Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: [1]   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: SouthWest Airlines and the Photographer  (Read 7217 times)
howard smith
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1237


« on: August 29, 2005, 02:34:00 PM »
ReplyReply

"... and left me no choice but to sign the release."

You could have not traveled at that time.  You could have left the tripod at home, UPSed, mailed, whatever, the tripod and traveled later.  You had choices.  I think the ticket was to fly you in accordance with airline rules.  I can see your frustration, but have no symapthy.
Logged
Hank
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 679


« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2005, 03:08:40 PM »
ReplyReply

Lots of sympathy here.  

It wouldn't be so bad if the same airline used the same rules from terminal to terminal, but unknown rules often crop up mid-trip, leaving you in the lurch.    

You have to realize that there are very good reasons most airlines are in trouble.  They have huge personnel issues and very little competition- that  is real competition from other forms of transportation.  Rail, bus and private auto can't compeat for long hauls, so for far too long the airlines have been in their own little domain without meaningful competition.  

Tough as your experience was with Southwest, they represent one of the few "alternatives" to the mainline carriers, at least in terms of price.  My synical side feels that as far as the corporation is concerned, passengers are mere cargo and the bottom line is the only consideration in "service."  I.e., how much does service cost, and how little can they provide while still being competitive in the market.  

This should not reflect on the average airline employee interminals, but sad to say that it does.  They are the ones who have to represent the corporation, when in fact most problems have their roots in the corporate offices, as far out of reach of the employees as they are from the customers.

Heck, I would pay extra- A Lot Extra- for extra service, security and care in handling for camera gear.  In fact, I'm doing so now to ship camera gear on UPS or Fedex rather than let the airlines near them.  Wouldn't you  think an airline that was really looking out for both the customer and the bottom line would pull its head out of the sand and compete with UPS, Fedex, et al, while actually looking out for the needs of its customers?  Every time I pay $100 or more for camera shipping, it occurs to me that the airline has missed out yet again.  I'd be happy to pay the airline so my cameras could travel with me!  

Sad.

I'm working on my own solutions.  I've bought a lot of stock in alternative freight carriers like Fedex and UPS while dumping my airline stocks as the hopeless cases they are.  I've also decided to play the bottom line game just like the airlines, except it's MY bottom line and price is king-  To heck with brand loyalty.  Whoever gets me there cheapest gets the trip.  Mileage plans?  Just try to collect on them these days!
Logged
Graham Welland
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 610


« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2005, 03:56:38 PM »
ReplyReply

I have sympathy with you ... to a degree.

I don't think that it's unreasonable to prevent you bringing a tripod on board as it does fall into the category of large things that could pose a threat these days. I'm amazed that someone else brought on a tripod and got it through security as they normally don't permit you anything like this past the X-Ray machines. Heck, I had knee surgery a while back and used a hi-tech walking pole for a while and they wouldn't permit that on board if it had a foot resembling a tripod spike, even if under a screwed on foot (which I can also understand).

For travel I changed to a more compact CF Gitzo 1228 which can fit in my checked luggage. However, I highly recommend removing the head and carrying that with the rest of your gear in your camera bag as carry-on. When I have to pack the tripod separately in a tripod case I always ask the gate agent to wrap it in plastic which pretty much guarantees that you'll have to sign a fragile item waiver. If I were overly concerned with breakage then I'd pack the case with bubble wrap which might help at least a little if it falls off the back of a luggage truck (which they do ...).

So far I've been lucky in terms of tripods not being damaged. However, I have had two heads bent/cracked in the past so hence the removal.

If the agent was rude or unhelpful then that's probably worth a complaint if you have their name. I don't think you've got much chance complaining about the tripod itself though. I find it hard to believe that the item was classed unsuitable for transport - if so, they wouldn't have taken it whether you signed a waiver or not. (Eclipse cleaning fluid falls into that category). Fragile maybe.

Personally I'd complain about SouthWest Airlines on the basis that their boarding process and no pre-assigned seating stampede truly resembles traveling cattle class ...
Logged

Graham
David White
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 272



WWW
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2005, 06:12:17 PM »
ReplyReply

Pretty miuch the same here.  Stick the tripod, sans head, in the luggage and take my wife along to carry the second camera bag.
Logged

David White
sergio
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 661


WWW
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2005, 06:53:25 AM »
ReplyReply

That's funny. You can't carry a tripod onboard, but you can get thru with a couple of glass bottles of scotch.
Logged

framah
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1175



« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2005, 02:21:59 PM »
ReplyReply

So far, I've never had any problems with flying, just a pain in the a** to have to go thru the nonsense in  the first place.  I put my tripod in the leg of an extra pair of pants and wrap it up and the head goes into one of the shoes.  
 
What I'm fed up with is the fact that I can't bring all of the equipment I want to bring when I go somewhere to shoot. I'm now planning to drive out to the Southwest this November for a photo summit with Alain Briot and screw the airlines!!  I have friends along the way and will stop and visit and stay with them which will offset the cost.  
  At least then I don't have  to worry about whether the airlines are bankrupt or on strike when I want to fly.  
  Now... driving to Africa for the safari trip next September might pose a little problem!!


