The TSA Opt-Out
I am currently at JFK International Airport on my way to Luxembourg via Milan. Lately I have been reading about the Advanced Imaging Technology scanners that are used at TSA security. While I am not convinced they are harmful, I have decided that it probably isn’t a good idea to keep going through them considering how much I travel.
Since I do now have Global Entry, I usually am blessed with TSA Precheck, however that isn’t always the case. Tonight was one such time, so I did it. I opted out.
According to the TSA website, 99% of travelers go through the scanners. They say, “Since imaging technology has been deployed at airports, more than 99 percent of passengers choose to be screened by this technology over alternative screening procedures.” I have never been the 1% before, perhaps now is the time.
Opting out is a personal decision and one I am still not 100% sure about, but perhaps it is better to be safe than sorry. Tonight after putting my bags through the xray, I told the TSA agent I was opting out. From there, it took about 10 minutes for a male screener to finish what he was doing and come over to “inspect” me.
He was very professional and asked whether I wanted the screening done in private or right there at the checkpoint. He also made sure my pockets were empty and I had to remove my belt.
The screener made sure to explain exactly how he would check me and described how he was using the back of his hands. (As if that makes much of a difference.) During the process I was instructed to look straight ahead and the entire screening took about two minutes.
After the screening was completed, the agent checked his gloves for gun powder residue and then sent me on my way. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience, but it wasn’t too bad. (Okay it was pretty bad.)
The TSA Opt-Out Pros & Cons
Here are the pros and cons of the TSA Opt-out as far as I can tell.
- You are not exposed to the radiation of the scanners.
- No nude images are being taken. (They have new privacy software which supposedly blocks your image. This isn’t my main concern.)
- You may have to wait for an available agent to do the screening.
- The screening can be embarrassing if done in public. (People stare, but you have the option for a private screening.)
- The agent will thoroughly touch EVERY PART OF YOUR BODY.
For me, the worst part was waiting for the screener. Since there is no dedicated waiting area, I had to stand near the scanner I was trying to avoid. I was also in the way of the 99% trying to get through security.
At this point I am not sure if I will continue to opt-out, however the pat down is nothing worse then what I went through in both China & India earlier this year. I am sure the screener enjoyed it just as much as I did.
Have you ever done the TSA Opt-Out? Did I miss any Pros & Cons? Let me know in the comments? I’m interested to hear your take on it!