Discussion in 'News' started by Mark Keefer, Aug 1, 2017.
Be sure to wear your lead BVDs
When the machines were in their "infancy" they were presented to the NYC Prisons as a way to identify incoming weapons and contraband. A mentor and friend was a Warden, and because his life and those his staff hung in the balance, they spent a week end doing just that. Technology has advanced tremendously in the ensuing decades, but my read now would be what theirs was then, certainly use it, but don't entirely trust it.
I am a green card holder, I am pre-checked and they already have all kinds of info on me including fingerprints. To get full clearance from pre-check status at the airport you need to go to a pre-check checkpoint. If you go to a regular checkpoint you will only not have to take your shoes off and not get thru the body scan. Pre-check is also only available on certain airlines. I am Canadian and travel a lot between USA and Canada so I also have Nexus which is a program that gives clearance and priority at airports. Back to the topic of this thread: I don't think this was ever implemented. I always travel with a carry-on backpack full of camera gear and never had to take it out even at regular checkpoints - last travel was only a few weeks ago.
No difference over here in Europe. I've had 4 foreign holidays this year (so far!) - Spain, Poland, Greece and France- and not been asked about camera gear.
Ipads and laptops have to be unpacked, liquids are limited to 100ml in a bottle, and that's about it.
Passport control at Charles de Gaul was atrocious, but that's France for you
My wife wants to go to Iceland before Christmas...
I've had to empty out my bags a few times - usually because there's so much in there that security can't see properly. I got "that's a lot of camera gear" last time I flew from Chicago. I'm glad they're at least not checking the weight limits. For some reason they're much keener on swiping the outside of a lens for explosive residue than looking through it to see whether some of the 3kg lens is a sealed lump of semtex - but I've been assured that all of this is much more to do with passenger reassurance than desire to protect the plane. People have pointed out that the liquid ban is largely pointless too - some chemists have suggested that if you wanted to make an explosive on a plane, the ingredients are more likely to be powdered. Normally they just scan the bag very slowly, though; I've tried suggesting that it would be simpler for me just to open the bag so they can have a look, but they weren't keen.
On the plus side, the new thing about putting lithium ion batteries in the hold rather than cabin (after years of being told to do the reverse) worries me less now a friend has told me that passenger planes can dump a baggage container mid-flight - if there's a fire, they'd probably just dump everything rather than risk the plane. I'm still very unhappy with any threat to put the laptop in the hold, though - contractually I'm not allowed to do that with my work laptop, and things go missing in airports way too often. I've recently been on a plane where they ran out of overhead storage and insisted on checking things, and I pulled rank with the "there's $10K of fragile glass in this bag, can you please find somewhere not in the hold to put it?" argument; fortunately the crew had some spare storage.
I'm a firm believer that a vanishingly small number of people want to blow me up (despite my personality), and that the cost to the economy and customer happiness of the fall-out of terrorist attacks is still a win for the terrorists. Obviously there's a balance, though, and I guess we need people to feel safe. Normally I have multiple phones and multiple laptops with me, in addition to camera gear (I work in computers, 3-4 laptops is usual). I've got the process quite streamlined, but I still cause trouble in the security lines when I try to explain why I need five security trays to unpack everything.
From a security perspective, I've several times accidentally carried a small penknife through security without getting stopped for it. But people in the airline industry have gleefully shared some ways of sabotaging a plane without any need of tools (which I won't report here, even though I was only given an overview), so I doubt I'm actually increasing the risk. If anything, I remain surprised some people can carry a tripod on a plane, since it's effectively a mace.
My biggest concern is that the TSA will insist on me unlocking laptops at immigration. That's a significant issue for my employer, since I have commercially sensitive emails. I've been tempted to carry a non-disclosure agreement for the TSA to sign if I'm every stopped.
I just went through TSA twice in the past 2 weeks - once with TSA precheck, once without. I traveled with 3 cameras, 4 lenses, 4 chargers and associated batteries and cables, a disassembled tripod, 3 miniheads, a regular head, 3 headlamps, a handheld flashlight and an iPad. I was expecting to have to unpack everything since the whole thing must have looked like a confusing mass of metal and wires jumbled together. I breezed through without a hiccup even with an photo ID of me clean shaven which looks nothing like me now. Go figure.
I got my TSA PreCheck, it is more convenient but I still occasionally have my bag opened and looked through and computer swabbed and I have been flying two times a week for the last five months. So even PreCheck is no guarantee of a free pass, but as a frequent flyer, it was worth the $85. Not a big deal, just how it is today. The TSA isn't the big deal, it is those seats designed for 14-year-old Japanese boys that they cram us into, in every seat past row 5. And the constant "this flight is fully booked and we are running out of overhead baggage space and we want to check your bag. Try to get into boarding group 3 or 4 so you can get your bag in. I don't want to hand my carry on bag over with several thousand dollars of camera gear in it. So I have my camera and big lens in smaller camera bag cases in case I am forced to check the bag and will keep these with me.
I have TSA PreCheck and have yet to be subjected to a hand inspection of my camera gear. As for gate checking luggage, I limit my camera bag to one that will fit under the seat in front of me. My wife says I am a little bit compulsive. I take a tape measure with my when buying luggage to make sure it fits airline carry-on requirements. Some manufacturers do not include wheels and handles in their published dimensions.
My recent experience (4 flights during the past 3 weeks, just returned home yesterday): Lens stayed on camera, but extra lens (I only carried one and it's bubble wrapped) must be put in bin as well. Agents in the US and Europe handled my equipment with utmost gentleness, with both hands and one item at a time. Not one person looked through the viewfinder. The reason they touched my camera and extra lens was to rearrange them in the bin the correct way (I had BR strap on camera.)
My filters stayed inside the bag, and no one asked me to peal the bubble wrap off the extra lens.
I've been through two TSA checkpoints in the last ~36 hours and had my D800 with a 24-85 in my carry-on. I did not have any additional lenses or other "stuff' including speedlights, batteries or chargers(strictly business, so I just had the camera along in case I had some free time).
At the first, I just pulled it out and put on the conveyor in the same bin as my wallet, watch, etc. with no comment either way.
At the second, I specifically asked "Does my camera need to come out" and was told "Anything larger than a cell phone has to come out."
Of course. policies can vary airport to airport so don't take this as gospel-just a couple of recent experiences.
Going through TSA Pre, it hasn't happened to me yet, in four domestic trips since this thread started. Coming in from Canada, the Canadians did have me pull out cameras and lenses and run them through in their own bin.
When I went through security in early October, they were hollering about pulling out all electronics larger than a cell phone. Since my cameras I had with me were all pre-electronic (1890s-1950s), I left them in the bag.
They made me pull them out and run them through the scanners separately. When I pointed out they were antique cameras and had no electronics whatsoever, they said they still had to come out because "the bags block the view through them."
TSA is an insult to the intelligence of all people.
I suspect that anything big enough to fill with explosive, and make a bomb out of.
If I have film cameras, I usually let them go through the x-ray, but ask for rolls not loaded to be hand inspected.
TSA is pretty good about doing that. Other countries usually won't do it.
Do that, and you may get a few opportunities to repeat your performance
Try flying to Mongolia through Korea with film. The 20-somethings in Korea with limited English have no idea what these little cannisters are, or why you are so adamant about them.
I will remember that the next time I have a hankering to visit Mongolia...
Volume generally runs counter to quality......
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