A airport film question I have yet to see

Discussion in 'Travel' started by bob_doroh, Oct 19, 2003.

  1. OK being to the fact that I have never flown before this may be a
    dumb question, but instead of all this film bags handchecking etc to
    save film can I just fill my coat pockets with all the exposed film?
    would that save it, do we just pass thru metal detectors and does
    anyone know if the magnetic field screws up film
  2. Not bad ... however, they now typically ask you to take your coat off and pass it through the x-ray machine, which would defeat your plan. The magnetic field will not mess with your film.

    See the MANY threads on this topic for more info, conjecture, and opinion on the subkect.
  3. Magnetic fields do not screw up film. The metal cylinders will dset off the alram and
    you will have to go back through and empty your pockets and then put the film
    through the x-ray machine. unless you are carrying high speed 9as in ISo 800 or
    higher) the carry on x-ray machines will not screw up your film (unlkess it fgoes
    through dozens of passes. the machine operators cannot turn up the intensity of the
    x-rays , notr can they (as far as I know) leave the x-ray filed on for more than a
    preprogrammed amount of time.

    Put your film in clear plastic "baggies" and putthem in the top of your carruy on bag
    so that if you request a hand check they are extremely easy to see and examine.
    Make life easy on yourself, your fellow passengers and the guards.

    The golden rules of flying with film are:

    Be polite and respectful to those doing a thankless job.

    Never, ever put undeveloped film into checked baggage.
  4. Bob, my standard operating procedure is to FedEx my film to the nearest FedEx office to the airport that I am arriving at. It adds a few bucks in expense but sure beats the hassle at the airport.
  5. If your film isn't packed in metal, that might work. But
    most 35mm film comes in metal cannisters. You can get plastic
    cannisters for use in bulk loading (of course, DX coding
    won't work with these). Most 120 film these days
    is wrapped on plastic spools with no metal anywhere in the
    packaging, so that be another way to carry film without
    carrying metal.
    But I think doing the handcheck thing would be less trouble,
    especially if you don't already use a medium format
    camera for travel photos, and don't already develop
    your own bulk-loaded film. As others have said, you
    may be limited in how many pocketfuls of stuff you can
    walk through with -- they'll probably ask your coat
    to go through the X-ray.
  6. I'm just worried that the attendants wont hand check the film, ill be going thru 3 busy airports, JFK, Chicago and LAX and the Sydney airport also on return trip
  7. I've only flown once recently. It's a mess. The metal detectors are real sensitive, so if you have keys or anything, it'll set them off. But they won't TELL you to take the metal stuff out of your pocket. But because you had keys in your pocket, they will xray your shoes. This means they will catch any terrorists, provided the terrorists have never flown before or talked to anyone who has ever flown before.
  8. Bob,
    I went through the security checks of the Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago O'Hare, Frankfurt and London Gatwick airports all in one trip this summer carrying the same film with me the entire trip. All four airports are rather busy and all four airports X-rayed my film a minimum of once and at times two or three times, as it was in my carry-on bag. Had my film developed as usual and had no flaws as a result of the security x-rays.
    <br><br>What the previous people have mentioned is true...the metal canisters of the film will very likely set the metal detectors off. I had a pack of chewing gum in my pocket and the foil wrapper around 3 pieces of gum set off the walk-through metal detectors in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. Don't worry, though, the gum tasted just fine after they scanned it through the x-rays!.
    <br><br>The advice that Ellis gave is very sound; just keep your film readily available to be hand-checked. If at the most you're still paranoid go purchase a couple of lead film bags and again, keep them available for a hand-check because they might possibly want to hand-check a rectangular bag that they can't see through.
    <br><br>And finally, enjoy your trip!
  9. Traveled this summer from LAX to Miami to Madrid to Paris to London on the Eurostar, then to Chicago then back to LAX.

    Had about 70+ rolls of 35mm film (no packaging, no cannister) in a 5-gallon ziploc bag, and asked for hand inspection everywhere.

    They granted hand inspection everytime, except for Eurostar and to get into the Louvre.
  10. You managed to get film hand inspected at LAX? I had to read them the relevant laws to get them to even consider it!

