Will TSA Rules For USA Travel Affect Your Plans?

24 November 2010

TSA Rules

We tell [children] that only mom, dad and a doctor can touch you in your private area. Now we have to add TSA agent”, or so says Brie, from Briemarie.net, who allerted me to the latest uproar caused by the TSA.

If you're flying to America over the Christmas season be aware: you and your children may either have to submit to a full body scan or an 'enhanced pat down'.

Since January 2010 the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been rolling out what they term Advanced Imaging Technology, or Whole Body Imaging, at airports around the United States. These devices are used to perform a virtual strip search of passengers.

The TSA originally said that these machines would be used only for secondary screening, for those passengers that set off an alarm at the walk-through metal detector. They are now being used as primary screening at 45 airports – basically taking nude images of passengers who have done nothing more suspicious than present a boarding pass.

An organisation, Opt Out Day, were calling on travellers in America today to opt out of being scanned. “No naked body scanners, no government-approved groping. We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we’re guilty until proven innocent.”

The problem is for those who choose to opt out of the scans the only alternative is a pat down. In a rushed and busy airport, however, this may not always be done the 'right' way, as this case where a traumatised three-year old was searched.

According to the LA Times, children under 12 who opt out of the body scanner will “'undergo a modified pat-down search'. Citing security reasons, the TSA has declined to say what the modified pat-down entails.”

The part that bothers me the most is the “ possibility that they may be touched by TSA personnel as part of a pat-down. Parents won’t necessarily be with their kids as they pass through the scanner or get patted down.”

Now, they don't clarify what exactly 'touched' means, but I suspect I might go ballistic if someone tried to pat my little girl down in private – which of course wouldn't help and I'd probably find myself in police custody, but what is a parent meant to do?

It would possibly be kinder to her to tell her we're going to change her clothes for the plane, so I can take her clothes off and redress her again, preferably in a private area. The problem is that this might not suit a busy TSA agent who just wants to get through everyone in his queue.

It definitely makes me think twice about my US travel plans for next year.

How about you?

*Image courtesy of John Wild


  • Calum
    Or you could just take your child through the body scanner, they will be none the wiser and then they don't have to be patted down and 'touched'.
  • Luschka
    Sure, but many people have big privacy issues with naked scans. That and fears about health issues with radiation and so on with frequent use.
  • Kristi L.
    No one - I repeat, NO ONE - will be touching or scanning my children's bodies. Over my dead, sexually abused body! I'd rather not fly altogether. Kristi, Live and Love...Out Loud @TweetingMama
  • Jessica
    Calum, they can still have to endure the pat down, even if they go through the scanner. It's at the TSA's discretion. What really gets me about the scanners is the unnecessary radiation they are forcing children and pregnant women to endure. Not good. Also, if they are now touching people's genitals, where do they draw the lines? It appears all travelers rights in the USA have been taken away. I will definitely think long and hard before traveling over there.
  • Emma K.
    If you read the boingboing blog, they have been closely following the TSA plot. The stories are quite horrible. Removing peoples' prosthetic limbs, ripping open peoples' colostomy bags and soaking them in their own urine, forcing a pat-down on a lady because the scanner couldn't see through her sanitary pad.... it's beyond a joke.
  • Luschka O.
    I agree. And for similar reasons. Thanks for commenting Kristi.
  • Luschka O.
    Yes. I know someone who was in tears after a pat down by another woman once. She too had endured terrible sexual abuse in her life, and being patted down after going through the scanner was a horrific experience for her. And yes, the radiation thing causes concerns too.
  • Luschka O.
    Good heavens Emma! That's horrific! That's big fish in a small pond syndrome for you though.
  • Jason W.
    Oh the TSA has affected our family travel plans: we are driving to our destination. Goodbye flying.

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