While the skies may be friendly, it can be stressful to give up
our cameras, even for a moment at security checkpoints.
Remember when our laptops needed to be pulled out of backpacks and briefcases for security checkpoints? To this day we snuggle them safely into our bags on the way to the airport only to expose them for screening in a vulnerable fashion before setting foot on the plane.
Recently on the way to Las Vegas WPPI convention, I had to go through additional screening. The agent took control of all possessions including my Think Tank Roller Derby which held a MacBook Pro that I had pulled out into a tray as standard procedure. Turns out there was another MacBook identical to mine in a bin coming through the X-ray machine and the agent took that one. In these cases you really don’t get to manage your belongings, “right over here ma’am,” while standing and waiting for the pat down and wiping of all items in the case, a gentleman walked over to us holding up a MacBook and declared that I may have his. Due to the agent’s mistake, turns out I did. The agent allowed the man to swap the laptops after he showed us a NASA sticker on the bottom. It was his official NASA business travel computer. Imagine if he hadn’t checked…
The start of this security measure followed the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1989 when a bomb was planted in a boom box. This explosion resulted in the death of 270. For a brief time following the tragedy, the FAA utilized different techniques for screening laptops but eventually they didn’t stick. And then came 9/11. In late 2001 the laptop screening as we know it today became a standard mandate in the United States.
So now, in the advent of terror threats and the successful explosion on a plane over Somalia in 2016. The terror groups are learning how to use electronic technology to bring their missions closer to home.
As a result, we will be seeing more and more screening protocol rolling out at airports with a new announcement from TSA on July 26, 2017. This eventually may lead to checking all electronics into the belly of commuter planes. This means our cameras, electronic lenses along with laptops and tablets.
Read the TSA official article for more information.
The best news is you can apply for TSA Pre ✓
If you travel often, it is beneficial for the cost of $85 and covers 5 years. Certain travel based credit cards actually reimburse the fee back to you. I obtained mine on the Platinum American Express. You get through the checkpoint in no time and are not required to remove shoes, light jackets, liquids, belts, etc… and you can keep your camera and laptop packed nice and neat just as it was when you left your home.
Insure your equipment. I like Hill and Usher
Another precaution is making sure your camera gear bag is secure for checked luggage, because in these times you never know, especially for traveling abroad. In 2016 I was stopped at a CDG checkpoint in Paris. There I was reamed out for not showing electronic lenses and a speedlite out of carry on bag into a bin for inspection.
Our friends at Think Tank Photo have recently announced an exciting new partnership with hard-case manufacturer SKB. Think Tank’s designers have created internal divider sets, organizers, and a backpack designed specifically to fit within 10 SKB hard cases. There are times when you simply have to airline gate-check your most precious photography equipment. At moments like these, nothing will do a better job of protection than a hard case. But one of the downsides of hard cases is that they are basically hard shells with not a lot of other features built into them. Think Tank’s partnership with SKB solves this problem. The result is the best of a hard case with the best of internal organization. Don’t forget that with our special partnership with Think Tank that you receive free gear and free shipping when you order using our special link through Photo Communiqué .
Wishing you happy travels! _Lori Patrick