Which Airports Actually Use Their Body Scanners?

Lists of which airports have installed the controversial backscatter screening devices are one thing, but they’re not actually super-useful. An airport might have the screener on site, but that doesn’t mean they’re actually “backscatting” with it. It could be gathering dust or just for hanging coats on.

The TSA Status site is collecting reports from passengers and maintaining an updated color-coded database to show if the different airports that have the backscatters are really using them.

If it’s green, there was no visible backscatter or radiation machine. If it’s red, there is such a machine in use for all passengers. The colors in between represent a gradient scale escalating from no use to maximal use.

So if backscatter devices are something you care about, this site may come in handy when you’re making your travel arrangements. You can also participate when you travel by reporting in what you see about backscatter use by emailing tsastatus@gmail.com or tweeting @tsastatus.

TSA Status [via Lifehacker]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Muddie says:

    TSA Status link is broken (http://ofsevit.dynalias.com:8081/ari/tsa/). It’s not a typo in your article — I followed the link down the rabbit hole and back to the source and it’s broken there too.

  2. Erika'sPowerMinute says:

    Since it’s the TSA that’s collecting the information, is the purpose to identify which airports need to be leaned on to increase compliance?

    If that’s the case, I’d keep my mouth shut if my local airport didn’t use the stupid thing, but that’s just me.

    • nbs2 says:

      It isn’te TSA collection the information. It’s a private individual. Read the original article.

      • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

        Ok, I’ll own up to reading comprehension failure. Not enough coffee and too much toddler nagging me to, like, parent him.

  3. frank64 says:

    Maybe a list like that is something I would like to have the terrorist have to make themselves. It seems like all they have to do is read the internet to figure out ways around security.

    • skylar.sutton says:

      Airport security is Security Theater… none of it actually makes us safer.

      Bomb sniffers can’t sniff bombs, Advanced Image machines can’t image PET pancakes on your body, pat downs can’t find rectal bombs.

  4. Portlandia says:

    Wow, way to help the terrorists TSA. If these things actually worked, they would now know which airports to avoid. Good work Brownie!

  5. fs2k2isfun says:

    Why does the TSA need passenger-sourced data to determine which airports and checkpoints have machines in use? Do they not trust their front line agents to be honest about machine usage?

    • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

      Yeah, and aren’t these doohickeys like, computers and stuff? They must be capable of generating, like, usage logs.

      Makes me think they know exactly which machines are used when–they’re just interested for whatever reason in which passengers report what, and when.

      • ryder02191 says:

        I don’t understand how anyone in their right mind would logically assume that this is a TSA sponsored list. Did the makeshift website and Gmail address tip you off?

  6. haggis for the soul says:

    I feel safer knowing that Lambert has spent God knows how much money for scanners but isn’t using them.

  7. mewyn dyner says:

    I don’t know the full extent of this list, but I think it assumes that all the machines are backscatter, which is not true, the millimeter wave are a different type of imaging machine and cannot be labeled as backscatter. Backscatter machines use X-rays to image and millimeter wave machines use high-frequency microwaves.

    What I really want to know is which airports have backscatter and which have MMW machines. I think all of them are a farce when it comes to security, but I’ll actually walk through the MMW machines.

    My preference for getting through airport security is MMW, pat down, not travelling then backscatter. I don’t like the fact that they are seeing through my clothes with any of the imaging machines, but I also have issues with strangers touching me. On the other hand, I do not want an unnecessary dose of ionizing radiation, no matter how small they claim it may be.

  8. c_c says:

    This isn’t entirely accurate – I just flew through RDU & SFO, and both times went through millimeter-wave scanners (Proscan), which aren’t the same as backscatter – they use high-frequency radio waves, not x-rays. Obviously no different from a privacy perspective, but for those w/ radiation concerns it a major difference.

    • mirrorball says:

      Ah, thanks for pointing that out. I flew out of SFO yesterday and wasn’t sure if those were the same type of scanners or not. I just hopped over one line where only a conventional detector was in use.

    • Coles_Law says:

      Also, a lot of the information is contradictory as to if there’s even scanners there or not, let alone type.

  9. chemmy says:

    Thanks. I prefer to keep my back scat free.

  10. sir_eccles says:

    I noticed at PHX last week that they were filtering kids through the old metal detectors, not letting them go through the magic boxes. I figured if they didn’t have to be scanned neither did I (an adult) so I just took a step to the left and walked through the metal detector. No one said anything, didn’t even give me a pat down.

  11. FatLynn says:

    I noticed at Boston Logan last week that they weren’t being used, but the screen said “Rapiscan”. If you pronounce that with a long A, I think it’s an accurate name.

  12. ptkdude says:

    For Atlanta, it includes only two of the four checkpoints: Terminal North and Terminal South (ironically, the two slowest). They’ve completely ignored the Main Security Checkpoint, as well as the International Arrivals checkpoint.

  13. jiminim says:

    My wife and I went through DCA this morning with the intention to opt out of the body scan. The TSA was busy trying to prop up a lady who arrived in a wheelchair in the scanner so we went through the basic metal detector next to it instead.

  14. MountainCop says:

    I don’t fly anyway (because TSA is the biggest waste of money and resources I’ve ever seen in the name of ‘security’) – and I make my own scanners at home anyway.

  15. kimmie says:

    San Jose was scanning everyone. I tried to opt out but the TSA lady just talked over me. The whole experience was jarring.