Passengers Upset With New Airport Security

image2506515g Passengers Upset With New Airport Security

File photo of a man being examined using a full body scanning machine at an airport. (CBS)

With the holiday travel season fast approaching, recent stepped-up security screening at the nation’s airports has provoked an outcry from passengers and airline pilots alike, with some of the latter group even threatening to boycott intrusive new checks during the Thanksgiving rush.

CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg says, regardless of how many airline pilots chose not to pass through security to go to work, the additional security measures are likely to cause longer lines and delays as Americans head off to see their loved ones this holiday season.

The new measures include a new type of walk-through scanning machine which uses very low doses of x-rays to scan travelers’ front and back, creating what many have called a “naked” image.

In addition, Transportation Security Agency agents are now allowed to conduct a very detailed, very personal, body search of passengers who refuse to pass through the new scanners. The agents are allowed to use fingers and the palms of their hands to feel around breasts and genitalia.

A growing number of people, including the 11,500-member Allied Pilots Association, brand these new searches humiliating. The pilots’ union has dubbed the new measures a “virtual strip search” and a “grope.”

The new personal searches, which the TSA calls “enhanced patdowns,” came into effect in late October.

The concerns over privacy, coupled with fears over the long-term exposure to low-level radiation, have the APA, the largest independent union of pilots in the world, calling for its members to boycott the scanning machines.

Greenberg says the government’s official plan was to replace all the old airport magnetometers (the metal detection machines airline passengers must walk through as part of the security protocol) with electronic body scanners at all 2,200 security checkpoints in all 450 commercial airports in the U.S.

Slowly but surely, the new scanners, which cost between $150,000 and $170,000 per machine, are coming online.

In a preview of the new scanners’ arrival at U.S. airports, acting TSA Administrator Gale Rossides told CBS News correspondent Bob Orr the x-ray images created by the new scanners are never kept on a database.

“These images cannot be stored,” Rossides told CBS. “An officer cannot print off the image. So as soon as that analysis is made of that image, that image is destroyed.”

Aside from the worries over privacy and safety, Greenberg says the new scanners and patdowns will inevitably lead to longer waits for holiday travelers this year.

Waiting during peak times at TSA checkpoints averaged 12 minutes in 2006. By 2008, the average wait had grown to 15 minutes. The new procedures threaten to increase those waiting times further, says Greenberg, not just because of the time it takes to go through the scanner, but because if any passenger “opts out” of going through the machine, they will then be subjected to a the much more invasive, and time consuming, physical “enhanced patdown” by TSA agents.

With the new machines, “you need to take absolutely everything out of your pockets… everything. Not just metal, but paper, money, everything, and then wait to be screened by the machine, and then wait for another TSA person looking at the images in another room to clear you,” says Greenberg. This can take up to five minutes per passenger. That’s assuming nobody opts for the patdown.

“If more than one passenger at a time opts out, then the delays can become exponential,” predicts the travel editor.

Greenberg’s recommendations if you’re headed to an airport this holiday season: Show up at the airport with nothing in your pockets. The machines are not at all airports, so pick an airport (if you can) that doesn’t yet have them. At the airports that do have the new machines, they have not totally replaced the old magnetometers. You will frequently see security checkpoints that have both machines in place – so whenever you can, pick the old magnetometer, even if the line seems longer.

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  • David Fromme

    I have been through the new scanners several times and it only takes a minute. Usually it takes me over 8 because of embedded metal. I don’t know where they are coming up with these time estimates from. Yes it affects your privacy but then I don’t want a private funeral because I flew.

  • Brian Hardy

    Either the naked picture or the grope, this is simply a government invasion of privacy which is unacceptable. Can anyone tell me the best way to get this policy changed before the next time I need to fly? Do we need an act of congress?

  • don Yahoo

    The people who do not want the security should be permitted to fly on a separate aircraft. I will take the secure flight, thank you.

  • bill

    can’t wait to yet another govt intrusion. terrific.

  • Brian Hardy

    How about this for an alternative…go back to the pat-down which was used successfully before they introduced the full body scanners. The main difference is the TSA agent uses the back of their hand. I can just imagine these government workers gathered around a table saying “Nobody will want us to see them naked so they’ll opt for the pat-down. This will add so much time that the we’ll get backed up. We need to make the pat-down so unpleasant no one will pick that as an option. I know…we’ll make the pat-down include a groping!”

  • Tom Jefferson

    Since the government did 9-11, they obviously planned all of the intrusions into our rights and privacy–and bloody wars–since then. Those of you who cheer these absurdities need to stop watching TV or something. Jeez, wake up.

    • edgar

      you need to take a walk and get some fresh air-what a screwball!

  • Gregg T

    Sick, pedophile TSA agents, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our right:
    They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like “America Deceived II” and censoring the internet.
    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.
    Impeach Obama and sweep out the Congress, except Ron Paul.
    (Last link of Banned Book):

  • mark

    These scanners are using radiation that is untested on biological organisms for long periods. We are the mice in this lab experiment

  • robertsgt40

    Welcome to Israel

  • Brent

    Since the 9th District Court ruled that passengers cannot refuse the grope or nude scan if selected, it would seem to be the airlines’ responsibility to notify anyone purchasing a ticket of exactly what the screening requires and that no refusal means exists. That is, if you buy the ticket, you are submitting to this search. Airlines are failing to provide the chance for informed consent at purchase point, so is there not some law being broken here? Can people sue the airlines for some breach of contract to pressure the airline industry to pressure Congress?

    • edgar

      i sure as hell hope so!

  • jr

    Do these government molesters change their gloves between victims or are they spreading cooties and crabs from one victim to another?

  • HCG

    A very safe alternative would be: not direct flights from and into the USA! All flights out/into the USA are diverted and handled by Canada/Mexico!

    The Dollar should be a local currency and of course it would be the best to block all Americans from the free World.

    Message stay safe Americans, you can’t behave humanly and stay in your prison country, enjoy torture, drastic punishments and death penalty.

  • mike

    Don’t forget that minors arn’t exempt from either method!

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