Now that the Transportation Security Administration has implemented its new pat-down techniques, critics say airport security screening has come down to two unpleasant choices: the “virtual strip search” and hands-on “foreplay.”
Obviously, plenty of passengers are peeved. But what about pilots? They have to deal with the security queue every day. And many of them have had enough.
Last week, Dave Bates, president of the Allied Pilots Association, warned his members to refuse the new backscatter and millimeter wave scans—mainly, for their own safety.
Bates worries most about pilots being exposed to extra radiation:
"It is important to note that there are 'backscatter' AIT (advanced imaging technology) devices now being deployed that produce ionizing radiation, which could be harmful to your health. Airline pilots in the United States already receive higher doses of radiation in their on-the-job environment than nearly every other category of worker in the United States, including nuclear power plant employees ... For example, a typical Atlantic crossing during a solar flare can expose a pilot to radiation equivalent to 100 chest X-rays per hour. Requiring pilots to go through the AIT means additional radiation exposure."
Of course, TSA maintains that the scans are perfectly safe: “A single scan using backscatter technology produces exposure equivalent to two minutes of flying on an airplane." No problem for someone who flies a couple times a year. But that extra radiation can add up for professional pilots.
That’s why Bates is advising pilots to opt out of the AIT scans—and instead undergo the new super-invasive pat-down, which he describes as a disgusting breach of a pilot's "privacy and dignity."
"There is absolutely no denying that the enhanced pat-down is a demeaning experience. In my view, it is unacceptable to submit to one in public while wearing the uniform of a professional airline pilot. I recommend that all pilots insist that such screening is performed in an out-of-view area to protect their privacy and dignity."