There has been a great deal of media discussion about airport travel security checks. NPR On Point followed the TSA pat down vs. body scan debate. I had first-hand experience with these issues flying from Gerald R. Ford International Airport for Thanksgiving. DHS (Department of Homeland Security) puts airports on orange, or high alert for holiday travel. Gerald R. Ford International Airport has implemented the body scan system for airport security checks, but travelers are given the option of a physical pat down.
The debate over the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) pat down vs. body scan basically arises over the ‘invasion of privacy’ issue. Which method is most invasive to the average airline traveler: to be physically frisked by a security guard or scanned in a live image that reveals some private body parts? Some political groups are opposed to either form of airport security check. Some groups claim that neither body scans or pat downs are totally accurate. However, most people realize that some system is necessary. Airport security is a foregone conclusion, especially since the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Also, most people accept that fact that airport security checks are important to keep everyone safe in the most vulnerable situation: being trapped thousands of feet above the ground in a moving airplane.
I was fortunate when I traveled during the Thanksgiving holiday: I was given an option between body scan vs. pat down security check. Was I totally comfortable being scanned and exposed in front of hundreds of travelers and security guards. No. Neither was I interested in being manhandled everywhere on my body. I also looked at images taken from body scans (CBS.com). Body parts were visible, but private areas such as the breasts and genitals were not clearly defined, in complete detail on the scanner. What showed was the outline of the body underneath the garments. In all reality, you get a much clearer image of private body parts just by visiting the beach in summer. The lesser of two evils for me was the body scan.
My experience with the body scan was made much smoother by reviewing TSA airport security guidelines (TSA.gov) and the Gerald R. Ford International Airport website guidelines (GRR.org). I planned ahead and was prepared for the security check. Another way to make security checks, body scan or pat down, is to comply completely and not try to get away with anything. If you follow TSA and airport guidelines carefully, you should have no trouble with the security checks. If you don’t plan ahead or you try to bend the rules, it will be much more difficult for you and your fellow travelers.