A surprising 70 percent of air travelers support National Opt-Out Day

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.)

There were strong opinions on all sides of this issue, with supporters saying civil disobedience was the only option and the detractors accusing the organizers of Opt-Out Day, and even this site’s publisher, with endangering national security.
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What’s the TSA’s policy? Search me!

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.
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TSA sends defiant “holiday travel message” to air travelers: Prepare to be patted down


TSA this afternoon sent a defiant holiday travel message to air travelers: Prepare to be patted down.

A full transcript is below.

But the video is telling. TSA Administrator John Pistole looks tense, sounds almost angry, and claps his hands twice — a sign of either nervousness, or defiance. I’m reading defiance into it.

This is his stand against the tsunami of public criticism over enhanced pat-downs. He is determined not to back down, even though many air travelers do not support the new procedures.
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Yes, pat-downs are “more invasive” but here’s what you can do about them right now

So TSA Administrator John Pistole had his day on the Hill, testifying in front of the Transportation Security Administration Oversight Hearing. I predicted earlier this week that this could be an interesting meeting, but I was wrong.

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.

The TSA administrator also said John Tyner, the San Diego-area passenger who who left Lindbergh Field under duress on Saturday morning after refusing to undertake a full body scan and is being investigated by the TSA, is basically off the hook.
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ENOUGH!

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.
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TSA threatens to fine passenger who refuses full-body scan

As the TSA’s use of full-body scanners turns into a national debate, it appears the agency is taking a harder line against passengers who resist.

Last week, TSA agents in Florida allegedly handcuffed a passenger to her chair after she refused both a full-body scan and a pat-down. (Surveillance video of the incident called parts of her story into question.)

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.

If the threat against her is part of TSA’s new enhanced pat-down protocol, then this is a troubling shift in policy that is only likely to intensify the discussion about the use of full-body scanners.
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Travelers rate TSA as “terrible” in new poll: “They treat us like we are criminals”

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.

Your comments reflected that, too.
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Saying “no” to TSA’s full body scan may come at a price

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.”

“The pat-down was completely thorough, as though I was a common criminal or a drug pusher,” she said. “The only place I was not touched was in my crotch — and isn’t that the one place they should be checking, after the underwear bomber?”
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