Unions Tell Pilots To Just Say No To Full-Body Scanners

Only weeks after an ExpressJet pilot refused to submit to either a full-body scan or a pat-down, unions representing the pilots at U.S. Airways and American Airlines have advised their members to not submit to the revealing scans.

The over 14,000 members of the two unions have been advised to opt for a pat-down, rather than step through the scanners, which the unions say are “intrusive.”

However, this is also a problem as some pilots are complaining about the recent updates to the TSA pat-down procedures that left one U.S. Airways pilot feeling as if he’d been “sexually molested.”

From USA Today:

The controversy is the latest flare-up in a long battle by pilots to streamline or eliminate the screening they receive. They argue that if they receive background checks, they should be able to enter the airport without undergoing security checks.

Unions tell pilots to avoid body scanners at airports [USA Today]


Edit Your Comment

  1. humphrmi says:

    Pilots used to bypass security by showing their ID. The rule that they have to submit to security is a post-9/11 rule, and frankly a stupid one.

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      It would make more sense that they had to submit to a breathalyzer, but even that would be ridiculous. All security needs is proof that they are who they say they are. They’re getting on that plane one way or another and will be at the helm. TSA needs to BTFO.

      • Munchie says:

        We could always put a breathalyzer ignition interlock on the planes so they don’t start up without a blow

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          is the system going to recognize if the pilot has the copilot or the flight attendant perform the breath check?

    • fsnuffer says:

      Actually creating exceptions and loop holes to security procedures is stupid. Like faking a employee ID and buying a pilot uniform from Cintas is really difficult these days. Get the pilots a biometric ID system that lets them accurately authenticate themselves then they can bypass the TSA fondle-fest.

      • DevsAdvocate says:

        So a TSA fondling and full-body scanner is going to track down a fake pilot? Really?

        If a guy is posing as a pilot, why would he need to sneak anything in anyways? Couldn’t he just, you know… crash a plane?

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Welcome to our world?

    • ARP says:

      Yes, but pilots have to go through screening quite often. It’s more than just being intrusive, it’s also being exposed to (low level) radiation on a regular basis. This is in addition to the higher than normal radiation they are exposed to when flying. According to some other articles, it’s much less radiation than a typical x-ray, but if you’re exposed to it 1x or 2x per day, it could become an issue over time.

      • tooluser says:

        Note how no actual radiation exposure value has been reported, making it quite impossible for people to judge the risk of exposure. Of course people object — it is reasonable and rational to do so.

        Also, has the scanner software has been independently verified and validated for safety? There are many, many cases of medical radiation equipment being improperly programmed, and delivering lethal does of radiation. The same principle applies here. Machines that deliver radiation can kill you.

        The machines are dangerous until proven otherwise. Your government does not care.

  3. Jennlee says:

    National Opt Out Day: Nov 24 – Opt out of being scanned if you are flying that day and want to join the protest against the strip search machines:

    • DarthCoven says:

      Because day before Thanksgiving delays aren’t bad enough as it is. Holy fuck this is going to be a nightmare…

      • DevsAdvocate says:

        That uhhh, would be the point.

      • Gail says:

        I’m flying on the 24th through O’Hare. I’m hoping I don’t have to ask for a pat down, but I’m not going through the full body scanner, no matter what. I had an ex who worked for customs and boarder enforcement, and a practical joke that they would play on the newbies would be to get them to go through the scanner, and then laugh at the picture. You really can see everything.

      • Shenanigans Was Taken says:

        I just realized I am actually flying on this day. I can not wait to opt out!

  4. Liam Kinkaid says:

    A flight attendants’ union is also anti-full body scanners, per the ABC affiliate in Denver.

  5. Macgyver says:

    Why should pilots get special treatment over everyone else?
    No one is seeing the image of the xray anyway besides that one agent in the back room. And it gets deleted right away.
    And if people find the xray’s exrotic and pornographic, they have other problems.

    • AI says:

      Um, because they’re the pilots? You can’t stop them from gaining control of a plane, because it’s their job to have control of the plane in the first place.

      We do security scanning because terrorists can bring items on a plane that can help them take control of the plane, like box cutters. A pilot doesn’t need a box cutter to gain control of the plane, as he already has it.

      • Wolfbird says:

        >You can’t stop them from gaining control of a plane, because it’s their job to have control of the plane in the first place.


