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BIRDS AS ART ON-LINE Bulletin 58 October 13, 2001

Air Travel With One Carry-On
More on Mailing Film

Airline Travel With One Carry-on...

It is now official:  the FAA has instituted new regulations stating that passengers will now be limited to one carry-on bag plus a personal item on all flights.  It seems unfortunate to me that the FAA is using the 9/11 tragedy to do something that the airlines have been dreaming of for years, but it is a pretty much a  dead issue now and we will have to either deal with it or stay home.  And I for one am not staying home. 

As many of you know, a standard flight attendant rolling case has been the foundation of my carry-on strategy for years and I plan on continuing that practice under the new regs.  Here is my new strategy: I will place the Canon 600 f/4 L IS lens in the rolling bag with only the leather hood cover in place.  (My old Domke long lens bag will be packed in my checked luggage.) 40-60 rolls of film, a single camera body, a flight lens, and my daily supplements will round out the items in the rolling case.  I will carry my laptop in a briefcase-sized case as my "personal item."  It is that simple.


On trips where I need to bring both the 500 IS and the 600 IS, I will ship one lens via US Priority Mail (as I did previously).  On various trips I often send the second long lens as well as assorted items as follows: I put 6-8 inches of foam balls in the bottom of a large, sturdy cardboard box--computer boxes work extremely well.  I wrap the big lens in several layers of bubble wrap and then put the whole caboodle into a large plastic garbage bag (to keep the foam balls from getting into the lens bag).  Then I cover the lens with another 6-8 inches of foam balls.  Additional items such as auxiliary lens, spare camera bodies, etc. are padded for protection and placed into the box atop that well cushioned lens.  (An option is to first place the big lens in the carrying case but in my opinion this affords no additional protection and adds about $20.00 to the cost of the mailing (because of the extra weight).


I seal the carton securely with both plastic and ribbed carton tape.  I re-use the cartons and after a few trips they are totally covered in tape.  This makes them pretty much indestructible.  In most cases I send the parcel via Priority Mail/Certified/Return Receipt Requested to myself via General Delivery. You need to call the receiving Post Office to make sure that the station that you have selected accepts General Delivery—not all Post Offices accept General Delivery.  When you call, be sure to ask for the correct General Delivery address.  It generally looks something like this:

To: Arthur Morris c/o General Delivery                                       The Postmaster                                                                           Street Address of Post Office                                                     City, State, Zip Code

When you reach your destination simply visit the Post Office, show your driver’s license, and drive off with your gear.


An option would be to travel with a third checked bag with a well-padded long lens packed inside.  The big danger here would be employee theft, especially when traveling to a foreign destination.  (X-ray the bag, see the long lens, and “borrow” it permanently…”  I routinely travel with intermediate telephoto (and other) lenses packed in my checked baggage, but have pretty much refused to put a big AF lens into a checked bag…   I have heard all the horror stories.  (The temptation might just prove to be too much.)  Do let me know of your personal experiences in the next few weeks, especially with regards to the acceptance of cased laptops as  “personal items.” 

More on Mailing Film

Neither the Post Office nor Fed-X replied to my e-mail inquiries with regards to the X-raying of parcels...  So much for customer service. (Do note the reassuring statements from Anchorage Fed-X Station Manager Steve Freno as noted in the BIRDS AS ART NOTES dated October 5, 2001. 
Many Bulletin subscribers have written stating that they have mailed their film either to photographic locations or their out-of- town labs without any damage to the film.  While I appreciate the information, those folks are missing the point: many post offices are stating that parcels may be X-rayed...  All that it would take would be a single 70-roll disaster.  Do you wish to take that chance?  There must be a way of getting a definitive answer from the Post Office; I am open to suggestions.   In the mean time, go ahead and save a few bucks by using the post office...  I, for one, will spend the few extra bucks for Fed-X until we find out for sure.


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