Did you know that passengers have the right to opt out of the airport body scanners that most major U.S. airports are now using? Your alternative is an "enhanced pat down" by a TSA agent of the same gender. Everyone wants to be safe, but travelers concerns about whole body imaging include privacy, civil rights, and health issues. There’s even a National Opt Out Day planned for the day before Thanksgiving, Wednesday, November 24th. This may cause some extra delays on one of the busiest travel days of the year, so be sure to leave adequate time to pass through security. TIP: If you feel you have been treated unfairly, get the name of the agent and contact the TSA within 45 days.
Here are some highlights from our frequent flying Fodor’s members telling their stories about body scanners and opting out on our community forums. Share your experience below in the comments.
"Very simple, actually – you just undergo a full body pat down instead of the scan. Takes a few extra minutes, maybe more if there a lot of passengers opting for the pat down. Done with your clothes on, agent does feel inside waistband and high up on inner thigh, but it’s a pat, not a grope. No big deal." —Seamus
"If they send me to the scanner, I’ll definitely opt out. Haven’t happened yet, but when it happens, I’ll report." —rkkwan
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"I did the scanner twice now. In Omaha it was not big deal. In Houston … I still had to let [the TSA agent] stick her hands in my waistband. Next time, I’m opting out." —1bhcrashman
"I thought this was in effect nationwide but we discovered that is not true, at least not yet. We are in Aruba right now and we have not seen any scanners on this trip. We flew out of Austin and there were no scanners, then we did leave the secured area in Miami and there were no scanners when we re-cleared. We weren’t patted down either." —P_M
"I am used to being screened. I have a new knee and hip. But not this screening. It made me very uncomfortable. She did not use a wand. She grasped each leg in turn with both hands squeezing from both ankles to top and only stopped at the very, very top. I should have gotten her name. Maybe she was overly enthusiastic because it is a new procedure. Then she wiped the gloves with something and placed them in a special scanner or something." —Sher
"I was with a group of visitors at Domodedovo Airport (Moscow), where they use the body scanners. We were allowed to look on the screens where the body scans of complete strangers were displayed. They do not care whether man or woman." —Echnaton
"I haven’t yet been body scanned … though a machine was at an airport I passed through a few weeks back. I assume I will confront one in the near future. I have every intention of opting out. Consistently." —tengohambre