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Can I Bring a Tripod on an Airplane?

Can I Bring a Tripod on an Airplane?

It seems that each year, airlines are banning more items from their airplanes. Aerosol cans, gels, and even some batteries aren’t permitted. Rather than making a split decision whether to toss your camera and tripod at the gate, it’s better to know what you can bring in advance.

Whether you can bring a tripod on a plane depends on the airline. Most airlines will allow these items if they can fit in the overhead storage bin or under the seat in front of you. If the tripod or tripod’s case exceeds the carry-on limit, you might have to check it at the gate.

Every airline is different, so it’s best to review its carry-on policy before making any assumptions. Continue reading to learn more about what you can and cannot bring on an airplane.

Can You Bring a Tripod on an Airplane?

Some airlines will allow you to bring a tripod onto the airplane as your carry-on, as long as it can fit in the overhead storage bin or under the seat in front of you.

In most cases, however, it’s usually best to pack your tripod into your carry-on bag if you really need it to travel with you.

Most major airlines let you bring a free carry-on. However, if it exceeds a certain size, you’ll have to check it. Here’s a quick chart outlining the cost of carry-ons, the maximum storage size, and the cost of checking a bag:

AirlineCarry-on PriceCarry-on Maximum SizeCost of Checking the First Bag
American AirlinesFree22x14x9$30
Delta AirlinesFree22x14x9$30
Southwest AirlinesFree10x16x24Free
United AirlinesFree22x14x9$35
(Source: Skyscanner)

If your tripod can fit into your carry-on bag, you probably won’t have to pay anything extra. However, if it doesn’t, then you’ll need to check it separately and pay additional fees (unless you’re traveling with Southwest Airlines).

What About Specialty Tripods?

Technology comes out with new innovations every day. Pretty soon, we might see a “smart tripod,” which makes taking pictures even easier. These devices might contain batteries, fluid, and other traditionally banned items on airlines. While most tripods are plastic stands and nothing more, know that you cannot bring a tripod if it contains:

  • Explosive or incendiary materials
  • Corrosive batteries
  • Flammable components
  • Radioactive materials
  • Magnetic materials

If you’re unsure whether your tripod contains any of these elements, check your user manual.

Can You Set Up a Tripod in an Airplane’s Cabin?

You cannot set up a tripod in the airplane’s cabin; it must be stored away for the entire duration of the flight.

This is for your safety; airplanes can have extra unexpected turbulence, which can send objects flying (including a tripod) if it’s not stowed away properly. In short, an innocent-looking tripod that’s filming in the aisle can quickly become a projectile.

If you can bring your tripod on a plane, it must be compressed, regardless of whether it’s sitting on your lap or in the overhead storage bin.

Can You Bring Other Camera Gear on a Plane?

If you’re wondering whether you can bring the rest of your camera’s gear—like the camera, flashbulbs, and film—it depends on its combined weight.

The airlines listed above do not check bags weighing more than 50 pounds. They’ll ask that you purchase separate luggage for heavier items.

In general, most modern cameras don’t weigh more than two pounds. For instance, a Canon DSLR camera does not weigh more than 1.04 pounds. However, when factoring in other gear, weight can add up fast. It’s wise to check your luggage’s weight at home before getting to the airport. If one airport Diet Coke costs $3.50, imagine how much it’ll cost to buy a new bag!

What Happens if I Can’t Bring My Tripod on an Airplane?

If you can’t bring your tripod on a plane, you don’t have to throw it out. Many airports come with rentable lockers. The cost depends on how long you’ll use the locker and the size of your item.

However, because of security reasons, some airports have discontinued or do not provide this service. For example, John F. Kennedy International Airport does not provide lockers because of the September 11th attack.

It’s best to call the airport in advance to see whether locker storage is available.

Mailing Options

If locker storage isn’t available, some airports have mailing services. In these situations, you can mail certain items to your home or destination before flying. This is a great solution if you’re trying to reduce your luggage’s weight.

Again, keep in mind that not all airports provide this service. For instance, LAX says you cannot mail items from the airport. However, Denver International Airport provides on-site services.

In Summary

Depending on the size and weight of your tripod, you may bring it on an airplane. You might need to pay extra if you decide to check your bag. Before getting to the airport, you should first call the airline and ask specific questions about your luggage. Doing so can save you both time and money!