How to make a Media Pass for Flying Photo/Video Equipment

In this blog post, we’re going to talk about Media Passes! And why you definitely need a media pass if you’re a wedding photographer, videographer or any other kind of media equipment specialist that uses LARGE bags to get through the airport.

If you’re new here, hi! My name is Alesia and I’m a destination wedding videographer that travels often with my camera equipment.

What is a Media Pass?

A media pass is an official looking ID badge that you show to the airline to let them know that you are traveling with media equipment. Specifically, equipment that is heavy, large, and requires an overweight sized luggage bag to safely travel in. To be very clear, it does not have to be a legit barcode scanning type of ID badge. It is simply a “professional visual” of your business so the airlines can regulate who can get the media baggage rate with their oversized bags.

Here’s some photos of my Media Pass! I made it on Canva. Click here for the Canva Template to make your own!

What are the airline policies for a media pass?

As Delta explains it, “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 *media baggage. All media-related passengers seeking to receive preferred media baggage rates must present proper media credentials at check-in…”

Typically, if you were to check in your media bag, it would be marked as overweight luggage and you would pay the overweight baggage fees for that airline. But, if you provide some sort of identification (or a Media Pass as they call it), you can get the media baggage rate.

Overweight Baggage fees compared to Media Baggage Rates

AirlineOverweight Baggage FeeMedia Baggage Rate
Delta$100-$200$50
American$100-$200$50
Southwest$75$75
United$100-$400$50
Alaska$100$50
Rates may fluctuate due to weight, size or flying domestic vs. international with each airline

In other words, a media pass can save you a lot of money at the airport!

What goes in my Media Bag?

For example, since I am a wedding videographer, I use my GODOX Media luggage bag to hold all of my light stands, tripods, spotlights and extra camera lenses. The light stands and tripods by themselves do not fit in the standard Check-In sized luggage, so they have to go in the GODOX. With the extra space in the bag, I stuff it with my spotlight bags, my Sigma 135mm’s and sometimes my drone. It’s super spacious and comes with foam padding so the metal light stands aren’t banging around too much in there. Overall, highly recommend!

Need some wedding videography/media equipment for your next wedding/gig?







How to make a Media Pass that gets you the media baggage rate

First, you want to order an official ID Badge holder. The more “legit” looking you make your media pass, the less questions asked. There are a lot of options on Amazon, so I went with this rugged and sleek badge holder for only $9.

Next, you want to make your ID badge. You don’t need photoshop or any kind of paid/fancy editing software. I use CANVA because it’s free, user-friendly, and I can share my template for you to start from HERE.

You’ll want to replace the photo of you with a professional quality headshot. I personally chose a more business casual type of headshot to again, make it look more “legit.”

Then, you’ll want to replace the credentials with whatever your job title is. The template just says, “photo/video camera operator & media technician,” but again, you can change that to whatever you are or whatever sounds good to you. To re-iterate, I’m a wedding videographer, but my badge says this to make it more “media official” sounding haha. Think of it as you making a “professional visual” of your business so the airlines can regulate who gets a media baggage rate.

Lastly, you can edit the colors, fonts, the badge numbers, doesn’t matter. Have fun with it and make it your own! As a soloprenuer, this was fun for me since I am my own boss.

How to Print your Media Pass

I used Zazzle to print the media pass on thicker plastic. Plus, Zazzle has extra options for it to come with its own land yard or metal clip attachment. I liked the quality overall. The print job made it look very legit and professional.

The official Alesia Films Media Pass!

Final Note: Airlines will only accept an official looking media pass with some sort with identification in order to get the media baggage rate. And no – showing your Instagram won’t work – I’ve tried.

In my experience, I got away with just simply saying, “oh, I’m a wedding videographer, that’s a media bag” at the check-in counter for my first few times at PDX without having to show anything and getting the media baggage rate. I might’ve gotten lucky with happy employees though because It wasn’t until I had my first battle with an employee who wouldn’t give me the rate unless I showed a Media Pass and therefore finally charged me the whopping $100. That’s what finally kicked my butt to make one and share this information with you all so you can save your money!

wedding-photographer-videographer-movie-marker

Have fun making your Media Pass! – Alesia

I’d love to know what your media pass ends up looking like! Share it to your story on Instagram and tag me @alesiafilms and I’ll re-share. Or, leave a comment and let me know your airport stories with media bags!


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