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Dear lazyweb traveller types

So, let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?

In December, I’m due to go to UDS Jaunty, which is to be held in Mountain View, CA, at the Googleplex. Okay so far (except for the 10-hour flights, but what can you do). Now, I’ve booked my flights with Virgin Atlantic for the following reasons:

  1. I’ve no wish to fly from terminal 5 at Heathrow, which I’d need to do if I flew with BA.
  2. I’ve been told wonderful things about Virgin by the people who’ve used them in the past.
  3. I’ve been told horror stories about BA (though I’ve never had a problem with them myself in all four flights of theirs that I’ve been on).
  4. I’m an idiot, and didn’t bother to check cabin baggage allowances beforehand.

Point 4 is the problem. Virgin Atlantic has a ridiculously small cabin baggage allowance of no more than 6kg (13lbs) for Economy travellers like me. BA, by contrast, has a cabin baggage allowance of 23kg. The problem is, of course, that I’m planning to take at least the following:

  • Laptop + power brick
  • Camera
  • At least three lenses

The bag that I usually carry such stuff around in fits well within the dimensions laid out by Virgin (which are smaller than the standard guidelines, but we’ll skip over that), but with all that packed I’m likely to be well over the cabin baggage allowance, probably by at least two or three kilos.

So, my questions for you, dear lazyweb, are as follows:

  1. Does anyone know just how strict Virgin are about cabin baggage weight on a flight from Heathrow to SFO?
  2. If I’m over weight with my cabin baggage, what happens? Am I sent to check-in and forced to pay an excess fee, or do I have to re-pack some of my items into my checked luggage (which, come on, I’m not really going to want to do with camera gear, am I).
  3. Should I just not bother taking the camera (which would be agony for me considering that I take it just about everywhere with me and I was really looking forward to doing a lot of photography at UDS – alongside my work duties, natch ;))?
  4. Is there another option?

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