E-Z Air Travel with Film


There is a ton of crap and misinformation out there around air travel and film.  Crazy recommendations ranging from X-ray proof bags to suggestions about lubricants most conducive to body cavity storage.  Truth is, it’s absolutely simple, predictable and pain free.  So brace yourself!  Here it is.

  1. Pay for TSA Pre Check.  Not only does it make film transportation easier, it’ll make your travel easier; way easier!
  2. Put your film in a plastic bag.  Outbound make sure you keep it unopened.
  3. When you get to the security station and your placing your bags on the conveyor, simply, politely, ask the nearest TSA agent for a hand check.
  4. They’ll take the bag of film and ask you to meet them on the other side once you have passed through security.  By the time you get there, they’ll likely have finished their inspection.
  5. You’re done.  That’s it.  Seriously, that’s it.

Couple pointers.  First, DON’T rag on TSA.  In spite of the ridiculous media attention they’ve been getting, these are good people doing their best to execute an important mission in a really crap environment.  By crap environment, I mean they’re surrounded by a bunch of ignorant travelers.  Trust me, they’re doing good work and they’re doing important work.  Be polite and respectful, maybe even take a second to thank them for their efforts!

NO BRAINER PAUSE:  Do not have film loaded in your camera…your camera gets scanned.  Do not even think about putting film in your luggage.  It gets uber-zapped.

I have NEVER, and I mean NEVER, had a TSA agent even pause for an instant at my request.  They’ve always willingly and professionally honored my request.  For the record, I’m talking about traveling through DC, Baltimore, Atlanta and Newark.  Find me an airport more intense, chaotic and with the volume of these and you win a wooden nickel.  Even when security lines stretch for hundreds of yards, and they do, I’ve received no grief at all.  This is also where TSA PreCheck comes in tremendously handy.  These lines tend to be much less stressful and you’re likely surrounded by business travelers who are ALWAYS taking things in stride and believe it or not polite to the TSA agents.  If you frequently travel, pay the measly $70 and get your PreCheck.

Final myth busting moment.  I’ve NEVER had an agent ever question the film speed.  They don’t even look.  99% of the time when I hold my little bag up the agent will say “oh, you’ve got film” and then take the bag and we’re off.

Honestly folks, and I travel constantly and take film constantly, it’s that simple.


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