My blog friend Pauline at the wonderful English Organizer blog has put together a great list of long-haul travel strategies here, and I recently wrote about my tips for civilized air travel here and here. In light of all the frantic holiday travel that many in the western world are about to embark on, I thought I'd get your thoughts on something.
You've heard all about the new TSA naked scanners, right? And the hubbub they're creating? The talk of boycotts, including among pilots? The fact that "junk" is now apparently acceptable in polite conversation?
How do you feel about the scanners? Not a big deal, or the end of the world as we know it? There are about a bazillion blogs debating the national security merits vs. civil liberties concerns (and lots of sites that will show you all kinds of graphic images of what the scans show), but I'm really just curious: When it comes down to brass tacks, will you go the route of the scan or the route of the patdown? What about your kids?
I'm personally anti-scan (mainly: I'm skeptical about whether the radiation is really "safe," especially for frequent travelers), but I'm also anti-patdown (I have seen -- but not experienced -- the new, humiliating patdown for myself, and it is as bad as they say it is). So what's a traveling girl to do? Answer: Try to avoid having to answer the question at all. Here's my very best tip:
Avoid the Security Lines with the Scanners
So far, not every airport has the scanners, and even the ones that do have them don't have them in every security line. Most of the time, you can choose which line to stand in, and it's pretty easy to see if they have the machines or not. (Note: they might look like the one above, or like the smaller version below.)
So choose wisely. And if that doesn't work, here's my best backup tip:
Avoid Getting Chosen for the Scan in the First Place
You can do this two ways, one more straightforward, and one a little sneakier. And of course there's no guarantee either will work, but they have for me... so far. (Knocking vigorously on wood...)
Way number one: Wear clothing that shows that you aren't hiding anything. That is, no baggy pants, no big and bulky sweaters, no headwear. This may not work for everyone, of course, but if you wear relatively fitted clothing without excess layers, you'll be subject to much less suspicion.
Way number two: In nearly all airports that I've seen, the TSA screeners are not holding people up in order to send everyone through the naked scan. Rather, if the scanner is full at that moment, they're letting others go through just the metal detector. What does that mean for you? It means that if you walk up to the metal detector while someone has just stepped into the naked scan (and you should know that it takes a minute or so), you're pretty sure to get off scott-free. Don't think you can control when you walk up to the metal detector? Au contraire! It just might be that you need to fuss a little more with all of your luggage and toiletries and electronics and whatnot that are going through the x-ray. Take a little sideways glance toward the naked scanner as you're putting your stuff on the bins and belt, and you'll find it simple enough to control your timing.
Here's hoping you all get through your holiday travels without getting scanned or felt up, but tell me what you think. Click on comments below and share your thoughts. Thanks!
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