   :p
Logged

"It took a  lifetime of suffering and personal sacrifice to develop my keen aesthetic sense."
rswinford
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 13


« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2005, 01:40:51 PM »
ReplyReply

I am in the process of writing to SouthWest Airlines Customer Complaints for a recent interaction checking luggage and am looking for support for me or for SouthWest if that be the case. I have traveled SouthWest many, many times and not had this problem but in Islip NY this weekend my tripod was deemed unsuitable for transportation and I was asked to sign a release, essentially saying that any damage to this equipment was my own responsibility. Yes, the tripod was carbon steel, the long lens mount metal and the tripod was in a padded case. So you ask what was my worry? Maybe the 200ton elephant.

When the supervisor finally arrived, he said all the other SouthWest personel were not doing their job and showed me a SouthWest manual that classified all photographic equipment (very unspecific) as unsuitable for travel. Very abrupt and left me no choice but to sign the release.  Of course I couldn't bring the tripod on the plane as it would be considered a weapon.  I carried on all cameras/lenses (nevermind that my 500mm could be used effectively to knock someone out).

So what is a photographer to do? Is this the standard?

Addendum: As I was boarding the plane I noticed a man carrying on tripod on board! He said no problem getting through security. I thought I might loose my mind.  All my equipment arrived safely.
Logged
rswinford
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 13


« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2005, 02:58:22 PM »
ReplyReply

Addendum:
I was leaving my destination, having had no problem leaving my home.  Choosing not to board the plane would have been very expensive and inconvenient as there were no other flights that day, cab back to hotel, etc.

My purpose to ask the forum is to find out what other experiences, strategies etc other photographers use to take their tripods with them.

Tx
Logged
howard smith
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1237


« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2005, 03:17:38 PM »
ReplyReply

Airlines are not different. Learn the rules and follow them. You can get by an agreesive agent if you can show the rules that allow you to do what you are trying to do. I mailed a rifle from Illinois to California. Local post office said I couldn't mail it and suggested UPS. I had a copy of the rules and demonstrated I could (and that UPS wouldn't). The clerk conceded. Still no sympathy.

"... while dumping my airline stocks."  Hank, nobody invests in airlines.
Logged
Paul Sumi
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1217


« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2005, 01:19:06 AM »
ReplyReply

My own advice parallels Gwelland's.  I've travelled a number of times on Southwest and other carriers and have always packed my tripod (sans head) in my check-in luggage cushioned by clothing.  So far, no problems.

Paul
Logged

John Camp
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1258


« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2005, 03:05:55 PM »
ReplyReply

I do have some sympathy for this problem -- and it has little to do with following the rules. The problem is, there are no real rules.

Howard Smith can mail a rifle, because he has essentially unlimited time to argue with the postal clerk, and he has the rule book. On the other hand, the plane is leaving in an hour or two, and you're from out of town, with a $1,000 non-refundable ticket, trying to get back home. You go to the ticket counter to check in your luggage, ask if it's okay to carry on Item X, like the tripod, and are told sure, it's no problem. And it was no problem on the way out.

Then security says there is a problem -- but it's just an individual judgment. There is no rule that says, "No tripods" or "No camera equipment." And at that point, your luggage is gone.

The guy with the damaged foot and the cane, for example -- the "rules" say specifically that canes are allowed. I know, because I was thinking of bringing a walking stick back from England for a disabled friend, and I looked it up. But some security points don't allow them. If you challenge them on the rules, you're causing a disturbance and, worse, challenging their manhood, and now you *are* in trouble. And they *aren't* going to look up the rules: the rules are what they say they are.

If there were real rules, and if they were openly posted, and if the rules made sense, then everything would be easy. Instead, we have vague rules, many of them don't make any sense, and interpretation is left up to the individual security guy. These guys are not exactly highly trained international terrorism fighters, either. They're guys who used to work at McDonalds, lucked out with a job at the airport, and found out that what they say, goes. A certain number of them obviously enjoy exercising their discretion.

To push this a little further, let me pose this hypothetical. You have an airliner with, say, 200 people aboard. One of them is crazy and is armed with a deadly tripod, or, God help us all, a fully-loaded RZ67 with a 220 back. He decides to hijack the jet -- and the people on board are fully aware that if this maniac does hijack the jet, and it's flying toward a city, that the government will shoot it down.

Here's the question: will the guy succeed in hijacking a jet with the deadly tripod or the vicious medium-format camera, or will he be torn to pieces by the passengers?

I would not want to be the guy with the tripod. The same goes for the guy armed with fingernail clippers, scissors, sharp sticks, jack knives, bowling balls, golf drivers and camera equipment. With the cockpit closed and locked, you're not going to get into it with those kinds of weapons. Try threatening a hijacking with one of those weapons, your life will be in more peril than your intended victims.

