I have travelled with a laptop before with no problems (not recently), but for an upcoming trip I will, for the first time, be carrying a smartphone and a Kindle (not the Fire but the older e-ink type). I've seen complaints on the net that airport scanners have damaged Kindles, and I can't find anything conclusive about smartphones. I want to carry these items, not put them in checked baggage.

What should I do to ensure that all of my gadgets still work when I get through the checkpoint? If any of them should not go through the X-ray machine, how do I accomplish that? (Just ask them to hand-inspect?)

  • 7
    People claim external factors damage their electronics all the time to get free warranty replacements (or claims suits) for things they damaged themselves...
    – jwenting
    May 21, 2012 at 9:12
  • 3
    My kindle was almost certainly just damaged by an airport screener. It worked perfectly until I got on the flight. When I clicked it on in midflight, the screen looked like an etch a sketch. It was in my purse andhad not been dropped or otherwise abused. In skyped Amazon and they said that this happens, but rarely. Since the kindle is out off warranty, they won't replace it, but will give me a discount on a new one. No problem with smartphones, iPad, or laptop. But This kindle has gone on numerous flights without a problem. It only takes one.
    – user3039
    Aug 23, 2012 at 15:52
  • My son went through airport security and his brand new galaxy s3 stopped working. When he took it to the AT&T store, they claimed that this is happening frequently and that AT&T is in talks with tsa about how to resolve. Just sayin'.
    – user3921
    Jan 9, 2013 at 2:05
  • I disagree,my husband brought me a kindle touch for my birthday early,so I could take it on holiday in september'12,worked fine till I actually got on holiday,then it wouldn't switch on,I returned item to where I brought it,they could see that I hadn't actually used it and that oh hadn't got any physical damage,they replaced it,now I don't want to take it on holiday with me again this year..regards
    – user6529
    Apr 27, 2013 at 6:58

3 Answers 3


Millions of smartphones and 10's (if not 100's) of thousands of Kindles/E-book readers go through airport scanners every day. So far I believe the number that have apparently been damaged by airport scanner stands at about 2 for Kindle, and I've never heard of a smartphone being damaged by any form of scanners. (And in the case of the Kindles there's serious doubt it was caused by the X-ray machine, and not simply broken in the customer bags)

In general the only items that should not be put through the standard X-ray machine are very high ISO film (800 or higher) and some very specialized medical devices (and if you had one of those, you'd already know about it).

You are far more likely to cause damage to your phone by dropping it when trying to put it in the tray than you are having it broken by the equipment itself. There is no need to remove your Kindle from your carry-on bag, so just make sure it's packed well and you'll be fine. If you're carrying a laptop you WILL need to remove that from your bag (unless you have a special TSA-approved laptop bag) - again the only real risk is in dropping it or forgetting to collect it afterwards.

  • Thanks. I'm new to this so wasn't sure whether these devices got X-rayed, hand-checked, or something else I hadn't thought of. May 20, 2012 at 4:16
  • 2
    Moreover, if smartphones were damaged with airport security, they wouldn't provide a flight-mode, or the world would have heard of some US class action about it.
    – mouviciel
    May 20, 2012 at 8:48
  • While they SAY ISO 800 or higher that's the limit for ONE exposure. When figuring the actual safety limit divide that 800 by the number of times you expect the film to go through security. Apr 27, 2013 at 18:07

As @Doc said, X-ray do not damage electronic devices, however, metal detectors may. I had the personal experience of forgetting to take out my cellphone from my pocket when I went through a metal detector, and it passed way with a nasty smell of burned circuits...


Odds are they'll require all devices to go through the scanners, because officially, they cause no damage.

From the TSA's Packing Tips page:

TSA will screen any "Carry-on" baggage that will fit through the x-ray machine;

However, looking at that, there are a few points that some stuff could get damaged:

Don't put film in your checked baggage, as the screening equipment will damage it.

And they have a way around inspection by x-ray for those sensitive items:

Put all undeveloped film and cameras with film in your carry-on baggage. If your bag will pass through the X-ray machine more than five (5) times ask for a hand inspection to prevent damage.

So hand inspections are indeed possible.

Finally, IF by some horrible luck, you get something damaged, they have a page on how to handle this (claims etc). I link to TSA, but assume most screening organisations around the world will be similar.


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