Airport Security 2010 – Holiday Travel Advisory

Before you head to the airport for your Thanksgiving or Christmas travel, you should know about new airport security measures you may encounter. To avoid unpleasant surprises, give yourself plenty of time to go through airport security. Head for the airport at least an hour (even two) earlier than you normally would in case of delays due to high passenger volume. But don’t be surprised if you encounter fellow holiday travelers who display their discontent with the new airport security measures–possibly resulting in even more delays.

Invasion of the TSA Body Scanners

According to recent news reports, there are now more than 340 TSA body scanners in U.S. airports (utilizing either “backscatter” or “millimeter wave technology” body scan machines). Forecasts predict that by the end of 2011, nearly 1,000 TSA full-body scanners will be in use by hundreds more domestic airports (see below for a partial list of airports that currently have body scan machines).

Not all passengers will have to go through these body scan machines. Those that are selected for this screening can opt-out; however, the alternative is an “enhanced pat-down”. FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney recently underwent this very “intimate” pat-down.

Watch as even our mild-mannered CEO is left a little shaken by the experience:

Then there are those not-so-mild-mannered holiday travelers who will respond differently.

A California man recently objected to both the TSA full-body scan and the alternative pat-down, saying “If you touch my junk, I’m going to have you arrested.” He, ultimately, left the airport without flying. Other groups have also protested over health concerns regarding the machines or have fears that “naked pictures” of them will be viewed by the TSA (note: the TSA says the images are not revealing and faces are blurred). Others simply don’t want to undergo a somewhat embarrassing pat-down.

Groups against at least some of these airport security measures include: pilot unions, FlyersRights.org, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and numerous grass roots organizations. One organization is calling for a “National Opt-Out Day.” They’re asking people to refuse to submit to TSA body scans or enhanced pat-downs on Wed., Nov. 24–the day before Thanksgiving and one of the busiest periods for airline travel.

Airports with TSA Body Scanners

Following is a partial listing of U.S. airports from the TSA website that currently have TSA body scan machines. Remember, even if they’re on-site, you may not have to go through one.

  • Albuquerque International
  • Baltimore/Washington International
  • Boise Airport
  • Boston Logan International Airport
  • Bradley International Airport
  • Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport
  • Buffalo Niagara International Airport
  • Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport
  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
  • Cleveland International Airport
  • Corpus Christi International Airport
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
  • Denver International Airport
  • Detroit Metro Airport
  • El Paso International Airport
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
  • Fort Wayne International Airport
  • Fresno Air Terminal
  • Gerald R. Ford
  • General Mitchell Milwaukee International Airport
  • Grand Rapids International Airport
  • Greater Rochester International Airport
  • Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport
  • Harlingen/Valley International Airport
  • Harrisburg International Airport
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • Honolulu International Airport
  • Indianapolis International Airport
  • Jacksonville International Airport
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • Kansas City International Airport
  • Lambert/St. Louis International Airport
  • Laredo International Airport
  • Lihue Airport
  • Los Angeles International Airport
  • Louis Armstrong New Orleans International
  • Luis Munoz Marin International Airport
  • McAllen Miller Airport
  • McCarran International Airport
  • Memphis International Airport
  • Miami International Airport
  • Mineta San Jose International Airport
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport
  • Nashville International Airport
  • Oakland International Airport
  • Omaha Eppley Airfield Airport
  • Orlando International Airport
  • Palm Beach International Airport
  • Philadelphia International Airport
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
  • Pittsburgh International Airport
  • Port Columbus International Airport
  • Raleigh-Durham International Airport
  • Richmond International Airport
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
  • Salt Lake City International Airport
  • San Antonio International Airport
  • San Francisco International Airport
  • San Jose International Airprot
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
  • Spokane International Airport
  • Sunport Airport
  • Tampa International Airport
  • T. F. Green International Airport
  • Thurgood Marshall Airport
  • Tulsa International Airport

If you’ve recently been subjected to (or objected to) a full-body scan or pat-down, please share your experience with us below.

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Published: November 15, 2010