The ruels are what they are because a bunch of politicians got scared and decided they had to do more than they had to do, for appearances sake. The little f*****' fascists.

IMHO, of course.

JC

By the way, for practical purposes, when moving camera accessories like tripods and heads, Leatherman tools, etc., I bundle them in clothing and put them in a duffle bag -- duffle bags are longer than regular suit cases, take tripods easily, and don't attract the attention of thieves. Mine is a Filson and is a little ratty-looking, which is great. You are allowed one carry-one and one briefcase. A good briefcase can take a laptop and accessories, and one or two long lenses. (Look for briefcases like lawyers carry, those big black square things.) The carry-on can take the rest of the lenses and accessories. Lighting equipment? UPS.

JC
Logged
Paul Sumi
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1217


« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2005, 11:29:16 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
The problem is, there are no real rules.
There's definitely a lot of "discretion" being exercised, possibly based on traveler volume.

The three times I've traveled on Southwest from Oakland, California, the TSA opened my carry-on camera backpack and swabbed the equipment each time.  At Southwest in Los Angeles, the backpack with the same gear goes through the X-ray machine, I pick it up and walk off to my gate.  Ditto United out of Denver and Los Angeles.

Now, both Denver and L.A. are very busy; Oakland less so.  I'm flying Southwest to/from Salt Lake City next month, so we'll see what happens there.
Logged

Lisa Nikodym
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1702



WWW
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2005, 11:14:19 AM »
ReplyReply

A year or two back, the news ran a segment on the "weapons" that were confiscated by airline security over the Christmas season. Among them was "a brick". Since it was Christmas, I wonder how many heavy crystal glass vases (for presents) were carried on board? *Much* more dangerous than a brick...

For what it's worth, when I take my tripod on airlines, it goes diagonally in my checked luggage, well-padded by clothes wrapped around it.  I hadn't thought to take off the head (I've been lucky with it so far), but in future I'll heed your advice and take the head in my carry-on instead.

Lisa
Logged

jani
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1604



WWW
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2005, 03:24:02 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Now... driving to Africa for the safari trip next September might pose a little problem!!
Tell me about it, I still haven't decided on what to bring for my trip to Greater Tibet.

D..., that trip is growing by the minute, now we're looking at a possible 20-day trip from the Yunnan province, through Tibet, and into Nepal. Hopefully, there will be time to take pictures between gasping for air!

I know I can't bring everything, and my current tripod -- Manfrotto (AKA Bogen) 755B steel monster -- is definitely staying at home. There is no way I can justify taking that weight on an airplane when going away for four to five weeks. "An airplane"? What am I writing?! There's at best four different airline companies involved.

I'm also completely sympathetic with the problems experienced with bringing equipment on board an airplane, and the regulations around it.

Not only am I a photography amateur, but I'm also a pool billiards player. Pool queues are not happy with temperature and humidity fluctuations, and airlines seem to apply a randomness policy of whether to allow me to bring it as carry-on or not.
Logged

Jan
skysnake
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 8


« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2005, 08:30:47 PM »
ReplyReply

I am an American Airlines Captain and an avid photographer. I live in Las Vegas and commute to my base of Los Angeles. I share your frustration of inconsistant carriage procedures. In defense of SWA, I must say that rules are literally changing by the day. I get special security memos every day that talk about up to the minute threats against our freedoms. Sometimes we have employees that misinterpret rules and some leave too much room for interpretation. These rules come from the FAA and we have to comply with them. I don't like it any more than you.

Southwest generally does a fine job of providing a safe airplane ride. I ride them often. Believe me, there are US carriers I wouldn't put my children on because of serious safety concerns. Southwest is NOT one of them.

Christian Boice
Logged
collum
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 189


WWW
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2005, 02:50:52 AM »
ReplyReply

i just got back from a trip to thailand and cambodia. in my carryon,i had a camera backpack and a laptop bag (it had a retractable handle and wheels). wide enough to carry 2 laptops, and a mess of hard cover books.

i carried on a betterlight scanning back (insert and control unit), ebony 4x5 camera, 4 large format lenses, 2  90w digital camera batteries, adapter cables,  epson p2000, canon 1dsmk2, 70-200 2.8 IS, 90mm T/S, 50mm Mamiya shift, 35mm Zeiss shift, 3 spare canon batteries, t42 ibm laptop, 4 100gb hard drives (usb), betterlight panoramic adapter. in the checked baggage, i had two gizto tripods with arca swiss heads. my wife had a carryone with a laptop, canon 350xt, 70-300 DO, 16-35, 50mm,

all made it through every airport, carry on was carried on each flight (even the small ones between bangkok and siem reap).

the funniest section was leaving cambodia. they put all of this thru the xray. i also had a small fanny pack where i kept sunglass, tissues, passports, etc. the gear went thru fine. they took the fanny pack and searched it for about 5 minutes.. with multiple people looking at it. meanwhile, if you've ever seen a 90w digital camera battery.. nothing could look closer to a  bomb than these things.. and they weren't given a second look.

       jim
Logged
Pages: [1]   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad