Can I Bring A Camera On A Plane?

I always take my camera with me when I travel. You never know when the perfect opportunity to take a photo might present itself, so I always like to be prepared.

One can argue that taking your smartphone with you would suffice, and it would be more practical, but I’m a photographer and I don’t go anywhere without my gear.

Having traveled with my camera more times than I can remember, I think I’m in a great position to inform you of everything you need to know about bringing your camera and camera gear on a plane.

While it is allowed to take your camera onto a plane, there are some things you need to take note of which I will discuss here. Plus, I will answer a few of the most-asked questions about bringing your camera on a plane.

Let’s get started.

Can I Bring A Camera On A Plane?

Yes, you can bring a camera with you on a plane, however, you need to make sure that it doesn’t get damaged when you need to store it. I recommend that you take a secure backpack or a camera bag with you to store your camera in and make sure not to put the backpack or camera bag in the overhead storage where it can get damaged.

Can I Take My Camera Bag On The Plane?

Yes, you can take your camera bag on the plane with you, and I recommend that you do this as opposed to storing your camera in checked luggage where it has a greater chance of getting damaged.

Let’s have a look at what you need to do when taking your camera in a camera bag with you on a plane.

Bringing Your Camera On A Plane
Snapping away before putting my camera in my camera bag and storing it under the seat in front of me

1. Packing Your Camera Gear In A Camera Bag

Camera gear is expensive and very delicate, so it is a good idea to pack them in a well-padded camera bag. If you don’t need to take every lens that you own with you, leave them at home. Just take what you need.

I have a camera bag that has a sleeve for my laptop as well, and I strongly recommend that you look at getting the same type of bag if you don’t own one already. See, you will want to take your camera bag as a carry-on, and having your laptop in the same bag is much more convenient.

2. As per the TSA’s website, you are allowed to take your tripod as carry-on luggage. If you’re taking your tripod with you, make sure it is attached to your bag securely, or alternatively, take a smaller travel tripod with you. This will make things more convenient for you when you’re taking it on the plane with you.

One vital thing to remember is to pack any lithium batteries in your camera bag and NOT in your checked luggage. In fact, the FAA requires any devices that make use of lithium batteries like smartphones, laptops, and cameras to be packed with your carry-on luggage.

3. Preparing For Airport Security

Since you’re bringing your camera gear with you on the plane, you will have to take it with you through airport security. If you’ve ever taken your laptop with you on a plane, you will know that they ask you to take it out of your bag and put it into a separate bin.

Well, they will ask you to do the same with your camera so as per the rules set out by the TSA, you are required to take your camera out at airport security.

You might be asking if the airport scanners will damage your digital camera. No, airport x-ray scanners will not damage your digital camera or any of your other gear in any way. They are perfectly safe.

Once you’re through airport security, you will be well on your way to board the plane. Just remember to keep your bag close to you at all times.

4. Taking Your Camera Bag On The Plane As A Carry-On

The TSA states that you are allowed to take your camera and camera gear as a carry-on, and I strongly recommend that you do. Don’t pack your expensive gear in checked luggage. In fact, when you’re at check-in, they will ask you if you have any expensive equipment in your luggage and they will recommend that you remove it.

I’ve heard horror stories of expensive gear getting damaged or stolen when packed in checked luggage, so please be smart and take your gear with you as a carry-on.

5. Storing Your Camera Bag On The Plane

I’m telling you from experience that putting your camera bag in the overhead storage is not a good idea. For one, your gear might get damaged when someone tries to shove their oversized bag into the same storage as your camera bag. And also, you don’t have a clear sight of your bag and someone can easily open it and steal from it.

Rather store your camera bag under the seat in front of you. Yes, there might not be much room for your feet, but your gear will be safe and sound. It will also be within reach when you want to take your camera out to take a photo at 35,000 feet.

Bringing Your Camera On A Plane
This photo was taken on a domestic flight in South Africa cruising along at 35,000 feet.

Finally, please remember not to leave your camera bag with you when you have to disembark. I nearly did this once and luckily the lady sitting next to me informed me about it.

Does A Camera Count As Hand Luggage?

No, a camera does not count as hand luggage, but you will need to take a suitable backpack or camera bag (recommended) with you to store the camera in. This will count as hand luggage.

Can I Take Lithium Batteries On A Plane?

Yes, you are allowed to take lithium batteries on a plane, however, they are not allowed in checked baggage so you have to put them in your carry-on luggage. The FAA recommends that you make sure that the lithium batteries in your carry-on luggage are off, stored safely, and protected from accidental activation.

Can I Bring My Canon Camera On A Plane?

Yes, you can bring your Canon camera on a plane. In fact, all types and brands of cameras are allowed on a plane. Since cameras are fairly expensive, it is recommended that you follow all the handy tips I outlined above to make sure that your camera does not get damaged or stolen.

Conclusion

Hopefully, now you have a better idea of what is involved when bringing your camera on a plane. The TSA allows you to bring it as carry-on luggage, in fact, they require it if it makes use of lithium batteries.

Remember NOT to pack any lithium batteries in your checked luggage. In fact, don’t pack any of your camera gear in your checked luggage because it can get damaged or even stolen.

Lastly, when you’re on the plane, put your camera bag underneath the seat in front of you instead of in the overhead storage.

Safe travels!