TSA Body Scanners – People Speak Out

Yes or No? TSA Body Scanners

We got a lot of comments on our latest story about the increasing use of TSA body scan machines (“Airport Security 2010 – Holiday Travel Advisory“).

Many of you objected to these heightened security measures, while some of you were supportive – and we wanted to share these well reasoned comments with everyone.

New Poll Shows Support for TSA Body Scanners

Plus, we wanted to alert you to a new media poll that showed 81% think airports should use these new machines — including a majority of both men and women – Americans of all ages (polling took place from Nov. 7 – 10).

Now here are some comments we received from our story on body scans:

  • “You empty your pockets, then walk through. Biig deal. So why do people get so uptight? How is anyone harmed by walking through [the machines]? Put your egos away and use common sense.”
  • “No one says you have to fly, but if you choose to do so, these are the things that you have to go through. Or you can charter your own private plane if it’s such an inconvenience for you. It’s amazing how immediately after 9/11 people criticized the government for not doing enough. If this were 9/12/01 you would all go along and say, “thank you” besides. How quickly we forget.”

Arguments Against TSA Body Scanners: Safety, Privacy and Rights

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Not everyone likes these machines, though – including a hero pilot.

Yes, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger – who heroically landed a U.S. Airways plane on the Hudson River last year after a very bad bird strike – told CNN that he’s concerned about possible risks of radiation from these body scanners, and also said, it’s a waste of limited resources.

Some of you agreed with him – and some gave other reasons for concern.

  • “I’m most concerned about the health risks (especially after reading the letter from the UC professors who say the risks have been miscalculated), but really, the U.S. security system is set up to annoy people, not to enhance safety.”
  • “We are not the enemy, but we are being treated as such. [These machines don’t make] me feel any safer, and what happens to the data after they collect it? Will you subject your wife and kids to the intrusive body search if you choose to not be exposed to radiation and a breach in private data?”
  • “Wake up people. When are you going to realize this is just another feel good bandage for the public? And one more chip at our freedoms.”
  • “These measures are a great way to shut down the economy – people not wanting to fly; refusing to fly will affect airlines, business, etc. Better get a fuel efficient auto since I predict car travel is going to make a resurgence.”
  • “I will do neither the scan nor the pat down. I was “patted down” once in Europe. Very humiliating. I’ll stay home first.”

A Sense of Humor about Airport Security

And some of you kept it light.

“Well, I’m glad to hear that everyone that has a problem with the scanners will stop flying. Since they won’t be slowing down the lines at security anymore, maybe the rest of us won’t have to be at an airport 3 hours early.”

Questions from Readers

Some of you had questions about these body scanning machines; here are some answers:

Kids and Body Scanners

QUESTION: “My husband and I will be traveling in early December with our 3-year-old daughter. They don’t treat kids this way, do they?”

ANSWER: Yes, children may be selected to go through the body scan machine, according to the TSA website, “if they’re able to stand motionless with their arms outstretched and feet shoulder width apart for 5 seconds.” Well, I guess that 5 second rule disqualifies a lot of youngsters.

Do Fat People Get More Screening

QUESTION: “After going through the body scan machine with no problems, [I was later] pulled aside in full view of my fellow passengers for a full body pat down. My body shape is that of an “apple”. I have a lot of fat around my middle. Was I selected because of my body shape? Did the machine think I was carrying explosive material because my waist is bigger my hips?”

ANSWER: If your “apple shape” was in fact the reason you got more screening, there’s a whole bunch of us out there that are going to be in big trouble.

Shoe Removal

QUESTION: “At last, no more removing of shoes! Air travel to US might be just a little more pleasant with full body scanners.”

ANSWER: Uh, not so fast. Yes, you still have to remove your shoes before entering the body scan machine.

If you haven’t voiced your opinion yet, now is your time to be heard. Please share with us below.


Published: November 17, 2010