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#1 Tony Brown

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 02:07 PM

Travelled fome London thru Dallas FW en route to Mexico City recently. Not only did the TSA force open my (unlocked) suitcase rendering the catches useless, but they also unpacked my Arri 235 and then forced the lid down damaging the eyepiece. The ground glass had been removed as had the sliding base plate. My compensation was a little piece of paper saying (basically) 'tough poop - you cant claim'....

Why do you put up with this sort of treatment in the US?

Whilst passing through the security area, somebody had left a clear bag containing make up on the belt. This caused such confusion that we saw 20.... maybe 30 people waltz thru the checking area unchecked.

Astonishingly inept. Having worked in over 60 countries over my career, I have never encountered such rude and incompetent airport staff. What is it about an American in a uniform that creates these imbeciles that think they are ex Navy Seals??

And before I get flamed, this isn't an anti American rant.... I work there a lot and know good, sincere people. But these TSA characters really sum up where the problems lie.

Peace and goodwill.....
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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 02:23 PM

You're lucky, at least you only have to deal with them when you get to the USA. We get harassed by US gov't officials while we are still on Canadian soil!!!

I always make my camera the carry on, and put it in a soft case. Goes through the x-ray just fine and no has ever said I can't take it in the cabin.

If it's any consolation most Americans are truly apologetic for the conduct of their government.

R,
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#3 Matt Graff

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 02:28 PM

I am sorry to hear about your issue. I think that the dallas int airport is a pain in that ass. I also think that the staff is rude, what do they care... are you going to stop flying due to the rude staff?

I also always carry on my camera, its a bit of a pain but it ensures that only I can drop it.

I agree with Richard, I am very apologetic for our current government.
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#4 Max Jacoby

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 02:35 PM

but they also unpacked my Arri 235 and then forced the lid down damaging the eyepiece.

Is that your personal 235 Tony?
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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 02:42 PM

Hi,

If it's any consolation, a close friend of mine (who has US connections) recently applied for a social security number, was issued with one, and is currently being held responsible for the tax liability of a man from Ohio. When attempting to rectify this situation, the area code (for Ohio, of course, despite the fact that she's from California) doesn't tie up with the group ID and therefore the number is invalid and can't be processed.

Smaller countries can't create bureaucracies like that; for this, we need the EU.

Phil
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#6 Hal Smith

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 03:58 PM

My wife's attending a conference in Quebec City this summer. I'm going with and I'll need a current valid passport to visit Canada and return. I used to drive to Toronto and Montreal on the spur of the moment when a kid living in Chicago. The biggest problem returning back in the good old days before the US decided facism would keep us safe from the bad guys was assuring the US Customs I didn't have a case of Molson's hidden somewhere in the car.
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#7 Paul Bruening

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 12:02 AM

Sorry to hear about your travel woes. I am so used to hearing stories of bad flying in the US that I don't realize how embarrassing it is when people from other countries go through ours. My last flight back from LA had three busted planes. It took me 48 hours to fly to Memphis. The planes weren't really broken down (as I was made wise to later). The airlines just don't like to put a plane in the air if the seats aren't full. They make an excuse, then dump you on a later flight that they fill up from other "broken" planes.

The thing is, everyone is so pissed when they fly that the employees get pissed too. Then it all just gets worse and worse.
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#8 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 06:28 AM

Astonishingly inept. Having worked in over 60 countries over my career, I have never encountered such rude and incompetent airport staff. What is it about an American in a uniform that creates these imbeciles that think they are ex Navy Seals??

Peace and goodwill.....

No flames here.....I know how it is. You have to understand that if those people weren't working for TSA, they'd be working for McDonald's or Burger King. At least at the fast food joints they'd get some training.....
I'm scared to death every time I fly with my gear. I flew to Atlanta earlier this year and wanted to carry on my (Steadicam) arm. I was told that it was a weapon and I couldn't carry it on. Now, anyone who's ever looked at a Steadicam arm for more than a second can tell it's not a weapon, but of course I had to pack it in one of my cases. Luckily, nothing was damaged. Funny enough, the whole reason I wanted to carry on the arm is that it's the most expensive single piece of gear Iown and I'm scared to have TSA personnel touching it out of my sight.
Sorry about your broken gear. Did you have insurance through the production company at least?
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#9 Tony Brown

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 07:24 AM

Did you have insurance through the production company at least?


Yes its insured of course, but its not comforting shipping 25 boxes of kit from UK to Mexico (because you've no faith in their stuff) only to find it damaged on arrival. Insurance is fine when you get back, not going into a 4 day shoot. As far as carrying it, we already had our personal stuff and some specialist film stock. we took Cooke S4's, our 300 Canon...... just where do you draw the line? The camera was safely packed and I've suffered no damage in 25 years of flying with gear. Shame some knucklehead took it upon himself to force the lid shut.

The lit is owned by myself and a couple of others Max yes.

Thanks for the support and tips.....

