TSA Ditches 'Naked' X-Ray Machines but Body Scanners Still in Use

As FareCompare reported last week, the TSA is pulling those controversial X-ray backscatter body scanning machines from the nation’s airports – machines critics condemned for producing graphic and even ‘naked‘ images of passengers.

However, body scanning will continue – for some, at least.

Listen to Rick Seaney – a man who’s survived both naked scanners and TSA pat-downs:

6 Things You Don’t Know about TSA Agents

Passenger Security Options

Up to now, the TSA has used a variety of security screening measures include the familiar walk-through metal detectors and two kinds of body scanners: Millimeter wave scanners which are outfitted with a software program that depicts passengers as cookie-cutter type images and the oft-criticized Rapiscan-manufactured X-ray machines. Passengers in line are directed to the metal detector or body scanner by a TSA agent. X-ray machines will be removed as of June because Rapiscan could not meet a deadline to provide these scanners with non-revealing software images.

EU Bans Airport X-Ray Machines

X-Ray Machine Health Concerns

The removal of the body scanners should also ease fears of those who repeatedly questioned the safety of the X-ray machines, especially after airports in the European Union pulled them due to health concerns (millimeter wave machines don’t use X-rays). According to the TSA, the X-ray scanners will be replaced by more millimeter wave machines, or at least that’s the plan as of now.

No Body Scan, No Problem – If You’re Okay with Pat-downs

The TSA has often pointed out that anyone who doesn’t want to undergo a body scan is free to opt-out. However, there is no option to the alternative procedure: those who decline to be scanned must agree to undergo a hands-on pat-down.


Published: January 21, 2013