SURVEY SAYS: What's Your Feeling About Full-Body Scanning?

November 18, 2010 ( - Just a week before what is widely considered to be the biggest travel day of the year, the issue of full body airport scanners is grabbing headlines. 

So much so, in fact, that the Transportation Security Administration has posted on its website a CBS poll that indicates that “4 of 5 Americans” support the use of the aforementioned scanners. 

This week, I asked readers to weigh in on the issue. 

Turns out a clear majority of this week’s respondents favored the use of the scanners – 28.7% saying they supported them outright, and another 32.7% supporting their use along with the option for a pat-down search for those with objections.   

About half as many (29.7%) thought the scanners were “unacceptably intrusive” – and, as you’ll see in a minute, they also tended to be the ones with the most to say on the subject.  Finally, just under 9% said they hadn’t really formed an opinion on the issue. 

In hindsight, I initially found myself wishing that I had asked for readers to further classify themselves as frequent or infrequent fliers – though in retrospect (which is apparently a half day later than “hindsight”), I decided that frequent fliers might be split between those who appreciated the extra level of security and those who resented the extra measures.  But, I didn’t ask, so it’s all speculative anyway. 

There were, of course, a variety of interesting perspectives, ranging from – well, I’m sure you can guess.

But here were my favorites: 

Really?  If someone who I will probably never see again in my life and that someone will never remember my "body" looks at my scan for a minute, do I really care?  As long as I don't have to strip to do it... 

Sure - my life is an open book.  ;^) 

Just get over it and keep the darn security line moving. 

I am not young and sexy, so if they want to look...too bad!  It's their loss. 

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who noted, “Ask me again AFTER I've been groped”. 

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!  Enjoy the verbatim sampling on the following pages…


Why do we always go for the expensive solution?

"Amendment IV - U.S. Constitution.  ""The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."""

I think the TSA needs to take a full course in Common Sense 101, and take a lesson from the best security system in the world, that of Israel. Have the guts to profile, and stop pat-downs of 89 year old grandmothers and 3 year old children.

Overall, I think airport security is mostly for show.  Private air carriers have no restrictions and could easily be used for terrorist activities.  A gaping void, IMHO.

I'm usually for technology but I think the TSA is creating solutions for problems we don't have.  They've gone from stopping people with small pocket knifes but letting metal pens pass through when the pen is more dangerous than the knife.  Now they are using scanners where I haven't seen a need - if there is a need maybe we should be told.  I don't really care about myself but I've got 4 daughters that travel and I'm not happy about them going through.

Let's be safe and take the measures needed to assure our safety.  What's the big deal with a scanner?  I'd rather have the scanning in place than to get on board with someone concealing a bomb!!  For those that don't want scanning or pat-downs, let them fly on a separate plane!!

The "pat-downs" could become downright creepy.  The passengers who elect to be a "pat-downee" could be individuals who enjoy being fondled by strangers.  Worse yet, the  "pat-downer" positions could attract people who are turned on by touching other people.  Come to think of it, it could be a match made in heaven.

I am so horrified by this process that I will do absolutely everything humanly possible to avoid flying.  If I never had to board another plane it would be too soon.  Unfortunately, it looks like I have at least one business trip coming up where avoiding flying will be very problematic.  I will still look for ways to do that though.  At least in the medical field when people are peering into your body, there are protections to your privacy and in most cases, some level of respect.  I am deeply, deeply saddened by the broader state of the world that we seem to have come to such a place as to believe this is the only way to fly safely.

Having traveled to 5 major airports in the last 5 weeks, I have experienced the scanner and the pat down.  The scanners are certainly less intrusive. While the health effect is a concern, so is the possibility of terrorism.  The scanners are the best option we have at this moment.  If you don't like it, don't fly.

"They who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."  Benjamin Franklin

They are not only unacceptably intrusive, the scanned images can be saved and distributed to unauthorized people no matter what the TSA claims.

And the "enhanced" pat downs are also unacceptably intrusive!  From what I hear about the pat downs, if they were done in any other situation they would be criminal offenses -- particularly where children are involved.

I wish I could honestly say I feel safer with all the TSA initiatives, but I don't.  I find it absurd that we are forced to remove our footwear and submit to intrusive searches - which wouldn't find what the latest threats are in any case.  What happened to the "safe traveler" registration idea (I can't remember what it was called) where you could register in advance and give the government enough information about yourself to convince them you weren't a threat and so could bypass some of the security.

I support absolutely ANY process that keeps us safer and that will catch any suspect.  Privacy and religious beliefs are not applicable when it comes to U.S. safety and security and preventing terrorists from killing innocent people.

It's just the world we live in...get over it already!

This just fuels the belief that airports are crawling with terrorists. Flying has always had it's risks, as does driving.

Y'all seem to forget this is part of obomastimucare. For every paid flight you get a free physical with x-ray.


