How To Save Money, When You're Flying With Drone Luggage When Using Media Passes.

Saving Money on Luggage, Printing Media Passes and the In's and Out's I've learned. 

 Being a  drone pilot , working for  DroneU a nd podcasting 24/7 means I'm traveling all the time. If it's going to Miami to train, or if it's going to Puerto Rico for work, it's all the time. Here's the deal, my clients hate luggage fees. If you're working with an experienced marketing director, they know these media rules too. So if you find that they eliminated your luggage fees from the expense report, this may help.    (DONT FORGET TO CARRY ON YOUR BATTERIES)   In this article, you'll learn how to reduce bag fees, how to showcase a media pass and how to print a media pass. BUT REMEMBER, everything and the success of this are dependent on your attitude!   I have dealt with luggage handlers who didn't even need a media pass and let me off with the rules. Others wanted 4-5 pieces of proof. This definitive guide will help you print off a media pass that should work, but don't forget it always helps to start with "Maybe you can help me.?"    Discount Luggage Rates   This is the single best thing that has ever happened to someone    Livin' The Drone Life.    Often times, some people rent equipment, but with drone rentals being so tumultuous, you may find it easier to just fly with the gear. In my case, it just makes the most sense to bring everything with me. That, and I like working with the gear I’m familiar with.  It’s  very important to note  that each airline has different language for their policy, but they all require a form of identification for your company proving you are indeed what you say you are. This is where having your business set up as a separate entity can be very helpful. Some counter reps may just take your business card and call it good, especially when they see you have a bunch of hard cases in tow. I always hand them my business card and my business credit card, or business debit card. This is simply proof to them that I have a legitimate business, as anyone can print a business card, so be prepared for this. You can try it with just your business card and it might work, maybe wear a T-shirt or hat with your company name or logo on it, and you might get by. I have found that American Airlines and Delta were a little easier and smoother to process the bags than United. Also, make sure you arrive  very  early to do this. I’ve had the process of checking my gear take up to 45 minutes as some people don’t even know how to apply it in their computer system, so they have to ask for help. I’ve also had it take 10 minutes, so you just never know.   So what is a media rate and how do I get it?   The media rate is essentially a flat baggage rate for members of the media, photographers, and filmmakers.  I'll to outline the details of each airline's media rate, but they all share one thing in common, a $50-$75 flat rate for a bag up to 99 pounds. That’s a lot of gear that you can fly for the price point. Many airlines also give you up to 25 bags at this rate. Normally for the average Joe, a bag weighing over 50 pounds will carry a fee, and over about 70 pounds the fee gets even larger. With a media rate, you don’t have to worry about it as long as your cases are under 100 pounds. So let's look at some media rate policies.   United Airlines   I can't stand United, They were amazing in the 90's and now they are rock bottom if you ask me. They really need help in the service department and they are the longest when it comes to handling my media bags. They have a lot of gate agents that don’t know the policy as they should. They usually think it is just for members of the media like CNN or NBC. This usually results in me handing over a copy of their policy and having to speak with some supervisor who ultimately tells them photographers count. Like I said, I’ve had it take 45 minutes and I’ve had it take 10 minutes.  United's Policy is here.           Which States: Representatives from network television, broadcasting, and commercial filmmaking companies will be charged a flat service charge to check camera, film, and lighting and sound equipment. The items must be checked by the media representative and the charges are per item at the prices listed in the chart below. The discounted service charge applies for worldwide travel on flights marketed and operated by United and is subject to seasonal and permanent baggage embargoes. For flights connecting to other airlines, baggage charges are subject to the connecting airline’s baggage policies.   What you need:  To obtain media checked bag service charge rates, media representatives should provide United airport check-in counter representatives with media credentials; company personnel identification for an entertainment, media or production company; or clearly identified media equipment cases labeled with company identification. If the media representative is unable to provide such verification, customers will be charged standard checked baggage service charges. Spouses and/or other companions, whether traveling in the same or separate reservation as the media personnel, are not eligible for the discount unless they present eligible media credentials.   Delta Airlines:    

Being a drone pilot, working for DroneU and podcasting 24/7 means I'm traveling all the time. If it's going to Miami to train, or if it's going to Puerto Rico for work, it's all the time. Here's the deal, my clients hate luggage fees. If you're working with an experienced marketing director, they know these media rules too. So if you find that they eliminated your luggage fees from the expense report, this may help.    (DONT FORGET TO CARRY ON YOUR BATTERIES) 

In this article, you'll learn how to reduce bag fees, how to showcase a media pass and how to print a media pass. BUT REMEMBER, everything and the success of this are dependent on your attitude! 

I have dealt with luggage handlers who didn't even need a media pass and let me off with the rules. Others wanted 4-5 pieces of proof. This definitive guide will help you print off a media pass that should work, but don't forget it always helps to start with "Maybe you can help me.?" 

Discount Luggage Rates

This is the single best thing that has ever happened to someone Livin' The Drone Life. Often times, some people rent equipment, but with drone rentals being so tumultuous, you may find it easier to just fly with the gear. In my case, it just makes the most sense to bring everything with me. That, and I like working with the gear I’m familiar with.

