TSA Page about film

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by BrendanCarlson, May 28, 2012.

  1. BrendanCarlson

    BrendanCarlson Member

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  2. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    I frequently travel with a load of film, and never allow it to pass through x-ray equipment. But I do prepare carefully to help them be efficient, including packing it for easy inspection, and packing it for easy removal from my other carry on luggage to minimize the delay for other passengers behind me. If possible, pack all your film in one clear plastic bag at the top of your carry on, and pull it out before you get to the inspection point. When you get there hand it to them first thing and ask for a hand inspection, as you are preparing your other stuff to go through the machine.

    I've never had a problem with this process, though they do sometimes ask you if you would put it through the x-ray machine. I always decline and again ask for hand inspection, and I've never had them resist when I insist.

    Do watch them inspect though. One inspector in China almost opened my partially used box of 4x5 sheet film before I reached over and physically stopped her, politely saying "Bu, bu, bu, bu!" (No, no, no, no!). She nodded in understanding and stopped, thankfully.
     
  3. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    They all know it's safe to iso 800. None of them ever remember that the effect is cumulative.
     
  4. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    I pulled out some printed stuff from the TSA page at LAX once. The supervisor responded with "I don't go by those rules!" No joke.
     
  5. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    That's not surprising... because the thing the TSA page doesn't explain is the range of possible TSA answers when we "ask for a hand inspection".
     
  6. BrendanCarlson

    BrendanCarlson Member

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    better be careful asking for a "hand inspection" :tongue:
     
  7. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    There is nothing to be careful about except potentially unrealistic personal expectations and attitude (including irrational fears).
     
  8. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    what I don't like is the different answers to the same question in every airport around the country. Some know a thing or two about film, others don't have a clue why you can't open the box or film holder.
     
  9. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Keeping people guessing is part of their security theory. The data about film risk is available and well understood to anyone scholarly enough to find and read it. Expecting 100% training of TSA personnel on film handling is, unfortunately, unrealistic. What they do know 100% through their training is the high-level summary of how film-safe the carry-on scanning equipment is in the vast majority of situations.
     
  10. Tori Nelson

    Tori Nelson Member

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    I was hoping to avoid these problems on a trip to Italy and Croatia that I am leaving for tomorrow. I thought I would save all the hassles and send my 4x5 and 120 film ahead to my first hotel. When I was done patting myself on the back for being so smart and organized I packed up the film, along with empty film holders, took them to the post office and paid the $70.00 dollars to have them shipped. So.... two days ago I emailed the hotel to make sure they had arrived and a very cheerful and helpful hotel owner told me that , yes, they had. He also told me that to save me from being inconvenienced, he went ahead and paid the 115 Euros tax.....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I will try and straighten this out with the post office when I get there but I'm not holding out much hope. Yeah, I think I'll just deal with the TSA from now on.
     
  11. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member

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    Tori, you might be able to get a refund on that tax when you leave the Italy or Croatia. The worry I have with shipping ahead of time is how do I know it wasn't x-rayed along the way with a bunch of other cargo? I'd rather deal with the TSA in person to know where my film has been, and as others have said, it's all in one big plastic bag, out of the boxes. The only problem I ever had was with one particularly clumsy (and dare I say, dumb) agent who dropped one roll into a small trash can. She retrieved it, then swabbed it, and all these bells and whistles went off. Then I had to submit to this whole body feel up (had already been scanned), and everything I had, purse, camera gear, everything had to be swabbed. Another agent insisted I must have gotten some tiny amount of cream or makeup on the roll of film... that can sometimes set these things off... and I'm like, riiight... it had nothing to do with falling in that trash can?? Idiots.
     
  12. Tori Nelson

    Tori Nelson Member

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    Yes Suzanne, you are so right. In retrospect, it wasn't my smartest move to send ahead but I was thinking of what a PIA it would be to go through 4 different airports (each way) and deal with hand checking at each of them. Live and learn - I will be carrying all of it home in my carry on!!!
     
  13. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I had a false positive once when my Nikon 35mm was scanned. I did not get felt up but did get ID/ticket verified and EVERYTHING in my camera bag swabbed. The TSA supervisor asked questions about where the gear had been but never made any accusations or assertions about anything. They offered no explanation for why the event happened other than "these things sometime happen". The TSA handled my camera gear very carefully and asked when they weren't sure. They insisted on re-packing my bag and did so EXACTLY in accrordance with my direction. The total delay for all of this was 15 minutes. I found the event to be a very minor inconvenience, at most.
     
  14. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    Shipping it ahead works great if it's not international... otherwise, you're boned.
     
  15. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    Last year we did a Melb, Aus/SF (via NZ)/LV/NY/Orlando/Hawaii trip and I asked for hand inspections at all security points except leaving Aus (I forgot to and in-transit through NZ didn't have the option so it had to go through the scanner) and all were fine & professional (guy at NY even knew what a Mamiya was.. he's had one years ago!) except at Oahu when leaving for home. After asking for a hand inspection of my film (& one film back that still had film in it) both my wife and I were selected to go through the full body scanner. Our 2 boys (9 & 12 at the time) were left to stand in the queue to pick up their carry-on's by themselves. Ours were just left on the pickup area (which included our passports/wallets/computer and cameras. I think the boys grabbed them and ferried them to the exit of the body scanner area, not sure cause the 'lady' doing the hand inspection was waving to come over to her. She wanted to put the film back through the scanner but I explained it had film in it so she called decided the machine had detected something and called security over to frisk me (and put my shoes that had already been through the scanner back through again). This had to be done a little way away so while that was happening, I watched her give the film back to another guy who took it and put it through the x-ray scanner. She then insisted on swabbing the camera (that had been through the scanner with my digi equipment, but didn't swob any of the digi-gear) and plonked it down hard on the winding handle. Surprising it didn't break. So after she'd finished swabbing the film she dropped the lot on the bench and walked away. Grumpy peice of work that one! The funniest bit of this whole story was when we went though in-transist security in NZ again, they picked up a large bottle (bigger than the 100ml of fluids they allow) of sunscreen we had forgotten about... Oahu had missed it :smile:
     
  16. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    My experience is that New Zealand Customs are very accommodating and friendly toward travelling photographers but can potentially single people out randomly for special attention. My last visit to NZ in 2009 passing through Christchurch had a battery of Customs officers surrounding me as I struggled and fumbled with many more pieces of conspicuous camera gear than I usually carry ("you took all that as carry-on!?", the Officer glowered incredulously). I was herded to an open area with an inspection bench and queried where I got the equipment from: e.g. if I had stolen the (you're kidding, I'm not that brilliant at pulling off a swifty!), if I was a professional and who employed me and then what I had been doing in New Zealand (travelling and spending money on diesel!). It was just an extended inspection routine and nothing was damaged or roughly handled. Film was inspected carefully (unopened Velvia 50 and 100F in ProPacks) and several exposed rolls were opened, again for closer inspection. None of the film went through X-Ray as on approaching the X-Ray station I raised the boxes above my head to attract attention to the Officer, explaining I wanted it eyeballed "without risk of damage"). That didn't work on arrival in Melbourne! Mailing film back home internationally is slow and risky but probably no real feasible alternative.