...and if I refuse to open my bag, can they refuse to check my bag or refuse to check me in or get somebody else over to the check in desk that has the authority to open my bag or request that I do so?

  • 2
    You have a contract with the airline that says you will follow their instructions; refusing to open a bag would also seem suspicious from a security or customs standpoint. My guess, therefore, is that the answer to all your questions is yes.
    – choster
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 14:58
  • 6
    Well, they can always ask. They probably can't force you, but then you can't force them to check your bag either.
    – CMaster
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 15:55
  • 1
    As a general rule, if you're not happy about the airline knowing that an item is in your bag, you probably shouldn't be packing it in the first place.
    – zeocrash
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 16:11

1 Answer 1


Yes the airline and the airport both have the authority to inspect your baggage. I suppose you could simply leave the airport and withdraw your baggage if you decided you did not want it screened.

Typically you agree with the carrier at time of purchase something like this


Delta may refuse to transport any passenger, and may remove any passenger from its aircraft at any time, for any of the following reasons: (...)

B. Search Of Passenger Or Property

When a passenger refuses to permit search of his person or property for explosives, weapons, dangerous materials, or other prohibited items.



  1. Acceptance of Passengers

a. Refusal to Transport

General. Carrier may, in its sole discretion, refuse to transport, or may remove from an aircraft at any point, any Passenger in any of the circumstances listed below. (...)

(5) Search of Passenger or Property. Any Passenger who refuses to permit the search of his person or property by Carrier or an authorized government agency for explosives, hazardous materials, contraband, or concealed, deadly, or dangerous weapons or articles.



8h) Our right to search, screen and x-ray you and your baggage

8h1) For reasons of safety and security we or our agents may ask to search and screen you and search, screen or x-ray your baggage. We will always try to search, screen or x-ray your baggage when you are present. However, if you are not available, we may search your baggage in your absence.

If you do not allow us to carry out the necessary safety and security searches, screening and x-rays, we will refuse to carry you and your baggage.


Interesting that the US examples are carefully phrased such that it is presumed you have already given consent; and that you agree not to interfere with their right to inspect your bag.

You are asking a company to transport your bag in a security-heightened climate. You cannot expect to shield the content of it from the carrier, whose employees and equipment bear the risk of your secrecy.

  • 3
    There's a difference between airport security and the check in desk operator.
    – CMaster
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 15:54
  • @CMaster I agree
    – Calchas
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 18:18
  • I know that TSA or security has a right to open the bag... I am wondering whether the check in personell does as well. Those are different authorities
    – marcnyc
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 20:02
  • 3
    @marcnyc I have amended my answer with some typical contract verbiage between you and the carrier. If you specify a carrier, I am sure the agreement would be straightforwardly found.
    – Calchas
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 21:06
  • In this case it was JetBlue and I did allow them to open the bag. I am perfectly fine with security personnel opening and checking my bag, no problem at all. I was simply wondering if a person that is NOT from security (like a regular check in agent) has that right as well
    – marcnyc
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 4:40

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