Travellers departing from Palma Airport are required to pass through security on floor 4 of the main terminal building. What can passengers expect at Palma Airport security screening?
At the security checkpoint, an official will need to see your boarding pass and scan it electronically. This official will then direct you as to where to pass through the security control. Following this, you will need to place all of your hand luggage, as well any loose and metal objects such as jackets, watches, electronic devices etc. on a tray, ready to pass through the x-ray machine.
You will need to walk through a metal detector, an archway that looks much like a door frame. If the detector alarm goes off when passing through, you will be taken aside. You will be asked to double-check and remove any metal objects that triggered the alarm and you may be asked to walk through the detector a second time. If the alarm goes off again, you will be scanned with a handheld metal detector or body searched.
Virtually all metal detectors used at airports are a type of pulse induction system. These pulse about 100 times per second and create a momentary magnetic field. When a metal body enters the metal detector this causes an opposite magnetic field. It works in a way similar to hearing echoes – the detector picks up these magnetic echoes and triggers the alarm.
Many people mistakenly think that when they walk through the metal detector they are passing through an x-ray machine. This is not the case. There are walk-through x-ray machines at some airports (see below) but not at Palma airport. On the other hand, hold and cabin luggage does pass through the x-ray scanning machines.
As passengers walk through the metal detector, their hand luggage will pass through a scanner, which uses x-ray technology to check the contents of the bags. The x-rays penetrate nearly all objects. The computer reads the x-ray signals and represents these on monitors as images in different colours, depending on whether they are organic, inorganic or metal.
Airport security officers are trained to search for anything suspicious in the images. Organic material is always displayed in orange on computer screens to make it easy to see. Most improvised explosives are made out of organic material.
Liquids or items of a similar consistency, like body lotions, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. must be in a container of no more than 100ml (3.4 ounces). A 200 ml container half-full is not permitted. All the liquid containers must be packed into a transparent, re-sealable plastic bag of up to 20cm x 20cm. You must be able to completely close the bag and only one bag per person is permitted. Some freezer bags with zip-fasteners may be appropriate.
Many photographers worry that the hand luggage x-ray machines will damage their film. The hand luggage x-ray machines are lower in radiation and are not powerful enough to damage photographic film. However, hold luggage has to pass through much stronger x-ray machines which can damage film. So it is always best to carry photographic film with you on a flight.
Full-body scanners, which are being used in a lot of international airports in Europe and especially in the US, have not made their way to Palma Airport yet. The types of body scanners used in the UK do not create a high-resolution image of the body like the scanners used in the USA. They do make use of x-ray technology, albeit at very low power, which experts say is harmless. In comparison to this, any x-ray machines used in medical settings emit much higher radiation in order to penetrate soft tissues.