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Film & Digital Media Travel Question.
Old 07-27-2004, 01:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I am going to be flying to do a location shoot and I want to take my film of preference and some Compact Flash cards with me and I have been doing a lot of reading on how the airlines treats Photographers and the effects that the X-ray/Inspection processes have on media and I am both confused and concerned.

It used to be that a Photographer could request a hand inspection but now I am hearing that the Inspectors are getting quite rude and abrasive with Photographers who request hand inspections. I called the airline and also the airport and they were of no help at all. Basically, I was left with the impression that a lot of it depended on who was on duty and whether or not they were having a good day or not as to whether they would be accomodating of my needs.

Can the members of this Forum please relate their experiences as far as their treatment at the hands of the airlines and also what have been the effects on their media (both film and flash cards). Also, any suggestions as to how to deal with this will be most greatly appreciated. Thanks to all.
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Re: Film & Digital Media Travel Question.
Old 07-27-2004, 02:17 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Dave

Compact Flash cards aren't bothered by the x-ray machine -- so you can just leave them in the case and let it roll through the x-ray.

The film question is different. If it's 400ISO or slower you can probably roll it rhough with no problem. One of the challenges is rolling through the x-ray MULTIPLE times. X-ray is an aggregated exposure -- so each time counts. Make sure that if you do have to put it through the x-ray, you know how many times it goes through. In fact, you can have the film developed at the site rather than run it back through the x-ray on the way home. If the film is more than 400ISO or a special film (like IR) make sure that you tell them that it's not "regular" film.

My experience with hand-check has been very good. Have the film in a clear plastic sandwich bag with no cans or wrappers. Often, they don't even open the bag. Have it in the top of your bag and pull it out at the x-ray machine. Go out to the TSA web site and print out the policy for hand-checking film. Don't jam it in their face and demand it -- just ask nicely and then have the print out in your pocket if they say that hand checking is against policy. Sometimes they say it's against policy just because they don't want to do it -- sometimes they really do think it's against policy and they just don't know. Remember -- if you're rude, they'll be rude.

Safe travels
Bob
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Re: Film & Digital Media Travel Question.
Old 07-27-2004, 02:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Dave-- I work for one of the Kodak companies, and simply put ANY FILM IN CHECKED BAGAGE will be "toast" with the new X-Ray machines. Topside carry-on is good for about 3-4 scans before any flaws start to show up. Kodak did a test with the equipment over a year ago and the problems are now starting to show up all over the country as the TSA is putting this stuff online. I don't see how to put the report on as an attachment to send to you. Ask kindly as in previous response "helps" -- Bill
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Re: Film & Digital Media Travel Question.
Old 07-27-2004, 02:36 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Fed EX you film and stuff to your resort or location....

stuff you pockets with film... you can get six in each pocket... hehe

michael
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Re: Film & Digital Media Travel Question.
Old 07-27-2004, 07:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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In an act of stupidity I did this once traveling to a foreign country, the detector went off and when asked to empty my pockets, I took out 24 rolls of Reala, the look on their face was like ???WTF???
I felt like an ass..
 
 
Re: my experience
Old 07-27-2004, 07:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
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As one of the last film shooters around here, here's my take on it. The last couple of years (and actually, for as long as I can remember), whenever I've traveled I've always carried my film in a carry-on bag, and asked for a hand-check. In the old days they'd argue that the X-rays wouldn't hurt, but they'd always give in, take a quick peek and let me pass. Now they seem to understand the x-ray buildup problem, and do a more thorough hand check. The key phrase here is "thorough". On a recent trip to Tampa, I hand carried 200 rolls of 35mm in, and 150 rolls out (I gave some unused to my assistant). On the way in, they looked at a few rolls here and there. On the way out, they looked at every single roll. It tool 20 minutes but they didn't bitch and moan, they just did their thing, and so did I, nicely standing and watching. Aside from being polite, the key is to give yourself plenty of time to go through security. If you come across as in a hurry, you lose your leverage. BTW, one of the reasons I don't check film (aside from the massive does of X-ray) is that I don't want to risk it being lost, especially after exposure. Your insurance can replace everything else, but not your images.

I haven't traveled internationally since '97, so I can't tell you how the rest of the world works, you'll have to CYA as best you can, but again, I'd recommend against putting it in any checked baggage.

As stated by someone else, another good way is to Fedex your film in and out, and I've done that too, although when I had it shipped in, it was direcly from B&H since there would be no sales tax and their shipping was cheaper than my shipping. On the way back, I split the shipment 1/2 by Fedex, 1/2 by UPS, to ensure that all of it wouldn't be gone if some of it went missing, and I ship it directly to the lab so my snips are waiting for me. (In some cases, I might carry it back as well, it just depends on the logistics). Also, as mentioned, your digital is same against X-rays, but be mindful of electromagnetic sources like large electric motors and magnets. Best to backup to a DVD if you can before you leave.

Regards,
Andy Pearlman
Andy Pearlman Studio


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