Can You Bring a Polaroid Camera on a Plane?

One of the most important things to bring with you on a trip is a camera.

Aside from taking pictures on your phone, it’s one of the best ways to capture precious memories.

Some people have concerns about whether the airport scanners can ruin the film, which effectively erases those memories. So can you take a polaroid camera on a plane?

There aren’t any security concerns with bringing along a Polaroid camera, but you will want to protect your film. If you do bring a camera, keep it in your carry-on bag and ask for hand checks instead of running it through the X-ray machine.

Flying With a Polaroid Camera

Both digital and film cameras are allowed on planes according to TSA guidelines and pose no security issues during screenings. 

So no matter what kind of camera you have, you can bring it on a plane. 

The more important thing to consider is how you’ll protect your camera during your flights and the screening process.

X-rays have the unfortunate effect of damaging and ruining most kinds of instant film. 

You want to always keep your camera in your carry-on because checked baggage scans are more powerful and likely to damage your film. 

The scanners in carry-on security lines may not be as strong, but they still have the potential to irreparably damage your film. 

While this is unlikely if you still have concerns about your film you can ask for a hand check during screening. 

Hand checks involve TSA agents physically inspecting the camera and film instead of running it through a scanner and exposing it to potential radiation. 

You also shouldn’t have concerns about radiation damage during your flight. Your film will be just fine traveling on the plane with you. 

One important note, exposed film is unaffected by X-ray radiation and won’t be damaged by scanners. 

The above guidelines to avoid scanner is for an undeveloped film that hasn’t been exposed. 

Packing a Camera for Travel

If you can get a carrying case for your camera, it’s a worthy investment. 

A soft or hard-sided case will protect your camera in transit, keeps it easily accessible for photo opportunities, and can be packed into a larger carry-on bag. 

You can also protect against theft by locking the carrying case in your bag or securing it closed.

Always try to be easy on your bags. Don’t throw them around too much or crush them inside overhead bins in the plane. 

You want to avoid damaging your camera as much as possible. 

If you’re packing the camera in your checked luggage and aren’t concerned about the undeveloped film, be sure to cushion the camera as much as possible. 

A carrying case is good, but you should also surround the camera with clothes and other soft objects. 

This can protect it from being thrown around or crushed in the loading and unloading of your baggage.

Can You Take The Polaroid Film Out and Put It Back In?

Once you insert your film into a Polaroid camera, you usually can’t take it back out. 

If your camera has an issue, you will want to just use a different pack of the film once you’ve solved the problem. 

Generally, the film packs for Polaroid cameras have a light guard that is removed when the pack is inserted into the camera. 

This portion keeps the film from being exposed to light which would cause it to develop. 

Removing unused film from the camera is incredibly tricky if you don’t want to ruin the rest of the pack. In most cases, it isn’t possible to remove it and put it back into the camera in a usable state. 

If you do have to remove the film and want to continue using it, you’ll have to go to a place without light. 

If you can get into a zero-light room, you can take the film out fairly safely. 

It’s important to then place it into a black bag or something that will block light out completely until you put it back in the camera. 

You’ll again want to be in zero-light conditions to put the film back into the camera. 

If you can keep the film from being exposed to light, it is possible to put it back into the camera and still use it normally. 

It is usually a big hassle to do this while on a vacation though and isn’t recommended. 

Does Polaroid Film Expire?

Film for Polaroid cameras can expire and Polaroid recommends photographers use their film within twelve months to get the best possible results. 

The chemicals used to make the film can change and break down over time, resulting in changing how your photos eventually turn out. 

You can use film that has expired, but it can negatively impact how well your photos turn out. 

To find out if your film has expired, check the film package. There should be a date stamped on the side to tell you when you should use the film.

Always store Polaroid film until you intend to use it. Keep it sealed and away from light to protect it from being exposed before you can use it. 

Once a package is opened, always try to use the film within two months. 

Instax Film

Like Polaroid film, Instax film can also expire. You can check the side of the package to find the expiration date. 

Over time, the chemicals used in the film can break down, not only ruining how well the photos can turn out but also leaking onto the rollers of your camera. 


There are no security issues with bringing a Polaroid camera onto a plane, but you should be mindful of protecting any undeveloped film you plan on traveling with. 

Ask for hand checks during screenings to keep the film from being exposed to X-ray scanners and potentially damaged in the process. 

Always keep a Polaroid camera in your carry-on bag. It’s easier to protect the camera this way and you will avoid the harsher scanners used for checked luggage.