TSA Pat-Downs, Scanners Evoke Holiday Travel Stress

In Face Of Mounting Criticism, TSA Doesn't Budge Much If At All

NEW YORK (CBS 2/1010 WINS/WCBS 880/AP) — With the Thanksgiving holiday just days away, travelers are dreading not just the long lines, but the pat-downs some say are way too intrusive.

The stress of holiday travel and the pat-down controversy has become nothing short of a one-two punch for families.

“It’s stressful to fly alone, and then to have this thought behind my mind, it’s not helping the situation,” Marian Lombardi told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

Air travelers are protesting new requirements at some U.S. airports — including JFK, LaGuardia and Newark — that they must pass through full-body scanners that produce a virtually naked image.

The screener, who sits in a different location, does not see the face of the person being screened and does not know the traveler’s identity.

In theory, the added security makes travelers feel safe, but some said the scanners, that see under clothing, and enhanced pat-downs, that involve touching genital areas, are only adding to pre-Thanksgiving travel stress.

While some are stressing out, others are taking things in stride. One woman from Washington D.C. told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones she will opt for the full-body scan.

1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports

“I don’t have an issue with it. It’s for my safety, it’s for everybody else’s safety. I go through x-rays at hospitals. I mean, what’s the big deal,” she said.

Aiello also spoke with one mother at LaGuardia Airport Monday evening who wasn’t too big on the idea of her young daughter Ysanja facing a TSA pat-down.

“I don’t know what they’re going to do with her. I read they did a pat-down on a 3-year-old, [who] kept saying ‘no don’t touch me, no don’t touch me,’ So I’m hoping that’s not going to be going on with her because she’s only 2 1/2,” Savannah Perez said.

The TSA has struggled to respond to travelers’ concerns.

There have also been some high profile complaints from passengers including a woman whose artificial knee prompted a pat-down. And in another case, a Michigan man, was humiliated when a TSA pat-down ruptured his urostomy bag, spilling urine on his pants.

Kate Hanna, the head FlyersRights.org told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell she has been getting a thousand complaints a day for the past three weeks.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports

Hanna said some have complained of TSA agents who “snap on gloves and put them down their pants, clear to the pubic bone.” Hanna said some teenage girls have even complained of “having their genitals patted down and having TSA agents laugh at them.”

David Stempler, who runs the Air Travelers Association has a much different take.

“We certainly wish that there were better choices, but right now the best choice is the full scan,” Stempler said.

Monday in Trenton, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano signaled greater sensitivity to concerns.

“Of course we will make adjustments or changes when called upon, but not changes or adjustments that will affect the basic operational capability that we need to have to make sure that air travel remains safe,” Napolitano said.

The TSA is also moving aggressively to counter controversies – including one involving a video showing an 8-year old boy shirtless during a pat-down.

On its blog, the administration said the boy’s father removed the shirt to speed the process saying “no complaints were filed and the father was standing by his son for the entire procedure.”

Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole had pledged Sunday to review security procedures in the wake of a public outcry. But he also said the TSA must balance people’s demand for privacy with the need to protect passengers from those who would try to set off bombs on planes.

A loosely-organized Internet boycott of body scans is under way, and Pistole said he hoped people would exercise sound judgment over the busy Thanksgiving holiday. A National Opt-Out Day is scheduled for Wednesday to coincide with the busiest travel day of the year.

“Just one or two recalcitrant passengers at an airport is all it takes to cause huge delays,” said Paul Ruden, a spokesman for the American Society of Travel Agents, which has warned its more than 8,000 members about delays resulting from the body-scanner boycott. “It doesn’t take much to mess things up anyway — especially if someone purposely tries to mess it up.”

Body scans take as little as 10 seconds, but people who decline the process must submit to a full pat-down, which takes much longer. That could cause a cascade of delays at dozens of major airports, including those in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

More from Tony Aiello
  • Richie

    We need to stand up in America, this kind of screening is crazy. Lets boycott flying all together , shut them down, without any business for a month and I assure you this bs would be over.

  • Sami

    I would like to see President Obama, his wife and children demonstrate on live television this whole revised pat down process! I’m all for security but we shouldn’t have to be molested at the airport. I have a pacemaker and have to be pat down anyway as there isn’t always the option of the virtual strip search. As much as I don’t like the extray it beats the hell out of the ‘hands on’ method.

  • what ever

    jeeez larry thats a bright idea. But what happens when the dogs can’t sniff out a chemical?

  • Larry Schwarz

    I have no problem going through the scanner myself,but since the public is so outraged by this I think less intrusive ways that produce the same result should be looked into.What does Israel do,how about El Al.? How about bomb sniffing dogs at metal detectors,if the dog barks you must submit to a pat down.Pre security interviews by behavior detection experts can determine who needs the scanner or pat down and who can go through minimal screening like the metal detector.This could be done by customs officials,who know how to question people.

  • michelleplant

    Did you know that a full body scan can see whether a Women has a tampon inserted or not, its disgusting!

