Getting Film Passed Airport Security
I am flying out of Sea Tac next month and I'd like to get a few things cleared up about my film.
Hopefully we all know the damage that Xrays do to film. On a recent flight, I had 4 different speeds of film "accidentally" put through the security checkpoint scanner (100, 200, 400 and 800). ALL rolls had signs of Xray damage (grainy, marred colouring and 'bleeding' of the colours) regardless of the ISO. The staff assured me at the time that there would be no damage to my film, but, obviously, there was.
On another flight, I requested a hand inspection. Again, the staff told me there would be no damage to my film. I insisted and they begrudgingly complied.
I realize that hand inspection of film does take some time, and I am more than willing to arrive early to accomodate this. I sell my photographs and there is no point in taking this vacation if I cannot take photos.
The FAA does have rules about places being required to hand inspect film. I have actually had my bag of film TAKEN from me and forced through an xray machine. This has to stop!
If you could please tell me what the best way is to keep my film away from any and all xrays, I would be very grateful. Of course, I do not wish to anger the staff!
If anyone has any tips or hints on how to make this less painful and stressful, I would be much obliged!
Go to http://www.tsa.gov and in the search box type in "film" and you will have some articles to go through. Here is one that I posted here.
WARNING: Equipment used for screening checked baggage will damage your undeveloped film.
Traveling with Film
Never place undeveloped film in your checked baggage.
* Carry-on screening equipment might also damage certain film if the film passes through more than 5 times.
None of the screening equipment - neither the machines used for checked baggage nor those used for carry-on baggage - will affect digital camera images or film that has already been processed, slides, videos, photo compact discs, or picture discs.
General use film **
You should remove all film from your checked baggage and place it in your carry-on baggage. The X-ray machine that screens your carry-on baggage at the passenger security checkpoint will not affect undeveloped film under ASA/ISO 800.
If the same roll of film is exposed to X-ray inspections more than 5 times before it is developed, however, damage may occur. Protect your film by requesting a hand-inspection for your film if it has already passed through the carry-on baggage screening equipment (X-ray) more than 5 times.
Specialty film **
Specialty film is defined as film with an ASA/ISO 800 or higher and typically used by professionals.
At the passenger security checkpoint, you should remove the following types of film from your carry-on baggage and ask for a hand inspection:
Film with an ASA/ISO 800 or higher
Other Tips and Precautions:
If you plan to request a hand inspection of your film, you should consider carrying your film in clear canisters, or taking the film out of solid colored canisters and putting it into clear plastic bags, to expedite the screening process.
As you noted, get to the airport very early. Wait to go through security when there is a lull so that your hand inspection does not hold up a line. Carry the film (without the individual plastic containers - pack them elsewhere) in a clear plastic bag so that it can be clearly seen.
Your 100-800 speed films sometimes get forced through the carry-on x-ray machine anyway because it is alleged to be safe for up to ISO 800 film. However, higher speed film will get you a hand inspection. Include in your bag of film a several rolls of ISO 1600 or 3200 film (eg. T-MAX P3200) to force hand inspection.
While not a "valid form of ID", carrying some business cards for your photography sideline (including taped to or in the clear bag of film) *might* get you more consideration than simply claiming to be a professional.
|Paul D. Carter||
I have the answer.
Buy a special leaded pouch
I have done this since May 1996 and I have had no problem other than telling them about it beforehand or showing them the pouch and
Once, they asked if they could place a hand gun in this leaded pouch to see if a gun could be detected and they did and the gun was indeed detected by X-ray! This was the idea of inspector not me--although I often wondered about it!
I purchased this special pouch from
If I can help further, email me
I'd have to agree with the leaded film bag suggestion, as it has worked for me. Every single time I've gotten a hand inspection with no problem in the US. However, I would like to point out that when I had to fly out of Vancouver, they just sent the film bag through, THEN hand inspected it......an me. So, be warned about that, it can take awhile to uncap ALL of your camera gear...and Sharpies? Yeah, weird, but the pictures came out fine. Final word: most ritz/workman/wolf camera stores carry these leaded bags for cheap. Definetly invest in a couple.
|Paul D. Carter||
I did not make my point about the leaded camera bags clear.
I put film and loaded camera in leaded bag. This is heavy duty thick leaded bag. I put this bag in carry-on bag and it goes through x ray machine in a routine manner. Then, the inspector asks to see the contents and I tell them about it and then they hand inspect it!..... This is a heavy-duty
I would not suggest buying an inexpensive leaded pouch.
The leaded pouch that I carry I purchased from Adorama in New York City via toll free number and it protects
I have had no problems and only minor delays since May 1996 and I travel about once or twice a year.
What do others think about this?
I think that Paul C's and Alex C's lead bag has worked well for each.
They are the safest way, but I've sent my camera bag thru with 100-800 film in it and never had any ill effects.
Leave it out the canisters and leave the leader sticking out though.Makes the initial visual impression more preferrable.
Thanks for all of the answers, everyone!
I think I will go with the leaded pouch thing. Apparently you are allowed to request a hand inspection of your film, and they MUST do it. I'm just concerned I'll get what happened last time and they'll just scan it anyway and then I'll have to murder someone. ;)
Think I'll try the lead bag and drop a couple rolls of 1600 and 3200 in there to be extra safe.
My rolls from Hawaii look shitty thanks to the xrays... And I print other people's film all day and you CAN see what xrays do to film.
Thanks a lot for the input.
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