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Can I Carry My Tripod On-board My Flight?

Web: www.thetravelstrategist.com — E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

1/10/2008 – Can I Carry My Tripod On-board My Flight?

What is the #1 question I am asked by nature and landscape photographers? “Can I carry my tripod on board my flight?”

There is good news for those of you who like to travel with your tripod, monopod or light-stand as carry-on, tripods are most certainly allowed as carry-on when flying within the United States, and for international travel to and from most countries.

Be aware that your tripod may be counted as a ‘carry-on’ item should it cause your bag to exceed the maximum carry-on size allowances set forth by your airline. Making sure that you do not exceed carry-on weight or size is very important.

Give that tripods must conform to airline specified carry-on requirements, it is best to remove the head and pack that in your carry on, and bring only the legs through security separately. For some reason tripods with the head attached cause more problems from misinformed airport security screeners than those with the head removed.

While I don’t often fly with a full-size tripod, I do often fly with light-stands as carry-on. When I fly with a tripod, monppod or light-stand I generally attach them to the outside of backpack, or roll-aboard bag. I made sure the tripod stays as compact and conforming to my bag as possible. Sometimes this requires using a smaller bag to make sure I stay within the carry-on restrictions depending on my equipment needs.

In one trip earlier this year, in the span of 3.5 days, I passed through security in Providence, Philadelphia, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Incheon, Tokyo and Chicago with a Manfrotto 3373 light stand attached to a North Face Surge backpack and no one blinked twice at any security checkpoint.

So next time you wonder if you bring your tripod, monopod or light stand on-board, chances are your fine. Relax, make sure your bag with tripod stays under the carry-on requirements…….then go head to the airport.

Below is a photo my Manfrotto 3373 light stand attached to the outside of my North Face Surge backpack on the ramp in Providence, next to a United Express CRJ-700 regional jet.

Happy Flying
–Click Image Below To Enlarge It–
a backpack on the ground


  1. Did you cause a stir when you set the bag down and started taking photos? Or do they know you to well there.

  2. Funny as it may seem, for all the times I have been stopped while shooting in airports, I have never been hassled while shooting my bags on the ramp.

    I shoot my photos quickly, subtly,and don’t make a fuss.

    If you scroll through the images on Flying With Fish I know I have posted other images shot on the ramp, including one about a week ago, with my Mountainsmith Correspondent bag in front of a US Airways Dash-8 in Philly.

    Happy Flying!


  3. You have just saved me from checking bags. I am going out to Memphis for a shoot and needed to bring my tripod and rather than risk get turned away at security I was going to check the bag, but now I can fly without that hassle. Thanks

  4. Last fall while leaving Italy, I had a 3001 tripod (no head) attached to the side of my Kelty Redwing backpack. I was not allowed to carry it through security. I was forced to check a third bag, but the fee was waived. Luckily I had a very small duffel stuck in my back with enough extra clothes to pad it. I then preceded back to security where I was additionally informed that rock samples are also not allowed in carry on baggage. (I am a geology student, and had about 5 small to medium sized samples) Nothing I could do at that point but to throw them in the trash and rush to my gate.

  5. Nate,

    I have written in a number of online forums about Italy being one of the few countries that expressly prohibits tripods as carry-on baggage.

    This prohibition of tripods for carry-on in Italy is often poorly enforced, however it is on the books and airport security agents are able to enforce this restriction at their discretion.

    Sorry you had a problem.

    Happy Flying


  6. I was in Italy this past June and I flew into and ROme and out of Venice with my tripod as a carry on and no one stopped me. I didn’t know that you couldn’t do that in Italy, it’s better I didn’t know or I would have been nervous going through security and such.

  7. Italy’s ban on bringing a tripod on-board as carry-on baggage is very much hit or miss. There is no rhyme or reason to when or where it will be enforced. This can be very frustrating for flyers.

    Should security or an airline seek to enforce the no tripod rule they can however point to a specific rule on the books.

    Happy Flying!


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