Rules for Flights in the USA
The United States allows camera tripods and monopods in carry-on and checked baggage on flights. When traveling in a carry-on, tripods and monopods are subject to the airline’s restrictions for hand baggage. Tripods and monopods should fit in the overhead bin or underneath the front seat. If they are packed in a bag for themselves, and not inside a suitcase with other things, tripods and monopods count as part of your baggage allowance. Oversized tripods will have to be checked and travel as cargo baggage.
But, TSA does state that the security agent at the airport makes the final decision, which means the tripod in your carry-on might not go through security. Tripods come in different forms and sizes. Particularly large and heavy tripods made out of steel or aluminum could be considered a bludgeoning weapon by an agent, and be forced to travel as cargo luggage. Tripods made of less-heavy materials like carbon fiber, or of smaller sizes have a better chance of going through security.
Rules for Flights in Other Countries
Canada, Europe, the UK, and India
In Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom, and India, tripods are allowed in carry-on and checked baggage on planes. Tripods are allowed as a carry-on as long as they meet the airline’s standard for cabin baggage. Some airlines might restrict tripods within the cabin, so overall, it’s best to consult with the airline you’re traveling with before taking tripods onboard.
Australia and China
In Australia and China, tripods and monopods aren’t allowed in cabin baggage and should travel specifically as checked baggage.
Tripods and monopods aren’t specifically mentioned by New Zealand, but overall, the rules are similar to the US, and tripods are allowed in carry-on and checked baggage. When traveling as a carry-on, tripods should be lightweight and follow cabin baggage size restrictions.
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 tripods and monopods on planes always rests on the security officer. Some airlines also have additional rules that may be different.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bringing Tripods and Monopods on Planes
Are all types of tripods allowed on planes (tripods, monopods, mini tripods, gorilla pods, etc.)?
Theoretically, all types of tripods are allowed in carry-on and checked baggage in the United States. When traveling as carry-on baggage, tripods should meet the airline’s size for cabin luggage. Larger tripods must travel as checked baggage.
For tripods traveling in the cabin, it’s best to keep them small and lightweight. Even if they meet the size restrictions, heavier tripods made out of steel or aluminum could be perceived as a potential threat by an airport security agent, and are less likely to be allowed on board. Mini tripods and gorilla pods usually don’t have problems going through security.
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What are the size restrictions for tripods on planes (personal items, carry-on, and checked bags)?
Tripods don’t have additional size limitations- they are subject to the same hand and checked luggage size restrictions. When traveling in hand baggage, tripods can count as personal items or carry-on.
Although the measurements change per airline, if you’re planning on taking your tripod as a personal item, it should be around 18 x 14 x 8 inches / 45 x 35 x 20 centimeters and should fit under the front seat. If you’re traveling with your tripod as a carry-on, then it should be around 22 x 14 x 9 inches / 56 x 36 x 23 centimeters and must fit in the overhead bin. The usual weight allowed for personal items and carry-on is between 30 and 40 pounds / 13 and 18 kilograms.
Passengers should check with their airlines the exact size restrictions for cabin luggage, and if their tripod goes over it, it must go in the checked baggage. For checked luggage, the only restriction is 62 linear inches (157 cm), which is the sum of height, width, and depth, but virtually all tripods are under this limit.
Can I bring oversized tripods on planes?
Yes, you can bring oversized tripods on planes in the United States with certain restrictions. When it comes to cabin luggage, you can only bring tripods and monopods that meet the airline’s standards for carry-on. Oversized tripods can’t travel in the cabin not only due to the limited space but also because the larger tripod, the more probable it could become a bludgeoning weapon.
However, you can take an oversized and overweight tripod in the cargo baggage. If it’s overweight or oversized for cargo baggage (over 62 linear inches), most airlines will allow you to take it for an additional fee.
Do tripods and monopods count as exempt personal items?
Tripods and monopods do not count as exempt personal items when traveling in the United States. Unlike umbrellas and neck pillows, tripods are bound by carry-on size restrictions if they are to be transported inside the cabin. If a tripod can’t fit in the overhead bin or underneath the front seat, then it must travel as checked baggage.
Is it better to pack tripods in hand or checked luggage?
Overall, it’s best to pack tripods in hand luggage on flights in the United States. Despite their appearance, most tripods and monopods can bend and break easily. When they travel in checked baggage, tripods are exposed to mishandling and a lot of blows. Packing your expensive tripod in checked baggage could mean arriving at your destination and finding it has a bent leg or a blasted head. Not to mention, it can get lost on the way there too. Therefore, if it meets the size requirements, it’s best to travel with your tripod in the carry-on. However, if your tripod is particularly heavy, there are more chances it won’t get through security, as it could be considered a potential weapon.
Can tripods and monopods be brought through airport security?
Generally, tripods and monopods can be brought through airport security in the United States. Both tripods and monopods are TSA-approved. Although TSA doesn’t state any restrictions for these items, it does mention that the security agent at the airport has the final decision on letting tripods or monopods board a plane. The reason is that larger and heavier tripods could be used as a weapon against other passengers. Although they are generally allowed, if a security agent thinks a tripod could be dangerous, it would have to travel as cargo baggage.
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Are tripods considered dangerous items on planes?
In general, tripods are not considered dangerous items on planes in the United States. This is why both tripods and monopods are TSA-approved items. However, depending on its size, weight, and material, a security agent could deem a tripod as a weapon and a threat to the aircraft. In that case, you could still travel with your tripod, but you would have to check it in as cargo baggage. Tripods with steel heads, or made out of heavy aluminum are more likely to confront problems when going through security at the airport.
Does it matter what material the tripod is made from (steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, etc.)?
In theory, it doesn’t matter what material your tripod is made of when traveling with it in the United States. TSA doesn’t make any restrictions nor specifications about what types of tripods are allowed in cabin baggage. Therefore, steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber tripods are allowed through airport security. Yet, TSA does mention the security agent has the final call on allowing certain types of tripods and monopods through airport security based on the weight or size of the tripod. Heavier tripods made of steel and aluminum could possibly raise a security agent’s concern.
As a preventive measure, it’s best to travel with lightweight carbon fiber or light aluminum tripod like the Neewer carbon fiber tripod. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a steel or aluminum tripod won’t be allowed through airport security.
What is the best tripod for traveling?
Overall, the best tripod for traveling is a foldable one made out of carbon fiber. In comparison with steel and aluminum tripods, carbon fiber tripods and monopods are considerably lighter and therefore easier to carry. The Neewer carbon fiber tripod is perfect for traveling as it fits with most airline’s carry-on standards when folded and it’s also lightweight, which is unlikely to cause any concerns to security agents. For travelers that prefer aluminum over carbon fiber, the Oilcan aluminum tripod weighs less than 4 pounds and is under 17 inches when folded.
Can I also bring a camera on a plane?
Yes, you can bring a camera in carry-on and checked baggage on a plane in the United States. Both digital and film cameras are allowed on planes according to TSA. However, it’s best practice to pack your cameras in carry-on baggage to prevent any possible damage that could happen in cargo baggage. If you’re traveling with all your camera gear in a carry-on, keep in mind it’s still subject to weight and size restrictions. If your camera bag is overweight or oversize, it would have to travel as checked baggage.
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