My first body scanner opt-out

I am still trying to avoid these things at all costs, but today’s circumstances led me to the machine.

  • I was running late leaving my house today due to laundry issues
  • I realized about half a mile from my house that I didn’t have my wallet and I had to turn around and go back
  • I hadn’t printed my tickets at home (just checked in and printed to PDF)
  • the Airtran kiosk takes 5 minutes to locate a PNR

All that transpired and I went to the C check point with about 30 minutes before scheduled boarding so I had a bit of time.  The C check point had about 40 people in line while the D check point had 4 so the were urging people to go over there.  Since I don’t use the elite line while flying AirTran (whether the TDC would stop me or not is not something I’d like to waste time to find out) I decided to go to D.  D is the farthest from AirTran, but all other checkpoints had about the same queue length as C.

I got in line at D and quickly noticed where the body scanner is.  It is the second line from the left of 4 total lines.  The left-most line was moving fastest so I entered it.

The lady in front of me was taking forever to clear the WTMD (belt, hitting the side, who knows) so while I was waiting behind her the lady manning the body scanner asks me if I have anything in my pockets thinking she means just things that would set of the WTMD I say “no” although I have my boarding passes and ID in my pockets.  She then determines I should go through the nude-o-scope instead (why me?  why not the lady who took 3 times to clear the WTMD???)

I politely said “I will not go through that thing”

She says I don’t have to, but I will get a special screening.  I have to wait for about 3 minutes for my special screener, officer Miller, to arrive.  In that time the lady manning the WTMD motions me through so I go through.  The lady manning the body scanner (who had since closed it off anyway) asked me what I was doing.  Well…your coworker let me through I thought, but instead I just made the VERY VALID claim that I was keeping an eye on my stuff since it had long since cleared the x-ray and I had no line of site from where they had me waiting.

Finally Officer Miller arrives and explains front of hand, back of hand, etc.  She was professional.  I wasn’t thinking and assumed a position not looking at my stuff and she quickly turned me around so I could watch my stuff.  She told me right away that I had the right to request a private screening.  Heck no!  If you are going to grope me I’d prefer to be where I have witnesses if  I need them.  She was thorough but not inappropriate so it wasn’t an issue.  There were a lot of things I wanted to say, but since I was approaching 15 minutes before boarding and I had to walk to the opposite end of CLT I didn’t say anything.  The screening ended after massaging my feet (do the body scanners really see the bottoms of my feet?  If not then why are you touching my feet) and taking one of the explosive detecting wipes to my ID, BP, and officer Miller’s gloves.  I came out clean and they let me go.

I wish I had remembered the name of the lady who pulled me aside and forced me through the ordeal.  I paid attention to the TDC and the secondary screener, but missed the other lady’s name.  Her ego was crushed when I didn’t want to play her game and even though she shut her machine down and I cleared the WTMD without an event I still needed to waste 2 officers’ time with my secondary.


  1. Sorry for the hassle you went through, but THANK YOU for standing up to the thugs in the TSA and NOT going through the nude-o-scope. I have yet to encounter one myself (selective screening entrances, like you do), but will be sure to do the same thing you did today if/when I happen upon one.

  2. Arrive early.

    The body scans are a bit much but i’m glad the TSA enforces their policies.

  3. okay guys really the airline people dont care about your picks, they’re not getting pleaseure by groping you. you are 1 in a thousand people they are scanning and groping everyday. Why are we so narristic in thinking we are so special that someone is enjoying groping us and or stelaing our very vague body scan images? so you same people who are opting out are going to be the very angry people when another terroist attack hits us cuz the guy or girl shoved a bomb in their butt and they opted out of the body scan which would have revealed the bomb! stop thinking life is about you alone. our safety comes first. If you have nothing to hide then there shouldnt’ be an issue of going through the body scan.

  4. I agree with Charlene.

    I seriously do not want to be next to a terrorist with a bomb or a have a box cutter on my neck.

    I don’t think it’s that big of a deal if it means being able to travel safely.

    1. So I guess you never leave your house. Any time you step outside there is a risk that something can happen. You could get car jacked getting gas. You could get shot walking in a parking lot. I choose to not live in fear. This country was founded on the principle that we are innocent until proven guilty. I have no qualms about getting on a bus or riding the subway without everyone getting checked for bombs. Why should planes be any different? There are plenty of bus and train bombings in this world too…it is not unique to airplanes.

  5. @grace

    It’s not the life TSA is trying to save. The airlines care about their planes…they are expensive. Buses are considerably cheaper and therefore it’s not cost effective to screen the passengers for bombs.

    The lame thing is if you’re a terrorist willing to give your life you can blow up a plane. Body scanner or not. There are a million different ways to do it (C4 in a chewing gum wrapper for one) and none of them require carrying anything on your body and there is nothing you can do to stop it other then forcing everyone to fly naked under a medically induced coma. Of course we are probably on our way to that just give it a few more years.

    We are Americans the once proud, the now fearful…

    You know what will stop terrorism? Education about 3 generations worth. Don’t believe me? Just look at what 3 generations has done racism.

  6. I read your “Opt Out” article via my iPhone, so I thought this would be appropriate to share. There is a new app that actually allows you to “opt out” of body scans via your iPhone. It actually has some good info regarding the “how it works” process of the body scan / pat down / refuse extravaganza. More so, however, It adds a much needed element of humor (by having a simulated body scan and funny audio clips) to a subject that so many people feel so strongly about. I hope you and / or your readers enjoy.

    If you want to look at the app search: “Opt Out Body Scan” in the Apple App Store.


  7. Good for you. I’m not looking forward to the opting-out experience this week, but if necessary will certainly select it over their mechanical abuse. The funny thing is not every airport or checkpoint requires the scanner–on a TSA blog I asked why, if these things were allegedly so good, they were builidng a dam with holes in it. No response, of course.

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