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Old March 25th, 2003, 05:50 AM   #16
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TSA SOP for the checkpoint is to handcheck if the passenger requests. If you run into a problem ask to speak with a supervisor or the checkpoint manager before hand.
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Old March 25th, 2003, 09:24 AM   #17
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There are two key comments posted above that will keep your travels pleasant. Get to the airport early and make your requests in a decent way.

Look, I don't mean to preach, but some things in life have never changed. Kindness and understanding will always get you farther than throwing a fit. Last week I got to the Memphis airport 1 1/2 hours early and walked into a spring break rush. I never even made it to the security check point before my flight time. This was an unusual situation and there was many upset people missing their flights. People were going nuts and yelling at the ticket agents and security people, which is always a bad idea. When I got to the counter I was kind and told the agent I understood the situation was not her fault. She was so glad to deal with someone that was not giving her grief she called a supervisor over to approve giving me a confirmed seat on a later flight instead a stand-by reservation on an oversold flight! Again, I am not preaching, I mean this as a real travel tip. Gate agents and security people are doing a critical job, I am always amazed at you often I see people giving them a hard time. When things are discretionary, rude people do not get the breaks.

Don - it sounds like you work at an airport? Am I correct?
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Old March 25th, 2003, 09:33 AM   #18
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I meant to say “how often” not “you often”. I was not implying anyone here was rude.
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Old March 26th, 2003, 02:54 AM   #19
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If something is standard operating procedure it should be in writing somewhere. So people can get hold of it and politely produce it in front of security officers who might not at all times be fully aware of SOP.

Also, if security screening is or is not potentially damaging to digital tapes why isn't there an official say-so?

What I'm saying is that even though the authorities can not take responsibilitiy for your tapes, they can and should take away the guesswork around it. And then, if one screening is OK, what about three or five in succession? Does the damage accumulate?

Plus, let's say I look like I was born and raised in North Africa and I hold a passport from a country outside of, say NATO. I travel with some DV equipment and I want it hand-checked and I want to carry it onboard myself. Just how early must I go to the airport and how decently must I make my requests to get a pleasant flight out of an American city?

I asked that provocative question to remind you of the delicate balance between security and decency. Because that is the real issue here, isn't it?

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Old March 26th, 2003, 06:03 AM   #20
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Security SOP's will be by their very nature sensitive documents and can not be viewed by those who have no need to know their contents [anyone who is not performing the job]. This is done in order to protect the very nature of both the contents and those who we are attempting to protect. Like it or not that's the way it is in the security related business. If everyone knows what the screeners are doing or should do in a particular situation then the bad guys know how to plan better - we'd rather leave them in the dark as much as possible.

And yes I do work at an airport. Up till August 2002 I was the Sr Special Agent for the FAA's Civil Aviation Security in the Great Lakes Region (headquartered in Chicago IL). I've got 31 years federal service that includes 8 years military (I'm a combat vet) as well as being a former federal air marshal. I am currently a training coordinator with the TSA where I get to interact with the screeners on almost a daily basis - at least until I retire in Oct this year.

I think this discussion is going into a political stance - that's one area I do not plan on entering. Everyone has their own thoughts on what is good security especially at an airport. The TSA is doing a very good job. Please remember that the TSA is not yet 2 years old and has yet to have a full 12 months under it's belt actually providing security at US airports. With this in mind there's bound to be a few bumps in the road.

As for me ... I'm leaving here Friday for AZ where I hope to put my XL1S to good use.
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Old March 26th, 2003, 10:28 AM   #21
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lead bag

i bought a lead bag normally used for photographic film and I use that for my tapes. I don't think it's necessary but I don't want to chance it. I had the bag hand-inspected recently when they couldn't see inside the lead bag but that's fine with me.
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Old March 26th, 2003, 10:48 AM   #22
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I've flown some 40,000 miles since 9/11, including trips to Hong Kong and Japan, and have had minimal problems. The last three months I have flown out of Orange County or Los Angeles to Vancouver and have been treated courteously by the TSA. My luggage was searched, usually but not always in my presence, and my carryons, including my GL2 in its case, usually opened.

The most thorough search came at Reagan in DC when I had to remove my belt (but not my shoes) and my WD-58 was looked at very closely. Ironically, Canadian Customs looked in a perfunctory fashion at my camera gear but was very interested in my harmonica. Seems the inspector had just taken up playing the harp and wanted to hear how my Suzuki sounded. (Or maybe he just wanted to talk.)

US Customs in Vancouver has had a very poor reputation over the years and supposedly Janet Reno made a special trip to straighten things out. She may or may not have actually done that, perhaps it was another urban legend, but the agents have been much friendlier (as measured on a micrometer) and my experiences have been smooth and efficient.

Sorry about the length,
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Old March 27th, 2003, 10:53 AM   #23
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What about store theft pads?

