Full Body Scan Travel News Update

Britain's transportation security agency has announced that they will begin using the full-body scan at Heathrow and Manchester airports, followed by Birmingham and then nation-wide. The new airport security tool has also been implemented in the Netherlands, and Nigeria has stated their intent to begin using it. Other countries that have expressed interest include Japan and Thailand. In the U.S. the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is currently testing the full body scan as a primary security check at six airports across the country. Other U.S. airports have installed the full body scan as a secondary check option which the passenger can voluntarily choose.

Airport security concerns were heightened in December, 2009, when a Nigerian national attempted to blow up a U.S.-bound plane by carrying onboard powdered explosives hidden in his underwear. The global terrorist group al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility. Up to that time only metal detectors were in use in major airports, which are unable to detect powder or plastics or non-ferrous metal (not containing iron).

While the full body scan will allow airport security officials to more thoroughly detect dangerous items, including explosives, it has become controversial due to concerns about privacy. Both the TSA and foreign airport security agencies are attempting to alleviate these fears. The full body scans now being used require two security officials, one at the scanner who does not see the image, and another in a room located elsewhere who does not see the person. Additionally, the passenger's face on the image that projects onto the monitor is intentionally blurred, and the image is not stored in the computer.

A recent CBS poll showed that 4 out of 5 Americans currently support the full body scan. It takes just a few seconds compared to a full two minutes of a pat down, and respondents also felt it was less invasive than the pat down. The CBS poll indicates that most people agree with Katy Couric, anchor for CBS Evening News, who stated, "New airport security tactics may make many Americans uneasy but safety has to come first."

During a news conference at The Hague, Dutch Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst explained, "We've escaped a very serious attack with serious consequences, but unfortunately in this world there are individuals who do not shy away from attacks on innocent people."

As you prepare for your timeshare vacation this year, be sure to allow extra time at the airport for this important safety measure.

(Photo compliments of TSA.gov.)
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