I searched this site for info on this topic but didn't find anything recent (meaning not since 2002) so I thought I'd reopen the subject for discussion.
Has anyone had recent experience with transporting film through airport security in the US and internationally? Any damage to report from the xray machines that scan carry-on baggage? I know film should never be put in checked suitcases; my question is specific to xray machines. Those walk-through portals and wands are magnetometers and shouldn't affect film.
I checked the TSA web site on this. It does indicate that large format film is considered one of the "specialty films" that should not go through the xray machines, but set aside for hand inspection. In addition, ANY film, no matter the ASA, that goes through screening more than five times should be hand inspected, since the effects are cumulative.
Well, what this tells me is that basically you should request hand inspection of any film, since yes, the xrays do have a minor effect (otherwise why would the TSA admit that you shouldn't scan it more than five times?).
That issue aside, I'm wondering how the airport screeners perform a hand inspection when they can't open packaging or film holders to see what's inside. When I've asked for hand inspection of 35mm film, screeners usually yell at me and berate me for what they say is an unnecessary request, then give in and look at each roll of film. It's almost imposssible to get a hand inspection outside the US, where that right is not guaranteed. (Though given the attitude of screeners here, one might surmise that hand inspection isn't a right here, either.) When I went through once with medium format film, the screener had no idea what it was.
I know some airports have that swab test, where they wipe containers and check for explosives residue. Not all airports have that technology though.
I asked the TSA how to request a hand inspection on large format film aand motion picture film nd they wouldn't answer me. They said they don't discuss security measures like that in detail. I understand the need for security but the unanswered question leaves me frustrated.
Do you have any recent experiences to report?