Howdy wise ones...
I just switched tripods, from a gitzo with rubber feet to a Ries with spike feet. I have traveled a million times with the Gitzo but it just dawned on me that I have no idea how the friendly TSA people at the airport will react to spikes on a tripod, since they take nose hair scissors.
Any experience here?
Well, I have not traveled with one, but If I was a TSA person I would not allow one. Those spikes are big and can be used as a weapon.
It's probably too big to carry on anyway. I check my tripod in a Tenba TTP case with the head attached and the handles loose or removed (depending on the head), and I haven't had any problems with it.
Hell, my ballhead can kill a horse on it's own.....
I've travelled with both the Zone VI wooden tripod and the largest Benbo (at different times) packed in a large heavy canvas bag that was purpose made. I wrapped the spikes of the Zone VI in more canvas to prevent them taering the bag. The head was dismantled and placed in my checked bag. I've never had a problem. As age has overtaken me I purchased the Gitzo carbon tripod which packs into my checked bag.
I'd say checking would not be a problem (I've done this, but without spiked feet) as the idea is that you don't have a weapon handy.
However, I haven't tried to carry-on my tripod - spikes or not, most tripods would make a nice club, and I'm sure you could conceal things in the legs or otherwise transform it into an instrument of mayhem.
Why don't you try emailing the TSA yourself? They've got their own website:
I think I will have to check it.
The gitzo..one of the smallish carbon fiber ones...always went on with me, with never a question or problem, even right after 9/11.
But I think the spikes will be different. Sooo, it's back to the check-in counter for me....
Thanks for all the input!
I deal with airports, security, and security personnel all the time as part of my job. If you put it in checked baggage you will not have a problem. If you want to carry it on-board - that will be the problem area.
Here's the what you will have to deal with for carry-on. Each airport's TSA Security Director and staff will have a different reaction to your equipment. You, in all probability, will not get a universal answer - especially if/when the Threat Level is changed.
So, if you go to your local airport and check with the TSA Security Director, show him/her the equipment, etc. you'll get an answer for that airport that may OR may not be passed down to the field personnel who will make their own judgement at the time you go through passenger screening.
You will probably not get an answer by emailing the TSA directly, and, again even if you do, that decision will not be passed down to the myriad of airports you go through.
I'd get an appointment with the SD at your local airport, bring the equipment and discuss the problem knowing the information I have given to you. Ask for his / her opinion, and then plan how to transport the equipment at that point.
Steve - what if you had an email from the TSA saying it was ok to bring on board? Couldn't you use that at each airport?
I doubt they'd believe it. The TSA I've dealt with over the past few months are pleasant, courteous, efficient (compared to their predecessors), and utterly rigid. There's a mental checklist, and their local supervisor to please, and they follow that to the letter.
They've been pleasant about film (asking whether it was 800 speed or faster), but I've checked my tripod and an informal chat with one this last trip (while they examined and reexamined my laptop bag), suggests that tripods would be dealt with somewhat more carefully if carried on. The size and hollow nature were mentioned as concerns.