Rules for Flights in the USA
On United States flights, gimbals aren’t listed as allowed (or forbidden) in hand and cargo baggage. Generally, though, gimbals are permitted in both, as long as they comply with the airlines’ size restrictions.
Because most gimbals have lithium batteries, they’re treated as any other electronic device, such as a laptop, mobile phone, etc. TSA recommends for all of these electronics with lithium batteries be placed in the cabin. They can also be packed in checked baggage but any spare batteries have to go in hand baggage. Gimbals with lithium-ion batteries over 160 Wh or lithium-metal batteries over 8 grams will not be allowed onboard, but pretty much all gimbals are below this limit anyway.
Although generally allowed, gimbals made out of sturdy materials might be considered a bludgeoning weapon and have trouble going through security. The final decision on whether a gimbal is permitted or not onboard will be taken by the TSA agent at the airport.
And lastly, all electronics with lithium batteries, both in hand and checked luggage have to be charged and working. During the security checks, the security agent is authorized to ask you to turn it on, to prove that it’s working and that nothing in the internal components has been altered.
Rules for Flights in Other Countries
Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand
In Canadian, European, United Kingdom, and New Zealand flights, gimbals aren’t specifically listed as allowed or banned on planes. However, they generally follow similar rules to the United States, and gimbals are permitted in hand and cargo baggage. Gimbals in the cabin are subject to the carrier’s size restrictions.
China and Australia
On Chinese and Australian flights, it isn’t specified whether gimbals are permitted or forbidden on planes. But, similar camera gear like tripods is often banned from cabin baggage, so we can assume that gimbals might be banned as well. It’s advised to pack them in checked baggage instead. Passengers should consult directly with their airline before packing a gimbal in hand baggage.
Indian authorities don’t mention gimbals as allowed or forbidden on flights. Similar camera gear like tripods are generally allowed, but there have been some cases where gimbals in a carry-on were confiscated.
Sources: For writing this article, we took information only from official sources, like airline regulators, government websites, and major airlines. If you want to confirm that our information is accurate and up to date, click on any of the links mentioned above. We linked out to where we found this information for each country.
Disclaimer: The final decision of whether you can bring camera stabilizers on planes always rests on the security officer. Some airlines also have additional rules that may be different.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bringing Camera Stabilizers on Planes
Are all electronic gimbals allowed on planes (with lithium batteries)?
Generally, electronic gimbals with lithium batteries are allowed in carry-on and checked baggage on planes in the United States. TSA doesn’t mention gimbals specifically, but similar equipment like tripods and selfie sticks are allowed in the cabin and checked baggage as long as they comply with baggage restrictions set by the airline. It’s recommended to pack your gimbal with lithium batteries in hand baggage, but they are also allowed in checked baggage. Any spare batteries can only travel in the carry-on. It’s also important to remember to charge your gimbal before your journey because airport security has the right to confiscate it if you can’t turn it on and prove that it works.
Are mechanical camera stabilizers allowed on planes (x-grip, top handle, stick, ring, etc.)?
In general, mechanical camera stabilizers are allowed on planes in the United States with certain restrictions. United States authorities don’t specify if camera stabilizers are permitted (or banned) in planes, but overall, all camera gear including tripods, monopods, and selfie sticks are permitted onboard. However, camera stabilizers must follow the airlines’ size and weight restrictions. When traveling in cabin baggage, the x-grip, top handle, stick, and ring stabilizers must fit in a carry-on. Although generally allowed, a security officer might stop a stabilizer from going through security if he considers it to be a possible bludgeon weapon.
Can I carry vest camera stabilizers on planes?
Theoretically, you can carry a vest camera stabilizer on planes in the United States. TSA doesn’t mention vest camera stabilizers, so we can assume they are allowed in both carry-on and checked baggage. If anything, the vest’s size and weight might be a problem when packing it in carry-on luggage. If the weight and size are over the airline’s standards, you might have to pack it in checked baggage.
Is it better to pack my gimbal in hand or checked luggage?
Overall, it’s best to pack your gimbal in hand baggage when traveling in the United States. Gimbals are usually permitted in cabin baggage, as long as they comply with the airline’s standards for carry-on. By packing gimbals in hand baggage, you can prevent them from breaking, getting lost, or stolen. They are unlikely to get flagged as a possible weapon, as gimbals are usually small and lightweight. Packing a gimbal in checked baggage is not forbidden, but any spare batteries must go in your hand baggage.
Do I need to take out my gimbal when going through security?
In theory, you need to take out your gimbal when going through airport security in the United States. The general rule is that passengers should take electronics larger than a phone out of the bag for inspection like laptops, game consoles, and tablets. Although different from these electronics and more compact in comparison, gimbals still have batteries which are often considered a dangerous good. That being said, most travelers decide to leave their gimbals and camera gear in their bags. If you choose to leave it in your bag, make sure to have it accessible in case the security agent asks for a physical inspection.
What’s the safest way to transport my gimbal while traveling?
The safest way to transport your gimbal while traveling in the United States is by packing it in hand baggage. Depending on the size of the gimbal, it’s best to have it in a hard travel case to protect it while traveling. But, for smaller gimbals, you can also use a soft cover case and pack them inside a carry-on. By packing it in hand baggage, you prevent any damage that might occur while being handled in checked baggage. In hand baggage, you also reduce the risks of it getting stolen or lost.
What’s the best gimbal for traveling?
The DJI RSC 2 gimbal is the best gimbal for traveling that fits mirrorless cameras. It’s under 3 pounds, and it’s smaller than a sheet of paper when it’s folded. So, it’s easy to pack in your carry-on. The DJI RSC 2 also has fast-charging and long-lasting batteries that last up to 14 hours. The best gimbal for traveling that fits smartphones is the DJI OM 4 SE. It’s lightweight and foldable, so it’s also optimal for packing it in a carry-on. The DJI OM 4 SE also has integrated controls and a magnetic attachment for attaching your phone fast.
Are camera sliders also allowed on planes (electric & mechanical)?
In theory, camera sliders are also allowed on planes in the United States. Authorities don’t mention camera sliders specifically, but overall, most camera gear is allowed on carry-on and checked baggage. If you’re packing camera sliders (electric or mechanical) in your carry-on baggage, your camera slider is subject to the airline’s carry-on standards. It must fit in the overhead bin or underneath the front seat. Bigger camera sliders or glide tracks should be packed in checked baggage. Although generally allowed in the the cabin, the final decision to allow them through the security checkpoint is based on the security agents’ judgment. Large or heavy camera sliders might get flagged as a possible bludgeon weapon.
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