Can Disposable Camera Film Go Through Airport Security?

Photographers tend to take a lot of camera films with them when they go on a trip, and it’s understandable that they will be concerned about the effect that security and X-ray machine may have on them.

Many people get confused when they are trying to decide whether it will be better to put the films from disposable cameras or an SLR digital camera in their checked luggage or in their carry-on baggage.

So, should you take your disposable camera film through airport security, or should you pack it in your checked luggage? 

Airport security scanners impose very little radiation on camera film, so it should not be damaged. However, checked bags go through a heavier X-ray machine that can be harmful to the film. Kodak recommends that you put your disposable camera film in your carry-on bag rather than in checked bags.

If you intend to take your disposable camera on your trip along with films, you should learn what can be harmful to them, so you don’t end up without the option to take any photos!

In this article, I will elaborate on the recommendations given by Kodak regarding traveling by plane with disposable camera films.

Also in this article, you will learn the safest ways that will enable you to go through airport security scanners without worrying about damaging your films. 

Can Disposable Camera Film Go Through Airport Security X Ray Machine? 

If it’s your first time flying with disposable camera film, you might not even think about the correct ways of packing the film, let alone consider the damages that might be caused by the exposure to X-ray.

However, when buying film, you have probably noticed the warnings at the back of the package that says “Do not X-ray”.

This is due to the fact that heavy X-ray machines can severely damage the films, and you might end up with simply trash, and not salvageable materials for your photographs. 

Therefore, you should pay special attention to the way you transport your disposal camera films through airports.

Recently, Kodak has announced that their films are especially sensitive to heavy X-rays machines, i.e. the new ones installed across the US airports. Therefore, they suggest passengers put their films in their carry-on bags rather than their checked suitcases.

Orlando International Airport
Orlando International Airport

The reason for this is that Kodak claims that the new X-ray machines can be quite harmful to the films, so you might end up with completely damaged ones if they pass the airport security scanners that include heavy X-rays.

However, the airport security scanners that are installed on the airport security checkpoints are known not to be so harmful. This is why Kodak recommends putting your films in your carry-on bags and saving them from exposure to intense X-ray radiation.

Take a look at this YouTube video, and take in all the advice he offers from years of traveling with cameras and film.

How Can You Additionally Protect Your Disposable Camera Films When Passing Security? 

Despite the recommendation from Kodak, there are some additional steps that you can take in order to be on the safe side with your films.

According to professional photographers, who have traveled a lot with their films, it is way better that you do not expose your films to any kind of X-ray radiation if possible.

In other words, they suggest that you do not put your films in your carry-on bags to go through the X-ray machine at all, even though this radiation is claimed to be less harmful. 

Now, you might wonder how it would be possible to pass through airport security checkpoints without putting your films in the X-ray machine. It is not permitted to go on without passing through the scanner. Nonetheless, there is a simple way that can get you to not expose your films to radiation, and that way is approved by regulations. 

  • You can take your disposable camera films out of your carry-on bag and simply request that they be hand-checked.

This is actually permitted by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations when it comes to photographic film and equipment.

However, this regulation might not be approved by foreign airports around the world, so you will need to inform yourself additionally when it comes to going through different countries. 

So, you would need to simply explain your issue to the security officers at the airport security line prior to your security passing. Usually, you should not have any issues, even in foreign airports.

They have special techniques for checking films, such as taking swab tests on them. If your films pass the swab test, you will be good to go, and your films will pass unharmed. 

This is an especially good method to transport your disposable camera films with photographic film if you are passing through many security checkpoints.

As Kodak recommends, one passing through X-ray radiation might not be harmful to your films, but if your trip involves switching flights airport security line, and passing a lot of security scanners, then there is no guarantee that your films will go without damage. 

Orlando International Airport

Can The Security Scanner Damage SD Card Memory And Photographic Film? 

Since we have established safe ways for passing through security with your film, you may now wonder whether the scanner can affect your SD card and its memory.

In the past, the scanners have imposed a real problem for photographers since the X-ray machines used to damage the SD cards. However, nowadays, that problem seems to be resolved. 

Today, flashcards are remarkably resilient, meaning that they could safely pass through scanners. Some photographers tend to put the SD cards in their pockets in order to be on the safe side, but actually, there is no reason to do that.

You can put your SD card in either in your carry-on bag or in your checked luggage, and you can rest assured that no harm will come to it. 

Disposable camera and photographic film are sensitive, so you should be extremely careful when you are passing through airport security scanners. Even if you have unprocessed film.

It is recommended that you carry them in your hand luggage, but it is even safer to request a hand check of your films. This is the safest option you have regarding security scanners and disposable camera films. 

I hope this helps clear up any questions you may have had about digital camera SD cards and disposable camera film airport security and security checkpoints.