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#4 Janice Arthur

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 04:26 PM

Jess;

I can't speak to the rest of it but I had to sign a waiver for my gear last time I flew because they don't want to buy expensive stuff incase its gets lost of broken, etc.

Make sure someone's insurance is covering it.

I also insure stuff shipped with Fed ex now, at least for my deductable. It gets taken care of more, it seems.

If you are going somewhere accessible in the world and you use Anton-Bauer batts you can always rent them there and save lots of money. (That takes one very heavy case off the list.) Production can get them and have them ready for you too.

Guns, in this world of airline cutbacks seems like asking for trouble, personally I'd loose that idea but clearly others know more that me.

JA
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#5 Dan Erbeck

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 08:25 PM

Jess,
You could try S.O.S Shipping, I've used them a lot, they are excellent. They will pick up from your location and deliver on the date and "time" you request. Not sure how much, (may or may not be more expensive than FedEx or UPS) but its still worth a shot. Check it out it may be worth it for the future shipping you may need to do. :)
S.O.S. Global
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#6 WillArnot

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 09:12 PM

Why are YOU sweating it? A production is hiring you to do this job right? It is obvious that your gear doesn't just magically appear in another state ready to work.
1) As Janice said, MAKE SURE SOMEONE IS INSURING YOUR GEAR. If you don't have it (you should - your life is invested in your gear) then make sure you see a certificate of insurance naming you as the loss payee without any deductible for the FULL value of your gear without depreciation. Have this from production BEFORE you fly.
2) Present this problem (getting the gear there) to production. They are hiring you and probably want the gear to show up too. How do they want to get the gear there?? Give them the options. Ship it via Fed EX or some other courier. Or pay for it at the airport as excess. Have your basic case count handy and a rundown of how much each case weighs. Now production can make an informed decision on how THEY want to ship the gear.

Often I have contacted corporate headquarters of whichever airline I'm using and told them what is going on. They often appreciate the heads up and will help you out if you can tell them how many cases to expect etc. Another tip I found to work was find out ahead of time a company that sponsors the airline. Like American Express works with both Delta and Jet Blue. I told Jet Blue Corporate that it was an AMEX commercial and they bent over backwards to help.
If you can do this leg work and then tell production that you have spoken to corporate and secured a fixed rate for 'X' number of cases, they will respect and thank you for this work. If you haven't been able to do this then suggest this approach to them since producers etc. often have resources beyond our means.

The airport / excess approach often means you pay for it out of pocket then get reimbursed. However you get the points / miles on your Credit card.

Yah, I would not invite any more issues than you already have to deal with by bringing a gun into the picture. If you are worried about security MAKE SURE IT IS INSURED!! Also, zip tie all your cases. Security have tons of those things. If a case is zip tied when they receive it, they are obliged to re-secure it. I have never received it on the other end without it being re-zip-tied.

Good luck.
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#7 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 09:21 PM

Unless you have a reason to travel with a firearm, don't do it. There are federal laws, but states have laws as well. Transportation in one state may be drastically different than another. Even bordering states, such as Oregon and California, have very different ideas as to how your firearm should be stored/transported in your vehicle. Sure, the airline rules may be simple, but the penalties are severe. If you don't regularly handle firearms, are you willing to take the chance you're going to remember everything? I have personally witnessed people cuffed and spreadeagled on the floor of a terminal for very simple things. Then there's international issues. I recently traveled with a rifle over 12,000 miles through several countries, some of which I would have done 30 years' hard time in the local slammer just for transporting my equipment through their country. I needed to get U.S. embassies in all the countries involved just to drag my cases through their airport terminals, and armed guards suspiciously sniffed through every last thing I owned and delayed my travel, even with the proper paperwork. Traveling with firearms is a pain in the ass if you do it regularly. It will delay your travel more often than you like...
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#8 WillArnot

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 09:48 PM

Noting afterward that one of your home locales is TX, it occurred to me that you might be traveling home or on your own dime to do a job as a local.
You will find that when the gear is insured, much of your worries will disappear. Other than that try and sort it out w/ Corporate HQ of the airline.

Express courier is super expensive. Ground courier takes too long and subjects your gear to much banging around over many days. I've never personally used one of these special shipping companies like S.O.S

W.
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#9 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 09:49 PM

Hi Jess,

My last flight with full kit was Oct 21-23, 2008 on Delta from Las Vegas to Atlanta to Huntsville and back. They still had the media rate which according to them is now a flat rate with up to 100 pounds as a limit. The media rate info is located in Section G of the ticket agent's screen / regulations. The info on the Delta web site was not accurate at that time.

I had seven cases total to check and the price was $750 each way. Out of curiosity I asked what a non-media passenger would have paid and it was $1225 each way.

Southwest is friendlier than most when it comes to baggage especially if you're flying into or out or Burbank or Las Vegas where they see crew every day.

As Will and others have said, it is productions responsibility to make sure the gear is there too. The sooner you can hand that responsibility off to them, the sooner they are completely responsible for it. As in it is in "their care and possession".

SportsExpress.com is a freight client for FedEx and they do a great job for me when I have to deal with it myself.

