Revisiting Photography & TSA Checkpoints … It’s Still Legal

Twice in the past week I have had photographers ask me about the legality of photographing Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints, each having had run-ins at two different airports.

While photographers continue to face confrontation from TSA Transportation Security Officers (TSO), their superiors, and law enforcement, as the shoot photographs at checkpoints, regardless of whether they are credentials professional members of the media, or parents photographing there children as they head through the airport, the fact remains that there are no restrictions on photographing at TSA security checkpoints within airports. Yes, some terminals claims photography is prohibited as the terminal is private property, but that doesn’t really apply to Mom and Dad photographing their kids , and yes the TSA requests that people not photograph X-Ray monitors, but that is a request not something written into the law.

For those who need a quick reference to the TSA’s policy on photography, the agency has buried on their website under How To Get Through The Line Faster, however you need to scroll all the way to the bottom.

Travelers and photographers alike can also read the TSA’s policy on photography, which was posted on the 31st of March 2009 to the agency’s blog, Can I Take Photos At The Checkpoint And The Airport?

It is important to be aware of local state statutes and laws, as well as and jurisdictional ordinances that may prohibit photography within the airport … and law enforcement would really have to make it a stretch to tell anyone it is a crime if

So, if you want to document your way through the TSA checkpoint experience, have at it … just make sure you don’t slow up the line and be prepared to be questioned.

If you find yourself dealing with the TSA or law enforcement at a checkpoint  you can always contact the agency’s Ombudsman at +1(571)227-2383. Members of the media encountering an issue while photographing or shooting video at a check point can contact the TSA’s Public Affairs Office at +1(571)227-2829.

Happy Flying!


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