Today, four friends of mine flew from Denver to Las Vegas. One friend in particular, did not want to go through the millimeter wave scanner, the rest didn’t really care. In total, two went through the scanners, one went through the regular x-ray machine, and the third opted out. This is the account of the one who opted out.
My friend, Veronica, stood in line for security. She was directed into the line for the full body scanner and decided that she was, indeed, going to opt out. At first she was scared, but had the resolve to ask for an opt out. As she approached the full body scanner, she timidly said to the TSA agent, “I’d really rather not go through that thing.”
“So, you’re asking for an opt out?” the TSA agent asked.
The TSA agent called for a female to pat down Veronica. It was only a few minutes wait until one arrived. The female TSA agent was very nice to Veronica. She explained that Veronica had done nothing wrong and then proceeded to detail everything she was going to do before she did it.
Veronica relayed to me that the female TSA agent was very nice and appropriate and she did not feel that the pat down was invasive at all. At first, the TSA agent was a bit apprehensive, but Veronica struck up a conversation with her. The lady has been working as a security screener for eleven years and said that people mostly yell at her and are extremely rude when they have their pat downs. The TSA lady felt that most people had an attitude before she ever arrived and often blamed her for the pat down.
During her pat down, Veronica was not groped and the most invasive part was when the TSA lady inspected her pants area. The TSA lady only went inside the pants as far down as the belt area, approximately an inch from the top of the pants.
Overall, Veronica said that the pat down was professional and didn’t make her feel uncomfortable. She intends to let me know how the experience is when she returns from Las Vegas so that she can see how different airports are doing different things.
I think one thing we, as travelers, could do when facing the TSA and the security theater at the airport is to be a bit more polite. One thing that the TSA lady seemed to stress was that people were being jackasses just because they could. While I don’t agree with what is going on at the airport, we could at least be a little bit more respectful. We don’t need to escalate the situation because we can, we should only do so when it is warranted.
One final note on all of this. The TSA lady told my friend that, because of complaints and the uncertainty of the effectiveness of the full body scanners, she doesn’t think they will last long at the airports. I know the last time I flew through Denver, the puffer machines were collecting dust in a corner. Let’s hope the full body scanners end up the same way. In the mean time, remember, a lot of what occurs at the airport is attitude. Don’t be a jerk just because you can.