Ship the film and/or chemicals ahead. Why bother with the potential hassle/confiscation?

If you can't legally ship the chemicals, you definitely shouldn't be stowing them away in your checked baggage. I've shipped film ahead several times after a poor experience trying to get it hand checked at the security gate.

A few years ago, but well after 9/11, I was carrying about 20 rolls of ISO100 and ISP400 120 roll film in their original sealed boxes through airport security. I didn't want the film scanned by their x-ray machine, so I was determined to get it hand checked. I even went to the TSA web site and printed the page that explained I had the right to get the film hand checked. I was prepared.

When I got to the security gate, I put my keys, belt, shoes, and other assorted items in the tray and held up my clear plastic bag of film boxes asking (very politely) if I could have it hand checked.

"The scanner won't hurt it if it's less than 1000 speed film," the TSA guy droned at me in a much less than interested voice.

Like I said, I was prepared for that possibility. I explained, again with no attitude whatsoever, the x-rays were cumulative and I was traveling several legs and I'd appreciate it if I could get it hand checked.

"You're kidding, right?"

"No, please. May I get it hand checked?" I really didn't want to pull out my printed paper with the rules.

He sighed a most disinterested sigh and told me he'd get someone to hand check my film. I gave it to him and went through the metal detector to collect the rest of my stuff. He whined at another TSA agent and told him to hand check my film. By this time, I had put my belt and shoes back on and refilled my pockets with keys, change, etc. All I needed was my film checked.

The second guy pointed at a chair and told me to sit while he checked my film. He proceeded to open every single box (there were about 20) and individually swipe each foil packet, one at a time, and run the sample through the machine. He was in NO hurry. It probably took him 20 minutes or more to individually test every single roll of film. I sat there quietly and when he was nearly done, I commented to him that he was doing it that way because he could, right? He nodded and winked at me. Then he left me with 20 foil packets of film and 20 empty boxes in a big tray. Thanks.

The moral is, you can make them follow the rules, but you can't make them hurry. I ship film ahead now. It's so much more convenient.