View Full Version : More Airport - new TSA regs?
"Hey guys. Just got back from a shooting trip down in LA. At the Seattle end they did what they always do-- swab my boxes of sheet film and let me on through. On my return, however, I had a box of exposed film that the security people at LAX insisted on opening. They that said because the factory seal was broken, I could have a plastic knife in the box, and they couldn't let me through without either x-raying the box or opening it for visual inspection. Only after summoning the supervisor of the supervisor and getting into quite a shouting match, did they finally let me pass with my film... etc"
Maybe they were going by these apparent new regulations (forwarded from another list):
"My wife, flew today (4-28-04) from Anchorage to Nashville. Going through security she identified herself as a professional photographer and politely requested a hand inspection of her medium format camera and forty plus rolls of 120 format film. She stopped the inspection when she saw the TSA employee ripping open her foil-sealed rolls of Fujifilm prior to wanding them for trace chemical sniffing. She was told that this was now standard operating procedure as per a new bulky TSA manual that was just delivered yesterday to Anchorage International Airport. The inspector stated that all film that was not 35mm in see-through plastic containers had to be opened. Randi explained that the manufacturer's foil packaging protecting the individual rolls keeps the film clean, light tight and dry over a long trip. By working through TSA supervisors and having a full hour and a half prior to her flight leaving, she was able to convince them to let her through without opening each roll of film.
For those of us with travel and assignments that require us to shoot medium and large format film, this sounds like a real problem flying with your film. I shoot mostly 4x5 and TSA inspectors opening sealed boxes of 4x5 inch sheet film will ruin the film through fogging. Up until now, the inspectors have been content with wand sniffing the outside my light tight film boxes and sheet film holders, but it sounds like this policy has changed."
Bob Salomon - HP Marketing
One way to avoid the hassels when going to major metropolitan areas is to buy most of your film at your destination from a professional dealer and have them processed, if possible, in that city.
LA, Seattle, Nashville all have dealers that can supply film and labs that can process it.
The real issue is that TSA's incompetence, ignorance and arrogance has to stop somewhere. No-one wants to travel unsafely and so we all put up with the garbage that TSA has been throwing at us. However, those in charge of this half-ass agency simply refuse to think up a sure yet photo-safe way of checking our gear and materials (and other things for that matter). Buying and processing film locally is simply a no-way for me, further: it's a complete waste of my precious time. For one, we should at least stop kissing up to TSA "officials" just because they say so. As someone recently said: we may not win the battle, but the war might end up ours anyway.
I had a similar problem at McCarren a few weeks ago. The supervisor stated (after I'd given up for the x-ray) that he would have checked the 35mm cause he could see the leader???He couldn't check my 4x5 without opening the box or holders. Ignorance can be cured, but stupidity??? I'm sure you all can read between the lines - there is NO security THERE. I'm not at all concerned about security and the hazards of flying except from the government so I'll drive when and where I can.
From the TSA website (http://www.tsa.gov/public/interapp/editorial/editorial_1035.xml):
At the passenger security checkpoint, you should remove the following types of film from your carry-on baggage and ask for a hand inspection:
<LI>Film with an ASA/ISO 800 or higher
<LI>Highly sensitive X-ray or scientific films
<LI>Film of any speed which is subjected to X-ray surveillance more than 5 times (the effect of X-ray screening is cumulative)
<LI>Film that is or will be underexposed
<LI>Film that you intend to 'push process'
<LI>Large format film
<LI>Motion picture film
<LI>Professional grade film
Clearly, the inspectors should be prepared to hand-inspect "sheet film," "large format film," and "professional grade film." I reckon our film qualifies under all three categories.
It sounds like the TSA needs to do a much better job at training their inspectors. The inspectors should:
<LI>Know the rules.
<LI>Be trained in the correct procedure to inspect these types of film.
As to the "new bulky TSA manual that was just delivered yesterday:" Is this information available to the public? Or is it secret?
It would be nice to have access to the official policies and procedures. That way, you know when an inspector is bullshitting you, because he/she is either untrained, incompetent, lazy, or just doesn't care. You could even carry the relevant pages, so you can offer to read them to the inspectors.
Michael, you may have missed that part of the TSA website that, in other words, says - the local agent can change any rule he/she feels necessary. Plenty of catch 22s there. Jim
this is getting a bit tedious, what is the problem with putting the film though the hand baggage xray? Or (for 5x4) putting the box in your jacket pocket?
Mark, The problem is that the X-ray machines are all differnet. They are all calibrated differently. They all have radiation "hot spots". You will get film and perhaps valuable images fogged! Not every time, but probably when it will do the most damage.
I am a heavy traveler. The process is far more tedious than this thread! Putting the film in your jacket? Most TSA agents will demand that you remove your jacket and guess what?...run it through the X-ray machine.
It is a hassle to travel with film. You will get hassle from the TSA folks. Still, I would never be cavalier in my attitude toward protecting the emulsion from unknown exposure problems. Kind of hard to master and control your craft when your film becomes a moving variable!
Next time drive, If your time is that important charter an aircraft. Send your film home next day delivery. Quit yer cryin. Complain to Osama
Donal and Gatehouse are actually the same people, pushing their anti-security, anti-US message on numerous photo forums and baiting/trolling for responses. I guess it beats having a LIFE.
I think we ought to privatize US airline security. Anxious photographers and people who don't like being searched can fly the discount, "no-search" airlines.
People like me will pay more for security, and I'll gladly submit to close inspection, especially since I have a swarthy complexion and fit the profile of a terrorist (southern European/Arab looking, male). In fact, to paraphrase Ann Coulter, I could see an ad slogan like, "We search Arabs twice." I'll pay more for a properly trained security expert. Go ahead and X-Ray my film, or better yet, hand inspect it in a certified darkroom close at hand. I'll also wait for the cargo holds to be searched, and welcome armed guards and dogs onboard the plane with me. And I'll pay extra on a portion of my ticket so that the inspectors have to ride the same plane they just inspected (like the Royal Jordanian airline I took).
Of course, I'd play tapes of 9-11 and of Saddam raping and torturing families and of Saudis stoning women to death, on daily TV. Afterall, we all should learn more about the Middle East. Then I'd play tapes of a couple of ACLU lawyers arguing that some student shouldn't be deported or that somebody who wants to kill your mother and children is getting sunburnt in Cuba.
I bet the airline I fly will be far more successful than the unsecured airline ;-), at least after the next terrorist incident.
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