Wave equation tomography attempts to improve on traveltime tomography, by better adhering to the requirements of our finite-frequency data. Conventional wave equation tomography, based on the first-order Born approximation followed by cross-correlation traveltime lag measurement, or on the Rytov approximation for the phase, yields the popular hollow banana sensitivity kernel indicating that the measured traveltime at a point is insensitive to perturbations along the ray theoretical path at certain finite frequencies. Using the instantaneous traveltime, which is able to unwrap the phase of the signal, instead of the cross-correlation lag, we derive new finite-frequency traveltime sensitivity kernels. The kernel reflects more the model-data dependency, we typically encounter in full waveform inversion. This result confirms that the hollow banana shape is borne of the cross-correlation lag measurement, which exposes the Born approximations weakness in representing transmitted waves. The instantaneous traveltime can thus mitigate the additional component of nonlinearity introduced by the hollow banana sensitivity kernels in finite-frequency traveltime tomography. The instantaneous traveltime simply represents the unwrapped phase of Rytov approximation, and thus is a good alternative to Born and Rytov to compute the misfit function for wave equation tomography. We show the limitations of the cross-correlation associated with Born approximation for traveltime lag measurement when the source signatures of the measured and modelled data are different. The instantaneous traveltime is proven to be less sensitive to the distortions in the data signature. The unwrapped phase full banana shape of the sensitivity kernels shows smoother update compared to the banana–doughnut kernels. The measurement of the traveltime delay caused by a small spherical anomaly, embedded into a 3-D homogeneous model, supports the full banana sensitivity assertion for the unwrapped phase.