Camera in hand luggage: These 3 transport options are available
There are basically three possible “ways” of carrying a camera in hand luggage:
- Camera in camera bag or backpack as a regular carry-on bag
- Camera in camera bag or backpack as a personal item (small piece of hand luggage)
- Camera (around the neck) as a possible additional accessory (problematic!)
What you have to pay attention to, we want to have a look at in detail.
Camera in camera bag or backpack as a large piece of hand luggage
Transporting a camera in a camera bag (or also in a special camera hand luggage trolley) together with other (camera) gear as a large piece of hand luggage is an option that is particularly suitable if you have extensive photographic equipment with various lenses, cables and other accessories with you.
With this variant there are especially the following to consider:
In the meantime, some airlines do not allow a large piece of hand luggage for on board in the standard tariff.
These include, for example, Ryanair, Laudamotion & Wizz Air. If you want to bring a large piece of hand luggage on board with these airlines, then you have to book the priority option (with Ryanair and Laudamotion) or a more expensive travel fare.
Generally speaking, when travelling with low-cost airlines, you will always want to make sure to double-check their hand luggage allowance, as these kinds of airlines allow less and less carry-on baggage.
Airlines that still allow one large piece of hand luggage and one small piece of hand luggage (personal item) may occasionally have to check in the large piece of hand luggage at the gate due to lack of space in the aircraft.
If you have stored your precious camera in the large hand luggage, then this could become a big problem for you and your camera because your camera might need to be checked in.
If this is the case, you have two options: Either you leave your camera in the large piece of hand luggage or you take it out at the gate under stress and stow it in the small piece of hand luggage (if this is still possible for space reasons!).
The practice that large pieces of hand luggage have to be checked in at the gate is increasingly being done by low-cost airlines.
And what you should also know: You may well be forced to check-in your large piece of hand luggage, even if there is no violation of the rules.
Conclusion: If you have very expensive photographic equipment with you, then you should consider whether you would like to invest a few euros more on the flight and fly with a more reputable airline.
Camera in camera bag or backpack as a personal item
If you are travelling with an airline that allows both a large piece of hand luggage and a small piece of hand luggage you can easily carry your camera as part of the small piece of hand baggage.
Make sure that you do not exceed the maximum dimensions and weight defined by the airline. Many airlines have also defined such maximum values for small hand luggage pieces (often referred to as personal items).
If you are travelling with an airline that only allows a small piece of hand luggage in the standard fare, then this is almost certainly a low-cost airline. These kinds of airlines are very strict when it comes to hand luggage and there is little to no goodwill.
So if you want to take your camera with you as a small piece of hand luggage, you must make sure that your camera bag complies exactly with the airline’s hand luggage regulations.
If your bag is just a little too big/heavy here, you must expect it to be transported in the aircraft’s hold. And that can’t be the goal with expensive cameras.
With low-cost carriers such as Ryanair, Laudamotion or Wizz Air, you can, of course, buy additional options for an extra charge, which will also allow you to take a large piece of hand luggage on board.
In addition to additional options, these airlines also offer more expensive fares, which also include one large and one small piece of hand luggage.
Camera (around the neck) as a possible additional accessory
In addition to regular hand luggage, many airlines also allow additional items, so-called accessories, which can be brought on board as part of the regular hand luggage allowance. The problem here is that cameras usually do not qualify as accessories. Most airlines only consider (some) of the following items as accessories:
- Reading material for on the flight
- Medical aids (e.g. crutches)
In some cases, a camera may pass as such an accessory, but you should not assume that it does unless it is explicitly listed in the list of possible accessories on the airline’s website.
It should also be mentioned that these accessories are usually limited to one accessory. In other words, many airlines allow you to bring only one of these items on board.
However, many airlines are quite accommodating and often tolerate two or even more accessories. But as already said, cameras are (officially) hardly ever part of this list.
Camera in hand luggage: airline overview
How the camera can best be transported depends greatly on which airline you have chosen. Let’s take a look at the hand luggage regulations of some popular airlines and talk about the best and safest way to carry cameras with these airlines.
Camera in hand luggage with easyJet
With easyJet, you are only allowed to bring one piece of hand luggage on board in the standard tariff. This rule is handled very strictly by easyJet.
So if you want to bring a camera into the cabin with easyJet, you must stow the camera in your hand luggage. The good thing about easyJet is that there is no weight limit for the hand luggage.
Please note that the size limit for your regular hand luggage piece is 45 x 36 x 20 cm.
However, if you are willing to pay some more (=upgrade), you can bring a second piece of hand luggage with the dimensions of 56 x 45 x 26 cm. In either case, the camera would need to go INSIDE of the cabin bag, if not it would count as an additional piece of hand luggage and in this latter case, you almost certainly would be charged a surcharge.
Camera in hand luggage with Ryanair
At Ryanair, only a small piece of hand luggage measuring 40 x 20 x 25 cm is allowed in the standard rate. If you would like to take a camera with you in Ryanair’s hand luggage, then you should definitely place it in this small piece of hand luggage.
If you carry the camera around your neck, for example, this will probably not be accepted because cameras are not officially considered accessories that can be carried on board in addition to regular hand luggage.
Attention: If you wish to take a large piece of hand luggage into Ryanair’s cabin, it is essential that you book “Priority and two pieces of hand luggage”. If you do not do this and are travelling with too large a piece of hand luggage, it must be transported in the hold of the aircraft.
If you then have your camera in this large piece of hand luggage, then it must also be transported into the hold (unless you still have enough space in the small piece of hand luggage, then you could squeeze in the camera there).
In addition, you will, of course, have to pay excess baggage charges if you are carrying hand luggage that does not comply with the rules.
