View Full Version : Camera Bag and Airport Security

Wayne Jeffers
12-01-2002, 08:59 PM
We'll be flying to Boston in a couple of days and I've started to wonder what problems I'm likely to encounter getting a camera bag with an SLR, extra lenses, filters, etc., through the new airport security process. (This will be the first time I've flown with a camera since 9/11/01.) Anybody have any recent experience or tips on flying with a camera bag?

I already figure that I should not bring film, but buy it in Boston and either get the film developed there or mail the exposed film back home for processing, so as to avoid x-ray damage to the film.

Should I just forget the SLR and just tuck the point-and-shoot 35mm camera in the suitcase?


12-01-2002, 09:04 PM
From what I read the x-ray is much stronger so pack you film in you checked baggage.


12-01-2002, 09:48 PM
Wife works in the airline industry, and I get a bit of inside info (not classified).
Expect your bags to be searched completely.
Your camera will probably be taken apart.
As long as the shutters work they won't take the body apart .
Other than that... Just think if you were sitting next to you, would you be nervous about what you saw in your carry on bag? It's more about what a crazy person could get from a sane person and cause trouble with, than what a sane person could cause trouble with....
Take your SLR, lenses, and gear, but be very easy going with the inspectors who have to search your bag. If you get all nervous that they'll hurt your gear, they'll pull you aside and make your life hell....

12-01-2002, 10:07 PM
Fed-ex everything but the toothbrush. IMHO.

12-02-2002, 12:17 AM
This has been my modus operandi for the past many years: Take your film and put it in clear zip-lok bags. Ask (politely) that the film be hand-inspected and sniffed by Rin-Tin-Tin, but not X-ray'd. They will tell you that the X-rays don't damage film. Tell them (politely) that you understand that it will not ruin film, but that it does degrade the film's contrast and image sharpness, and that as these are qualities that are important to the technical and legal record useage of the boat pictures you are about to take, could you again (politely) insist on hand inspection. They will closely inspect each roll of film, but I have never been turned down yet. But then again, 1.) I am a professional boat guy so the argument makes sense for me, and 2.) I have not gone thru a US airport since the new Homeland Security (I'm sorry, but that sounds way too creepy for me - shades of "Show me zee papurrs, Komerade!" from bad spy movies) agents have been placed.

Bruce Hooke
12-02-2002, 12:35 PM
NEVER, NEVER PUT YOUR FILM IN CHECKED BAGGAGE!!! This was a bad idea before Sept. 11 and it is an even worse idea now. They often use higher powered x-rays on the checked baggage that will kill your film.

As long as you allow some extra time for them to look at all the camera parts, if they so chose, you should be fine. My experience has been that if you are friendly, patient, and helpful everything goes smoothly. When I was carrying an $8000 flute for a friend I explained in advance what was in the case and they allowed me to open the case for them...

[ 12-02-2002, 12:38 PM: Message edited by: Bruce Hooke ]

John Bell
12-02-2002, 01:01 PM
Let me reiterate: never nver put your film in checked baggage! The new bomb scanning xrays being used in a few locations will fog it up badly. I've had no problem running film up to ASA400 through the ordinary carry-on baggage machines. But you can get it hand searched without too much difficulty. In the 70 odd flights I've taken this year, often with a carry on full of electronics including a laptop, CD player, GPS, cameras, Palm, calculators, etc. the only thing always want to see is the laptop. Only rarely do I have to pull all the doo-dads out and operate them for for the attendant. (Come to think of it, the only place was in Moncton, NB.)Also, don't put anything valuable in checked bags. The carriers limitation of liabililty for lost luggage won't protect you in case of something happening to your stuff.

As for the TSA, I have to grudgingly admit they tend to treat passengers better than the fast food rejects that we used to have. Just give yourself plenty of time, say 90 minutes before departure in most places, and you won't have any problems.


Wild Wassa
12-02-2002, 01:30 PM
Concerning the x-rays, when gear/film are x-rayed, it may be x-rayed often. With both exposed and unexposed film, the film's 'base density increases'- the film is fogged.

The inertia point of the exposure, of unexposed film, is also lowered. This is the kick off point of the exposure. Exposed film can fog even more, because the inertia point has been reached. Extra x-raying, increases the fog. The maximum density of the film does not increase, hence the lowering of the contrast index or contrast.

If you get zapped, the film's grain will increase slightly. I think I lost detail in clouds once, on 2 rolls of film, trannies. The film was x-rayed , three times.


ps, If you are shooting in low light levels, kick off your film's inertia point, by being zapped, ... spies would do this all the time, ;) .

[ 12-02-2002, 03:00 PM: Message edited by: Wild Wassa ]