What Happens When Airport Security Inspects Your Baggage After Check In?

What happens when airport security inspects your baggage after check in? All checked baggage is screened and some is also hand searched. Upon arrival at your destination, you may find a tag attached to your bag stating the bag was searched and has passed inspection.

So what does happen to your luggage after you have checked it in and before it reappears on the baggage carousel at your destination? Firstly, before you even check in at the airport, do not lock your checked bags unless it is with a lock approved by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) or you may find the locks have been forced open for inspection.


In December 2002, a law passed in the United States decreed that all baggage, carry on and checked, must be inspected prior to departure. All checked baggage is screened and some is also hand searched. Upon arrival at your destination, you may find a tag attached to your bag stating the bag was searched and has passed inspection.




In the event that baggage-screening devices are not in place at a particular airport, alternate security measures include positive bag matching, (ensuring every checked bag corresponds to a ticketed passenger) and detecting for explosives by bomb-sniffing dogs or machines.

Baggage inspections and screenings as well as more detailed random searches are all mandatory - so don't refuse or you may miss your flight. The TSA advises you to give some thought as to what you pack in your bags in case they are hand searched. If you do have tools, electrical items or fragile items in your bag, you may want to alert the screening staff. And it goes without saying, but you should never ever joke about having a bomb or weapon in your suitcase.

It is actually a criminal offence to arrive at the security checkpoint with a prohibited item in your luggage - and if you don't declare your dangerous goods, you could be subjected to 5 years in prison or a fine of $250,000. However, in practice, you are more likely to be asked to hand over the item rather than be arrested.

Because of security, you should generally check in at least 2 hours ahead of time for an international flight; and around 90 minutes if traveling domestically. Many savvy travelers treat this advice as a guideline and check in much earlier than they need to in order to accommodate security delays. Some overseas airports require a longer check in time - often up to 3 hours ahead of flight time.

If you check in too late to go through security, you may miss your flight The TSA also provide historical statistics on their website to give you an idea of what the wait time to go through security at a particular airport might be. Of course, larger airports and those with international flights are more likely to have longer waits for security.

The goal of the TSA is to ensure everyone's safety and minimize inconveniences. Their staff makes every effort to treat passengers efficiently and with courtesy and to avoid damage to people's baggage. However if you do feel that your bag has been damaged or something lost during the inspection of your bag, the TSA do have a mechanism in place for reporting such incidents.

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