    "No sir, if it doesn't say 800 on it, it goes through."
  11. If you do a search you'll find many stories of people flying all over
    the world through multiple security checks, where are the stories
    of "my film was ruined by the detectors". So go to the airport with
    film in baggies be polite, ask for a hand check and in the US you
    are more likely to get one, not always though. In Europe most of
    the time you won't. I went through six airports in Sept USA/Eur
    each roll of 120 was swabbed for explosives residue going out
    and returning with multiple passses through scanning
    machines with NO problems.
  12. Hello Bob,

    I had read all the threads attached to your question and lots more similar to this.
    However let me clear something for you and all others. I work with one of the airports as a security personnel and let me tell you this. First hand.
    All X-ray machines manufacutred all over the world either for checked in baggage or hand baggage/cabin baggage come with certified photo friendly label. So far in all my years as a security personnel or as hobby photographer I have not heard about any damage. At least from x-ray machines in passengers terminal. This is because the radiation level is quite low to that of medical ones.
    I read in the thread a person saying that he sends it by FEDex and collects it.
    Let me remind you all all courier bags are scanned by machines in cargo section. Here these machines need to penetrate dense materials so there would be some amount of diference. May be it might attribute to some damage.
    If you carry your film in carry on baggage/cabin baggage at the most you will be scanned twice which is mininmum. Mostly it is only once.
    The best thing you could do is once you finish shooting the film you develop it in the city of shoot this will reduce lot of trouble to your grey cells.
    Dont worry about x-rays just shoot pictures and enjoy.
  13. That's an easy one. Just go through Charles De Gaulle (Paris) early in your trip. Ask for a hand inspection, showing them the 'decoy' ISO 3600 film cassettes and others in a clear plastic bag (like everyone says to do). After they refuse to hand inspect it, ask for a supervisor, when the cop arrives (that's who they'll send), puts his hand on his gun and tells you "Put it on the belt" (they know that in English), you better do it rather than get shot or arrested. Rest of the trip is a piece of cake. You needn't worry about ruining your already ruined film. Last trip to Paris (pre-9/11) that's what I got, twice, once coming, once going. My 400 film that I take for the low light handheld stuff, was garbage afterwards.
  14. You managed to get film hand inspected at LAX? I had to read them the relevant laws to get them to even consider it!
    Jonathan - absolutely no problem -- this was in mid-July, 3 months ago. I had taken the ziploc bag out of my carry-on before I got to the front of the line, then asked politely. The guy was very polite in return and very professional.
  15. Despite the esteemed security person's reassurance above, it's probably worth noting that on the TSA web site they recommend hand-inspection for all film speeds if they are going to be subject to x-ray surveillance five or more times. They note that x-ray exposure/damage is cumulative which, to me, means the least scanning my film undergoes the better.

    I'd print out the TSA guidelines (to show them if questioned) and keep my film in zip-loc baggies for quick inspection. You should be able to avoid most scans and be better able to afford the exposure for cases where they security personnel won't cooperate.


    That being said, I have often flown with 400ASA or less consumer-grade 35mm film and been scanned twice (once on the way and once on the way back) with no obvious ill effect.
  16. Bob,

    FAA regulations require a hand inspection when requested (and this has been the case for a long time). I believe now that federal employees are conducting airport security makes this much easier to acquire. Even overseas, I don't have a problem which the exception of when I fly through London. Never had a problem in Asia, Africa, or the rest of Europe.

    Anyway, I just came back from the southwest. I carried full medium format & 35 mm gear as carry-on (my tripod gets packed with my checked in luggage). I made sure I had plenty of time, a smile, and was very polite. The federal security employees can see from all your gear that you are a serious photographer, and I do believe that they are respectful of that. It simply takes time to check every roll of film, but they do it. I had no problems whatsoever.

    I would recommend NOT attempting to circumvent the security procedures in any way. That could land you in trouble. (Remember, Elliot Ness couldn't touch Al Capone - it was the Feds that took him down ;)

    And yes, with 50 rolls of 120/220 film, it did take me what seemed like a while, but in reality only 10 or 15 minutes (the security person used 2 machines to check all my film). But my motto for traveling has always been "get there early and wait" - something that makes actually makes travel less stressful. Sure I lose a bit of sleep for morning flights, but I'm more relaxed on the trip.
  17. I live in Los Angeles and fly through LAX all the time. I have never been refused a hand check. Currently, you have a right to a hand check at all USA airports. Be polite, and give yourself plenty of time, as they usually swab each roll and test it for explosives.
    In most of Europe...Paris & Frankfurt being the exception...a few rolls of 3200 have usually gotten me a hand check. But I have a trip with 9 airport stops coming up...I may go digital for that one.
  18. I live in Orange County, CA. Flown twice internationally out of LAX and asked for hand inspection both times. First time (Sept. of 2002), they did it no problem - I had my canisters out of their boxes, and all enclosed in a gallon size Ziploc baggie. I was flying to Zurich, then Rome, then from Venice to Zurich and back to LAX. No European airport would hand inspect, but there was no damage to the film either. So, we're talking a total of 4 scans for this batch of film and no damage

    Second time was August 2003. I got the "If it's not 800 or higher, it goes through the machine" line. Rather than hassle over federal regulations, I just put my film through the x-ray machine. This trip was LAX to Frankfurt to Dublin, then Dublin to Frankfurt to Munich, then Munich to LAX. Never had the film handchecked and it came out great. For this one, we're looking at 5 scans for the film, and again, it came through with flying colors (no pun intended....)