Happy Winter Festival all..... (its what we're being encouraged to say in the UK in case we upset non Christians LOL !!! )

Good luck in 2007 everyone, I think we're all going to need it.
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#10 James Erd

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 01:47 PM

I'm really sorry to read about your camera getting f---ed over by TSA. As a former flight attendant I have a lot of experience dealing with them. To us the are simply know as Thousands Standing Around. Man the s--- I've seen, I could make a movie out of, but not on location because as you know any thing delicate is not safe around TSA.

I used to take my Bolex on all my trips, Norway, Thailand, Angola and Okinawa just to name a few. I never had any problem until I would come home. It's not just TSA either... Customs wanted to charge me duty on my new Rolex... "No sir I said Bolex, Yes sir it only cost me $200 AU in Rockhampton. No it's not a Rolex, it's a Bolex. Have you ever seen a Rolex that weighed 15 pounds sirs....." "Um no, but you see it's on my list and that's what we have to go by,,,, OK you can go" True Story!

I was based in Seattle WA. I thought I'd be OK there because folks in Washington tend to not want to mess with each other, but then after 911 every one got paranoid. SEA was one of the worst airports. ( Nothing compared to Dullas though )

My Bolex was happily ensconced in it's case. I always took it with as in my cary on bag as I didn't want to think of it flopping around on a carousel after all the other mechanical hand human vagaries that luggage goes through on the airlines these days. I figured once I got past the ex-ray machine I was safe.

The problem is a lot of folks working for TSA have never seen a movie camera. Mini DV yes, maybe even Beta they might recognize, but a Bolex?...

"What's that in your bag sir?"

feeling proud of my vintage camera I replied "It's a Bolex H16 rX,,, would you like me to show it to you?"

He jumped back from the counter and motioned to the two fully armed national guardsmen ( this was just after 911 ) who then leveled their weapons on me. Only then did it occur to me that H16 may have sounded like M16... I'll never know for sure. I'm just glad that I didn't get shot, and that was the las time I took my Bolex to the airport. I've have since come to the conclusion that the best way to get your gear across country is to ship it Fed-Ex and insure it. Completely bypasses TSA and for some strange reason cargo is handled with more care that passengers or their baggage.
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#11 Tim Carroll

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 02:11 PM

The biggest problem returning back in the good old days before the US decided facism would keep us safe from the bad guys was assuring the US Customs I didn't have a case of Molson's hidden somewhere in the car.


Hal, thanks for the memories and the good laugh. I clearly remember those days. Used to do the same thing, always trying to find the best place in the car to hide the Molson.

As far as the TSA goes, I agree, they're terrible. Here in Portland, the checked baggage X-Ray machines are right out front, and on a recent trip when I had to bring two ARRI cameras in a Pelican which was too big to carry on, I was able to walk them through X-Ray, lock them afterwards, and was on my way to LA.

Unfortunately, trying to get back from LA with the cameras proved to be a nightmare. They would not let me lock the case, would not let me walk through with them, would not let me carry them on, etc. When I tried to explain that they could not leave the Pelican unlocked with thousands of dollars worth of Arriflex cameras inside they told me they were going to kick me off the flight.

All this could have been avoided if someone would make a TSA lock (the kind that the TSA personnel can unlock without a key) in a size big enough to fit the Pelican cases. Does anyone know of a TSA lock, the ones with the little white diamond in the little red oval, that is larger in size? I have been looking for one for over a year now.

-Tim
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#12 Matt Irwin

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 02:55 PM

Does anyone know of a TSA lock, the ones with the little white diamond in the little red oval, that is larger in size? I have been looking for one for over a year now.


Hi Tim,

Pelican seems to be selling exactly that:
http://pelican.com/miscellaneous.php
(bottom of page)

If that doesn't fit, I have seen long-loop TSA locks at travel stores like Magellan.
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#13 Nick Mulder

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 03:30 PM

In transit at LAX for 2 hours earlier this year ... get off plane wait in long corridor next to air-conditioned transit lounge to be finger-printed and photographed... at rear of cue... wait 1 hour 40 mins in cue ... door behind me opens to let others already processed and waiting in transit lounge back into the plane that connects directly to the same corridor I was still in ... I was now at front of cue so was processed and walked through transit lounge directly onto plane again, declined offer of knotts berry farm biscuit thing and water, didn't get a chance to check out the dutyfree Calvin Klein bits ... I'm pretty sure many in the cue behind me just walked straight back on ...

My suggestion... make the cueing corridor the transit lounge and the transit lounge the corridor...

*********

In London flying to Amsterdam - Bangkok - Taipei - Auckland NZ about 4 years ago just got out of hospital in Barcelona, looking shabby, feeling shabbier...

Luggage lost between London and Amsterdam - luggage 'found' - advised it would catch up with me in Bangkok - arrived in Bangkok advised it was in Amsterdam and it would catch up with me in Taipei - arrived Taipei, advised luggage was in Bangkok but it would be sent to Auckland - arrived Auckland, advised it was in Taipei ...