      • kjherron says:

        To play devil’s advocate, this idea is flawed. If pilots weren’t subject to security, then a pilot could help with attacks on planes other than the one that he flies. For example he could bring contraband through the checkpoint and then give it to someone else to use on a different flight.

      • Macgyver says:

        Forget about terrorists for a moment.
        Let’s say that they need some extra money. So they think they can become a mule, and swallow balloons full of drugs. Without a body scan or going through any kind of security no one would even know.

        • Dieflatermous says:

          Except drugs are detected by dogs, not the scanners, and if someone’s swallowed a balloon it’s not going to show up on any scan…

          Effin x-rays, how do they work?

        • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

          Even if a full body scanner could detect a swallowed balloon of heroin, that is precisely the reason that these machines are a violation of our 4th and 5th amendment rights!

          Okay, so they purportedly want to try and prevent a terrorist attack–Apparently the track record isn’t terribly good at keeping guns, and knives, etc off planes, but that’s besides the point.

          Now let’s add in a heaping handful of mission creep, and let’s scan for controlled substances, right? How about obscene materials while we’re at it? Illegally downloaded movies perhaps? Why don’t they just review last year’s tax return which they pulled off your laptop too? Perhaps they should review the call logs from your cellphone, see if you’ve been talking with terrorists, their sympathizers, or perhaps you might be cheating on your spouse, or having a same-sex relationship? Gitmo for you!

    • ARP says:

      I swear you’re some sort of Consumerist automated responder.

      Would you like to get an x-ray 2x per day? As often as most people fly, it’s not much an issue. But when you combine the background radiation of flying and the scanner, it could have long term health problems. When people became pilots, this wasn’t a hazard of the job; now it is.

      • guaporico says:

        These aren’t x-rays. X-rays are very powerful ionizing radiation that is proven to damage cells. These are mm-waves which are much safer. There is a lot of armchair scientists who “think” they know these cause damage, but that is yet to be proven.

    • Megalomania says:

      Did you seriously just ask what makes pilots different from passengers? the actual issue of full body scans aside, that is the dumbest question I have seen for days.

    • stormbird says:

      It’s still radiation and pilots are already exposed to much more radiation than almost any other type of worker. Pilots have to go through background checks far more thorough than any questioning the TSA does. They’re pilots; they aren’t going to be a terrorist and try to take over the plane because their job is to, well, take over the plane. There’s a program where pilots can be certified and allowed to carry firearms in the cockpit. Is the TSA going to confiscate a spork and then give back the pistol to the pilot? The whole thing is a bad idea.

  6. zigziggityzoo says:

    I’ve received a federal background check for my employment, and for my concealed carry license. Shouldn’t I get a pass, too?

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Well snarked! It’s naive to think that passing a background test eliminates any chanes a person will become a terrorist (or already is one for that matter).

      • Harry Manback says:

        But what good does scanning them do? All they have to do is aim the plane DOWN, and they can crash it into anything that they want. Why would you be afraid of potential explosives or knives? The background check and hopefully a psych screening are all that you can really do to try and identify risky individuals when giving them total control.

        • Bladerunner says:

          Except, as a previous poster mentioned, a pilot could bring through contraband. And never get caught, since none of them get screened, so nobody would KNOW how the terrorist on flight xxx got his knife/gun/bomb; nobody would know it was from pilot yyy, and he could do it again and again, while the rest of us submit to full x-ray cavity searches and colonoscopies as security tightens and most people submit.

          • verdegrrl says:

            Before the TSA stopped testing due to embarrassment, 60 to 70% of fake bombs or bomb making materials were passing through the screening process anyway.

          • EllieM says:

            True. But so could TSA employees and the people who clean the planes. Neither of whom are scanned.

      • Delta1 says:

        Nothing will eliminate the chance that someone will commit a crime. But a properly designed and implemented background check will reduce that threat to a manageable level. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be any background checks, for anyone, anywhere.

        • Firethorn says:

          I’m another person who’s had, not just a ‘background check’, but a full ‘background investigation’ for work, and I think that’s in the system, going by how easy it is for me to get my CCW licenses(I have them for multiple states).

          Basically, I’ve been investigated as thouroughly as you would a air marshal or pilot as opposed to a ‘mere’ TSA agent.

          Proper investigation/background checking will reduce the odds of the investigated being a terrorist that, in my opinion, allowing me to carry a weapon on board would increase security, not decrease it.

