How to Get Through Wave or Backscatter Body Scanners with Minimal Hassle

Airports around the world are beginning to replace standard metal detectors with new scanners. The new scanners use a number of different technologies, from X-rays to electromagnetic waves, to get a detailed image of your whole body. While it may sound scary, these scanners are harmless. This article explains how to walk through this type of scanner.


  1. 1
    Review the list of allowed objects on your airport's website. While United States has set the standard for other airports from around the world, you may want to make sure that your specific airport isn't more restrictive. Check any items that you cannot carry on-board. If they cannot be checked, consider having the items shipped to your final destination.
  2. 2
    Understand your rights. When you travel, specifically via airplanes, you give up certain rights. These are often in the fine print of your plane tickets. In order to fly to or within the United States, you must go through screening. You have the right to receive a pat down instead of going through the new scanners. You also have the right to refuse a pat down and refuse to be scanned. Should you exercise this right, the TSA then has the right to refuse entry into the terminal. In some cases, TSA can escort you off the airport property.
  3. 3
    As you approach the scanner, remove your shoes and jacket. Also, put all electronics into your carry-on bag or zipped up in your jacket. You will no longer need your identification or your boarding pass after they have been inspected. Laptops, as well as some tablets, must be scanned separately.
  4. 4
    Wait patiently until called to step through. The scanners are very sensitive and require additional time to screen each passenger. The TSA agent coordinating its use may ask you to wait until the machine is ready.
  5. 5
    Follow the directions of the screening agent. Each airport has different scanners, utilizing different technologies. Some scanners require you to walk normally. Others require you to stay still and raise your arms.
  6. 6
    If selected for additional screening, remain calm. Some clothing may be difficult to scan through.
  7. 7
    Once you're through, pick up all of your belongings from the X-Ray machine. It's best to put your shoes on outside of the screening area as to not hold up the line.


  • Do not attempt to test airport security without prior clearance or authorization. Department of Homeland Security regularly tests the screening process. It is not your job to do so.
  • Be prepared to surrender banned items. If the TSA deems particular items to be hazardous, surrender them. Currently, there is no appeal process, outside of your right to refuse screening.
  • Rules and guidelines may change due to current events. Stay apprised of any changes by visiting TSA's website but be aware that specific airports may have different alert levels.


  • Wear shoes that do not require shoelaces and wear pants that do not require a belt.
  • Specifically designed laptop bags can be purchased for travelling. Be sure to look for specific wording stating this fact. Note that the TSA or Department of Homeland Security does not approve or license their logo for specific laptop bags.
  • Each airport and perhaps each gate will decide whether tablets require additional screening. Be patient with them. Regardless of how you feel about airport security, the TSA agents are performing a job. Just as you wouldn't like someone questioning how you did things, the TSA agents are people too. Your concerns regarding the TSA and Homeland Security are best addressed with your elected representatives and even the governing board of the airport.

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Categories: Air Travel | Travel Safety & Security