Grope n’ Fly – My “Enhanced Pat Down” Experience

I decided that for all the folks who haven’t flown with the new TSA scanners and pat downs I’d share my happy holiday experience.

I flew to Ohio for the holidays and checked to find that both Nashville and Cleveland both had some of these fancy new scanners. Much thought was put into my decision to opt out should they try to send me through one. I have several reasons for preferring to opt one, the main one being that if anyone is seeing that much of me on a computer screen then I had better be making money from it. Since there are no funds flowing into my bank account from these images then only certain folks get to see these pretty curves.

I arrived at the airport and while standing in line I went ahead and removed my shoes, jacket and sweater (cause I’m used to being told “no bulky clothing”). Just for the occasion (and just in case I did have to opt for the pat down) I’d worn a tight baby doll shirt that many of you have seen that has only one line of white text on the black fabric. It says “(yes…they’re real)”. I thought it was appropriate. After all, I’d hate for the agent giving me a pat down to have any doubt in their mind.

Sure enough, just after I put my stuff in bins and sent it on its way through the x-ray, they tried to put me in a scanner. Politely I told them “Actually, I’d like to opt out.” The gentleman paused for a moment and then reminded me that I’d have to go through an enhanced pat down. I nodded with a smiled and said “I know. I’d still like to opt out.” After that he directed me to the side and had another man call for a female agent. I stood on tiptoe explaining that I wanted to keep an eye on my stuff. It took a few minutes but a female agent arrived and with the help of another agent they carried my bins of stuff to a small area just past the scanners. (It was still in the open and very visible)

The woman explained the basics of the new pat down and asked if I was more sensitive to touch in certain areas. I bit back my immediate snarky response and instead joked that I was ticklish. She laughed. Then I asked her to hold for a moment while I adjusted my bra (hey, things had “shifted” in my frantic undressing before all this) and that made her laugh again.

I will give her credit, she was very quick and didn’t fail to explain anything. Yes, the pat down was pretty darn invasive. I felt somewhat like a criminal (guilty until proven innocent?) but it was over relatively quickly. I then had to wait while she went and ran her gloves through an explosives detector thingy. While she did that I put my shoes and sweater back on and danced in place. Apparently that was highly amusing to other nearby agents.

When she returned she told me I was good to head to my gate and then spent about five minutes trying to convince me that the scanners were safe and that there were no hard drives in the computers that were being used to show the scanned images. Smiling and nodding was my only response.

She did tell me something I hadn’t read. You are legally allowed to request to know who is viewing your image. She told me I could ask for their name and/or gender.

While I was going through all this I did keep an eye on the folks who were being sent through the new scanner and was somewhat irritated to notice that for the 10-15 minutes I was there not a single man walked through that scanner. Every single person that went through during that time was female.

Sound fishy? You bet it does.

In Cleveland I was lucky. They waved me through a regular metal detector and I was through and done in less than a minute. At Cleveland airport they did have two agents (one male, one female) already waiting behind each scanner for the opt outs. At least that makes it faster rather than waiting for one to be called.

My opinion hasn’t changed. I’m still opting out if they try to send me through one again (unless they plan to pay for the privilege of seeing my contours).

And I’ll probably keep that shirt on hand for each flight.

Flying

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~ by rumielf on January 5, 2011.

One Response to “Grope n’ Fly – My “Enhanced Pat Down” Experience”

  1. I don’t know why they think it matters if they save the images or allow you to know the name of the person viewing you. It’s still OUR bodies and I think we have a right not to be touched or viewed naked just cause we’d like to go see grandma–or in some cases go to work.

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