Air travel can get pretty stressful. Whether you are flying domestic or international, airports have a way of making a person feel small and anxious. Add to that the nerves of a long-haul flight, long lines at the airport security, baggage claim, and boarding; the entire ordeal can make many people exceedingly apprehensive. The anxiety often sets in a day before traveling when trying to run last-minute errands while also keeping track of everything that needs to be packed. It reaches a peak when you get to the airport.

Many people get uncomfortable with extensive security checks, while others have flight phobia. Either way, your journey can get even more uncomfortable if you are unaware of what will happen next. To avoid such unpleasantness, it is a good practice to know the kinds of security checks you will be subjected to. When you know what they are and how they work, the process can be a little less intimidating.

Scanners Used At Airports

Airports have employed a variety of scanners that can be used to detect various metallic and non-metal objects on your person. These include metal detectors, backscatter x-ray machines, millimeter-wave scanners, and cabinet x-ray machines that help the officers detect any unusual activity and ensure the safety of the passengers.

Body Scanners

Backscatter scanners are commonly used at airports in the US and Europe. These scanners can detect metal and non-metal objects beneath clothing and in bags. Whether food items, jewelry, makeup, keys, or even hair ties and wipes, the backscatter scanner can pick things present beneath the layers. Many people consider using backscatter scanners a breach of privacy. For those who have gone through trauma or abuse, these scanners can be triggering. You can always request a pat-down from a security officer who is the same gender as you, though this generally takes longer, so make sure to allow extra time at the airport. However, a pat-down search is often not an option in the UK.

While these scanners can seem like an invasion of privacy, it may be helpful to know that they cannot see anything other than a general outline of your body. These scanners are designed to eliminate the need for a pat-down and detect any abnormalities that a security officer might miss. Sometimes bunched-up socks and hair extensions can set these scanners off too. If an airport uses an explicit scanner, the security officer is placed in a room where they will not contact the passenger directly.

Baggage Scanners

Baggage scanners are somewhat different from body scanners. Their scanning is more in-depth, and they can outline the items inside your luggage. The scanners use X-rays to detect the depth and density of the contents of your bags, which is why they are able to detect metallic, nonmetallic, and even organic material inside bags. It is advisable to go through the list of banned items to avoid further hassle and bag searches at the airport when you are already short on time and don’t want to face additional stress.


Airport security has been upgraded globally since 9/11. While before the incident you could arrive at the airport twenty minutes before the flight, this is not the case anymore. Whether you are travelling domestic or international, airports now use extensive scanning processes to detect any unusual or prohibited items you might be carrying. This upgrade in security provides additional safety to the passengers and minimizes the risk of a tragic event like 9/11. A combination of baggage scanners and body scanners has increased the time spent at an airport. However, it has also made air travel more secure and reduced the chances of terrorists and criminals boarding the flight.