          That would amount to several thousand ‘free’ air marshals flying every day, and probably even worse from the terrorist’s perspective, people who don’t fit the standard air marshal profile, even if we might not be as skilled.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Do you fly the plane?

    • common_sense84 says:

      Bid difference. Pilots can fly the plan anywhere they want. It doesn’t matter what they have in their pockets.

  7. Grabraham says:

    Because we can trust the TSA’s background checks and all…
    (earlier this year)
    A Transportation Security Agency worker who pats down members of the flying public was charged with multiple child sex crimes targeting an underage girl yesterday.

    The bust outraged privacy and passenger advocates who say it justifies their fears about Logan International Airport’s full-body scanner.

  8. Suburban Idiot says:

    If you’re one of those pilots who is licensed to carry a firearm on board, do you still have to submit to the scanner or patdown, etc.?

  9. Duckula22 says:

    Me and my dick will look great next time we flight.

  10. ALP5050 says:

    I will never ever go through a full body scanner. They literally show a life like naked picture of your body, not to mention the x-rays that your body will absorb. I will always asked to be pat down, if they won’t i will turn around and walk out of the airport.

  11. Harry Manback says:

    I think if the pilot is being trusted enough to not fly the plane into any object that he wants, then he or she should be trusted to not bring other stuff on the plane. I certainly wouldn’t want to get scanned every day, especially when it wasn’t something I agreed to or foresaw when becoming a pilot. I understand requirements like this will always change, but for something as unnecessary as this?

  12. Fantoche_de_Chaussette says:

    In the “Land of the Free”, you are free to choose between the Nude-o-Scope and the Genital Grope when you travel. God bless America.

    And it’s all security theater, so that when the next incident inevitably happens, our elected officials and career bureaucrats can hang onto their phoney-baloney jobs by claiming “well, we were doing all we can to Keep You Safe™; who could have foreseen the rectum bomber?”

    When government resorts to such stupidly ineffective theatrical displays, stomping on our civil rights just for show, the terrorists are winning. But if we accept that the price of freedom is that not every “evildoer” will be thwarted, the terrorists lose and become mere criminals.

    • swanksta says:

      Here here!

    • ARP says:

      But let’s face it, in this hyper-partisan world, no president is going to scale back security measures. Because what if a terrorists succeeds after relaxing any security measure? The political fall-out would be immeasurable- civil rights be damned.

  13. Murph1908 says:

    Ok, who was it that told me in the comments last time that the first pilot’s actions wouldn’t do anything?

  14. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    Great, I think they should do that. Perhaps if more/most people opt-out then they will realize what a huge mistake these machines are and take them out.

    I’m sure that paying to operate them isn’t cheap, but if travelers aren’t willing to go through them they will be wasting lots of money.

    • webweazel says:

      That’s why I’m wondering at what future date the scanners become MANDATORY. I know it’s coming, I’m just wondering as to WHEN.

  15. AllanG54 says:

    I wonder if the TSA people who are viewing these scans are given an unlimited supply of barf bags.

  16. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    Pilots and crew would be exposed to a massive amount of cumulative radiation. The conservative estimates are one in 200,000,000 scans will cause a cancer related death. So lets say that’s 3 flights per day, 5 days per week, 50 weeks per year = 750 scan/year. Over a 25 year career that’s one in 10,000. That is in addition to the increased radiation you get just for being on a plane.

    Although I love the idea of subjecting some TSA worker to the view of my body (kinda turns me on) it’s a major health risk. Popping a Viagra 20 minutes before my sack check, priceless.

    • Liam Kinkaid says:

      While I agree that pilots and flight crew should not be subjected to the full body scanners, I detect a small flaw with your calculations. Even if each crew, on average, works 3 flights a day, I don’t think they would normally exit the secure area and then reenter through security. More often than not, they would stay within the secure area and head to their next plane (or continue working the same plane to its next destination).

    • ARP says:

      They’re not going through security 3X per day. 1X or maybe 2X, max.

    • yzerman says:

      That’s not the point.

      The point is adding a additional cancer risk to the already large pile of them we put ourselves into every day. For pilots and crew this is worse because its a daily scan/dose they would have to take just to do their jobs. If I had to fly for a living I wouldn’t want to be scanned either.

      I think most people are uneducated to any of these dangers and risks and they just accept it to get to their planes faster and easier.

