hand inspection @ airports.

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by dxphoto, Jan 7, 2008.

  1. dxphoto

    dxphoto Member

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    Hi, questions related to this have been asked many times. I know the X-ray might not hurt the film and people have happy stories. But I really don't want to take any chance.
    I am taking a trip with about 50 rolls film (120, 135, ISO 64 to 400). I intend to bring all the film back and have them processed in US. Thus I will have them x-rayed at least 4 times. (TSA suggests no more than 5 times). So I will politely ask to have them hand-inspected.

    I will have them in clear ziploc bags. Some rolls don't have the original packaging (bulk loading). Some of them are in the original carton boxes, some of them are in the plastic wrap. Should I open them up and put them in the clear bags? Or leave as is. TSA website says leave them in original packagings, then at the time it says leave them unwrapped...

    So what is the best way to prepare for the hand-inspection.

    Thanks.
    -D
     
  2. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Recently they have been very nice about hand inspection. I travel with 120, out of the boxes, and unwrapped, in clear baggies. Throw in a couple of rolls of Delta 3200, so you can tell them you have hi speed film. That's the first thing to say, if they don't want to hand inspect. Be early for your flights if you can. The inspection points run in a rush because departures are usually scheduled in batches, so if you are early enough, the checkpoints aren't backed up, and the peeps are generally more accommodating. Stay calm, and say please.
     
  3. david b

    david b Member

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    All the wrappers and boxes must be removed from the film in order to get
    a hand check.
     
  4. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Just made a round trip with a variety of about 20 rolls of film in various states of packaging. I carried the film in a clear plastic zip-loc bag. The first leg I had film in the original sealed cardboard box, in black and translucent plastic containers out of the box, and in the Ilford individual sealed plastic bags. They opened the plastic containers to test with swabs and I think also checked the outside of the cardboard boxes. The person checking them was very helpful and worked as quickly as he could on a crowded day with orange alert status. He said they now have to swab test each roll that's not in an original sealed container, not just spot check.

    On the return trip I shipped the unexposed film and only carried on the 8 rolls of exposed film. I left two rolls in plastic canisters and the rest were loose metal film cassettes. I didn't even see them open the ziploc bag on that check, but can't be sure. Same orange alert level.

    I tried to make it as easy on them as possible, and I think they appreciate that. Both times the TSA folks were very courteous, patient, friendly, and professional.

    I also threw in a roll of 1600 color film as Jason does so that I could make the high-speed claim if necessary. It wasn't.

    Lee
     
  5. rkmiec

    rkmiec Member

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    i have seen threads were people mention sending all their film back thru post office or ups or so as to avoid the hassle on return trip.just a thought.
     
  6. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    We returned from a long trip last month involving 12 flights, and more than 16 hand luggage checks. This involved a number of International and local airports in a variety of countries. Turkey, Switzerland, Brazil, Chile and Peru. Only one airport allowed hand checking of "specialist scientific films" and that was San Paulo in Brazil.

    All our films went through with our hand luggage in my backpack, some airports had two checks, one on entering the airport the other before boarding the plane. Twice the backpack was scanned two or three times because of suspicious objects - a cable release, and a 617 camera which they insisted in seeing as they couldn't recognise the shape, the staff were very friendly and showed me the screen to ask what the objects were.

    All the films were processed immediately after our return and there was no problem with any of them, they included HP5, FP4, Tmax400 and Fuji Superia, at no stage were the security people remotely interested in the film or its packaging.

    Most airports just don't have the time or staff for hand-checks.

    Ian
     
  7. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    The first time I tried I got turned down for a hand-check at Manchester Airport. I got about four words into my polite request and the security person snapped (direct quote), "If it doesn't go through the machine it doesn't go on the plane!". I smiled, said "Fair enough!" and had it scanned.

    Before I made my next trip I wrote to the BAA, explained that I was an amateur photographer, was intending to travel with high-speed film, gave my flight numbers and date/time of travel and politely requested a hand-check. I received a polite letter back basically saying, "Yes, okay."

    On the day, I had the film (with a couple of rolls of Delta 3200 prominently visible) out of the boxes and tubs in a clear ziplock. Again I got four words in and got the same curt response. I politely produced the letter and another security person said, "Oh yes. It's okay, we were expecting him!" and did a hand-check of the film.

    YMMV. On the day it's down to the security staff on the gate. Stay polite, stay pleasant, be in plenty of time, make it as easy for them as possible and be prepared to accept that they still might say, "No!".

