Passengers Revolt Against Body Scans

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Travelers may have reached their breaking point.

Maybe airlines can get away with charging extra for so-called luxuries like blankets and pillows, or cancel more flights at the last minute without losing too many customers, but the new security procedures instituted at airports around the country may prove to be the final straw.

We Won’t Fly, a grassroots consumer group, has declared Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving, to be National Opt Out of the Airport Scanners Day. This movement is encouraging all passengers flying that day to boycott the full body scanners, and instead submit to pat downs.

"Not only are these porno scanners a gross violation of individual privacy," said boycott co-founder George Donnelly in a press release, "they're also a threat to the health of millions of passengers, and ineffective as well. The goal of the demonstrations is to urge Americans to exercise their legal right to 'opt out' of the scan."

The website for the movement also provides contact information for each of the members of the House Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, so that travelers can voice their complaints about these security procedures directly to those who can change it.

 

As we noted when the new pat downs and full body scanners were added earlier this year, passengers are now faced with an unseemly choice: let airport security strip you down with a scanner, or feel you up with a pat down. The answer, for some passengers, seems to be neither.

This month, one traveler freaked out when going through security at San Diego International Airport. He made the decision not to go through the full body scanner, for fear of potential health risks from the x-rays, and instead proceeded to the pat down, during which a professional security person informed the man that he would receive a “groin check” (i.e. a pat down on his hips and inner thighs.) In response, the passenger threatened, “If you touch my junk, I’m going to have you arrested.”

You can read his full account here and watch the video of the exchange above. The altercation really begins at the 3:30 mark.

Of course, the firestorm around each of these new procedure raises the all-important issue of what is more important to consumers: feeling safe from potential airline threats or leaving your privacy intact. In an ideal world, it would not be necessary to choose between them, but more and more, it seems we can’t have it both ways.

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