It’s very important to note that each airline has different language for their policy, but they all require a form of identification for your company proving you are indeed what you say you are. This is where having your business set up as a separate entity can be very helpful. Some counter reps may just take your business card and call it good, especially when they see you have a bunch of hard cases in tow. I always hand them my business card and my business credit card, or business debit card. This is simply proof to them that I have a legitimate business, as anyone can print a business card, so be prepared for this. You can try it with just your business card and it might work, maybe wear a T-shirt or hat with your company name or logo on it, and you might get by. I have found that American Airlines and Delta were a little easier and smoother to process the bags than United. Also, make sure you arrive very early to do this. I’ve had the process of checking my gear take up to 45 minutes as some people don’t even know how to apply it in their computer system, so they have to ask for help. I’ve also had it take 10 minutes, so you just never know.

So what is a media rate and how do I get it?

The media rate is essentially a flat baggage rate for members of the media, photographers, and filmmakers.  I'll to outline the details of each airline's media rate, but they all share one thing in common, a $50-$75 flat rate for a bag up to 99 pounds. That’s a lot of gear that you can fly for the price point. Many airlines also give you up to 25 bags at this rate. Normally for the average Joe, a bag weighing over 50 pounds will carry a fee, and over about 70 pounds the fee gets even larger. With a media rate, you don’t have to worry about it as long as your cases are under 100 pounds. So let's look at some media rate policies.

United Airlines

I can't stand United, They were amazing in the 90's and now they are rock bottom if you ask me. They really need help in the service department and they are the longest when it comes to handling my media bags. They have a lot of gate agents that don’t know the policy as they should. They usually think it is just for members of the media like CNN or NBC. This usually results in me handing over a copy of their policy and having to speak with some supervisor who ultimately tells them photographers count. Like I said, I’ve had it take 45 minutes and I’ve had it take 10 minutes. United's Policy is here. 

       Which States: Representatives from network television, broadcasting, and commercial filmmaking companies will be charged a flat service charge to check camera, film, and lighting and sound equipment. The items must be checked by the media representative and the charges are per item at the prices listed in the chart below. The discounted service charge applies for worldwide travel on flights marketed and operated by United and is subject to seasonal and permanent baggage embargoes. For flights connecting to other airlines, baggage charges are subject to the connecting airline’s baggage policies.

What you need: To obtain media checked bag service charge rates, media representatives should provide United airport check-in counter representatives with media credentials; company personnel identification for an entertainment, media or production company; or clearly identified media equipment cases labeled with company identification. If the media representative is unable to provide such verification, customers will be charged standard checked baggage service charges. Spouses and/or other companions, whether traveling in the same or separate reservation as the media personnel, are not eligible for the discount unless they present eligible media credentials. 

Delta Airlines: 

 

 Delta Airlines  Delta's media rate policy is basically the same as United, albeit, their language is a little different. They want a valid ID with company insignia, however, I have successfully flown Delta by just handing them my business card and business debit card, and they didn't even look too closely at either. They were probably the nicest and easiest when it came to speed of check in than anyone so far, but again check the rules.  Found here.    Don't forget your ID!    What you need:  Camera, film, video tape, lighting and sound equipment that is tendered by representatives of network or local television broadcasting companies or commercial film-making companies will be accepted as baggage at the fees noted below. Valid photo ID with company insignia is required.   

Delta Airlines

Delta's media rate policy is basically the same as United, albeit, their language is a little different. They want a valid ID with company insignia, however, I have successfully flown Delta by just handing them my business card and business debit card, and they didn't even look too closely at either. They were probably the nicest and easiest when it came to speed of check in than anyone so far, but again check the rules. Found here.   Don't forget your ID! 

What you need: Camera, film, video tape, lighting and sound equipment that is tendered by representatives of network or local television broadcasting companies or commercial film-making companies will be accepted as baggage at the fees noted below. Valid photo ID with company insignia is required.

 

