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  1. #1
    snegron's Avatar
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    Air Travel Suggestions for Film

    I was debating on whether to place this post in the Geographic Locations forum or here, but I believe that it has more to do about equipment than places to shoot. The question is what would be the best method of packing film for air travel? I am currently in Florida, U.S., and I might be traveling during the month of April. I really want to pack several rolls of Fuji Astia 100 F for my F100 (and my F3HP as well), but I am concerned about X rays.

    Considering how TSA's behave differently from one airport to the next, I don't want to rely on having them hand check my film. The way things are going nowadays they might think I am packing explosives in my film canisters.

    The last two times I travelled (last was January 14th) I carried only digital equipment because I was going to shoot a wedding ( I use digital for work, but I use film for art and higher end imaging), so film was not a problem. The only problem I ran into was at the TSA checkpoint in Puerto Rico. They hand checked my camera bag and ran it through a series of tests to see if it carried any exposives. Funny thing is that the TSA's in Miami International Airport did not hand check the same bag loaded with the same exact equipment. The TSA from Puerto Rico also decided to interrogate me as to why I was carrying my equipment and what each item was for. Good thing I was there an hour before departure! All I had in the camera bag was two D1X bodies, two SB-800 Speedlights, One D200 body, a 17-55mm 2.8 lens, an 80-200mm 2.8 lens, and about 15 CF cards.

    I don't trust checked baggage because I have had my luggage stolen. Any suggestions?

  2. #2

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    Even within the same airport, different TSA agents treat the same customer and same carry-on bag differently. Part of it is individual differences in the agents, part of it is the randomeness that is designed into their procedures, and part of it is who-knows-what. Anyone carrying as much interesting equipment as you report carrying is bound to get some sort of attention.

    Why let it bother you? It sounds like every TSA agent you have encountered so far has respected your request. Or am I mistaken.

    My suggestion is to keep on doing what you have been doing. Ask for a hand-check if you are the worrying type. Otherwise consider visiting any one of three sites for information on film safety and airport X-ray: TSA, Kodak or I3A. My capsule summary of all three is that there is no problem, except with exceptionally high-speed film: leave the film in your carry-on bag and put it through the x-ray machine. My experience validates their claims.

  3. #3
    snegron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianShaw View Post
    Even within the same airport, different TSA agents treat the same customer and same carry-on bag differently. Part of it is individual differences in the agents, part of it is the randomeness that is designed into their procedures, and part of it is who-knows-what. Anyone carrying as much interesting equipment as you report carrying is bound to get some sort of attention.

    Why let it bother you? It sounds like every TSA agent you have encountered so far has respected your request. Or am I mistaken.

    My suggestion is to keep on doing what you have been doing. Ask for a hand-check if you are the worrying type. Otherwise consider visiting any one of three sites for information on film safety and airport X-ray: TSA, Kodak or I3A. My capsule summary of all three is that there is no problem, except with exceptionally high-speed film: leave the film in your carry-on bag and put it through the x-ray machine. My experience validates their claims.

    It doesn't bother me one bit. I simply used that example to depict the unexpected actions of TSA's at different locations. This means that what works at one airport might not work at another. Therefore, what concerns me is that if I rely on hand checking my film at one airport, I might find that at the next airport they will refuse to do so and make me throw it through the X ray machine.

    This brings me to my concern about Xray machines. I have seen several reports that indicate that X rays cause damage to exposed film. I have seen other reports indicating Xrays only affect high speed film. What about exposed slide film? Will it be damged by X rays?

    Again, I have ony travelled recently with digital equipment. The only film I had were a few rolls of exposed Kodachrome 64.

  4. #4
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    Aw geez, how many threads a month do we have to have on this topic?!

    Search the forum - this topic has been discussed again, and again and again!

  5. #5
    Robert Hall's Avatar
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    I just got back from China. I had my 400 asa film along that I had taken to India and then to China, Macau, and Hong Kong. Xrayed every step of the way. I think in total, I have had it xrayed round 10 times through the carry-on xray machines. Not a lick of trouble, no fogging, banding, or what not.

    Just an fyi.
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  6. #6
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    A couple of years ago I travelled all over the UK, Ireland and Spain with Ilford Delta 3200. I let it go through the carry on baggage screening machine at every airport (do not even think about asking for a hand check in Spain or Germany). No problem. Just carry the film in your carry on bag and let it go through the machine...

  7. #7
    eddym's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snegron View Post
    The only problem I ran into was at the TSA checkpoint in Puerto Rico. They hand checked my camera bag and ran it through a series of tests to see if it carried any exposives. Funny thing is that the TSA's in Miami International Airport did not hand check the same bag loaded with the same exact equipment. The TSA from Puerto Rico also decided to interrogate me as to why I was carrying my equipment and what each item was for.
    Interesting! I live in PR, so obviously have to fly through the San Juan airport to get anywhere. I always request a hand check and get it with no questions asked, and it is relatively quick but thorough. About half the time they will open the Porter rolling case to look at the camera equipment (especially if I have my Zone VI spotmeter inside!), but even then, it's a quick wipe with the explosive sniffing pad, and I'm on my way.
    The slowest hand check I've ever had was in the Raleigh airport last April. The TSA agent very slowly, painstakingly swabbed each and every roll of film, which I had packed, without cannisters, in a clear plastic Ziplock bag. Fine with me... I wasn't late for the flight, and he was doing his job. No biggie.
    Eddy McDonald
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  8. #8

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    i ask for hand checks and get it every time. i have had film x rayed bythe carry on machine....no problem. i even forgot two 4x5 holders loaded with tmax100 in my check bags and guess what?....no problem.

    i also send my film and cameras to locations i am shooting by the USPS. this way i do not have to carry them or worry about my film. again. no problems.

    all in all i have had no problems.....but i still always ask for a hand check.

    eddie

  9. #9
    Robert Hall's Avatar
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    And trust me, y'all, Eddie gets around!
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    Technology is not a panacea. It alone will not move your art forward. Only through developing your own aesthetic - free from the tools that create it - can you find new dimension to your work.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by eddie gunks View Post
    i ask for hand checks and get it every time. i have had film x rayed bythe carry on machine....no problem. i even forgot two 4x5 holders loaded with tmax100 in my check bags and guess what?....no problem.

    i also send my film and cameras to locations i am shooting by the USPS. this way i do not have to carry them or worry about my film. again. no problems.

    all in all i have had no problems.....but i still always ask for a hand check.

    eddie
    eddie,

    You and I are compadres on this point!

    I just sent out about 30 rolls of 120 to Tucson via USPS Priority (just to be sure, I ship them inside the lead pouch) so they and the lead pouch will be waiting for me when I get there late next week.

    For the return trip, any exposed film not processed there I'll carry on in the lead pouch and ask for hand inspection - which I've never been refused.

    Oh, and one very important rule, be as polite to the TSA inspector as you would be to your Mom on Christmas Eve! Works wonders when you treat these folk with respect.

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