Airport XXX-Rays

No doubt that the face of air travel around the globe has changed beyond the point of return in the last decade. In fact, I can’t even remember the days of flying without my liquids in a Zip-loc bag and making my way through comprehensive security screening checkpoints.

In early 2010 it was announced that, in compliance with new Transportation Safety Administration protocol, full body scanners would be coming to Canadian airports. These scanners were not to be unlike x-ray machines, allowing security personnel a thorough view directly through passengers’ clothing. The idea behind the technology was that concealed items would be more easily found. However, the notion of literal transparency had people up in arms over their privacy. [source]


Photo: Impact Lab

On my last air travel trip, I bounced through Phoenix Sky Harbor airport on my way back to Canada. After clearing U.S. customs, I made my way to my departure terminal, but not before a stop in security. Though I had the option of a search without the body scanner, the scanner was the primary option for security screening.

I didn’t think twice before stepping in and raising my arms to do the YMCA. Seconds later I was told “all clear” and asked to move through. I had nothing to be ashamed of and certainly no weapon to conceal.

I never thought twice about any of it, knowing that each and every one of my fellow passengers had been scrutinized to the same degree. If anything, knowing that put me at complete ease about safety in the air on my imminent trip. That said, I can most definitely understand that some wouldn’t be comfortable with that method of screening for various reasons.

Sound Off…

  • Do you think body scanners are an invasion of privacy or a necessary part of safe air travel?
  • Do you think beefed up security measures should be extended to BC Ferries, rail and bus service?
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5 Comments on “Airport XXX-Rays

  1. I encountered my first body scan when flying from Montreal back home to Vancouver, I was confused (and a little shocked) when they asked me to step over to the body scanner being that I had no metal on me aside from my ring, necklace and the underwire in my bra. It was quick and painless but as I walked away this feeling of uneasiness washed over me, some random person just saw me naked and it completely freaked me out, I felt kind of violated to be honest.

    I don’t like the idea of a pat down or a body scan but I guess I’d choose the scan over some random woman feeling me up though.

  2. I remember reading an article about it. How they make people look like Ken and Barbie on the screen (ie outlines of their figure etc). Meh, whatever.. though who is looking at the screen and what policies and safeguards are there to prevent staff taking photos etc of said screens when people pass.

    On another recent article, there is debate on what sort of radation dose people get. The TSA was saying less than what one would receive while on their flight, but then I read that the TSA won’t allow access to the actual manufacture to get the real radation dosage.

    As for an invasion of privacy, depending on how detailed those scanners are. If it gives an outline of what I look like under my clothes, whatever. Like you said, you’re not concealing anything. Also would it improve the time it takes to go through security? I hate waiting in line for the metal detector and such. having to take off your belt, shoes, remove metal items, wallet, money etc etc etc.. this would hopefully make it faster right?

    I don’t think BC Ferries/Rail or Bus service needs to have the same security. Well perhaps the bus system after what happened on that one a little time ago.

    If it were to go on to the BC Ferries, imagine how long that line ups would be! Think of the Border Crossings.. add that sophisticated setup (because they would have to also scan the vehicles) with the unload and loading of the boats. Plus how long it would take to scan the walk-ons.

  3. One of my concerns is the issue of radiation. How safe are these machines?

    One of the benefits is avoiding the pat down….ugh, not fun!

  4. I went through an airport in North Carolina recently and they had the new xray’ish machines. I asked to opt out. The pat-down was more than a little thorough. The TSA fellow also had me wait while he tested the gloves he used during my awkward public feeling up. I assume for nitrates or something scary. Anyway, the TSA folks deserve raises for (now) having to grope people all day long – that can’t be a fun job.

    I personally don’t object to the machines, but I strongly support those who do. If I had children I wouldn’t want them near the things. Since images from similar machines have previously leaked to the public (http://gizmodo.com/5690749/these-are-the-first-100-leaked-body-scans) I absolutely expect it will happen again.

  5. I opted for a body scan once as well – on the way back from Phoenix coincidentally. The only thing I didn’t like about it was that I couldn’t see it myself. I was pretty bummed about that. But, apparently your image is transmitted to some room somewhere where a bunch of people scrutinize your nooks and crannies.

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