Does the Denver Airport Have Scanners?

TSA MIllimeter Wave Picture - TSA Backscatter Body Imaging Picture - image from the TSA Showing Body


The scanners we're talking about here are millimeter wave and backscatter imaging devices, implemented as an airport security measure by the TSA and DHS (Department of Homeland Security) in the wake of 9/11 and a few other air travel security concerns. These advanced imaging devices, or AIT's, take an x-ray-like picture (see it at the upper-left) of your naked body underneath your clothing; the image is then beamed electronically to a TSA employee, who is sitting some distance away and unable to see you while you are being scanned. The TSA employee will then determine whether you have concealed weapons or other contraband underneath your clothing or on your body. This image scanning is done at airport screening points, and air passengers and their belongings must go through these screening checkpoints in order to get on a plane.

Other Options

That doesn't mean there's no other option, however. You can opt out of having your body scanned by the backscatter scanner and request a pat-down instead, but be warned: these can be very thorough! 

Denver is also one of the few airports in the country which is still offering a (now old-fashioned) metal detector. You divest yourself of your shoes, change, belt, hat, coat, jewelry, and cell phone and walk through the metal detector, which beeps if you neglected to remove something metallic from your person. If this is the case, a TSA employee will then scan you from head to toe with a handheld metal detector to see whether you simply forgot to take your off your belt (that buckle!) or you've got, perhaps, a metal prosthesis somewhere.

The beauty of Denver still having a metal detector means that you can get in that line if you figure out which line is for the metal detector, and avoid the AIT scanner. 

Provided you have complied with all airport security rules and have packed your liquids and gels in three ounce containers and in the correct sort of plastic sandwich baggie, and are not attempting to smuggle any weapons or bomb-making materials aboard in the form of, ahem, Swiss army knives on your keychain or a full-sized tube of toothpaste, you can now collect your belongings, get re-dressed, and get on the plane.

Don't forget your laptop, which you'll have had to take out of your backpack and send through the x-ray machine separately from your other belongings; fortunately, you're unlikely to forget your shoes.

Arrive Early

So, if you wanted to know whether the Denver Airport has scanners because if you're among those who don't want images of your naked body being beamed from the backscatter x-ray machine, you'll now know you should arrive at the Denver airport early.

This is either so that you'll be able to get in line for the good old metal detector, or so that you'll have plenty of time to wait should you end up having to choose a patdown over the AIT scanner. Although the TSA says it isn't so, waiting for a patdown at airport security is typically a long ordeal.

And the Denver Airport is gigantic: if you've never flown from there before, just getting through the airport, which is the size of a small town, is a bit time-consuming. (It's a great airport, though: free wifi, lots of space, decent food, and even an indoor smoking area if you should need such a thing.)

This article has been edited and updated by Lauren Juliff. 

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