    (Addendum - Last time I went through Liverpool airport they were running a system where you could pay a couple of pounds for a fast-track through security (basically a second scanner without a long queue in front of it). Whether you like the ethics of this system or not it saved me a forty minute stand in a queue and less-harassed security staff provide a better chance of getting requests like this approved.)
     
  8. PeterB

    PeterB Subscriber

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    Unfortunately neither of those two options are 100% safe.

    USPS will randomly x-ray packages, as a reply from them to me says:
    I also recently emailed UPS re. their practises and here is the response I got:

    I responded with:
    to which UPS wrote:
    At least with a hand inspection you know it hasn't gone through a scanner.
    regards
    Peter
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 7, 2008
  9. nick mulder

    nick mulder Subscriber

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    No problems with domestic flights in New Zealand so far getting things hand inspected... I had some 3200 pushed to 12800 to go through so was keen to avoid any fog, its being processed at the moment, will be interesting to see if the Ilford backing paper numbers appear on the film :wink:
     
  10. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Shipping is not always the safest option. On two occasions FedEx has zorched film for me. No question about it. Classic sine wave fogging, confirmed by top notch labs. If you do ship film, clearly label it, "Film - Do Not Xray, if Xray is mandatory, stop shipment, contact sender"

    These days I'd rather try for a hand inspection, or take my chances with the low level scanners. I've never had the least bit of problem with things scanned at carry on check points. Note that this experience is with first world technology. I can't say that it applies the world over.

    It bears saying, though most persons are now aware- exposed, but unprocessed, or unexposed film in checked baggage will be destroyed.
     
  11. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    On a related theme, travelers to and from the UK should be aware of this:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7174527.stm
    On the ground, the situation is every bit as chaotic as the BBC suggests, as I found last night at Stansted Airport while putting my wife on a plane to Germany. Last night, ALL airlines were applying a one-bag carry-on limit, the airport apparently recognised that passengers would not be aware of this in advance, since in the airport foyer were re-packing stations, with tables for people to put their cases on and a poster in English only "explaining" the situation.

    For us, this meant an opportunity to deploy our extensive knowledge of German obscenities, following which I went away carrying my wife's second bag with a can of (non-pressurised) styling mousse (too big, should have been 100 ml instead of 200), the carton for her digital camera and a pack of Earl Grey teabags (thank God that people are being prevented from carrying such potentially lethal objects onto planes).

    If you are non-British, be sure to study up some episodes of Fawlty Towers before you come here, so that you will be prepared for this totally insane situation!
     
  12. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I took out about 50 rolls of 135 to Tucson a couple of years ago. Here's what I did.

    I got a gallon size ziplock baggie to hold all of the film that would also lie flat inside my x-ray proof bag. I carried that bag just in case.

    Prior to going through security, I removed all the film rolls from the plastic cases and put them in the ziplock inside the x-ray bag.

    Just before putting it on the conveyor belt, I removed the ziplock baggie with film and requested a hand inspection.

    No problem with that - I was treated very courteously and they examined the baggie - did a "swipe" test on a couple of rolls and then closed it up and gave it to me on the "far" end.

    What I think is key - is taking the rolls out of the plastic cannisters so that a hand inspection looks "easy" to the TSA folk rather than a PIA where they then just say - "Put it through the machine."

    You want to help them do the right thing by making it easy for them to do so.

    BTW: the other advantage of taking the rolls out of the cannisters is that once you get through security - you have something to do while waiting to board your flight. Namely, you get to put all those rolls back in their cannisters! :D

    Note: We travel a lot - particularly b/w NY and Tucson. I've long ago learned that being pleasant and helpful with the TSA folk will work wonders. If you "cop an attitude" you will get the "full treatment". And you'll deserve it, because it doesn't have to be confrontational at all.
     
  13. tim_walls

    tim_walls Member

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    I'm confused, are you saying that complying with the handbaggage restrictions in the UK which date back a year or more constitutes 'chaos' to you?! The announcement in the last day or two was about relaxing the restrictions in certain circumstances, not tightening them.
     
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  15. Will S

    Will S Member

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    This is probably a dumb question, but what exactly will the big metal detector that you walk through do to film? I thought it was essentially a big magnet and therefore wouldn't hurt film. I've walked through with a roll of 120 in my pocket and it seemed fine when I processed it, but maybe I got lucky.

    Thanks,

    Will
     
  16. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Will,

    It shouldn't harm the film. I often do the same when I only have a couple of exposed rolls of 120. Since there is no metal - they won't set off the alarm. And since what they ask you to do is remove all metal from your pockets - you're in compliance.
     
