Are Tripods & Monopods OK For Airline Carry-On? Yes!

A common question from traveling photographers is can they bring their tripod or monopod on-board flight as a carry on item. As Flying With Fish has not covered this topic in a few years, I figured it was a good time to bring it up again, as the uncertainty photographers face seems to surface with significant regularity.


Traveling with camera gear can be stressful for photographers. Trying to pack all your equipment into a single legal carry on bag to avoid the perils of checking equipment is a challenge, and one piece of gear many photographers do not like to leave home without is their tripod or monopod.   For those seeking to bring it all on the plane, rest assured, in the United States the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows photographic tripods and monopods as carry on. The only stipulation from the TSA is that the tripod or monopod not exceed the maximum carry on limits, and either fit in the overhead or under the seat below.


Globally, for the most part, tripods and monopods are allowed as carry-on. When I travel with a tripod, monopod or light stand, it is almost always attached to the outside of my bag, and I have had virtually no issues in the United States, England, France, Japan, Hong Kong, Mainland China, The Netherlands, Germany, South Korea, Canada, etc.  The only place I have experienced a real issue was in Italy, and that was cleared up quickly and I was on my way.


In the TSA in the U.S., and Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) in Canada allow tripods and monopods as carry on as they are deemed “photographic equipment.” As photographic equipment, the agencies do not want the liability of force checking these items.  The TSA does state that the items may be subject to additional screening or not allowed on board if the items alarm and of course “the final decision rests with the TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane.”


Should you have a problem, you can show the TSA their carry on allowances for tripods and monopods from your smart phone here –


For your sports folks, just remember this, although the TSA allows a six-foot metal extendable tube to be allowed on board, with a small spike in the foot, because it is photographic equipment, does not mean you are allowed to bring on your lacrosse stick or pool cue. The TSA states that “Sports equipment that can be used as a bludgeon (such as bats and clubs) is prohibited in the cabin of the plane and must be transported in your checked baggage,” so try and avoid bludgeoning anyone with your monopod while flying.


Below is a photo of my Flashpoint F-1128 carbon fiber tripod attached to the outside of my Mountainsmith Borealis Daypack while waiting for a flight at Orlando International Airport.


Happy Flying!




a black backpack with pink straps


  1. I’ve had Poland once (out of a couple of times through) refuse to allow a carbon-fiber monopod as carryon; had to check a bag just to transport that. I’ve been scolded by the TSA a couple of times, but not refused carryon. Beyond that, I’ve had to explain what it was many times, with no further issues.

  2. Thank you for this information! My husband is really into photography and has started to drag along the tripod! Last trip to Yellowstone it took up a ton of space (and weight) in our luggage. Great to know he can attach it to his backpack without an issue!

  3. Yup, I’ve taken my tripod many times.

    I’ve have had a TSA officer that was manning the x-ray say when he saw my bag with about 7 lenses in it: “Aha, a photographer.”

  4. I was not allowed by the TSA to carry my heavy duty aluminium tripod attached to my photo backpack. They told me it can be used as a weapon

  5. I attach my tripod to my backpack in exactly the same way as shown in this picture.

    Note, tho, that I take off the head and put it into my pack. I also remove the top screw and put that away, because losing it would make the tripod useless.

    Just be careful when you swing the pack to put it back on. The balance will be very different.

  6. This is a useful article, thanks! I’m going to buy a monopod and trek it in a carry-on bag to Asia, TSA willing!

  7. Rusty,

    Have a great trip! I’ve had either compact light stands or a monopod on the outside of my bag flying through Japan, Mainland China, Hong Kong, South Korea … and on the other side of Asia … Bahrain and Kuwait with no problems.

    Happy Flying!


  8. Thanks for some definitive data as opposed to what else is out there. Flying to Hawaii from Vancouver next month – looks like I’ll take my little gitzo as carry-on.

    I took it carry on in my bag once before, route = Vancouver->Houston->Frankfurt->Rome (destination) Rome->Milan->Frankfurt->Houston->Vancouver.

    It wasn’t until I was coming home, running late, connecting in Milan that they decided it couldn’t go into the passenger cabin. I’ve heard other people complain about Milan with this issue as well. The Milanese security and personnel were all nice about it and let me drop the bag for stowage in the plane’s belly (no charge) as I boarded. I’d say go for the carry on tripod as long as you aren’t going through Milan, and I’d suggest putting it in a bag.


  9. Fish what tripod do you have? Somehow I managed to break mine and am looking for recommendations on a new one… Thanks!

  10. Can’t take as a carry on in Brazil. Ran into that problem last summer. But I just checked it as a bag (because the airline I was on didn’t charge for our bags) and got it on the other side.

  11. Vietnam Airlines have a policy against tripods as carry-on regardless of size or weight. Just a heads up if you’re travelling there…

  12. Thanks for the information!
    I always get harassed when I have my tripod on the outside but can usually get through except for Taiwan. Funny thing is I get harassed not by the bag checking person but by a power tripping agent that stacks up the bins.
    When I pack it inside, never a problem even in Taiwan. So I try and pack it inside my carry-on whenever possible.
    Enjoy it while you can because someday some jerk is going to use it as a weapon and ruin it for everyone.

  13. We had a problem recently (December 2016) in Mexico. They even had a photo of a tripod at the screening area, identifying it was prohibited. We had to check it in a bag and pay $ 25 to do so, flying with United Airlines.

  14. I have been stopped at Manchester airport with a monopod and made to check it in – seems to be after the Manchester Arena bombing it happend before then I was never questioned

  15. I had problem in Vietnam, no tripods as carry-n, had to check-in. They consider they are weapons.

  16. Don’t try it in Brazil, had my tripod confiscated on a short layover in 2010. They said I could go back and put it in my checked bag but it was less than 30 minutes till the next flight so not enough time. 11 years later and I’m still mad about it.

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