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.
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.