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Real reason behind strict airport rule of putting laptop through an airport scanner on its own

Real reason behind strict airport rule of putting laptop through an airport scanner on its own

Airport security is strict for a reason.

The biggest hurdle between you and that beachside pina colada is your flight.

But before that is the mayhem that is airport security - a bane that anyone who's ever travelled by air will understand.

In addition to cramming all your liquids into a tiny, transparent bag, you also need to take your electronics out of their bags, like laptops and cameras. Nightmare!

But what's the point? Can't the security machines see through bags?

The first thing to know is, the machine your bags and devices pass through is an X-ray machine.


And the main reason you have to take out your laptop is that its batteries and other components are too dense for X-rays to penetrate effectively - which is especially the case with older scanners.

The same applies to power cords, tablets and cameras.

If these items are still in your bag, the screened image doesn't provide enough detail for security staff to identify potential threats.

As a result, security officials have to flag the bag for a manual inspection, causing delays - as you'd know if your bag's ever been recalled for a more in-depth check.

So it’s in your - and the security officer's - favour if all devices are removed in the first place.

Laptops can also obscure other items in your bag that might be dangerous, so scanning them separately allows their internal components to be clearly visible on the screen.


Sometimes, security might ask you to turn on your laptop to confirm that it's an actual working computer - an unlikely case, but still possible nonetheless.

Now with newer multi-view technology, scanners can analyse bags from multiple angles to spot items that could be hidden or made to look like something else.

In some cases, people have attempted to mix gun parts with other objects to attempt to trick the scanner.

Thanks to 3D scanning, some airports allow travellers to pass through security without having to remove their laptops.

Until technology improves to the point where airport security is fully automated, removing laptops will remain necessary to speed up inspections. Hypothetically, the integration of AI in airport security is already one in discussion, something that would make human and baggage scanners quicker and more efficient.

Until then, it's probably best you leave your house on time to avoid any delays or potentially missing your flight.

Featured Image Credit: izusek/AzmanJaka/Getty

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