Anyone who has traveled since 911 knows that the good old days are gone.

It is pretty damn difficult these days to travel with your gear.  Now that the airlines charge you for each bag you want to check, everyone and their sister has decided to just carry their crap on with them.

This of course makes no sense when you look at the greater problem.  Charging for bags is really about having to pay for the added fuel costs.  In flying, weight equals expense.  The fact is that passengers are bringing the same amount of weight with them, its just that now it is sitting above your head rather than below your feet.

Anyway…. Im sure every traveler feels special and wants to have their underwear and toothbrushes with them down the jet way, but as photographers, we find ourselves in a stronger pickle.  In the case of most airline passengers, when push comes to shove, they have the ability to check their bags below.   But we as photographers get stuck.  We CANT!  Our checked bags are filled with thousands of dollars worth of shinny trinkets that the bag handlers or “throwers” love to put in their pockets.

This brings one to the question: “what the hell does one do?”

The answer is really quite simple.  Get on the plane first!  I know that we board the airplane in “zones” now, and if you are unfortunate enough to be stamped “zone 5”  you are fully boned.  In the old days, we used to just jump the line and go as soon as they called the first zone.  This however gets a bit stressful, and also runs the risk of making you feel like an ass.

Well crazily enough, last year I had an epiphany.  Why don’t I just ask?

I did, and it worked.  Now, as soon as we get to the gate, I go over to the attendent and explain that we have lots of shinny stuff and can not put it below.  I tell them we are out on the road working and kindly ask if we could pre-board.  More times than not, they are great and on we go.  This way, we have the ability to make sure our stuff is safe, and with us at all times.