Travelers Beware: New Airport Scanners Erase Unprocessed Film


You can never be too careful as a photographer traveling these days.

Skitterphoto from Pexels.

From stories about Macbook batteries keeping people off of flights to damaged equipment and gear, air travel seems to be particularly hazardous for our profession and it just became even more so with the advent of these new 3D scanners at airports which, unfortunately, will completely erase any unprocessed film you might have in your luggage.

PetaPixel quotes a release from American Airlines describing the new equipment: “Because CT technology is three dimensional, this new checkpoint technology has the potential to provide better visibility and allow the operator to rotate the bag’s image 360 degrees to show the contents of carry-on items at every angle. CT provides the capability to virtually see beyond unwanted clutter and greatly enhances the ability to visually inspect the contents of carry-on bags for explosives and other prohibited items.”

The TSA released a statement to Kosmo Photo which said of the new 3D scanners, “The x-ray machines used to screen checked and carry-on baggage will not affect digital camera images, slides, photo compact discs, picture discs, or film that has already been processed, including developed medical x-rays…Most x-ray machines used to screen carry-on bags should not damage undeveloped film under ASA\ISO 800. There are a limited number of screening checkpoints that use x-ray equipment that may damage undeveloped film.”

You can watch a video of them in action by clicking here.

Instagrammer freestylephoto1 noticed one in Los Angeles and posted to the account’s followers: “Traveling to #PhotoPlusExpo w/ #film? Watch out for these NEW machines at the airports. It's a CAT Scan and will absolutely destroy any film in a second. The equivalent of putting your film through the old scanners about a thousand times. Lead bags won't save you. The nice #TSA agents at #LAX had no problem with a handcheck and seemed to be informed that this is no joke.”

Luckily for photographers, you can separate the film from your luggage and place it in a clear plastic bag for hand inspection so there’s no need to worry about ruining your film unless you forget it is there.

Have you had any problems with traveling and photography equipment or gear in the past? Let us know your story in the comments below.

And don’t forget to check out some of our other photography news stories on Light Stalking by clicking here.


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Kehl is our staff photography news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here

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