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Can You Take Pictures at the Airport?

One of the core reasons for air travel is to capture those special moments either through photography or videography. Perhaps you want to snap a picture of your kids boarding a plane for the first time. Or record the beautiful view of a mountain range from an elevated view. 

The question is, are you allowed to take photos at an airport?  The most accurate response I can give is: maybe and it depends. 

If you’re trying to take photos at the airport – before you board the plane – then the answer is yes, you’re allowed. However, this permission comes with one caveat. Your pictures or filming should not obstruct the screening process of a TSA agent. TSA has this to say on their website:

TSA does not prohibit photographing, videotaping or filming at security checkpoints, as long as the screening process is not interfered with or sensitive information is not revealed.

Interference with screening includes but is not limited to holding a recording device up to the face of a TSA officer so that the officer is unable to see or move, refusing to assume the proper stance during screening, blocking the movement of others through the checkpoint or refusing to submit a recording device for screening.

Additionally, you may not film or take pictures of equipment monitors that are shielded from public view.

This goes to show that photography at checkpoints is allowed provided that you don’t take pictures of monitors or disrupt the screening process. 

However, attempting to take photos or record a video when you’ve already boarded a plane is an entirely different ball game. 

The airline can’t prohibit you from taking pictures at an airport since it’s a public space. But as soon as you board the plane, don’t expect the same freedom. Here, an airline has the power to implement restriction policies as it sees fit. 

This explains why there have been several incidences of passengers being thrown off flights for taking photos of entertainment consoles, food or even the view. 

If you want to err on the side of caution, be sure to go through the guidelines provided by different airlines. Here is United Airlines stance on the matter:

The use of small cameras or mobile devices for photography and video is permitted on board, provided you limit the purpose of your photography and video to capturing personal events.

Any photographing or recording that creates a safety or security risk or that interferes with crew members’ duties is prohibited.

Are Pictures Allowed While Going Through Security?

The TSA allows passengers to bring a tripod and other camera equipment onboard. As such, it’s not surprising that they also allow you to carry pictures. So, you should expect a fairly trouble-free screening process. 

How to Take Good Pictures at the Airport

Here are a couple of tips to help you take the best pictures at an airport:

Leverage windows

Airports often have massive windows lining the walls. These offer you an excellent view of the outgoing and incoming planes. The natural light that penetrates through these windows also makes them the best spot for taking pictures. 

Look for architectural elements

If you look keenly, you’ll notice that almost every international airport has some innovative structure designs. 

The Beijing Capital International Airport is a good case in point. It contains a red and yellow color scheme in a dragon-shaped form. It is designed in this way to acknowledge Chinese history and culture. 

Are you Allowed to Record in Airports?

Yes, you are. As we mentioned earlier, the TSA doesn’t prohibit passengers from recording in airports as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the screening process. 

Can you Take Pictures from a Plane Window?

It depends. Whether you’re allowed to take pictures from a plane window depends on the specific airline you’re using. While some airlines allow this, others prohibit it and they may even kick you off the plane if you insist on taking pictures. 

For instance, United Airlines allows its passengers to use small-sized recording devices – including cellphones. But they should be careful not to interfere with the airline staff’s duties while they’re taking these pictures. 

Since each airline will have its own set of policies, you should consider boarding the plane early. This way, you have enough time to seek clarifications from the staff or read the guidelines provided onboard. 

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been wondering whether you can take pictures at the airport, the answer is yes. However, the TSA warns that you shouldn’t take pictures of the monitor equipment. On the same point, the recording or filming action should not interfere with the screening process. 

It’s also crucial to note that this permission doesn’t apply to when you board the plane. As soon as you board, you should adhere to the guidelines stipulated by the airline. This means that if you’re not allowed to take pictures midflight, then you shouldn’t. 

Hayden Wall

Hayden is the founder of Travel Gear Discounts and tries to vacation as much as possible. He loves finding the latest travel accessories that will make getting out easier and planning the perfect weekend getaway.