Travelers Prepare for Hands-On Thanksgiving Travel - NBC New York

Travelers Prepare for Hands-On Thanksgiving Travel

A loosely-organized group protesting the scanners encourages travelers to opt-out at airports



    Airports Prep for Holiday Rush, Body Scanner Backlash

    Airports are getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday rush. It's always a busy time of year, but this'll be the first big test of the controversial full body scanners. (Published Monday, Nov. 22, 2010)

    The holiday season begins this week, and travelers from all over will be flocking to New York and New Jersey's airports and the roads.

    And for many of those flying to their Thanksgiving destinations either here or abroad , this will be their first experience with the controversial new full-body scanners for the first time.

     "You know I didn't like it," said Sara Knapp, who flew into Newark Airport from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

    "I'm covered for a reason," added Didar Islami, of Rosebank, Staten Island. "So I don't like the way it's portrayed for everybody out there to see."

    So to fight back against federal gropers, a loosely-organized group encourages travelers to opt-out of the scanners on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, which could mean longer lines and bigger delays on what is already the busiest travel day of the year.

    The body scans take as little as 10 seconds, but those who decline must submit to a full pat-down, which takes much longer. 

    The protest, called National Opt-Out Day, was conceived by Brian Sodergren of Ashburn, Va., who built a web page encouraging people to decline the scans.   

    "The goal of National Opt-Out Day is to send a message to our lawmakers that we demand change," he said on his website.  "We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we're guilty until proven innocent."

    But the Transportation Security Administration says the technology is safe and a "critical measure to thwart potential terrorist attacks." 

    "It is irresponsible for a group to suggest travelers opt out of the very screening that could prevent an attack using non-metallic explosives," said  TSA spokesperson Dwayne Baird.

    Many travelers are choosing the roads and the rails to avoid the scanner and pat down. 

    "Even with gas prices it is still cheaper," said Rose Detweiler, of Southampton

    One traveler, who was flying at Newark Airport, had another take.

    "My wife Shirley and I have already said, that if one of us is asked to go through a full body scanner we will turn around leave the airport and go to Amtrak," said Eliot Gold, of Altadena, California.