  American Airlines   They have the most friendly policy language for photographers of any airline so far.  You can print their policy here . The only thing that is vague is that they don’t specify any weight limits, but just keep it under 100 pounds and you should be fine. The language also says it’s only $50 per piece for international flights as well which is cheaper than United or Delta, and they allow up to 40 pieces.   What you need:  Camera, film, lighting and sound equipment will be charged a rate of $50 USD per piece when tendered by representatives of network or local television broadcasting companies, commercial film-making companies,  professional photographers , the federal government, Department of Defense or the  American Society of Media Photographers . These rates apply to travel within the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and international destinations. A maximum of 25 pieces is allowed per organization/company per American Eagle flight or 40 pieces for American Airlines flights. This policy is subject to seasonal and permanent baggage embargoes. The maximum size and weight allowances are subject to the policies in place for the destination.   Southwest Airlines  (My Favorite as of 2 years ago)   I love Southwest, and often only take 3 large GPC Cases with me wherever I go.  It is more expensive than the others we have talked about, $75 per piece, and no weight restrictions. Southwest is also the only one to still give everyone two free pieces of checked bags, but they have to be 50 pounds or less or else it’s $75 per bag.  You can print their policy here .  WHAT YOU NEED: Camera, film, video, lighting, and sound equipment will be accepted when presented by a representative of a network or local television broadcasting company or a commercial filmmaking company. A fee of $75 will be charged for each item in excess of the free baggage allowance. Media equipment will not be assessed oversized or overweight charges.  Alaskan Airlines  They don’t have a specific section of their baggage policy that deals with media, however their rate for bags from 51 pounds to 100 pounds is $75 per bag which is $25 more than United, Delta, or American. You can read  more about their baggage policy here .  Jet Blue  Not friendly at all for media. They have no media rate policy, and their overweight charge for 51-100 pounds is $100 per bag. You can  read their policy here , but I would just skip them if you plan on flying more than 50 pounds (unless of course the ticket is so cheap that it offsets the cost). It’s unfortunate as I really like JetBlue in every other regard.  Frontier Airlines  I decided to throw this in the mix as they have a media rate, but it’s loosely worded and more expensive than United, American, Southwest, or Delta.  Their policy is here . Also note it is only valid for travel entirely on Frontier.  WHAT YOU NEED: Media personnel with ID may check bags and equipment for $75 each for one-way directional travel wholly on Frontier.     How to print your own media pass:   After having some difficulty with gate agents, i've realized the perception of cool and legit is super important. I recommend you print out a media badge. Print out the badge credentials on the front and include the rules of each airline on the back! Here is my template pictured below.   To print these badges I went to  quickidcard.com . I clicked on "Make ID." I picked a vertical ID card template towards the bottom. When the template came up I clicked on "add new image" and picked the JPG I had made for the front and resized it to fit the entire card. Then I clicked "switch to reverse side" and "add new image," and I chose the image for the back. They cost $12 to print.   Have as much fun as you like with your design, just remember to use another badge ID number. We wouldn't want our official media pass accounts to become suspended when the lady behind the Delta counter discovers duplicate badge numbers. 

American Airlines

They have the most friendly policy language for photographers of any airline so far. You can print their policy here. The only thing that is vague is that they don’t specify any weight limits, but just keep it under 100 pounds and you should be fine. The language also says it’s only $50 per piece for international flights as well which is cheaper than United or Delta, and they allow up to 40 pieces.

What you need: Camera, film, lighting and sound equipment will be charged a rate of $50 USD per piece when tendered by representatives of network or local television broadcasting companies, commercial film-making companies, professional photographers, the federal government, Department of Defense or the American Society of Media Photographers. These rates apply to travel within the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and international destinations. A maximum of 25 pieces is allowed per organization/company per American Eagle flight or 40 pieces for American Airlines flights. This policy is subject to seasonal and permanent baggage embargoes. The maximum size and weight allowances are subject to the policies in place for the destination.

Southwest Airlines (My Favorite as of 2 years ago) 

I love Southwest, and often only take 3 large GPC Cases with me wherever I go.  It is more expensive than the others we have talked about, $75 per piece, and no weight restrictions. Southwest is also the only one to still give everyone two free pieces of checked bags, but they have to be 50 pounds or less or else it’s $75 per bag. You can print their policy here.

WHAT YOU NEED: Camera, film, video, lighting, and sound equipment will be accepted when presented by a representative of a network or local television broadcasting company or a commercial filmmaking company. A fee of $75 will be charged for each item in excess of the free baggage allowance. Media equipment will not be assessed oversized or overweight charges.

Alaskan Airlines

They don’t have a specific section of their baggage policy that deals with media, however their rate for bags from 51 pounds to 100 pounds is $75 per bag which is $25 more than United, Delta, or American. You can read more about their baggage policy here.

Jet Blue

Not friendly at all for media. They have no media rate policy, and their overweight charge for 51-100 pounds is $100 per bag. You can read their policy here, but I would just skip them if you plan on flying more than 50 pounds (unless of course the ticket is so cheap that it offsets the cost). It’s unfortunate as I really like JetBlue in every other regard.

Frontier Airlines

I decided to throw this in the mix as they have a media rate, but it’s loosely worded and more expensive than United, American, Southwest, or Delta. Their policy is here. Also note it is only valid for travel entirely on Frontier.

WHAT YOU NEED: Media personnel with ID may check bags and equipment for $75 each for one-way directional travel wholly on Frontier.

 

How to print your own media pass: 

After having some difficulty with gate agents, i've realized the perception of cool and legit is super important. I recommend you print out a media badge. Print out the badge credentials on the front and include the rules of each airline on the back! Here is my template pictured below. 

To print these badges I went to quickidcard.com. I clicked on "Make ID." I picked a vertical ID card template towards the bottom. When the template came up I clicked on "add new image" and picked the JPG I had made for the front and resized it to fit the entire card. Then I clicked "switch to reverse side" and "add new image," and I chose the image for the back. They cost $12 to print. 

Have as much fun as you like with your design, just remember to use another badge ID number. We wouldn't want our official media pass accounts to become suspended when the lady behind the Delta counter discovers duplicate badge numbers. 

Thanks for reading. If you'e looking to fly better, I highly recommend DroneU. They also have a lot of resources for your drone business.