We take the cameras, lenses and other expensive equipment on board in a soft back pack as carry on bag that can fit under the seat or in the overhead bin. Yes, when going through security, expect then to look and test everything. They often ask me to turn the camera on and take a photo (easily erased later).
Our two tripods and disassembled pan heads go in our small check in baggage along with our skin diving equipment (flippers, mask, snorkle, wetsuits, couple of emergency 6 packs of Dos XX's, bottled water, sun cream, small compass, whistle, water tight pouches and extra cookies).
Our flights are usually 2 hour duration and are non-stop (except for the destination --> Mexico).
Done this way for 5 years now without issue.
Be sure to send us a post card when you get there.
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EasyPano - Panoweaver