The TSA responds with guidance on flying with large format sheet film

Submitted by John on Sat, 02/01/2020 - 11:39

A few days ago, I posted an article about some new CT scanners that are showing up in airports. These new scanners have more powerful X-rays and are more damaging to analog film.

The article mentioned roll film, but I was curious about sheet film.

So I reached out to the TSA and asked them for guidance about flying with sheet film. I don't have my list of original questions handy (I'll post it later when I come across it) but I did get a response back from the TSA. Here are the latest guidelines on traveling with large format sheet film, as of February 2020:

Thank you for contacting the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Contact Center.

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.  These airports will have signage in front of the x-ray stating that the x-ray may damage undeveloped film.

If you are traveling with the following types of film, please pack it in a clear plastic bag, remove it from your carry-on bag at the checkpoint, and ask for a hand inspection:

  • Film with an ASA\ISO 800 or higher
  • Highly sensitive x-ray or scientific films
  • Film that is or will be underexposed
  • Film that you intend to “push process”
  • Sheet film
  • Large format film
  • Medical film
  • Scientific film
  • Motion picture film
  • Professional grade film 
  • Film of any speed that is subjected to x-ray screening more than five times

In most cases, the x-ray equipment used for screening checked baggage will damage undeveloped film; therefore, please place undeveloped film in carry-on bags.