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Readers Respond: Have You Opted Out of Airport Body Scanners and Had a TSA Patdown?

Responses: 48


We think the indignity of TSA backscatter machines (the full body imaging scanners, or full body xray machines) at airports is probably the worst DHS fumble yet, but it's possible that the TSA patdown is the biggest eyeroller and, certainly, most controversial. Have you opted out of an airport's full body scanner and had a TSA patdown? What was the TSA patdown like? Would you have the TSA patdown again? (If you want to give your opinion on the scanners, you can do that on this TSA scanner opinions page.) Tell others about your TSA patdown below: no need to (really) register or log in...

Fun in Cleveland

I was flying out of Ohio and decided not to go through the "electrical rape machine" as my son calls it. I went through the metal detector and then they said I had to be patted down. The line next to me, the priority and first class group, also went through the metal detector and then just continued on. TSA didn't like it when I asked if all it took was spending more money to bypass a questionable technology that has yet to be shown to be effective. I offered to strip for the guy patting me down but he didn't go for it. Next time I'm flying I think I will strip down to a speedo. Mind you, my physique isn't anything like it was 30 years ago but I may end up seeing myself on youtube. :)
—Guest MD


I guess I will have to decide if I want my young boy subjected to child pornography or child molestation huh? I DON'T THINK SO!!!!
—Guest James

Not that big of a deal.

I guess everyone seems to forget why they are there protecting us. 9/11 wasnt that long ago. These people are doing their jobs and everytime I fly I never have a problem. Give them a break if you feel that strongly then drive or take the train.
—Guest Unknown

can't break me

myself and another woman opted out. at JFK and we waited for 15 minutes we stuck to our guns and boy were they pissed they tried to convince us that these were the newest models but we declined. Other passengers were going through the scanners without a care in the world it saddened me so much. However I felt great knowing I was one of the few standing up for what they believe in even though it isn't easy. I did write to the airline company and explain to them my experience would have been perfect if it wasn't for the scanners being in use.
—Guest Danii

It was fine

A few days ago I opted out of the radiation machine and got the pat down. The lady was very respectful and explained everything - I told her I agree to everything, just go ahead and she still told me what she was doing. It was fine, and much better than being irradiated. I opt out every single time. Before this I opted out at O'hare in Chicago, with a similar outcome. Just depends on your own attitude, and if there is a problem, report it. It's a necessary evil. Let's keep it simple.
—Guest Judy

No big deal

I have opted out every time I fly. Never had a problem at any airport with pat down. I don't know if scanner is safe so I won't go thru it. A screening has to be done, too many bad people out there. Stop complaining. If a bad guy gets on the plane what would you have to say??
—Guest Lw

Pat downs aren't bad

I have opted out if scanners almost all of the time. I do not find them degrading nor invasive and always have it done in the terminal where there are many witnesses. They are required to explain each step as they do them even if you say you know the procedure. The only problem I have ever had was in Austin, TX. They get annoyed that you opt out and made me wait 20 minutes for my pat down.
—Guest susan


I was randomly selected by tsa at Orlando airport for no reason. I was not given the option of AIT. I was groped and violated for no reason. Evidently you can receive this treatment without setting off alarms or refusing to go through AIT scanner machines. I can't believe that Americans are ok with people being treated this way.
—Guest Nine

Where the hell is my 4th Amendment?

I had to fly out of LAX today for work.I rarely fly and was not aware they use the Backscatter x-ray. No thanks, if I wanted to be strip searched by a stranger I would have actually brought a weapon to the airport. I also don't want any extra radiation in my day. I opted out and they made a big deal about it, shouting "We've got an opt-out here!!" It was like they were trying to embarrass me into being scanned. No Dice. I take my civil liberties seriously. I was then subjected to a full pat-down by an annoyed looking woman who attempted to make me feel like a criminal. I will not be using their airport again untill they change their procedures. It's bad enough to take my shoes off and walk through others foot sweat/fungus; I won't be violated by a company as well. I would rather drive. Frankly I am pissed by all those lazy bastards that put up with it. They should be ashamed that they are willingly throwing their hard earned rights away so easily because it's more convenient.
—Guest TJ

Screeners hassle those chosing pat down

The only issue I have with patdowns is that the screeners intentionally try to make it more difficult so that you will choose scanner. I have also been made to wait excessively while a TSA person argued with me to try and get me to go through the scanner instead. It is our choice and they should all respect that. And its none of their business to try and tell us which option to choose as long as we comply.
—Guest frustrated traveler

TSA patdowns

On my recent trip I had to go through airport security 4 times. Each time I told them I did not want to go through the scanner because I have a pacemaker. The first time they were very polite and said you want to opt-out? ok. and I was given the pat-down. The other three times, the agents tried hard to talk me into going through the scanner, and one of the agents seemed angry with me, although he eventually agreed to let me opt-out. In all four cases, the pat-down was conducted professionally, although it is a very undignified procedure and annoying to undergo. But I still prefer the pat-down to taking the risk that my pacemaker would fail, or the leads on the pacemaker would melt, as supposedly happens if you are subjected to an MRI. The TSA agents keep insisting that the scanners are safe for people with pacemakers, but they don't offer any proof of this. We really need some written documentation that the scanners are or are not safe for people with pacemakers.
—Guest Ihatetsa

kind of funny

First time out of the U.S. and i went with a few school friends without my parents (still in high school). we were going to berlin but had stop in paris. i know a good amount of german but no french and the security agent spoke little english. He asked where my parents were but I said I was here alone. It was hilarious seeing this guy being clearly uncomfortable patting down a kid especially because he seemed like a feminine hygeine product and it's bag. Plus it gave me a good story that's funnier when told verbally and with a purposefully terrible french accent.
—Guest first timer


where do I begin? This is "virtual rape"! What was it like? Humiliation and animal-like treatment are not pleasant. Add to that the rudeness and utter coldness of the TSA agents! May God deliver us from the TSA and their terroristic acts of molestation to the good citizens of this country.
—Guest scared to fly anymore

felt like cattle being herded

I HATE the entire process. I refused the scanner at Houston IAB airport May '12. 1st, the taking off of the shoes & jewelry, just plain nasty & what if someone decides to steal your watch out of your "little gray trey"? Hundreds of people have to step in each others sweat/germs on the floor and then put your nasty feet back in your shoes! ugh... I am no germaphobe, but that is just freaking nasty and makes me feel like we are cattle. They yelled out loud, "I got a opt out". They make me stand to the side and treated me like I might run away or something, give me a break! She did explain the process to me and asked if I wanted a private area. I said no because I wanted everyone to see. I kept a smirking smile on my face the whole time. I think that made her nervous, because she hurried. My boyfriend went through the scanner, because he wanted no issues. I'm no prude, but that is not the point. It is a privacy & health issue. Americans, we are losing our freedom little by little.
—Guest Cornelia

Stop flying

I will never fly again out of the US or within the US . If I fly I fly out of Mexico.
—Guest Steve
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