All photographers know the feeling, sitting at baggage claim, counting the cases as they come around the carousel. Watching with nervousness that all the required cases come out one by one. It was back in 2008 when I was standing by just a carousel and as I watched as my Pelican 1600 camera case plopped down on the moving belt, and it hit me like a bolt of lightning!
What if that case did not come out???
Due to the budget on this particular assignment, we were scheduled to shoot THAT night, so had that case not shown up, we were toast!
I determined pretty quick with some mental calculation that it was a safe bet that the camera case should ALWAYS come with me. Since that day I have never checked my cameras, as matter of fact I actually separate the cameras up, as a double-double backup. Using a Tenba Shootout Rolling Backpack, for the main gear and laptop, I then throw a backup body with a zoom lens usually the 17-40 in my carryon luggage along with a Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Tripod which weighs only 2.4 lbs and is only 16″ folded. The tripod is not a heavyweight by any set of standards, yet it would suffice if that is all I had. As a backup to the laptop, I also throw my Cam Ranger.
Once I started doing this sort of double-double backup with my shooting gear, I started doing the same thing with all my equipment. I would essentially “scatter” the equipment through the cases, building up redundancy so there was not one absolutely essential case.
We have been pretty lucky through the years and have not had the issue with a case not showing up. I limit this by taking direct flights whenever possible and flying business when the budget allows. Yet if it ever does I will be covered!