We have noticed a number of people on various forums reaching out and asking about traveling via plane with their gimbal and asking for the best practices when doing so. With airport security being so strict in many countries these days, it is no surprise that some videographers and vloggers are a little nervous about taking their odd-looking gimbal with them. Thankfully though, the vast majority of replies to people we have seen reaching out about traveling with their gimbal basically say that airport security didn’t care, or that they were asked to turn it on and show what it does.
That said, we still wanted to publish an article sharing a few tips that you can implement when traveling with your gimbal. We hope that this will help keep your gimbal safe and reduce the risks of it “magically disappearing” during some random TSA search or it being damaged in transit. Just keep in mind, there are thousands of professional-level photographers, videographers, and vloggers out there who travel often with large amounts of their gear often including a gimbal.
Store The Batteries
First things first, be sure to remove the batteries from your gimbal if you are planning to travel on a plane. You will have to check the policy of the airline that you are flying with but most of them prefer it if you do not have high power batteries like the ones a gimbal stabilizers uses in the hold of the plane. Although most of these regulations are aimed towards low quality, third party batteries that can cause problems when depressurized, in our opinion, it’s not worth taking the chance even if you use the official batteries that came with the gimbal.
The general consensus tends to be to keep your gimbal batteries with you as part of your carry on luggage when you board the plane. That said though if you do choose to keep your full gimbal rig with you as a part of your carry on, we would still remove the batteries and place them in your photography kit bag.
If you are placing your batteries in your photography kit bag then we would recommend that you try to house them in your gimbal battery charger as it offers protection to the connectors on the top and bottom of the battery that are the weak spots. This simple trick is quick and easy to do but can actually save your batteries for you and prevent damage to them that may otherwise have broken them.
There are a number of battery safety sheets online these days that offer some additional guidance on carrying batteries with you when traveling by air but different countries and different airlines each have their own sets of rules.
Carry On Or Hold Storage
Now, keeping your gimbal as a part of your carry on and storing your gimbal in the planes hold both have their own advantages and disadvantages. The topic has also been discussed at length on a number of forums with this thread and this thread both being examples that you can read if you wish. The airline’s policies that you are traveling with and your luggage allowance both come into play when making your decision too.
That said though, the majority of people seem to prefer to keep their gimbal along with most of their other valuable photography kit and gear such as their laptop with them as carry one. As your gear never leaves your sight, you are also provided with some peace of mind that it will not be thrown around and damaged by baggage handlers or that it will not be “confiscated” by agencies such as the TSA.
We have seen a number of people comment on various threads saying that they thought it was against all airline policies to allow you to have your gimbal with you as a part of your carry on luggage. We have done a little research and we are unable to find any confirmation of this that suggests that this is true. We know that there are a number of airlines that do discourage tripods being taken as a part of your carry on due to the metal feet at the bottom of the legs as they can potentially be used as a weapon.
Additionally, some airlines are also practicing an electronics ban but most of the airlines that initially took part in the ban have since lifted it meaning that you would be able to keep your gimbal with you on the plane.
Get Some Suitable Storage
Last update on 2020-11-30 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
If you are going to store your gimbal in the hold of the aircraft then we would highly recommend that you invest in a suitable Pelican Case (Click here to check for product prices and availability) as they can take an absolute ton of punishment while keeping the gear that you have inside of them safe and sound. They also have an excellent reputation and most professional photographers and videographers seem to prefer the Pelican brand for their hard cases.
The Pelican range is also massive and they are sure to have a case that will be able to meet your needs. Our advice would be to try and get one large enough to house as much of your photography or videography gear as possible in addition to your gimbal. This way you know that it is all safe with the protection that the case offers you.
One thing that we would like to add about using a case like this, even if you lock it, airport security are legally allowed to use bolt cutters to break any locks on the cases so they can look inside to confirm what is actually in the case. We have also seen a number of reports from people who tried to get around this by using fancy locks that will not break to bolt cutters but airport security will simply not load the case on the plane if you do this.
This can lead to no end of dramas where you get off the plane, your case is not there, and the airline will not send it due to being unable to see what’s inside. Most countries would also side with the airline in this matter and this can end up causing you to be unable to complete the job you were hired to do. Our advice would be to just use a simple padlock that airport security will easily be able to break if they decide they want to know what’s in your case.
We know that most of our readers are from the United States so they will have to deal with the Transportation Security Administration on a regular basis. Thankfully, they keep an up to date list of items that you are not able to take on a plane. Gimbals and other photography items are not on that list at the time of writing so you can rest assured that you are not breaking any regulations. Additionally, you can always check the list linked above prior to traveling to check if anything has changed since we published this article.
Wrapping It Up
That wraps up our article on traveling with a gimbal and we hope that you have found it helpful. There is no need to worry about boarding the plane with your gimbal as part of your carry on or about storing your gimbal in the plane hold provided you ensure it is in an appropriate case.