What about those de-magnetising pads at stores like Best Buy, etc?... I've always wondered if they can screw up tapes. Because they can ruin credit cards, floppy disks, and other data media....
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Old March 27th, 2003, 11:22 AM   #24
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It's quite possilbe the the X-Rays themselves may not be damaging the digital data on tapes. BUT to generate X-rays, large high voltage transformers are used. In addition to the HV they generate, they also generate strong magnetic fields that could (depending on how well they are shielded and the proximity to the luggage) significanlty affect any magnetic medium (tapes, hard drives, floppys etc.)

Just my thoughts. All my tapes will continued to be hand carried!
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Old March 28th, 2003, 05:18 AM   #25
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Yes Andrew....

Demagnetizing pads such as the ones in stores will certainly at least partially erase any DV tape.

Regarding Buds usage of lead bags for tapes, I am not sure that will help a lot. There are 2 different types of radiation involved here. Photographic film is sensitive to electromagnetic radiation.

Visible light is itself electromagnetic radiation within a certain frequency range. X-rays are fundamentally similar to visible light, just in another frequency range. Thus the worry of exposing film to X-rays. Lead is very effective in stopping electromagnetic radiation, thus lead lined bags can effectively protect film from this type of radiation, just like medical personel wearing lead lined protection suits when X-raying people.

DV tape on the other hand is information recorded magnetically. It is thus sensitive to a magnetic field which is something rather different. Magnetic fields are generated by magnets - no surprise there - as well as lots of electrical equipment. Most notably transformers such as power supplys, electrical motors etc.

To boil it down to something simple: A photographic film will be destroyed if you open the camera and expose it to sunlight. A magnetic tape can safely be exposed to sunlight as it actually normally is through the little window in the cassette.

A photographic film on the other hand will not care if you place a strong magnet right on top of it, leave it on top of a speaker etc. Do the same with magnetic tape and you will certainly ruin the information on it.

I have personally had film close to an MRI scanner, which is based on an extremely strong magnetic field. The field was sufficiently strong to make the camera misbehave at distances of less than 15 feet from the scanner. Ie. the shutter got stuck etc. The pictures came out just fine though.

So my guess is that if tapes are harmed in airport scanners it will be just as Rob said, not by the X-rays themselves but by magnetic fields emitted as a side effect by the machinery involved.

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Old March 30th, 2003, 08:03 AM   #26
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The coercitivity (magnetic strength) of mini DV tapes is very high. Consumer bulk tape erasers (Radio Shack) lack sufficient power to adequately erase mini DV tapes. If a bulk tape eraser won’t erase a tape, I don’t think the magnets in an electric motor (some distance from the tapes) will have any effect on tapes.
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Old March 30th, 2003, 08:48 AM   #27
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I'm not really interested in security SOP or learning anything that might compromise TSA's work. All I want is clarity about what to expect at the checkpoint with respect to commonly carried items, and consistency from station to station.

The question here is what is the policy? What is the official policy regarding how video tape are screened and where can a citizen find an unambiguous, official statement of that policy?
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Old March 30th, 2003, 12:08 PM   #28
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Will, why would there be a need for an"unambigious official statement" for something which is known as pure fantasy? Even if the magnetic fields which are found in airport area's (and others) would be several orders of magnitude stronger (so that for example a CRT display would no longer show a readable image) video tapes will still not be affected.
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Old March 30th, 2003, 12:09 PM   #29
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"I put 10 of my 15 tapes through the scanner, and wrecked all of them. I shot two tapes before being able to check the footage, and lost a lot of good material."

I doubt that your tape was damaged by the Xray before you used it. I've been through Pearson (Toronto)several times a month since 9/11 and had absolutely no problem. I haven't had a problem anywhere in North America and where I go, my camera goes.

Chicago, Dallas/Ft Worth, St Louis, Minneapolis, Molene Il, Boise, Phoenix, Portland , Omaha , Toronto, Montreal,Thunder Bay, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Castelgar, Grande Prairie , Saskabush and the list goes on. Some of the whistle stops are scarier than the big city.

The help is better trained , better equipped and thankfully more courteous (on both sides of the border) The emphasis seems to be shifting away from just xray and includes the detection of explosive residues.
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Old March 30th, 2003, 12:27 PM   #30
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There used to be a consistent policy for film, that the equipment would not damage it but one could request physical inspection. In those days I heard both stories, damage and no problem. Some years ago I was sitting next to a professional photographer on the plane and discussed it with her; she said she always allowed a few extra minutes so she could request inspection, having lost some of her higher speed film to fog. After that I followed her example or mailed the film.

Now I'm hearing both sides about video tape. In the absence of a clear consensus, I would be inclined to ask for physical inspection -- not getting the tapes near the equipment avoids the problem. But is that possible? What is TSA's policy about magnetic media? How can we find out?
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