Old Cameras and Air Travel

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by bgelfand, Aug 17, 2022.

  1. I remember this going around f@c3b00k at the time it happened. I'd be suing too, but no money can account for the ignorance of some people.
    FWIW, I've traveled on airplanes numerous times carrying a handful of film cameras. Never once had any sort of problem- and I do not plan to discontinue traveling or traveling with cameras.
  2. A reason not to fly? I hope you’re being tongue in cheek. Hard to tell these days when so much is upside down.

    Anyway, to continue the fever dream, and with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek … there are more plane crashes than incidents of film cameras being mistaken for dangerous tools so, if you’re going to choose not to fly, at least do it because of the crashes. Then again, far more people die in car crashes than plane crashes, so your solution of driving instead of flying really won’t work. In bed under the covers is best. Just don’t starve or suffocate. But take lots of pictures. If under the covers, use flash.

  3. I was detained at Canberra airport, believe it or not, over a cable release.
    The X-ray guy said "Sir, there is a suspicious thing in your bag". The bag was emptied and X-rayed again but the thing was still there. Finally the cable release was discovered nestled in the curved seam of the bag. He asked what it does and I demonstrated its operation.

    What he saw was: "You press a button at one end and a sharp thing jumps out at the other end." Definitely maybe possibly dangerous!
    A security officer wearing elbow length thick leather gloves came and took the cable release and carried it at arm's length down the corridor behind the X-ray station. People coming up the corridor flattened themselves against the opposite wall as he went past.

    About a half hour later the cable release was handed back to me and I was told I was free to go. I didn't miss the connecting flight.
    When you are not in control of what happens next it is good that things end well.
  4. In 2012 I was returning to Canada from India and had a stopover in London. The next day in security I was selected for swabs of my gear and GC-mass spectrometer analysis for explosives. Before retirement I worked in chemistry research so knew what was going on. Have wondered if the fact my camera bag had a Leica M4 and a bunch of cylinder shaped objects (film cassettes) had anything to do with it. Old film cameras with gears and springs probably look suspicious to a security guard at the X-ray machine who’s used to modern plastic stuff.
  5. We bought a piece of petrified wood out west and proceeded to take it though security, with the piece in our carry on luggage. TSA was perplexed by it, and we had most of our stuff swabbed and tested before being allowed to continue. They had no specific interest in my Olympus EM-5 and 3+ lenses. Just goes to show that you don't even need to be carrying suspicions equipment to get extra attention when traveling.

    As far as quite air travel? As inconvenient it can be, especially right at this moment, my grandchild is 3,000 miles away, so driving is not an option.
  6. TSA is good at not Xr-aying film if you ask. Pretty much that always means the mass spectrometer, though.

    Most often, they won't need to open the box, but one time the box was in bad shape, with holes,
    and so they wanted to open and swab the actual cassette.

    Other countries don't seem to have the non-X-ray film option.
  7. Edwin Barkdoll

    Edwin Barkdoll forestbarkdollweil.com/nature-unveiled-blog/

    A number of years ago I was traveling with film including 1 roll of Kodak HIE infrared. Over my protests the TSA agent actually opened every film canister for visual inspection. Result: fogged leader end of the IR film.
  8. No problem with still cameras. The agents are frequently intrigued by my Minox 8x11 cameras and my T3. On the other hand, a windup 16mm movie camera befuddles the agents, who have to have boss look it over. So never really have a problem. Of course there is the usual jerk, but jerks are equally distributed throughout all professions.
  9. I never had problems with my baggage going through the X-ray machine. But I've often been given a second shakedown and X-ray after initially going through the metal detector. Something about my body (or my suspicious face) they don't like.

    The other issue I've had is with those little Swiss knives I keep on my key chain. I forget to remove them and put them in checked baggage. So they've stopped me a few times going through the PSA line. They told me I could go back into the terminal and mail it or do whatever with them or they could just keep them. It was easier to just give them up and buy another later on.
  10. Not my experience, but it's been a long time since I traveled with film.
    AJG likes this.
  11. In June we flew to a Greek island, passing thru security at Dulles, Athens, on the island going back and again in Athens.

    I had my film in a lead bag- so it got hand scrutinized every time. Security did pull a pair of regular pliers out of my camera bag in Athens tho
  12. At least you knew what they were doing.
    My experience was with an inspector that just started ripping open sealed Kodak 120 film boxes and then ripping open the inner foil pouch.
    I had to YELL "STOP!!!" to get her to stop, and tell me why she was ripping open the film without first telling me.
    Because the next thing she was going to do was to pull out the film and unroll the film, to make sure it was film. <sigh>
    She did pull out the roll, but at least did not unroll the film, like she was originally going to do.

    I don't want to think about the disaster she would have created, if I had brought my view camera and a box of 4x5 sheet film.

    That ended my air travel with film.
    I switched to digital soon after.
  13. Same here.

    Some said EVERYTHING goes through X-ray.
    Hand inspection obviously was too much work for them.

    Though some were good about it, and did the hand inspection.
  14. As mentioned above, the TSA reaction to my petrified wood acquisition was on a TSA Precheck line. I don't use film, so TSA precheck advantages to me are shorter lines and you don't have to take off your shoes. We have gone through security with a whole lot of pottery in our carry on bags and TSA didn't have any issues. We got Global entry after a horrific 1 1/2 hour process at JFK customs after a 12+ hour flight (and the subsequent 2 hour knife fight through NYC traffic going home).
  15. Ken: How long did it take to get the global entry? Did you have to go to their offices personally?
  16. From what I remember, you filled out the form on line and then made an appointment for an in person interview. We went to the TSA office at JFK to do this, and the whole process was just a few weeks. Don't know if they changed the in person interview to a Zoom meeting due to Covid.
  17. TSA actually says:

    Film | Transportation Security Administration

    As well as I know it, they believe up to ISO 800 is safe.
    It doesn't say color or black and white.

    If you ask, they are supposed to, but as well as I know it is always
    (for any question) up to the agent on duty. If you look suspicious, or
    something like that.

    The agent did make a comment about the ago of my film one time,
    which was probably older than he was. But he did it anyway.
  18. I got a TSA “known traveler” ID and also the Global Entry card. With both one still has to undergo security checks. There may still be less people in your line, so perhaps the agents wouldn’t feel as much pressure as of there were hundreds of people waiting. I used mine both on international and domestic flights but flying within the US, every airport meant a different experience.

    I dropped it all whenever mine expired. One thing of note about the Global Entry is you scan your passport at a kiosk- so if country stamps mean anything to you, too bad b/c your passport doesn’t get stamped. AND you still wait at the baggage carousel along with everyone else so your speedy run thru security ends with a longer wait for your luggage.

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