Carry-on restrictions show up in Asia
This past week I was caught off guard a bit. Never has an Asian airline once weighed my carry-on. You know as well as I do that traveling photographers carry loads of gear in their carry-on. But this trip, as I entered the boarding area the fine folks at Malaysia Airlines asked me to put my Think Tank International roller bag and my Urban Disguise both on a small scale. Of course I was over, by 15 kg. So they graciously told me they would not charge me, this time. They told me to rearrange my bags and I could check the roller bag. I did. I put my 5D body, 85 1.2 and my 24-70 2.8 in my Urban Disguise and continued on to the plane. But once I got to the door of the plane there was no one to take the roller bag and I walked in and took a seat with both bags. Upon returning I knew what to expect. So I packed everything in my Urban Disguise. Sure enough, this time at check-in they weighed my roller bag. So I simply checked it there.
What does this mean? It means, Asia is also feeling some sort of pinch financially. Money has to be the motivation. Will other airlines in Asia follow suit? My guess is, yes. This puts us Asia travelers in a slight bind. Here are a couple of ideas that might help. If you have some better ones share it with the rest of us.
Prioritize your gear load. Pack the most costly or most important gear in your carry-on and check the rest. Remember, it was only two trips back that my luggage got lost for days (On Malaysia Airlines). So put your body or bodies, and the most costly lenses in your carry-on. There is a slight problem with this plan, the more expensive lenses are also inherently the heavier lenses. So you might be able to get away with a minimum amount of gear in a carry-on if you reduce the load. But lets face it if you are serious about your shooting then you have a lot of gear and it is costly, heavy and with you, otherwise, why did you buy it? So…
Enter the photo/travel vest. This is the age old idea that seems to work. It is uncomfortable and hot. But deal with it! It just might get your gear on the plane with you. I am not advocating wearing a vest to shoot, just to travel in. But photo vest are ugly and lets face it, we all want to look good, otherwise we all would be wearing velcro sneakers from Wal-Mart. What are the options? Well sad to say the vast majority of photo vest are the same; multiple pockets on the outside and the inside all zippered to the max. I swear they all used the same pattern. Even renown companies like Tilly and Domke look alike. The Bellingham vest is getting closer, but still, it looks like your are a cross between a special forces commando and a fly fisherman and it sets you back 300 bucks! Then there is David DuChemin’s favorite vest the Gitzo Fleece. I am not as keen on this as he is, mainly because it is a working vest and it is fleece. I don’t really need a working vest and certainly am not looking for a fleece one. All I want is a simple vest to smuggle illicit gear on board a flight and sidestep the weight restrictions.
So where does that leave us? Just about nowhere. Until today on David’s blog (this is a long way to go about promoting his blog entry) where he linked to this thing of beauty. It’s Scott Jordan’s, Scottevest Travel Vest. This looks like a real winner. It has pockets galore and still is stylish. The one downside of this is it looks a bit warm for Asia. So, enter Scottevest SeV Tropical Jacket/Vest. Pretty much the same jacket just a lot lighter weight and even packable. Ya’ gotta love that! Here is the deal sealer, the thing is only $120. True, you can get other vest cheaper (not the ones listed above), but I think I would pay a little more for the looks and the functionality of this vest jacket combination. Now I can’t be too enthusiastic over this vest yet, as I have never actually see it in person…so to speak.
So if you have a better vest or a better idea how to get your gear safely to the shoot let me know.