Inside Look: The Realities Of Airport Checked Luggage Scans

  • By: pdstamp
  • Date: January 18, 2023

Flying can be a stressful experience, and having to worry about your bags and what you pack in them does not help. However, there are strict restrictions on what you can and cannot bring in your checked luggage. So do airports check your checked luggage?

Airports, or more specifically, the TSA, do check your checked luggage for safety reasons. TSA must ensure you and all other passengers do not have anything harmful or dangerous in your bags before they go on any airplane. Consequently, they will x-ray your checked bags for safety.

This article explains whether airports check your checked luggage and whether or not you can put vapes in your checked luggage.

I will explain what happens if the TSA finds a prohibited item in your checked baggage and whether or not checked bags get x-rayed. There is also a section on drug dogs and whether or not they sniff your bags. 

Do Airports Check Your Checked Luggage?

The Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, is responsible for safety at airports and on airplanes. They are the people who direct you through security before you go to your gate and board your plane. If you have been to an airport before, you already know that the TSA officers are the people who check your carry-on bags as you go through security. 

But what about your checked bags? Do they check your checked luggage?

After you check your bag in with whatever airline you are flying, the bags will be checked by TSA officers behind the scenes before they get sent to the planes for loading. To check them, the bags go through an x-ray scanner, similar to the one used to check your carry-on items. 

Your airline, however, does not actually check your checked bags. When you take your bags to be checked, the airline weighs and puts tags on them. However, they do not open them up to see what’s inside as long as you don’t have anything explosive or batteries in your bag. They usually ask you to verify this when you drop off your bag.

The TSA officers ensure everything in your bag is safe and you are not posing a risk to everyone on the plane or at the airport. Conversely, your airline needs to ensure your bags do not exceed the weight limits. 

Can You Put Vapes in Your Checked Luggage?

You are not allowed to put vapes in your checked luggage. The TSA only allows you to put vapes and other electronic smoking devices in your carry-on baggage. 

You cannot have vapes in your checked bag because they contain batteries.

If the batteries get hot while on the plane, they could set on fire. If the batteries are placed in the cargo hold rather than in the main cabin, the fire can spread, and there could be deadly consequences.

If you put a vape in your checked luggage, the TSA will find it when they check your bag, and it will be confiscated. I will explain this in more detail in the next section. 

What Happens if TSA Finds a Prohibited Item in a Checked Bag?

Unfortunately, people try to bring prohibited items in their checked bags all the time, both by accident and on purpose. 

The exact repercussions of having a prohibited item in your checked bag will depend on the type of item carried. 

If the TSA finds a prohibited item in a checked bag, they will confiscate the item and you will not get it back. However, if you have an illegal item in the bag, like a vape, or other prohibited items like guns and drugs, you are also subject to legal punishment.

If you pack a vape in your bag, the TSA will remove it, and you will get your bag back minus the vape. In the case of items like drugs or guns, the local law enforcement will get involved and determine how you will be fined or punished, and you will not get the items back. 

Even if you accidentally pack prohibited items in your bag, you will have to face the consequences, as you could have risked the lives of others on the plane. Therefore, always check your bag carefully and ensure everything you pack is allowed in a checked bag.

As much as their strict searches and rules may annoy you, TSA agents have a hard job and do what they do to keep you safe. However, dealing with so many people every day and enforcing such strict rules can make anyone seem rude, including TSA agents

Do Drug Dogs Sniff Checked Luggage?

You may notice dogs at the airport sniffing you and your bags as you walk past them. 

Drug dogs do sniff checked luggage at times. The dogs are there to keep everyone safe, and will sniff your checked bags, sometimes before you check them with your airline and sometimes after. 

While these dogs can smell drugs, they primarily smell explosive items that could cause a lot of damage in a short period of time. However, they may smell your drugs, so you are better off leaving them at home.

Do Checked Bags Get X-Rayed?

Finally, let’s look at whether or not TSA x-rays your checked bags between the time you drop them off and the time they are loaded onto the plane. 

The TSA does x-ray your checked bags before they go onto the plane. They need to x-ray the bags to ensure you do not have anything harmful or dangerous. If checked bags were not x-rayed, dangerous items could make their way onto the planes and put everyone’s safety at risk.

Just as they screen carry-on bags, checked bags must get x-rayed too. However, the x-ray machines used to screen your bags are not harmful to you or anything you may have in your bag. The machines are made to meet FDA regulations which keeps everything in your bag safe even though they must go through the machines. 

Final Thoughts

Airports have to check your checked bags to keep everyone at the airport and in the airplane safe. TSA officers are the ones who check your bags for prohibited items like vapes and drugs. If they find any prohibited items, they will confiscate them, and you may face legal repercussions.

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