TSA is Testing New Security Scanners Possibly Allowing Cameras in Your Bag

Globe-trotting photographers could spend less time clearing airport security checks with TSA rolling out some new scanners. 

Getting cleared by airport security may soon be less time-consuming with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) currently testing some new screening equipment. TSA is speeding up its pilot testing of some new computed tomography checkpoint scanners, which are much like the CT scanners you’ll find in hospitals, with bags instead of human bodies. It will use an X-ray camera to take hundreds of image to put together a more detailed view of what’s inside your carry-on luggage. Since TSA officials will be able to rotate the items on three axes (instead of the 2-D images provided by the current scanners), it could minimize the need for extra bag inspections and therefore speed up the time travelers spend in the security process.

According to a report by The Washington Post, these new 3D-imaging scanners will allow travelers to leave their electronics and liquids in their carry-on luggage. Finally, one less step at the checkpoints; photographers will no longer need to reach for a tray and take out their cameras and other electronics for inspection.

According to TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein, this process will involve the same technology as checked bags and “can really detect explosives.” That sounds like something that may eliminate (or at least reduce) the need to hand-check cameras and other photography equipment, saving photographers the trouble of extended chats with the TSA.

This new policy, however, retains the carry-on size restriction on liquids. You will still need to remove your coats and shoes if you’re not under a trusted traveler program like PreCheck.

Fifteen airports around the country now have the new security scanners in their regular security lines. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport got first dibs to test it last year, with Boston Logan and New York’s JFK following soon after. TSA plans to have up to 40 units up and running by the end of the year, and we can expect to find more than 145 of these by the closing of fiscal year 2019. How do you know it’s the new scanner? The Washington Post describes it pretty nicely. “To participate in the test, head for the lane with the giant white machine that resembles a sci-fi movie prop. Then, fight the urge to remove your electronics and liquids, and walk on through.”