I've just bought a Pelican 1510 case for flying. Until now, I have used a variety of 'solution's, none of which has been full-proof when going to airports, as each carrier seems to have their own rules and it is often down to the discretion of the staff I meet at the airport on the day of check in, whether I will have to check-in my bag, or not.
I really like the Think Tank bags. They are very durable, tough and well designed and thought out items. I also love my Think Tank Airport International bag, with one exception: it is often 'caught' at check-in. Very often I will see the attendant peer over their desk and say 'pop it on the scales'. Well, even with the bag completely empty it is around 7KG in weight. So I know as soon as this happens that my bag is going into the hold.
One of the solutions I've had for this encounter, is to take out the valuables such as laptops etc, that I think are a high risk of being stolen. I'm also of the opinion that my film cameras are deemed valueless, so I have had very little worry when checking the Think Tank Airport International in. It has happened over ten times now, and on all occasions, everything arrived safely and still in one piece. That's quite comforting to know, as the bag is quite durable, but the top lid is quite soft and wouldn't withstand someone walking over it.
The most recent solution I've had, is to not use this bag at all. I find that if you turn up with a trolley bag that is the full dimensions, it is often weighed. Whereas if I turn up with a backpack no one seems to check the weight of it. My theory is that they assume that if it's on my back, it can't be that heavy.......
But I really dislike backpacks in general, and I also hate lugging them around airports. Plus, they still get stopped from time to time and have to be checked in.
So I've come to the conclusion of late, that it's simply easier if I just check in my camera gear, minus film, minus laptop and minus anything seriously desirable. Which is why this week, I've bought a Pelican case that conforms to carry-on size regulations.
This means that I can still attempt to carry the bag onto the plane, but if they ask to weigh it, and it is now inevitably heading towards the checked-luggage area, then the bag is more robust to withstand knocks and bumps along the way.
In the images above, I show you the new Peli Case alongside the Think Tank Airport International bag I was using. The Think Tank is wider, and also has more space inside. I can get all my equipment plus laptop all in this bag, whereas I really have to squeeze everything to get it into the Peli Case, minus laptop and minus any accessories I had in the lid of the think tank case. To sum it up: the Peli Case works, but it's not as spacious as the Think Tank Airport International. But I think this is Ok, since I am finding that the Airport International is often stopped at check in and quickly becomes something I am hoping will withstand the checked-luggage area of the airport.
I have no firm idea yet whether this is a solution that will work for the long-term, as I haven't tried the Peli Case out as yet. Also, your needs may differ from mine: I travel a lot, and I've been asked repeatedly to check in my Think Tank, plus, I don't think my old film cameras are considered 'valuable' in the eyes of any potential thief. Whereas maybe your sexy new DSLR may be. But I've come to realise over the past four years, that my bag is often checked-in, and I'm becoming more relaxed at doing so, as it has survived so far and nothing has been damaged or broken. Using the Peli-case for the future just seems like the best way forward to securing the success rate that I've had to date at checking my equipment in, but also allow me to try to get the bag on as carry-on as well. We will see.