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Many years ago someone told me about travel with a Camera Tripod is not allowed. I have a trip to Europe from Australia, and I have a 10 hour layover in Dubai. I would like take photos at night in Dubai.

My tripod doesn't have any metal arrow.

But I would like know if this is a problem, or it just depends on the mood of the airport security? enter image description here

14

The exact regulations will vary from country to country, and their interpretation will vary from person to person, so there's never any guarantee of exactly what to be allowed or will not when it comes to items like Tripods.

However speaking from personal experience, I have traveled extensively through at least a dozen different countries on multiple occasions with a Manfrotto 190D (a relatively large, metal tripod) in my carry-on luggage - including trips from Australia.

Only once have I ever had security even ask me about the tripod, and that was when departing from Singapore. They had me remove the tripod from my bag and measured its (non-extended) length, before deciding that there was no problem with me taking it on board.

Obviously YMMV, but based on my experience you will have no problems at all!

  • 1
    +1. Went around the world with a Manfrotto 714B tripod (also large & metal) in my carry-on and never had even the slightest problem. – lambshaanxy Feb 22 '14 at 11:00
  • Thank you @Doc. I got a flight Lisbon - Dubai and Dubai to Sydney with my tripod and any problem. – Afetter Mar 30 '14 at 9:57
  • Last week I flew from Tokyo to Sydney and the security in Sydney checked the size of my tripod. I asked why but the security wasn't able to explain me. You know why? And If the size is a problem what is the max size? – Afetter Apr 29 '14 at 5:23
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    I've had practically identical experience, with at least two different models of tripods in carry-on luggage, as well. – Flimzy Jul 5 '15 at 1:40
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There is a comprehensive list of items that are prohibited to be carried on-board by the Australian Government Agencies. The list that of prohibited and Dangerous goods do not list tripod as an item, however, there is a general clause that your tripod may fit under and though most information from forums such as Whirlpool and Overclockers points to the fact that it will be allowed it is in the discretion of the individual doing the checking whether they want to apply the following clause to it:

Blunt objects that can be used to bludgeon or threaten someone, such as:

  • Baseball, softball, and cricket bats, and similar items
  • Hockey and lacrosse sticks and similar items
  • Billiard, pool or snooker cues
  • Golf clubs
  • Any other piece of wood, metal or any other substance big enough to threaten someone

When it comes to Dubai there is no information like the one above you can probably look at Etihad's list of dangerous or prohibited items to verify.

  • A tripod is no good as a club, the weight distribution is all wrong (= heaviest at the end you'd hold) and even the ends are tipped with rubber. A solid metal monopod, on the other hand, approximates a baseball bat pretty well... – lambshaanxy Feb 22 '14 at 11:02
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    @jpatokal Having friends amongst photographers, I tell you it's no fun when two drunk photographers start fighting with their tripods. Certainly a tripod is more dangerous than a mid-size Victorinox knive, but we all know that the air-travel security is a non-sense as it is, don't we? – yo' Feb 24 '14 at 19:05
  • @tohecz Degree of stupidity always vary with the amount of consumed alcohol... – Karlson Feb 24 '14 at 19:07
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The two other answers so far suggest you will probably be OK.
That would not be my expectation.


Many people report not having had problems, but here are a few reports of confiscated tripods:

  • Here someone comments on twitter

    Having your tripod confiscated at security despite being allowed it on 7 other flights this summer is not the one #cheersfrance

  • and here is an "wasn't confiscated after he argued long enough" story.

  • One reported tripod confiscation here but many others report no problem.

  • Report of confiscation of a tripod by UK customs here

ie it seems that while you will often be OK there is no guarantee that a tripod will not be confiscated occasionally.


I've found Australian security people to be amongst the toughest on occasion. On several occasions I've seen them set up their own XRay and screening system 'at the gate'. I've seen these people confiscate unopened drink bottles which were bought from vending machines in the gate lounge (ie after main security has been passed.

I've had an inkjet refilling cartridge confiscated by Chinese internal security at Guilin airport when travelling to Guangjho. The refiller was unopened. It had 3 tiny internal needles - maybe 10 to 20mm long and shrouded inside the filler. As a weapon it would rank well below an airline meal tray.

I've heard multiple stories of nail clippers being confiscated. These may be useful for inflicting pain if you pushed them up somebody's nostril - but kicking them in the shin would hurt them far more.

The inkjet refiller had already passed successfully along the route NZ-Brunei_HK-China. Internal Guangjho-Guilin.

ie the security people do not have be reasonable or logical or rational or fair. They can assess what they wish as a threat and may do so. A tripod has long pointy parts and could also be used as a swung weapon (The fact that jumping on a tray table and breaking it off would produce a far more dangerous weapon is irrelevant). It sounds like Doc has been exceptionally lucky and/or is exceptionally charming. Your tripod may survive the trip. But, if it didn't I would not be in any way surprised. I'd not take a tripod that I was not prepared to lose as carry on luggage.


Alternatives:

Something like a gorillapod or a bean bag tripod would be far more likely to survive and may be almost as useful.

A customs/security man having a REALLY bad day just might mistake a Gorillapod for an inkjet refiller and confiscate it. But vanishingly few would mistake a beanbag for a fingernail clipper.

Examples of Gorillapods or clones and examples of use in demanding situations.

enter image description here


Example bean-bag "tri"pods.
Also handy if you meet a Leopard (or whatever).

enter image description here


Using beanbag tripods:

http://photographylife.com/wildlife-photography-tips-use-a-bean-bag

DIY bean-bag tripods.

http://www.acasarella.net/2013/03/diy-camera-bean-bag.html

http://www.thepinkc.net/technology/how-to-make-a-bean-bag-tripod/

http://doityourselfdivas.blogspot.co.nz/2012/10/diy-beanbag-tripod.html

Commercial bean-bag tripods:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/127443514/camera-bean-bag-portable-tripod-circus

http://www.amazon.com/Pocket-Adjustable-Camera-Support-System/dp/B004DP4UE0

http://www.visualdepartures.com/steadybag-better-camera-support-than-tripod/

http://www.outdoorphotogear.com/store/wildlife-imaging-bean-bag.html

http://photo-info.co.nz/articles/green-pod


Note: Gorillapods are unlikely to make good pillows.

  • 3
    I have not been "exceptionally lucky". I participate in multiple photograph forums on the web, and have never heard of anyone having a tripod confiscated at airport security (and it is a question that comes up frequently). "Exceptionally charming" ? Perhaps I am, but that would only be relevant if I'd ever even been questioned about the tripod, which I never have been (The Singapore case they just measured, not questioned) – Doc Feb 22 '14 at 18:42
  • @Doc The security people must have a real blindspot there - compared to how they react to far less dangerous items on the list. | FWIW I've had customs officers go into full man-may-have-a-gun alert due to a tripod. But it had a strange shape and two blade type metal extending legs. That was Dublin Airport on a Ryan Air Flight, to I guess they had to be prepared for anything :-) – Russell McMahon Feb 23 '14 at 2:08
  • Hmm - TWO downvotes. Apparently the meaning of "useful" differs for some people. – Russell McMahon Jul 4 '15 at 23:57
  • @Doc see added examples at start of my answer. Most people have no problems, but the above and others similar indicate that it's not a certainty. – Russell McMahon Jul 5 '15 at 0:39

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