Camera Carried Away On A Mule

June 17, 2009

in Luggage Stories

I travel quite a bit and normal delays really are just part of travel. But when I am flying on business I need my photo gear to shoot the job. I arrive early to get through TSA and wait by the gate, as the airline has computer check in and if you check in 24 hours ahead of time you can board first. Normally for me it’s not an option as I always travel at the last minute.

So I am first or second on the plane and choose a window seat close to the front of the plane. As the rest of the passengers slow slog onboard I look out the window to see the handlers loading bags. I get to watch my personal bag being loaded, but watch the handler move my camera gear from the cart to the mule and drive off with it sitting next to him.

I flag down the attendant and tell her my problem. She says no problem, your bag will be on the next flight. Now my gear is worth a lot more to my boss than I am, and I’m thinking he will not only fire me but prosecute me for theft as well. Plus my arrival is only about 2 hours before the shoot. So putting this in the proper context, I tell the attendant that if my bags don’t go then I don’t need to go either. This gets her attention as now she will have to explain why the door needed to be re-opened after being shut. I go back to my seat and wait, thinking I will have to really raise hell when the plane gets pushed back.

After about 10 minutes the mule comes back, same guy driving and loads my camera gear. We left late, and I got lousy service during the flight. I really felt sorry for the guy next to me that just wanted a couple of drinks, but could not get waited on!

The shoot went fine and I now insure my camera gear for a LOT!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

SAW June 13, 2009 at 2:18 am

If you hadn't noticed, you'd never have seen your stuff again… It wasn't headed for the next flight, it was headed for the pawn shop.


anon June 13, 2009 at 5:34 am

I am so glad you saw what happened! I would love to know what country this happened in – why was a mule at an airport? That's certainly different.


Jeanie June 13, 2009 at 8:48 am

By far, this has to be the most unusual piece I've seen on FFH.


MJ June 14, 2009 at 9:04 am

I don't know how much equipment we're talking about here, but something as valuable as camera and photography equipment would always be brought on as a carryon for me.

Regardless, you are definitely lucky you saw what was going on.


Nacho June 16, 2009 at 8:16 am

Geez! Though I'm not one to agree with SAW, I do have to say that your camera equipment would have definitely been pawned off had you not seen what happened. Carry-on next time, please!


Dark Canuck October 25, 2009 at 6:55 am

Lucky eyes, dude! I agree with the others, your camera gear was probably headed straight for a pawn shop and not the next flight!


Colin December 18, 2009 at 6:58 pm

First, mule is the name the guy was using for the tug that pulls the baggage carts.

Pro photographers many times they have to carry so much stuff it cannot be carried aboard. Multiple cameras, half a dozen or more lenses, multiple flash units, filters, accessories, film (in the old days), laptop (replaces film), tripods, cases, and more. If the guys shot nature or certain sports, the big lenses can easily be 18+ inches long, weigh more than 10 pounds, and cost more than $10,000, per lens. Kind of hard to fit all that in the overhead.


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