As I was traveling sans-baggage looking very dirty and recently hospitalized (needle marks all over) and had such a micky mouse itinerary I was pulled aside for questioning, all I had was hand-luggage which consisted of a video camera and a poop load of pills - I was lined up for the finger treatment AND paying duty on my camera when the customs lady had a change of mind and let me through - to this day i have no idea why, especially after watching a recent fly on the wall doco series on the NZ border patrol people in the very same dept... When she had received a positive response for drugs after swabbing my dutch guilders and I asked her if she expected any less she replied "sounds like you've got a guilty conscience". A confusing morning, I should be grateful.


Luggage arrived in Auckland 4 days later (in perfect shape mind you)
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#14 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 03:44 PM

My story will not compare to some of yours, no gun play or anything, but on a trip back from LA through Dallas about a month ago, TSA opened up our tripod case and somehow managed to break the spreaders and the plate release lever. No idea what they were doing with it. I suppose in a way it does look like a surface to air missile launcher.
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#15 Tim Carroll

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 04:08 PM

Hi Tim,

Pelican seems to be selling exactly that:
http://pelican.com/miscellaneous.php
(bottom of page)

If that doesn't fit, I have seen long-loop TSA locks at travel stores like Magellan.


Matt,

That must be a new one. I have the brass lock right above it, which I bought when I got the case. I will definitely get a set of the TSA ones.

Thanks,
-Tim
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#16 James Erd

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 04:18 PM

All this could have been avoided if someone would make a TSA lock (the kind that the TSA personnel can unlock without a key) in a size big enough to fit the Pelican cases. Does anyone know of a TSA lock, the ones with the little white diamond in the little red oval, that is larger in size? I have been looking for one for over a year now.

-Tim


Even with TSA locks, you still are dealing with TSA personnel, the majority of which don't have any experience or respect for your investment, and if they wreck it too bad for you.

The only piece of mind you get from the TSA lock is that some one won't casually open your pelican case, and I would assert that is not your biggest worry. If the lock actually serves any purpose at all it merely serves to help keep the pelican case from popping open when it gets dropped by careless baggage handlers. Believe me I have seen wrecked bags, smashed crates and dead dogs... the airlines can overcome any obstacle! And yes I am a disgruntled former employee :D

Long before 911 the airlines wisely limited their liability and are well versed in getting out from under any incurred penalty. I worked a flight where the FAA condemned the baggage hold of our DC10. The plane was finally allowed to fly from Honolulu to San Francisco.... but with out any of the PAX baggage. Ooops! Well at least the bags were safe... what ever became of them we'll never know as the airline decided it was more cost effective to leave them in Hawaii and pay the penalty [ or not in some cases ] than to have them shipped to each passenger. If TSA destroys your gear, it's even worse because then you have no rites at all. Sorry Terror Code Orange Today.

I suppose you could just purchase extra insurance for your equipment but that gets expensive. In point of fact it quickly becomes cheaper to ship the lot via Fed-Ex or similar carrier, and their insurance is a much better deal any way.

I think the issue most people have with this is that their equipment is not traveling with them, but guess what, some times your bags don't with you any way, as I pointed out in the case above. Sometimes you get lucky though and it comes on the next flight. Of course you won't be able to sleep so you might as well not even check into your hotel. So there you are waiting at the luggage carousel waiting for equipment when you could have had it shipped directly to your destination, or in some case held at will call.

For convenience, cost, and peace of mind bringing your gear to the airport is just not the best way to go, unless of course it's small enough to bring as cary on, and even then there can be problems because you are still dealing with TSA and airline employees who are too tired and underpaid to care about expensive movie gear.
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#17 Jon Mello

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 04:36 PM

>>Even with TSA locks, you still are dealing with TSA personnel, the majority of which don't have any experience or respect for your investment, and if they wreck it too bad for you. <<


Give these geniuses a badge, a walkie-talkie, & permanent-press slacks and look out!! When it comes to flying commercial, I ship anything of value to myself via FedEx.

Sorry about your camera and our government... I'm quite sure that if you gave the TSA person ANY lip over the cameras damage it'd be considered a terrorist act and we'd never hear from you again. Cooler heads prevail I suppose.... If it was my camera, it would be all over for me.... :unsure:
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#18 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 04:38 PM

I agree with Richard, I am very apologetic for our current government.


Matt, why do you hate freedom?


ha ha!
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#19 Michael Rizzi

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 04:48 PM

Did a job last summer where I had to fly to 5 states in 5 days doing interviews one of them being Dallas FW. Minimal gear, that wasn't an issue really. But when I passed thru security in Dallas, I noticed the TSA folks holding an elderly woman up out of her wheelchair by her shoulders so they could pat her down, hoping to find what, I don't know. Should have seen the look on her face, devastated. It was very disturbing...they took it too far.
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#20 Tony Brown

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 02:36 PM

was that one of those super wide wheelchairs?? So funny.....
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