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Quick TSA check...DSLR cameras.

I just want to check with you folks about the electronics that seem to have to come out of the suitcase at security. I'm flying Jet Blue instead of Delta this time, so I'm not sure I'll get TSA pre-check automatically, sadly. I flew last in March, internationally, and did not have to remove my DSLR camera for security, and yet TSA does seem to imply I will have to remove it. I know I'll have to remove my laptop. Have any of you had to pull out your DSLR for TSA? I'll reconfigure my packing if it looks like I'll have to pull it out also. What has your experience been with your larger cameras?

Posted by
454 posts

Yes, I had to remove my DSLR camera on a recent trip to/from France on Delta partners (KLM and Air France). They wanted all electronics removed from our carryon luggage and placed in a separate bin to go through the scanner. This wasn't limited to lap tops but extended to ipads, iphones, etc. A DSLR camera is considered an electronic device. We were in the TSA-precheck but still had to comply.

Posted by
2768 posts

I’ve always heard it worded as electronics “larger than a cell phone” need to be removed. However I never thought of my DSLR as an electronic (I guess it is, I just didn’t think of it). In 3 round trips this year I’ve never been asked to remove it.

Posted by
5687 posts

If you have Global Entry or TSA-Pre (paid for them), you should certainly get it with JetBlue when flying from a US airport. You do need to include your Known Traveler Number (KTN) in your reservation however to be sure.

I have rarely had to remove my DSLR and other electronics from my bag in the last few years when going through TSA security (TSA precheck or otherwise). In Europe it's a different story: in several cases, I've had to pull everything out of my bags for them to inspect when going through security.

Posted by
3259 posts

So it sounds as if it is still a 'sometimes' or 'maybe' you must remove your camera depending on who the TSA person is at the time.

Andrew, I just get free Precheck from Delta always...I'll have to see if it happens with JetBlue. If not, I'm thinking we will join Global Entry for the next trip as I'm tired of thinking about it all. However, as long as I get precheck for free, I won't.

Thanks everyone for your input.

Posted by
1056 posts

Wray, if you have TSA pre-check already and are interested in a faster way to go through customs and passport control when you return to the US, check out Mobile Passport. It’s a free app and will speed you through entry coming home. Almost as fast as Global Entry and free!

Posted by
1224 posts

I don't put my DSLR in my suitcase in the first place, so I guess it is always already out.

Posted by
3259 posts

Patricia, I'm a dinosaur. I don't have a cell phone or I would use mobile passport, as it sounds great!

jlkelman, so your camera is always around your neck or is it in another bag? I am only bringing one bag for this trip so the camera is in my 16" suitcase. If they gate check my bag, obviously I will remove my laptop and camera before I let it go. But the bag qualifies for a personal item on JetBlue so I'll have my eye on it.

Posted by
6788 posts

First, you will only get precheck if 1) the airline you're flying participates, and 2) the airport you're flying out of participates, and 3) you have provided your TSA known traveler number to your airline in advance - if all three things are true, then you should get Precheck printed on your boarding pass. If it doesn't show that, you can try providing your known traveler number to the airline staff when you check in and ask them to reprint your boarding pass. Note that there's still a possibility that you will be randomly opted-out from precheck for that flight even if you're otherwise qualified to it - TSA does that, on purpose, just to mix things up.

As to whether you'll need to remove your DSLR or not, there are no certainties with TSA - so be prepared to do so - but on all my recent flights I have been told to. And, of course, outside the USA, you will almost certainly be told you must. At every airport I've been through in Europe for the past couple years, they always insist on removing "all electronics", regardless of their size.

Posted by
3259 posts

Thanks everyone. I will be prepared to remove my camera.

David, I am unusually lucky I guess. Delta has always given me TSA precheck, even though I have never signed up for the program. I'm waiting to see if my luck holds out switching to Jet Blue (unlikely, but who knows). If not, I'll sign up like everyone else for future flights.

Posted by
1836 posts

Last month we flew Seattle - Heathrow- Geneva and then Heathrow- Seattle. No one at any airport asked my husband to take his DSLR out of its camera bag.

Posted by
5687 posts

My parents are seniors and got spoiled with free TSA-Pre for a few years. But then they stopped getting it at all and finally asked me how to sign up for it to guarantee they got it every time (or almost every time).

I got it only a very few times before I signed up for Global Entry.

Posted by
15665 posts

However, as long as I get precheck for free,

Enjoy it while you can. There is a bill going through Congress that will allow only people with Known Traveler Numbers to get pre-check. It's already passed the House. It's expected to pass the Senate. (You get a KTN when approved for any of the Trusted Traveler programs.)

Airlines don't decide who gets pre-check. TSA does. Airlines send passenger info to the government and it comes back with or without pre-check.

Posted by
3259 posts

Frank II, That's interesting. The government decides. I didn't know that. Maybe I'll get one more trip in and then I'll go for Global Entry. I'm too tired of thinking about what and how to pull things out of my bag, take my shoes off, etc. BA recently joined TSA so now I have a good reason to join, until BA joined, there was no point.

Posted by
3259 posts

Bogiesan, I need my DSLR because I live and breathe my DSLR. I rarely go anywhere without it.

Andrew H, That must be the teasing period. I'm sure I'll be signing up soon.

Posted by
286 posts

I carry my mirrorless camera (Olympus OMD EM5) in my backpack. I have never been as to remove it. We travel by air several times a year.