      Unlike the x-ray machine at your doctors office this machine has no federal requirements and safety checks to make sure that it doesn’t zap you with too much radiation. When it does happen there is no way to know that it occurred. Personally I will not subject myself to this and if I was taking my family on flights I would not subject them to it as well.

      Yes I know there is radiation all around us and in nature but this is machine is unnatural and can occur to often for me to feel comfortable with it maybe after a few years they might have some safety studies done and controls in place to make sure the machines are safe and regulated/tested but until then I won’t go through them.

      Guess I’ll enjoy my free groping before my flights.

    • Chaosium says:

      “The conservative estimates are one in 200,000,000 scans will cause a cancer related death. “

      The conservative estimates are from the scanner industry, and way off. The reality is worse.

  17. daemonaquila says:

    To all the people who think this is a non-issue, and pilots and flight attendants should just take their lumps… you haven’t bothered thinking this through at all.

    This machine is basically a type of radiating scanner, just like an x-ray, CT, MRI, etc. Going through once? No big deal. Going through it many times per year, as a frequent flyer would? Yup, that’s going to start adding up the radiation. Going through it potentially once a day or more, like pilots and flight attendants? OH HELL NO.

    Being groped daily, possibly several times a day, is not an acceptable option either. How many of you would keep your jobs if every day, every time you came to the door you got probed in your breasts/butt/genitals? That’s right, it would get old really fast and you’d be griping up a storm. Don’t complain about their making a big deal of it.

  18. xamarshahx says:

    pilots fly drunk and commit crimes too. its stupid to let anyone bypass security, u never know the day somebody decides to crack. I remember an article a few years back where some flight attendants were helping smuggle grenades!

    • Chaosium says:

      “pilots fly drunk and commit crimes too. its stupid to let anyone bypass security, u never know the day somebody decides to crack. I remember an article a few years back where some flight attendants were helping smuggle grenades!”

      We have to screen pilots, otherwise one might smuggle in a nailclipper and use it to fly a plane into a building!!!!!!

  19. Wang_Chung_Tonight says:

    hellz yeah.

    i hope they undo those stupid contraptions. there are much better alternatives

  20. UnicornMaster says:

    this is the world we live in. Why should the pilots care? Are they strapping flasks of whiskey to their thigh? As long as its a quick walk through, who cares?

  21. lvdave says:

    Theres one other thing that I think may turn the tide on this.. If more and more people refuse to fly, the airlines are going to start feeling the pinch (more than they do already) and the fewer people that fly will get hit with even more onerous “security-theater” and b.s. from the airlines trying to make up for the loss in revenue, causing these now-fewer flyers to re-think flying anymore either.. In my case, I haven’t flown since Oct 2003, and I do not intend to until/if this b.s. comes to a halt..

    • Chaosium says:

      That’ll reduce the number of flights, but it won’t reduce TSA bloat and overreach, which comes from our paychecks. The airline bailouts also will come from our paychecks, and yet when bitching about taxes, we never stop to think about these wastes.

  22. fr34k says:

    I dont get it, a pilot needs no explosives or weapons, he is FLYING THE PLANE, he can just steer it into a building if he wants.

    • Not Given says:

      Plus, many pilots have taken the firearms training and are allowed to keep a gun in the cockpit. They should only have to prove who they are.

  23. bluline says:

    The ONLY reason for the overly-aggressive TSA molestation is to make the pat-downs so onerous that they will drive people into the strip-search, dick-measuring machines. However, if we all opted-out of the machines, it would cause so much work for the TSA molesters that they’d be screaming to get the machines removed.

  24. brandymb says:

    I would (if I ever subjected myself to flying in the future, which I won’t) never allow myself or my family to go through the Nude-o-Scope for any reason. Ionizing radiation doses are cumulative, now mater how “safe” the TSA goons tell you. And if you opt-out, they’ll subject you to an “enhanced” patdown which is tantamount to a sexual assault.. just because you had the nerve to opt out. 4th Amendment? Wuzzat?

  25. Emily says:

    I certainly understand their reluctance to be scanned, given how many times they would have to pass through these things in the course of their careers.

    And it’s inane… the scanners detect weapons, which pilots do not need to enter a cockpit.

  26. dragonpancakes says:

    I don’t see why if I opt for the pat down that it has to be a person the same sex as me. If they are going to violate me I may as well enjoy some of it.