  17. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The big metal detector won't hurt film, 120's on plastic spools and won't set it off, but you can only take through what you can fit in your pockets, without sticking out. 30 cylinder like thingies bulging in your pockets will probably get you noticed, metal detector or not. Airport proctology is an unpleasant sidetrack from your travels.
     
  18. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Ouch!

    This is why I said a "couple of rolls of 120"! :D
     
  19. dxphoto

    dxphoto Member

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    Thanks for all the help. I will have my film unwrapped and go to the airport earlier. The only thing is I only got 2 hours for the connection between two fights. I hope that will be enough.
     
  20. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Hey, look, I cannot speak for what things are like in the UK right now - one bag carry on is a rule we don't have here in the US.

    But I can tell you about the salami!

    Last Thursday night, planning to take the red eye from Tucson to NYC, an object in my carry on "caught" the eye of the guy doing the x-ray scanner.

    He called over the "bag checker" for a look and they agreed that an object in my bag looked "suspicious", perhaps a small bomb or a club etc.!

    The bag checker asked if he could open the bag - as if I could say anything but OK.

    Now, I knew what they'd "flagged" and just stood idly by.

    Sure enough, he opened the bag to find the plastic sack containing stuff from our refrigerator that we didn't think would "keep" in Tucson before we got back out there. This included a four-inch hunk of Italian salami.

    Being friendly and all, once he'd "discovered" the "bomb" we all had a good laugh and the salami made it onward to NYC.

    Doesn't seem all the worse for wear even if it has been X-rayed!

    Be nice and it's likely you will be treated nice. :D
     
  21. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I think "chaos" is a justified description of a situation in which foreign visitors to the UK find without warning on their departure that the applicable regulations are different from those governing their inbound flights, that the regulations vary from one UK airport to another and one airline to another, and that press reports are mostly inaccurate and unhelpful. Believe me, I saw a LOT of confused and angry people on Sunday night!
     
  22. BobNewYork

    BobNewYork Member

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    I've found the TSA in the US very helpful. I take a very "English" approach by apologizing for causing them trouble and asking them if they wouldn't mind helping me out and hand inspecting the film for me. I'll often add that my client is a pain in the .... and every time they've been happy to oblige. In most instances, when I thank them they tell me that that' their job. The last time I left Heathrow however hand inspection was refused because the film wasn't ISO 1600! The security l"lady" did not want to hear about degraded shadow densities and her reaction to my mild protestations suggested that I was headed for the medical attention that Jason warned of!
     
  23. tim_walls

    tim_walls Member

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    Anyone who arrived in the UK without warning of the 1-handbaggage rule needs to have a serious conversation with their airline. As I say, it's been in place for over a year; in that time I've flown perhaps a dozen times or more and on every occasion it's been made extremely clear that only one item of handbaggage is permitted on board flights departing or arriving in the UK.

    Given that, I find it hard to imagine how one could be forced into a state of chaos at the discovery you are, since yesterday, now allowed two from certain airports that have now demonstrated enhanced security procedures. A response by passengers of "Wow! Hold the checkin queue, I'm going to unpack my single bag into two just because I can!" is the only way I can imagine that happening.


    I was flying out of Stansted airport on the day the restriction was, without notice, introduced in 2006. That was chaos. Much as it might be in the interests of the media to play it up, I doubt the current situation is much beyond "minor confusion". I've never been to an airport which wasn't full of "confused and angry people," in any event.


    (For the record; different airlines have always had a variety of different rules about what and how much constitutes handbaggage, and within an airline it has also always differed between the types of aircraft serving that particular flight, and between classes of ticket on the flight. Confirming the baggage restrictions with your airline prior to packing your bags always has and always will be the best way to ensure you don't suffer from "chaos" at the airport.)
     
  24. dxphoto

    dxphoto Member

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  25. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Just remember once outside the US the airport security people have entirely different rules and opinions. They aren't always helpful, may well speak no English and don't have time or operatives to carry out hand searches.

    Ian
     
  26. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    This is a good point. I should note that while I fly frequently, especially b/w NYC and Tucson, I haven't flown internationally since pre-9/11.

    My wife does a lot of international travel for biz and did encounter the sudden implementation of the one-bag only rule at Heathrow in the UK back in 2006. As she related it - it was apparently a total madhouse situation. Also, since she isn't a photog - she hasn't had to see about getting film hand-inspected outside the US.