Adding a New Step to My Airport Security Choreography

by Colleen Wheeler

I just read Scott Kelby's blog post about having to remove his DSLR from his camera bag when going through airport security in Minneapolis. Got me thinking about the security line dance performance I already do and have worked hard to perfect. I thought I was fairly clever putting my quart-size bag of 3-oz bottles of liquids in my laptop bag, so I only have to open section of one bag to remove all the items that have to go solo through the xray. (However, I have been directed not to put the liquid and the electronic items in the same gray bin.) Now I'm trying to figure out how to add removing my DSLR will fit into this delicate ballet.

Of course the main issue, somewhat ironically, is security. While all reasonable people want to do what they can to increase airline security, this is the moment where you expose your most expensive possessions to both a) immediate theft and b) reconnaissance by potential thieves. The former can be mitigated by sending the electronics through last. My routine: bin 1 is coat and shoes, then suitcase, then laptop bag, then bin 2 with liquids (which go penultimately because of their proximity to the laptop in the bag not their value. I mean I like my shampoo, but...), and bin 3 with laptop. I don't even want to talk about the time I felt I needed to take two laptops. As for the latter issue of showing it all off to those bent on thievery? Well, who am I kidding, the whole package travels around in my awesome LowePro CompuDayPak.

Anyway, depending no doubt on which airports I travel through, looks like I may just have to write my camera in to the show. Thanks for the heads up, Scott.


Sean McCormack
2007-09-25 12:52:19
HI Colleen.
Ironically while traveling recently I saw the CompuDaypack for the first time. But at £100 sterling, I was loathe to buy it in London. When I got back home I ordered it from my local camera shop. The cost? €90, which is about £60. Glad I waited.
For me this is the ultimate in get around bags. Along with the 15" Macbook pro in the back, I can fit my 30D, 24-70L, 50 f1.8, 85 f1.8, Sigma 10-20 and a flash in the camera bag section. Of course then there's all the other room in the top, with the cool iPod pocket, not to mention all the other nooks any crannies inside.

As to the security measures, I think that photographers need to club together to exercise their combined might to put pressure on airports to make sure that security for the passenger and their goods is as important as security for the airlines.

Colleen Wheeler
2007-09-25 13:15:51
Smart purchase on many levels, Sean!
I have actually fit the aforementioned 2 laptops (13" MacBook, 15" PowerBook) in the padded area, a Canon XTi with a reasonable-sized lens and both laptop power cords in the camera section, AND STILL had room in the other section for my smaller bag (OK, also known as a purse, but it's a small Crumpler messenger for my keys, wallet, and compact camera). Love being able to stash my smaller bag inside the CompuDayPack and still have the whole caboodle count as only one carry-on item.

BTW, O'Reilly HQ and LowePro are in the same complex in Sebastopol, and those guys are nice, too. Thanks for sharing your experience, Sean.

Harold Blouin
2007-09-26 12:53:27
Thanks for Posting about Scott's experience. I had a number of times had to remove and take apart my camera, now with "Digital" I worry about dust on the sensor. Lately I bought a LowePro CompuTrekker Plus AW backpack, where I keep everything, camera, lens, epson p-3000 etc. and yes I have to take my camera out for disassembly. A few months ago, I took my camera cover (the one you get if you buy just the body) and rear lens cover, grinded off the flat cover part and epoxyed a clear see-thru plexiglass . Now when they take the camera out, Airport sucurity is able to see inside both the camera and lens without risking dust getting on the sensor or back part of the lens.
Also, when travelling, my wife is behind me, I place my contents on the bins, while she's watching the bins, I also am watching, two sets of eyes, better than one. You can never be too cautious. You have to do the best you can in these situations.
James Duncan Davidson
2007-09-27 09:52:50
I've been having to pull out my dSLRs more and more lately when going through airport security stateside. Another thing that I've had to start doing stateside is pull out external hard drives and send them through with my laptop.

Overseas, however, things aren't quite as convoluted most of the time and all I had to do going through checkpoints in Germany, Switzerland, and Spain in the last month has been pull out the laptop.

Another note: In the last two times I've flown with the TSA approved locks on my checked baggage, I've had them cut and disposed of. Pretty irritating.