Despite the government’s insistence that American air travelers broadly support its new airport security measures — which include either a full-body scan or a so-called “enhanced” pat-down — a weekend poll by the Consumer Travel Alliance finds public sentiment has turned against the policy.
Asked whether they supported National Opt-Out Day, on which air travelers plan to call attention to what they say are overly invasive TSA screening techniques by intentionally refusing the full-body scans at the airport, a surprising 70 percent answered “yes.” The poll of more than 1,000 travelers suggests that air travel could be slowed significantly or even grind to a halt on one of the busiest travel days of the year.
The Consumer Travel Alliance and several other groups that represent travelers, including the Business Travel Coalition, do not believe Opt-Out Day is the best way to promote change. In fact, history suggests litigation combined with public pressure is a more effective way to change TSA practices. (Two policy changes last week involving the screening of pilots and children under 12, were a direct response to lawsuits and intense public pressure.)
Just a few days before the busy holiday travel period, the Transportation Security Administration has decided to change the rules of flying – again.
At the beginning of this month, the agency began enforcing its name-matching requirements for airline tickets. Passengers must now provide their full names as they appear on a government-issued ID, their date of birth and their gender when they book a flight.
After a terrorism scare involving explosive devices shipped by cargo, the government banned printer cartridges from luggage.
And the TSA started implementing several new screening measures, including an enhanced “pat-down” protocol for air travelers who opt out of a full-body scan.
The agency appears to be phasing in these new procedures unevenly, leading to frequent confrontations with air travelers. At some airports, passengers are being randomly asked to go through the scanners, while at others, they must all be screened by the machines or by hand. At one airport last week, passengers were both scanned and frisked. Read more “What’s the TSA’s policy? Search me!”
Far from the “grilling” that mainstream media outlets claimed Pistole got, I found the exchange to be more of lovefest.
Guess the TSA isn’t the only part of government that has lost touch with the people.
Pistole did say a few interesting things. First, he admitted the pat-downs were “more invasive.” Duh! But watch his expression when he makes that confession after the opening statements (link to video at top). Is that defiance I see in his eyes? Why yes, I believe it is.
Second, he suggested children under 12 wouldn’t be patted down. We’ll see how long that policy lasts, or how uniformly it’s enforced.
TSA Administrator John S. Pistole will testify at a Transportation Security Administration oversight hearing in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.
Maybe our elected representatives will tell him what their constituents have been saying since the beginning of this month.
Maybe they will say, “enough!”
Enough with the full-body scans. The technology is unproven and may be ineffective and unsafe. It violates our privacy. We never asked for the machines, and we are not asking for them now. Read more “ENOUGH!”
And yesterday, a traveler at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport who declined the full-body scan and agreed to be frisked, but complained about the invasive procedure, was threatened with a fine.
It happened to Karen Cummings, the same woman who received an enhanced pat-down when it was being tested in Boston this spring.
Travelers think the TSA is doing a “terrible” job, according to a new survey of this site’s readers.
Asked to rate the agency on how it keeps travelers informed, handles complaints, explains its policies and is prepared, a majority of travelers gave TSA a failing grade. Only in one category — protecting travelers — did a majority of respondents say the government had done a “fair” job.
In some categories, the “terrible” votes outnumbered the other responses by more than 2 to 1. Those included “keeping us informed,” “handling complaints” and “explaining its policies.”
There were 472 respondents to the poll.
The results probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone who flies. And given the agency’s decision to begin imposing tougher screening requirements for those who resist its new full-body scanners, it’s difficult to imagine the scores getting any better in the near future.
Having second thoughts about those new full-body scanners being used at airports by the Transportation Security Administration? The federal agency charged with protecting the nation’s transportation systems may want to take a second look — at you.
It apparently did when Karen Cummings refused to submit to a scan, which uses high-frequency radio waves to see through your clothes. Cummings, who works for a software company in Boston, described what subsequently happened to her at Logan Airport as “unnecessary” and “unpleasant.”