Camera in hand luggage with Laudamotion
Since Laudamotion has belonged to Ryanair for some time now, and Ryanair has been using the same hand luggage regulations for some time now (not always, but since the last adjustment they are now largely identical), Laudamotion’s starting position for cameras in/as hand luggage is identical to that of Ryanair (see the section above for more information).
Camera in hand luggage at Lufthansa
If you are travelling with Lufthansa, you can take a small piece of hand luggage as well as a large piece of hand luggage into the cabin in all travel tariffs except the Economy Light tariff. Only one large piece of hand luggage is included in the Economy Light fare. If you are travelling at this fare, you would not be able to take a hand luggage trolley + a small camera bag/backpack with you.
Camera in hand luggage in the US
In the US, the subject of cameras in hand luggage is handled very similarly to ours. In principle, cameras are also allowed in both hand luggage and checked baggage. A glance at the TSA website is enough to check this: Cameras in hand luggage in the US
In general, it can be said that US airlines have somewhat looser rules when it comes to hand luggage, or are somewhat more accommodating than European airlines when it comes to hand luggage.
For example, many American airlines have no weight limits for hand luggage. That’s pretty practical, of course, because full-frame DSLR cameras and accessories can be pretty heavy, right?
Camera: Better in hand luggage or in checked luggage?
- Checked baggage is often lost
- Checked baggage often arrives late
- Checked baggage is often damaged during transport
- The airlines are usually not liable for damage to your luggage (especially its contents), and if they are, then they are usually only insufficiently liable.
You see: Transporting your camera in hand luggage is always preferable. The same applies to valuable camera accessories such as lenses, memory cards and the like.
As far as tripods are concerned, however, they usually have to be transported in checked baggage due to their size. Another problem with tripods in hand luggage is that they may be classified as a potential weapon at security checkpoints.
Recommendation for camera backpack: Regular carry-on bag
If the camera is used as a large piece of hand luggage, I recommend the Lowepro LP36875 Pro Runner BP 450 AW II.
Why this camera backpack? Here are the reasons:
- Fits up to 2 Pro DSLRs with attached lens (such as Nikon D4S with up to 70-200mm f/2.8 or 300 mm and 5-6 extra lenses (one up to 300 mm) and speedlights
- Can be carried by most airlines as a large piece of hand luggage, as the dimensions are only 34.8 x 18 x 49.5 cm
- The backpack can be used in a variety of ways
- Enough space for accessories (cables, SD cards, rechargeable batteries, etc.)
- Also offers space for a 15″ laptop
- Excellent wearing comfort, also recommended for longer trips
Recommendation for camera backpack: Used as a personal item
If the camera is to be carried as part of the small piece of hand luggage, you must take particular care to ensure that you are travelling with a camera backpack (camera bag) that meets the airline’s requirements.
The selection here is very small, as most camera backpacks and bags do not meet the airlines’ requirements for so-called personal items.
However, with the K&F Concept photo backpack (size S!!!), which measures 37 x 16 x 26 cm, there is still a good variant, which may also be accepted as a small piece of hand luggage.
With Ryanair (+Laudamotion), for example, the personal item may be 40 x 20 x 25 cm. You see: In principle, the K&F Concept photo backpack is one centimetre too long in one dimension.
Since such a backpack is not too stiff, it can also be “compressed” a little and should therefore also be used by Ryanair as a small piece of hand luggage.
Attention: Choose the backpack in size S! Size L is much too big for a small piece of hand luggage.
- The travel companion for day trips and photo trips, can also be used as a hand luggage on the plane.
If you would rather have a camera bag, then the bag below could be something for you. The big advantage of this bag: At 29.5 x 19.8 x 12.4 cm, the camera bag is extremely small and can easily be used as a personal item (small piece of hand luggage) by most airlines.
- Delivered in Certified Frustration-Free Packaging
Related questions on cameras in hand luggage
Can I take a camera with me in addition to my hand luggage?
With most airlines, a camera can be carried either as a large piece of carry-on baggage or a small piece of carry-on luggage (personal item). As a rule, a camera represents either the large or small piece of hand luggage.
Most airlines do not (officially) accept cameras as an additional accessory. Accessories that most airlines allow you to bring with you in addition to your regular carry-on baggage include: Umbrella, coat/jacket, blanket, in-flight reading materials, medical supplies, duty-free items.
In theory, the number of such accessories is often limited to one piece according to the airline websites. In practice, however, more accessories are sometimes tolerated.
If you wear a camera around your neck, you must expect problems if the free hand luggage allowance is already “exhausted” by the large and, if permitted, the small piece of hand luggage (personal item).
Can I wear a camera around my neck and take it with me on the plane?
Basically yes. However, not necessarily in addition to the basic hand luggage allowance as defined by the airline, since cameras are not (officially) recognised as additional accessories that can be taken on board (in contrast to an umbrella, a blanket or medical aids such as crutches).
Low-cost carriers are very strict in this regard and if the number of allowed hand luggage items is exceeded as a result, then this plan may be doomed to failure. With more expensive airlines you can still hope for goodwill.
Of course, it also plays a role whether we are talking about a small system camera or a monstrous full-format DSLR camera.
Is it allowed to take photos at the airport?
It all depends where exactly at the airport and at which airport. In some areas of the airports, however, photos are always strictly forbidden, especially in the security control area and at passport control.
In these areas, you will usually be informed by various prohibition signs and symbols that you are not allowed to take photographs here.
As a rule, however, photographs may be taken of aircraft taking off and landing. There are often special spotting areas at the airport for this purpose.
Hey guys! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of carry-on-baggage.com. I am dealing with hand luggage related issues on a daily basis and I own several websites in this niche. Travelling is one of my biggest passions in life and I, therefore, happen to know a thing or two about hand luggage. I hope you all have a safe trip! Take care and thanks for the support. I really appreciate it.