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AIPP weighs in on airline bag policy

Following Inside Imaging‘s coverage of domestic airlines enforcing passenger cabin bag weight rules, AIPP president John Swainston left a comment regarding the Institute’s forthcoming advocacy efforts on the matter.

To ensure John’s comment receives the airtime it deserves, here it is in full:

The AIPP is preparing a submission to the full-service carriers – Virgin Australia and Qantas – on behalf of its membership, to enable working photographers with suitable AIPP or equivalent identification to get some relief and continue their work unimpeded by the new regulations.

The Institute acknowledges the OH&S issues from excess weight and volume in some carry-on luggage. However, like broadcast TV technicians and musicians, the value of the photo and video equipment carried, as well as certain batteries for cameras and lighting that can not be carried by law in the hold, is such that placing such equipment in the hold becomes a major financial risk – as well as cutting in to equipment access immediately on arrival. It is understood the music industry already enjoys some dispensations for suitably identified travellers.

Institute members carry out thousands of flights a year within Australia. A typical professional photographer’s digital cameras and lenses may be worth $16,000 – 20,000 in one backpack. Double that if using something like a Phase One medium format system or a RED 4k video camera.

The weight of a loaded backpack may typically be around the 10-12kg mark. We will be requesting the ability of members to carry on bags in excess of 7kg, provided the total remains at the limit of 14kg in Qantas.

We WILL be seeking a lift in allowance for professional image makers on Virgin Australia flights, to 14kg.

Virgin Australia is flying near identical aircraft to Qantas. Naturally, separate limits apply in smaller regional aircraft; the AIPP recognises both the lower overall weight allowance and volume that can be carried on are defined by the size of the aircraft.

Members have long had to deal with this regional situation, but the bulk of members affected are mainline routes with much larger aircraft and overhead compartments designed to carry it.

Dividing gear between two bags risks equipment damage. Camera bags and back-packs are specially designed for optimal ergonomic load carrying. The leading camera bag brands ThinkTank, Lowepro and Manfrotto all offer bags that fit the required cubic volume limits.

By not asking for any overall weight increase to the larger total 14kg allowance Qantas offers, we are not advocating any further risk to airline staff – just seeking weight re-distribution for minimum inconvenience.


  1. John John January 9, 2019

    Is this the first time AIPP got off their butts (apart from judging each others work – bravo old boy, bravo!) and actually did something to help their members?!

  2. Peter Barnes Peter Barnes January 16, 2019

    @John – showing a fair bit of ignorance about what the AIPP has done for its members over the past while, old boy. So no is the answer to your question.

  3. DW DW January 25, 2019

    Because all professional photographers are members of the AIPP!
    Oh no, that’s right, they’re not, because the AIPP has, in the past, utterly failed to do anything of note to protect or promote the industry it purports to serve!
    In fact, most working professionals are not members because there is no real value in being so, so why should a member of what amounts to a club receive preferential treatment to any fare-paying passenger!
    I hope both Qantas and Virgin laugh then out of the door!

  4. Rory Daniel Rory Daniel January 25, 2019

    Peter Barnes. It’s great to hear that the answer is no, that the AIPP is actively helping its members. But I’d love to hear (as a non-member weighing up the value of joining) some examples of what they are currently doing to help the industry beyond awards.

  5. Lyn Francis Lyn Francis January 25, 2019

    thank you John Swainston, I value your intervention, last flight I took allowed the extra weight, just pinged me $50+ for the privilege, but there was no way my kit was going ‘down under’.

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