Airport security scanners are some of the most high-tech machines you’re likely to encounter regularly. They’re designed to protect from security and terror threats almost every day and therefore are stacked with some of the most advanced x-ray and personal imaging technology available. Airport scanners can see almost anything a passenger has on their person.
There are many different types of scanners you’re going to encounter when passing through airport security. Scanners for your bags, scanners for your body, and scanners for individual searches. Each of these scanners is equipped with the latest tech designed to detect contraband, drugs, and anything else that should be brought on an airplane.
But what about pills? We’ve all heard stories from Hollywood and in literature of drug dealers bringing cases full of pills through security and smuggling them on a flight. But how plausible is that scenario? Let’s take a look at the many different scanners you’re likely to encounter to see whether or not an airport scanner can detect pills and other drugs.
- Airport scanners, including baggage and full-body scanners, use advanced imaging technology that can detect almost anything a passenger has on their person or in their luggage.
- While airport scanners are not specifically designed to detect drugs, they can make it easy for airport security to spot pills and other drugs that passengers may be attempting to smuggle through security.
- Passengers should avoid attempting to smuggle any pills or drugs through airport security and should declare any prescription medications to the authorities if asked.
- Backscatter x-ray scanners, which provide a detailed image of the body, have largely been phased out due to privacy complaints from passengers.
- Millimeter-wave scanners have proven to be more effective and provide images that make it easier for airport security to spot any suspicious items on the person, including pills and drugs.
The first type of scanner you’re going to encounter when traveling is the baggage scanner. This is the one where you have to put your suitcase on a conveyor belt, remove your shoes and belts, and take out any electronics to be scanned. The way this scanner function is by taking x-ray images of the bags and electronics passing through.
The images can detect anything within the case and can see each individual part passing through. If you store pills in the contents of a laptop, the x-ray scanner will be able to spot them. Even if you’ve wrapped the pills in a blanket inside the suitcase, they’ll still be detected and spotted by airport security.
There are a few different types of full-body scanners, but the information provided about pill spotting will be largely the same. You’ll either encounter Backscatter x-ray scanners or millimeter-wave scanners. Backscatter scanners take a much more detailed image of the body which allows security to see anything and everything the person has on with them.
Those types of scanners are largely phased out due to privacy complaints from passengers. In their stead, we’ve found millimeter-wave scanners to be much more effective. Neither scanner can detect drugs by themselves, but the images they provide make it much easier to spot pills and drugs brought along.
Ability to Detect Drugs
So as we can see, the airport scanners are designed to provide an image of the person, not necessarily sense specific items being brought along. Airport security scanners are designed to detect metal objects which helps pinpoint certain weapons and contraband, but not drugs. Most drugs brought along cannot be automatically detected by an airport scanner.
But why are they so easy to spot? Well, as mentioned, the airport scanner makes spotting drugs incredibly easy. With the advanced imaging technology offered by modern airport security scanners, drugs are almost impossible NOT to see. Unless you’re willing to swallow the drugs or shove them somewhere – not recommended – the pills will likely be seen by the airport scanners.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can airport scanners detect pills and drugs?
While airport scanners are not specifically designed to detect drugs, they can make it easy for airport security to spot pills and other medicines that passengers may be attempting to smuggle through security.
What type of scanners can detect pills in the luggage?
Baggage scanners, which use x-ray imaging, can detect pills even if they are hidden inside electronic devices or wrapped in clothing.
What types of scanners are used for full-body scans?
There are a few types of full-body scanners, but the most common are backscatter x-ray and millimeter-wave scanners.
Can Backscatter x-ray scanners detect pills?
Backscatter x-ray scanners provide a detailed image of the body. They can make it easy for airport security to spot any suspicious items on the person, including pills and drugs. However, these scanners have largely been phased out due to privacy complaints from passengers.
Are millimeter-wave scanners effective in detecting pills?
Millimeter-wave scanners have proven to be more effective than Backscatter x-ray scanners and provide images that make it easier for airport security to spot any suspicious items on the person, including pills and drugs.
Should passengers declare prescription medications to airport security?
Yes, passengers should declare any prescription medications to the authorities if asked to avoid legal issues or delays during travel.