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What Can Airport Scanners See In Luggage And What’s To Come

What Can Airport Scanners See In Luggage And What’s To Come

Home » Travel Safety » What Can Airport Scanners See In Luggage And What’s To Come

Have you ever wondered what a scanner can see when you go through security? I know I have. Which brings us to the answer to “what can airport scanners see in luggage?” Not to mention what is the future of airport scanners? 

Let’s find out what to expect now and in times to come. 

How Do Airport Scanners Work?

Airport TSA scanners Check personal belongings for items not considered carry-on, such as chemicals, weapons, and liquids. 

Airports use Ionizing radiation or X-ray machines to scan the luggage. The screening process is a scanner that makes detailed images of the items in your luggage. It does this by bouncing waves off of the objects to determine their mass and density. As a result, projected images come up on a screen used by security.

What Can Airport Scanners See In Luggage?

The scanners can see everything in your luggage. Yes, everything! They can even detect small amounts of explosive material hidden inside clothing. They can also see knives, guns, ammunition, bombs, drugs, poisons, dense objects, and metal objects.

Other things they can see are:

  • Cigarettes
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Prescription medications
  • Liquids (bottle of water, milk, juice, etc.)

But the kicker is an airport scanner doesn’t always know what it is seeing. So if security sees an item that is not a clear picture or can’t determine what kind of metal or chemical it is, they will search your luggage contents. 

What Daily Items Will Trigger A Security Search?

Did you know that sausage and cheese stored in your bag resemble explosives? Or that airport staff might mistake a nail polish bottle for a bomb?

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One can pack many things in luggage that can trigger a security search. Some are shoes, books, toiletries, shampoo, soap, hair care products, lotion, perfumes, and foodstuffs. These items all tend to have similar densities to explosives.

If you packed basil leaves in a baggie in your luggage, it might trigger a search as it resembles marijuana. 

These are just some examples of everyday items that may cause security to go through your bags at the airport. 

Make sure your child’s luggage only has approved toys and games. A child’s toy gun can trigger a search. It may not be metal, but the image alone can cause a ruckus. 

Attempt to stay away from anything that may present as suspicious items

Can You Hide Things from an Airport Scanner?

Well, I’m not surprised you asked this question. You may be able to hide things because I know foil can block some items, but the foil folds are detectable and will trigger a search. 

The real question here is, why do you want to hide things among your personal items? What you want to hide may be illegal, and do you want to take that chance.

TSA is not the only checkpoint before boarding a plane. There are dogs that do random checks to sniff for drugs and explosives, as well as metal detectors. I’m not sure it is worth the risk. 

Read Next: Can You Fly With A Gun?

How to Pack Luggage For Smooth Sailing Through Security?

The TSA website has information on what you can and cannot pack in various types of luggage. If you have concerns, please check this link before traveling. What you can pack is for your safety and the safety of other passengers. 

What Is The Future Of Airport Scanners?

Technology is ever-evolving, and airport security is no different. According to the Los Angeles Times, “The Transportation Security Administration announced Friday that it is spending $781.2 million for hundreds of scanners that use technology employed in hospitals to examine internal organs to more quickly and thoroughly scan carry-on bags for weapons and explosives.”

It’s not really in the future but here now because there are plans to implement 38 scanners in airports this year. As a matter of fact, there may already be some in place right now. 

Technology advancements like this are huge because it means you may not have to remove electronic devices from bags and significantly increase your time spent at security. 

Travel Tips: How To Pack Alcohol In Checked Luggage?

Video On New Technology Scanners

What is this new technology we are talking about? Here is a video explaining what they are and how they can help.


Airport security checkpoints have set a system in place for our safety, but it is not infallible. Because of this, many household items may trigger the scanners requiring a search of your bags. 

With that said, technology is advancing, and new developments in scanning are arriving as we speak. So be patient with security checkpoints and the TSA security staff as they are there to protect you from harm. 

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Laura Fuller

My name is Laura Fuller, I am a fanatic about luggage and all types of travel. I will be your luggage pilot to help you make the right choice for your travel needs.

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