Posted by
14580 posts

I have a small digital camera, a Canon Power Shot, which is in my Eagle Creek waist belt. That obviously goes in the bin as well as my flip cell phone which is in my jacket, all of which is in the bin, which TSA see though the scanner. No other electronics. I've never had to pull out any camera, the cell phone or anything to show to TSA whether if it's Pre-check or not.

Posted by
32264 posts

Wray,

I suspect the answer may depend on the personnel at each checkpoint you pass through. It sounds like you're travelling with carry-on only?

At my local airport, I just about always need to remove my DSLR for inspection. Often the CATSA screeners will also "swab" it to see if there's any suspicious residue on the outside, as well as giving it a visual inspection. I always just assume I'll have to remove it for inspection. On domestic trips, I typically just travel with a P&S, and that stays in the bag when it goes through the X-Ray machine.

Posted by
3259 posts

Ken,
I am traveling carryon with just one 16" bag so I'll have 311, laptop, and DSLR camera. I might as well just unpack at security...as there is little else left. :p Darn if we can't remember if we took them out in March to and from Amsterdam. Oh, my pesky memory... (I usually don't travel with my laptop, but need to this time.)

Posted by
1259 posts

Wray, I was asking about the need for a camera because I’m a retired photographer and video guy. I only carry full-on gear now if someone rents it for me and pays me my unreasonably high rates to use it. Awesome things, these iPhones.

Posted by
3259 posts

Bogiesan, You're probably tired of playing with your camera with that history. I am not...but, never say never!

Posted by
733 posts

For the most part, I have not had to remove my camera. Of course, I have Global Entry, which probably helps.

I did have an odd experience flying out of Atlanta a little over a year ago. I was headed to Carnival in Venice, and I was loaded with electronics --- a laptop, two mirrorless cameras, multiple lenses, and a flash. I heard the dreaded "bag check" as my bag passed through the x-ray machine. They pulled me aside, and gave me a full body pat down. Then they opened my bag. They didn't care about any of the real electronics, but they swabbed every memory card and every flash gel, little squares of colored cellophane of which I was carrying dozens. I never figured out why they found them so interesting.

Posted by
3259 posts

UPDATE:
I checked in on line this morning and we both were given TSAprecheck so I wouldn't have had to worry about my electronics after all, most likely.
However, the person I was visiting had a death in the family and has to be away; so trip cancelled for now. So entire question, appears to have been unnecessary...

Posted by
3259 posts

UPDATE:

Last month on JetBlue our luck finally ran out. On the way home, our boarding passes did not give us free TSA PreCheck. Once through the regular line my husband indicated we need to sign up because he didn't want to go thru that again! So I guess lure you in for a few years and you won't go back. So we sent in our apps for Mobil Entry/Precheck. H's conditional acceptance came back in ONE business day...he must have an FBI file or something. Mine came back in 4 business days. I was surprised because I thought they'd be backed up after the government shut down. Our appts are scheduled in 3 weeks...so all in all, pretty fast, IMO.

Bottom line...I won't have to wonder about it any longer. Spoiled too many times...

Also, I did not have to remove my camera, I asked both directions, with or without PreCheck.

Posted by
156 posts

I’m curious as to how an airline can offer PreCheck on its own. I have Global Entry (which includes PreCheck) and had to have an in person interview with TSA which involved digital fingerprinting. Am I missing something here?

Posted by
3521 posts

TSA has been saying for a long time that going forward only those who paid for Pre will have it. Congress is also looking at bills that would make it a law that only persons with Pre (and their minor children on the same ticket) would be allowed through the Pre Check lanes. So for all those who were lucky, your time is coming.

The airlines don't "give" Pre Check to anyone. Never did. It is the TSA who controls that. The passenger lists provided to TSA for checking before flights come back to the airline with Pre indicated or not. Even if you paid for Pre and have provided your know traveler number you may occasionally not get it. But if you don't provide your KTN, you definitely will not get it going forward. Unless the government is lying to us.

Posted by
8631 posts

When it first started, TSA was giving random and frequent Pre-Check approvals for participating airlines in order to promote the service and encourage people to sign up to reduce the lines at the airports. Airlines would pass this on to frequent flyers and good customers (the airline still has to submit names to TSA to get the approval). This was one of the justifications TSA had for cutting back on staff with the budget cuts a few years ago, resulting in the long lines and agent shortages that nobody seems to remember now. It seems that maybe they've become dependent on it as well, and have been dragging their feet about limiting use. I've been in a couple of situations where they were pretty much shoving whole groups through the Pre-Check line in order to get things moving.

Posted by
15673 posts

FWIW
I visited the US this past summer and all 5 of my internal flights were on Southwest. I remember getting pre-check on at least 3 of them. When I flew home out of Chicago, not only did I have to take out all my digital stuff (like the kindle, not sure if that included the camera though), I also had to take out all my food items.

Posted by
1194 posts

When I flew home out of Chicago, not only did I have to take out all my digital stuff (like the kindle, not sure if that included the camera though), I also had to take out all my food items.

From what I’ve seen that’s a flying to Israel thing not a flying from Chicago thing.

Posted by
15673 posts

Not at all. It was the regular/only security check at the international terminal and I was flying to Istanbul. It's true that El Al has its own security checks at most/all airports but they don't fly from Chicago.