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Traveling with Cameras Through Airport Security

I always thought taking out your camera gear at airport security checkpoints was as routine as removing your shoes and jacket. Like conditioned robots going down the assembly line, travelers follow the step-by-step order to getting across the x-ray border.

These are the rules, and we know never to question them (or to say the “b-o-m-b” word). Laptop computers must be taken out of luggage and placed into bins that will also make their way down the assembly line. But what about camera equipment?

There’s no doubt that there has been an increase in travelers taking cameras on trips, especially with how easy and cheap it is nowadays to pickup a professional DSLR camera kit from Costco or Walmart. And let’s not forget about social media – travelers love those ambiguous Tumblr shots that only reveal half of their faces.

One brave traveler in line ahead of me did, however, question airport authority. He had a bag filled with expensive camera stuff and expressed to the security official his fears of possible theft, should he have to take everything out of the case. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official replied that there isn’t an official rule requiring travelers to take out cameras during screening. However, they may ask that traveler to remove the camera equipment if they need a closer look.

I reconfirmed that with a CNET News article I found online. The reporter quoted the TSA spokesperson, Nico Melendez, who said, “There is no hard and fast requirement for cameras to be removed from bags, though we do reserve the right to ask a passenger or photographer to remove the camera to get a better look at it.”

With this new discovery, my travels (and hopefully your’s, too) instantly became that much easier. Going through the security screening can be stressful when you have all your camera equipment with you, and when you’re traveling alone. There’s no one to go ahead of you in line and fetch the items. You have to just cross your fingers that you won’t be selected for a random airport screening.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Dec 24, 2012