Can I Take My Camera In Hand Luggage?

Should I Take My Camera In My Carry-On Luggage When Flying?

If it's your first time flying with your expensive cameras and gear, you might be a little nervous about bringing your camera onboard a plane and confused about where and how you should pack it. 

You can indeed take your digital cameras in carry-on luggage, but you must ensure that the carry on luggage still abides by weight limits, carry-on packing for expensive cameras is preferred rather than checked.

We've composed a guide below which will cover when you should and should not pack a camera (or a selfie stick!) in your carry-on, some other rules regarding electronics if you should put it in your checked and a few tips for travelling with your camera.

Should I Put A Camera In My Hand Luggage? 

Cameras and valuable camera accessories should always be packed in your hand luggage when possible, this is because electronic devices are expensive, so it's best if they are kept on you at all times. 

There are plenty of reasons too which we will list below. 

  • Space reasons - You simply might not have enough space in your checked luggage among other luggage items, so having a camera in your hand luggage gives you more space options.
  • Avoid flight theft - Unfortunately, theft from checked luggage is not uncommon, even with expensive airlines, so we would recommend having any valuable close by.
  • Equipment for inspection - Some professional video cameras and other valuable camera accessories require special inspection through airport security.
  • Best for fragile cameras - If you travelling with more fragile cameras like full-frame DSLR cameras, having them in your carry on allows you to stop them from getting knocked and bumped.
  • Let's you film while travelling! - You never know, you might be inspired to document some of your airport travels, having your camera close by allows you to do this, but not when it's in your checked luggage.
  • If it has spare lithium batteries - If your photographic equipment has spare lithium batteries then it will need to go in carry on since they are prohibited in checked luggage.

When Should I Not Put A Camera In My Hand Luggage?

We would not recommend putting a camera in your hand luggage if your carry-on baggage has a low weight limit, this is because the weight of lenses can put your carry-on baggage over the limit and cause excess baggage charges. 

In this case, you might have to carry your camera as a personal item instead which is allowed by most airlines, you are only typically allowed one personal item per person, however.

Which Electronics Are Allowed In Hand Luggage? 

Most baggage policies allow you to have a huge variety of electronics in your hand luggage, from laptops to cameras.

Just always ensure your hand luggage and weight is of the correct size to avoid excess baggage charges.

  • Cameras.
  • Laptops. 
  • Phones. 
  • Tablets. 
  • Spare batteries. 
  • E-readers.

Which Electronics Are Restricted In Hand Luggage?

Even though the majority of electronics are allowed in hand luggage, you might get in trouble with baggage handlers for having the following in your bag.

  • Too many devices - For most airlines, you are restricted to having 15 electronic items in your carry-on baggage with lithium batteries up to 100Wh.
  • Big batteries - A large number of airlines do not allow you to have a lithium battery over the power of 160Wh, you should also not be carrying more than 20 spare lithium-ion batteries.
  • Electronic cigarettes - Surprisingly, some airlines do not allow you to carry electronic cigarettes in your carry-on baggage if you travelling to a country where e-cigarettes are banned, for example, the majority of Asian countries like Thailand and Vietnam will not allow you to have these devices.
  • Transmitter devices - Any electronic devices like transmitter devices are not allowed by baggage handlers in your carry-on since they emit a signal which can interfere with the plane's network.

Other Items Restricted In Carry-On Luggage

Most photographic equipment is allowed in your carry on, but you should be aware of other restricted items in your luggage too so you can avoid delays.

  • Liquids - The majority of airlines require that sometimes all your liquids fit into a one-quart size bag in bottles of 100ml, these should not amount to more than 1 litre, the rest has to be packed in your checked luggage. This does not apply to some liquids like baby food.
  • Firearms - Any firearms or other weapons cannot be brought in your carry-on luggage, this also goes for toy guns or anything that can be mistaken as a weapon.
  • Powders - For people travelling to the US in particular, you can only bring powder substances up to 350ml in your carry on luggage, the rest should be put in your checked bag.
  • Pointy items - Anything pointy like knives or axes should never be packed in your carry on luggage since they are classed as a weapon.
  • Plastic bags - Some countries like Kenya and Tanzania do not allow you to bring plastic bags in, remember to remove the bag before entering the country.

Can I Put A Camera in Checked Luggage? 

If you have large full-frame DSLR cameras with lots of extra camera batteries, your gear might not fit in your carry-on luggage items, leaving you wondering, can you just put them in your checked bag? 

Although allowed, we would never recommend putting your camera or camera equipment in checked luggage pieces due to the risk of them getting broken, luggage items can get thrown and moved around a fair amount during transit.

There is also the possibility that any camera luggage items could get stolen from the luggage through airport security onwards.

Our Top Tips For Travelling On A Plane With Camera Gear

Travelling with your cameras and equipment can be overwhelming due to luggage regulations, so to help you out, we've put together what we think are our most important tips to consider before flying with your gear below.

  • Keep device charged - When travelling through the airport security checkpoint you might be asked to turn your electronic device on, make sure yours are charged before going through.
  • Remember tripods - If you travelling with your tripod onboard a plane check the dimensions that you can take as your item, otherwise you might be asked to bring it as checked luggage.
  • Consider the film - For people taking a film camera, never let your film go through the security scanner this could wipe the film, instead of handing it over for inspection if needed.
  • Remove the battery - Always make sure the battery has been taken out of your camera before going through security, this stops your camera from being turned on accidentally.
  • Make sure everything is insured - In case of anything getting lost or damaged, it's a good idea to ensure that all of your expensive camera equipment is insured for peace of mind.
  • Only bring what you need - To stop you from going over your luggage allowance or being uncomfortable when travelling we suggest only bringing what you need onboard, leaving extras behind.
  • Check the batteries - Make sure all your lithium batteries are in your hand luggage and their contacts are sealed with plastic tape if loose.
  • Use cases for the camera - Even in your carry-on, cameras can get knocked around, having a camera case adds that extra layer of protection, you could even carry the case as your item.
  • Remember the cleaning solution - People often throw their cleaning solution in their hand luggage forgetting it is a liquid, make sure it's under 100ml or in your checked otherwise you will have to bin it!
  • Split between your carry on and personal item - A great way to divide and organise your gear is by splitting it between your carry on luggage, and having your most valuable items in your item bag so that they can stay close to you during the flight.
  • Put non-valuable accessories in your checked luggage - Any non valuable items which are part of your camera gear can be put into your checked luggage to save space in your carry-on.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hand Luggage & Camera Gear

Can I put the camera on a neck strap while going on a plane? 

No, unfortunately, you will be asked to put the camera as your personal item or in your carry-on bag.

Is it possible to bring film cameras on a plane? 

You should only bring undeveloped film on a plane to stop the risks of the developed film being wiped out when passing through the x-ray.

Will x-ray damage my camera? 

No, having your camera pass through an x-ray will not cause any damage, if you are worried about particular equipment you can ask for it to be hand-inspected.

How should I protect batteries when flying? 

Loose batteries should never be kept in your hand luggage without some protection, for example, the terminals on batteries should be kept covered, otherwise, they can make can contact with each other or metal items and start a fire.

Final Words

To conclude, a camera should always be taken in your hand luggage when possible rather than in your checked luggage to keep it safe, this prevents it from getting broken or stolen during transit. 

Always make sure your check how many batteries you are taking with your camera and keep valuable items protected and near you at all times when flying, we would suggest making sure everything is insured before taking your trip.

About this Guide

Written By Alex
Last Updated On April 8, 2022
Reading Time 
9 minutes
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