The method to my packing madness is that I use heavy duty grade TSA locks, plus neon colored nylon wire ties, plus 2" red gaff tape over every twist lock. The lighter grade consumer TSA locks just get sheared off so don't waste your time. All my primary cases are bright "Claremont" yellow so they're hard to miss with red gaff and neon ties. I try to make the idea of the TSA opening my cases and resealing them as unappealing as I can with the locks, tape and ties. If your cases have locking drawers as mine do with outside cover panels I still lock my drawers but attach a key to the interior pull handle and a big fat note that asks them to please relock the drawers.

Make sure you paid your insurance before you leave and get used to shipping your gear and having it out of your control for a while. :blink:
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#10 Brian Freesh

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 01:24 AM

All my primary cases are bright "Claremont" yellow


Clairmont, Robert. Get it right.

I can't wait for the day one of those shows up in Receiving.

Brian |-)~
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#11 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 10:49 AM

I looked into the excess baggage rout last month and it was about 3 grand round trip. I travel with 5 pieces all of them under 100lbs but 2 of them over 70 and all 5 over 50. If it's a big company they will just pay it and that's that but if it's a smaller company and you can be without your gear for a few days go with a shipping service like the ones mentioned above, they work great and they are way cheaper than excess baggage (and a lot easier than shlepping your gear through the airport).

As for my cases, I dont lock them or zip tie them or tape them or do anything. Mine are all bright pruple (ala Guy Bee) so they are hard to miss at the airport.

The one thing I think you can say as a common theme here is: MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PROPER INSURANCE.
I have a policy from Walter P. Doll and they cover my entire package no matter what happens to it (lost, stolen, falls into the ocean, hijaked, plane crash, fire, etc, etc, etc). But, when I am working for sombody, that company must provide full coverage for my gear and I must be named as the primary payee in the event of the clam. Proof of that insurance coverage must be faxed to my agent before I leave for the airport. Here's a copy of that section on my contract from RTA:

5. ImageROCKS agrees to provide Mr. McGowan with Workers Compensation Insurance through payroll for the entire duration of his work on this project. In addition, ImageROCKS shall carry liability insurance and all-risk insurance at full replacement value covering all of Mr. McGowan’s equipment connected with the project, and such insurance shall be considered primary coverage in the event of any loss or claim. Prior to beginning work, Mr. McGowan will be provided with a certificate of liability insurance covering his equipment and showing him as additionally insured and loss payee. Please fax a copy to my office before he departs.

I'd also agree that the gun idea is a bad idea.

mm.

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#12 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 02:24 PM

Noting afterward that one of your home locales is TX, it occurred to me that you might be traveling home or on your own dime to do a job as a local.
You will find that when the gear is insured, much of your worries will disappear. Other than that try and sort it out w/ Corporate HQ of the airline.

That is basically it. I live in LA now but still have a presence in Texas and am working there as local or semi local on some stuff. I still have a car there and most of my stuff is still there. On this particular project which is next week I am doing it as Austin local but it is in a different town so they are putting me up in a hotel, paying a per diem and a travel day and all that goodness. I am paying for my own plane ticket and taking care of that transportation which is fine because my girlfriend and I are going back for a family reunion of sorts anyway.

I called and talked to someone at Southwest yesterday who confirmed that I can check two "bags" completely free even if overweight(I believe they still have to be under 70pounds) and oversized as long as I show a business card to get the media rate. I am only taking what I will need for this job and left one of my stands in Texas for just such occasions so in theory I shouldnt have to pay any excess baggage charges.

As far as the gun thing goes I do not plan on doing it on this trip. I may test it out at some point when I am not traveling with all my gear. Dealing with getting the media rate and declairing a firearm might draw a little too much attention. Of course even if I did it I would not actually be using a real gun which is why it woudln't worry me too much. The point was to use a starter pistol or airsoft gun which are both legal just about anywhere but when putting in checked baggage must be treated the same as a real weapon so that they don't see it on x-ray or when searching your bag and think that it is a real weapon. I am comfortable with firearms and wouldn't be one to do anything stupid. It seems that the NRA and the military have done there job at making sure that it continues to be easy to travel with guns on an airplane as long as you check them so it seems that the process in theory should be relatively smooth.

Now I just need to get myself some insurance so I can have piece of mind on such trips and in general. How much are people paying for it and who should I contact about getting it?

~Jess
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#13 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 04:59 PM

I think 100k at Walter Doll is about 1200 per year.
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#14 Brandon Baudier

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 10:19 PM

I think 100k at Walter Doll is about 1200 per year.


Ya Mike, Walter Doll for my Ultra2/Accessories/Etc. runs around 1k/year. Low price to pay for what it covers. CYA!

- Brandon
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#15 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 01:23 AM

Clairmont, Robert. Get it right.
I can't wait for the day one of those shows up in Receiving.


LOL... okay Brian... you'll get the big reward the day you get in a yellow case in that has a big STARLING stenciled on the sides! I definitely stole that color scheme from you guys but it works and there's little doubt where my cases are on the truck, set or baggage carousel!

Peace!
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