Hi guys, here's a quick check-in on the LF film airport security issue.
In the last couple of months I have made three photographing trips from Seattle to the east coast with my 8x10 gear, and all three times I carried boxes of undeveloped 8x10 film going in both directions. And the result is: Security is becomming tighter all the time and the whole "hand inspection" thing is getting pretty dicey. Leaving Seattle on the first trip, the security people said that if I wanted to get on the plane, I had to open the film boxes. I got the top supervisor involved, and he insisted--told me that something had happened (that he couldn't tell me about) in the last couple of weeks that required increased security, and so if I didn't want the boxes X-rayed, they had to be opened.
So we all went to a separate room, turned out the lights, and I opened the boxes and let them feel the unopened plastic envelopes of film. The security people flexed the envelopes, presumably checking for stiff stuff like a knife, and then handed them back to me and I went on my way. I was concerned about what would happen when I had the exposed film in the box for the return trip (and what would happen if the airport didn't have a dark room available), and so when I loaded the film into the holders the next day, I made sure to carefully cut open the plastic film envelopes so I could use them on the return trip as well. And sure enough, coming back through Atlanta, and Orlando the following week (but not NY strangely enough), they did the same thing--swabbed the boxes, and then also made me open them. I had carefully taped the plastic envelopes shut with double-folded ends so that no light could get in, and we opened the boxes in broad daylight under my dark cloth on a table. I figured that since the film was also in a cardboard sleeve inside the plastic envelopes, it wouldn't be damaged if a tiny amount of light made it through the sleeve.
So far no film has been harmed during this process, so this will be my new practice: Be prepared to open the film boxes, with the film in cardboard sleeves and those sleeves in the plastic envelopes carefully taped shut. Far as I can tell, this is still a preferrable method to passing the film through the X-ray, because there is no knowing whether the film will be harmed if the security people stop the conveyor belt and give the film an extended dose of X-rays (which they do with my camera bag every time).
okay that's all for now.