    In fact, I accidentally put one roll into my checked baggage. When I realized it back in LA, I was sure that the film would be ruined. I had it developed anyway, and to my surprise, it came out just fine. I would not recommend that you leave any of your rolls to chance like that though. I never put film in my checked baggage - I just hadn't realized that one roll was there.

    Now, in February of 2004, I'll be going to Beijing via Narita. I'm planning on getting to LAX super early - probably around 4 hours early at least, and I'll try to see if I can get a hand check. The extra time isn't for the purposes of checking the film through, but just to get through the check-in lines of the International Terminal. Maybe it was just me, but this last trip in August was a disaster in LAX...

    I prefer to have them handcheck the film, but it certainly seems like putting it through the carry-on scanners a few times won't hurt the film too much....
  19. I'm very surprised you didn't get a hand check at LAX, Jeff. As I said, I go through there a lot and have never been refused.
  20. Im not clear on something, im flying to australia and have changeovers at chicago and lax, do I have to go thru another security checkpoint at each airport? there is only about an hour layover beetween flights so im thinking that you dont but if anyone who is a frequent flyer could let me know id appreciate it
  21. "do I have to go thru another security checkpoint at each airport?"

    It depends on the layout of the airport (part of the problem with security in general). It's very common to have to pass thru security multiple times. Going from a domestic to international terminal will pretty much guarantee it. With domestic terminals, it all depends on layout and proximity of one gate to another.

    Airports were never designed for security checks and therefore we have a collection of stop-gap systems in place, trying to seal off areas which may be spread around. In general, its best to plan to go thru security more times than you would expect to and be glad when its less.
  22. Believe it or not, film is not that sensitive to X-rays. The basic sensitivity of film crystals is to UV and blue, with special senistizing dyes to make it panchromatic. X-ray film has be specially sensitized or made VERY fast to register X-rays. I went to Europe in 1995 and had my PKR (Kodachrome 64 pro) X-rayed several times along the way. Absolutely no sign of it!
  23. Bob, unfortunately, you will most likely have to go through security at each airport stop...for sure at LAX, as you will be arriving at a domestic gate and departing from the international terminal. You may get lucky in Chicago if you're plane is leaving from the same gate area as the one you arrived at.
  24. To correct a misstatement above: all x-ray machines for checked luggage do NOT come with a certified photo friendly label. The CTX-5000 machines (or whatever the updated model number is) are known to fog film. And the ones in the American Airlines terminals at DFW have signs on them saying so. I suspect they are not the only machines that post the warnings up front. These machines are only used for checked baggage, not for carryon. So as others have said, don't put film in your checked luggage.
  25. I think everyone has covered the fact that putting the film in your pocket probably won't work. Best thing I can suggest to avoid having the film scanned is to use a good lead lined bag. I've got a pair that the manufacturer claims will stand up to the CTX machine but I'm not going to find out if they are right. They are, however, helpful at forcing a hand inspection of my film.

    So far, I have been successful at not having my film X-rayed by doing the following... (even where the TSA employees refuse to hand inspect) First, I remove all the film from the plastic canisters and place it in clear plastic bags; the bags are labelled "Please do not X-Ray. Professional Film" in English and the language(s) of the countries I'm going to. Second, All of the film goes into a lead bag. Sima makes some that are 100% opaque to the carry on X-Ray machines. When I go through security I place the lead bag(s) in the plastic container with my shoes, phone, etc. When it comes out the other end, the security screeners ask what they are, remove the plastic bags on the inside, and then do a chemical explosives test on them. In Europe, I've had them just pass the bag through after looking at the bag and maybe removing the contents and putting them back. This has worked in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Orlando, NYC (LGA, JFK, EWR), Chicago, St. Louis, Louisville, Rome, Milan, and Paris.

    This may not be fool proof in other countries but so far it works here in the US.
  26. Just another datapoint. I have never bothered hand-checking in the past (I'm a consumer using consumer grade film) but decided to give it a try this time because I had some leftover film that had been scanned a couple times on another trip. Went Detroit to LA and back last weekend. Both places had signs about hand-checking that say something like it's safe to scan film but hand-checks may be requested particularly for ASA800 or above (no mention of the five-time rule). When I requested a handcheck, security personnel in both places asked me the ASA to which I replied something like "ASA 400 but it's been scanned five times already..." The personnel then granted my request. I apologized to the guy in LAX for the hassle but he seemed in good humor having only to deal with my half a dozen rolls. He said sometimes people come through with 100 rolls and ask for hand inspection. I imagine LAX probably has more film fly through it than anywhere else so I can see why they might give people a hassle, especially if they are busy (or lazy).

    Both places also made everybody remove their shoes and put it them through the x-ray which seemed kind of odd. I wonder what they do on rainy, muddy days.

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