Full-body scans and enhanced pat-downs have become America’s “primary screening” technique, but have also generated a rising tide of criticism for being too invasive. At each of the 68 major airports where the 385 new full-body scanners are in place, passengers will be directed to them, says Sarah Horowitz, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Here's what to expect – and what protections you can demand:
Many Americans will get their first look at the TSA's body scanners at airports around the US during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Airline pilots will no longer have to go through body scanners or be subject to body pat-downs, as do ticketed passengers. TSA is also testing scanners designed to be less intrusive.
The TSA says the pat-downs and full body scans are necessary to keep airliners safe. But critics ask if such intimate searches violate the Fourth Amendment.
Full-body scanners and pat downs are new because of new types of terrorist threats. Most flyers want security in the air. Congress should back TSA while also pushing for better technology that addresses privacy concerns.
A Transportation Security Agency (TSA) worker conducts a pat-down search of a traveler at Denver International Airport, the day before the Thanksgiving holiday, in Denver, Colo., on Nov. 24. Millions of Americans took to the skies on Wednesday for the start of the Thanksgiving holiday, but air travel flowed smoothly despite protests over new security procedures, including calls for passengers to boycott high-tech body scanners.
Background checks on pilots, opinionated passengers, and even the risk of touching children inappropriately aren't keeping airport security personnel from carrying out rigorous body patdowns, but officials are willing to consider adjustments to the controversial new checkpoint procedures.
Internet grass-roots groups urge passengers to 'Opt Out' of the digital whole-body imaging scan on the day before Thanksgiving. The alternative to these TSA screenings is an 'enhanced' pat-down.
Homeland Security talks about changes needed to improve air cargo security, while lobbying by the multibillion-dollar freight industry slows process.
Long before explosive packages were shipped on flights out of Yemen, terrorists eyed air cargo as a means of attacking the US. Yet millions of tons of air cargo bound for the US still are not screened.