I believe the scanners and pat-downs are useless in curbing the feared problem of terrorists.  It winds up harming innocent citizens because if a terrorist wanted to get on a plane, they would do so by other means.

I think the pat downs are intrusive.  What happened to wanding people?  What a joke.  I don't have a problem with the full body scanners but there aren't enough of them, and there aren't enough trained TSA agents to use the ones we do have. 

We need to look for TERRORISTS, not bombs.


I went through one just to see what it was like.  It didn't take  long.  You just had to hold still and stand on the feet pattern on the floor.  My husband went through the regular one and didn't even have his stuff unloaded from the conveyor and I was through.


We are not the enemy. We should be using racial and psychological profiling like the Israelis instead of using Gestapo tactics (and attitudes) with our own citizens. When we allow the mere possibility of the existence of terrorists substantially erode our hard-won freedoms, we have already LOST THE WAR.

From what I have seen on the Internet, there has to be a better way...especially since leaks of the scanned images have already appeared.  They seem to be very graphic.

All of the above - while I support them, I also think they are unacceptably intrusive (the pat downs also).   However, if it helps, I'm willing to sacrifice.  I'd like to think that the people behind the screens have the attitude that "if you've seen one, you've seen them all" and are not phased.


I am willing to put up with it as long as it keeps everyone safe.


Anything that keeps us all safe I fully support.


Although I heard that the Tel-Aviv airport does it best without scanners.  I'd like to learn more about the Israeli approach.


I'm pretty uncomfortable with the full body scanners, but find the idea of the (apparently rather intimate) "pat-downs" completely offensive.  I'm not a touchy-feely person even with people I know and like (spouse, children, grandchildren excepted), so I'm certainly not willing to be groped by airport personnel.  Time to start taking the extra time to drive to my destinations.


The pat-down is unacceptably intrusive as described.  Why don't we do what Israel does -- profile?  Why should everyone be overly inconvenienced just to keep from insulting a few?


I have not done a lot of research on this issue, so i'm inclined to say i support them.  However, i'm not a proponent to "invasion of privacy".  If the staff can see beyond/through my underwear as i've heard rumored, then I have issues with that.  I do like this as an alternative to the pat-down search though since that search process seems too personal. Maybe airports should just hire physicians to do these scans, they see everyone naked eventually!


I'm a liberal and I think we need to forget our egos and work together to avoid facilitating terrorist acts. Those screaming about invasion of privacy will be the loudest finger pointers if someone blows a plan up with an underwear bomb.


I agree with the idea but I have a medical device and can't go through scanners anyway.  I get the pat-down.  As long as there is a low amount of radiation exposure, I can't see why not.  We get a ton of radiation exposure just being in airplanes in the sky.  Better to be safe and if it can be faster than before, all the better!


If you don't like it, there are other forms of transportation.  Take a bus, take a train or drive.


I think the scanners are pointless and expensive (time + money)


One more governmental infringement of my rights. If I did not have to travel by air for my job, I would never fly again.

I'm glad I only fly @ once or twice a year....this new practice is terrible.

It's the lesser of two evils:  would you rather allow a stranger to have a cheap thrill or would you rather have your imaged body out there for others to see.

Instead of focusing on locating bomb materials (which I'm not sure TSA has ever found), I think we should do more research regarding profiling terrorists - and I don't mean stopping every Muslim who wants to fly.


I feel like we are being forced into the scans by making the pat-down as painful a process as possible.

After some of the stories I've read, I'm afraid to object.  THAT makes me angry.  I travel a fair amount and certainly want good security.  But it's humiliating to go through that scanner.  I wish there was at least a curtain around it so you don't stand there in full view of everyone with your hands above your head.  It's a very vulnerable position.


I support the security of the airlines.  However, I do not trust or believe that the airlines or government will accept responsibility for any negative consequences of the scanners.  So, considering how much I'm hearing on the lack of safety of the scanners (especially for those operating the machines for extended periods, I assume) I would prefer that safer methods be reviewed/identified to perform the scans.  And, "pat-downs"?  By goobers?  How much do they have for the sexual harassment and assault lawsuits?


I think the whole TSA is a joke.  I personally know the caliber of some of their employees.  First time jobs of any responsibility for many of them.  Lots of ex-military.  They make fun of passengers private belongings, and hold them up for other employees to laugh at.  Very and extremely intrusive.  I will not fly in the U.S. anymore after flying for many years when it was a pleasure and fun.  And, I sure don't feel any safer with these people passing judgment on passengers!

Traveling by air is not a right - it is an opportunity.  In this age of terror threats and religious fanatics who would gladly die to destroy a plane full of "infidels", this caution is warranted.  If you don't want to be subject to the scans, don't fly.  It is that simple.

I have concern about the potential health issue caused by the radiation of the airport scanners.


Seems very intrusive.  However, it’s reassuring to know the guy sitting next to me won't get through one with his underwear packed full of explosives!