I just read that the TSB is advising travelers not to pack un-developed film in their checked baggage, it seems that the newer scanners can ruin un-developed film, best bet is to have it in your carry-on, and ask it to be hand inspected, may take a little bit longer but worth it. Also if you are bringing gifts with you when you travel - do not wrap them- you will be asked to unwrap them so that the contents will be visible. FYI
Absolutely right. The new checked luggage scanners are essentially CAT scan machines, and will "light up" undeveloped film pretty reliably.
The machines we're all used to at the security checkpoints are much lower dose and much safer for film--if they're calibrated properly, which unfortunately they often are not.
And remember, the effects of all x-radiation are cumulative. Therefore, asking for hand inspection is a good idea, because the fewer passes through even the low dose machines, the better. The most reliable way to succeed with a request for hand inspection is to have all film out of boxes and cans, and in a ziploc bag.
Another good tip is to find a mail order lab that does really good work, that will keep your credit card on file so you don't have to send money with your film, and that supplies postage-paid film mailers with your name and account number preprinted on them (there are such places). As each roll comes out of the camera just drop it in the mail if you're in the US, and consult with the lab on how to handle the postage if you're not. Added benefit: these labs generally are less expensive than the storefront places at home, and--needless to say--infintely less expensive than having it done on a ship. And, as I say, the best of them do excellent work. If you're on a trip of any length at all, your early rolls will be waiting for you when you get home.
Great suggestion. One other thing one might do is to remove any roll film from the plastic canisters and put them in a clear zip lock bag. This makes it easier to hand inspect. If you leave them in the canister the inspector will have to remove them one by one and might just refuse to hand inspect. Only other option then, would be to run them through the X-ray.
I have done exactly what AR and Wes advise, putting the film loose in a pastic bag, and had agents who were very polite and gladly inspected the film without putting it through the XRay machine, and I've had others who asolutely refused, saying, "Everything goes through the machine." You do what you can do to be as careful as you can, and once you leave the house, it's all a crap shoot.
You're right, the rent-a-cop people at security checkpoints have been very inconsistent over the years with regard to hand inspections. It will be interesting to see whether the much-heralded TSA people manage to do a better, more consistent job now that they are being paid more than the people at the Cinnebon, and are allegedly going through some sort of serious training. As far as I know the regulation that allows you to ask for--and get--hand inspection is still in force.
Of course, one problem has been the interpretation of how far a hand inspection can go. I served a fair amount of time as a working cinematographer, and for sheer high comedy (or tragedy), you should have seen some of the scenes that were played out when I showed up with 20 sealed cans of unprocessed motion picture film (roughly 2" thick and 9" or more in diameter) and asked for hand inspection. The fun started when they'd say, "Fine. Open two of the cans." I actually wrote a pretty funny article about it for a trade magazine once. I used to carry a copy of the regulation with me so when they said, "Everything goes through the machine," at least I could debunk that. Fortunately, I've never seen anybody try to bust open a little 35mm film cartridge like the ones most of us carry around.
I know Carnival runs specials on every ship I have been on for developing film. It usually runs about $10 a roll for 4x6 doubles and sometimes they give you a roll of film too. I would think that the price would be worth the memories, especially with any higher speed film or extra special moments caught on film.
For what it's worth, the trouble with lead bags and lead linings is that they show up on x-rays as lead bags and lead linings. When they see this, they often think you're hiding something, make you open everything up, and you're back where you started.