  • airtravelnomore

    America….home of the certified sexual assault/pedophile team.
    Seriously, can i now do a patdown on people who come into my store in the name of security and freedom as an American. I get to fell up cute little cheerleaders any time i want now? Yeah…thats sick and wrong, how could i say such a thing? Remember that the next time you see your children get the TSA special.

    • JLG

      then have your children go through the X-Ray machine!! or DON’T FLY! And if you want to do the “TSA special” at your store…people have the right not to go to your store! The CHOICES are there, there are alternatives… it is not mandatory to fly, it is a privilege.

  • TIM

    I think they should leave personal pat downs only if people want them. I also think a gay guy should be able to get into the front of an attractive looking hairy security guard of his choice so I can thank him on my knees in private.

    • LOU, Butler NJ

      you are worried about passengers being searched. what about the ramp people, lbaggage handlers, fuelers, food handlers and the cleaners of the aircraft.
      thesre people have free access of aircraft/. they should be checked as well
      as passengers

  • JLG

    I would really like to know were my civil right are!!! I HAVE THE RIGHT TO FLY IN THE SAFEST ENVIRONMENT THAT CAN BE PROVIDED TO ME!!! I say if they have to search me, then so be it. I really feel that if I get on an airplane next to someone who mad a big stink and didn’t get searched properly….my life is now in jeopardy! Why does this other person have the right to make ME unsafe???? Ya know what, flying is not the only means of transportation and if you do not like the procedures that keep us SAFER then DO NOT FLY!!!! Take a bus, take a train, rent a car….BUY YOUR OWN JET. Whatever you have to do… then do it but don’t you dare put MY LIFE at risk because YOU feel violated. It is horrible that our world has come to this point, there are people who have all the time in the world to think up different ways to hurt other people…we as humans have to adapt. Terrorists are probably sitting back right now laughing at us Americans and how we just make things so easy for them. And you know what, some people commented to only search people that look high risk, WAKE UP!!! ANYONE can be that person. Just because a person is “looks the part” doesn’t mean they are a terrorist. We have fellow Americans who would like to hurt us. DEAL WITH IT. Suck it up America. deal with it or dont fly. I want MY RIGHTS, the right to live!!!! DO NOT take that right from me!!!

    • Tasha

      My fourth amendment rights are intended to provide me with the security and safety FROM unwarranted search and seizure! Treating everyone like they’re guilty is the antithesis of our judicial system, and doing strip searches in no way makes us safer.( I could take waxed dental floss and make it into a weapon. HWat will you do when they require full body cavity searches???

      I am amazed at how easily people hand over their rights.

      Of COURSE the government says the radiation levels are safe – if they said otherwise who would cheerfully tiptoe through the scanner?

      Some of us have been warned by our physicians to avoid unnecessary radiation due to medical conditions – our only option is a grab and grope. Where is the freedom in that? And please don’t tell me this is being done by “professionals!” If that were true you wouldn’t be having three years old patted down while they scream, “Don’t touch me!”

      I resent being treated like a criminal just because I want to spend the holidays with family!!!!!!!

      • JLG

        So which rights are more important? Mine, to be safer.. not completely safe, but safer? or yours, not to be searched? That is not for me to decide… but it is for you to decide that if you want to go see family, take a BUS or TRAIN Flying on an airplane is not MANDATORY. There are other ways to travel if you feel your rights are being taken away.

  • trunuyawkr

    A patdown will not detect if something is being hidden in the style of a feminine sanitation device.

    If I tell you I am incontinent and have to wear Depends, are you going to make me strip them off in the middle of the security lobby and rip them open to make sure they really contain urine absorbing crystals and not C4? Didn’t think so.

    Will I have to change my baby on the belt of the scanner to prove the same thing with his diaper? Didn’t think so.

    The pat downs are useless, and I will NOT expose my kids to them.

  • aqueel9yahoo.com


  • Vin

    My son is in no way shape or form going through any body scan and you can forget about a pat down. Give me a F’in break. I agree with Ann Marie — I hope they’re selecting Islamic women with all their headgear and puting them through a pat down and search. People if you can drive to your destination, do it. This isn’t worth it and neither is the jail time for assaulting a TSA officer for manhandling you or your child.

    • JMB




      • Juan

        Wow, JMB — I think I can guess why you’re so eager to want to get yourself photographed naked or get groped. That, and judging by the ALL CAPS remarks you’ve made throughout this thread you seem a bit stressed — I’m guessing it’s been a while, huh?

        Why don’t you just simmer down and let the grown folks talk, mkay?

  • Vin

    Touch me or my kid with your hands, we will have problems.

    • KPMc

      Then step aside and go back home.

    • VRL

      Yup, your problem will be some jail time….

  • Darrell Gregory

    sounds like the ones complaining about searches at airports have forgot what can happen on airlines, but surely some idiot from terrorist groups would not ever try it again. Yeah right. If they stop checking passengers “it will happen again” you can bet on it!

    • Llerrad

      News to Darrell.
      Even when they check passengers “it will happen again”.
      Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not next week but it will happen.
      It’s not a question of IF it will happen but WHEN.
      Just because passengers are checked it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen.

      • KPMc

        So we should take NO preventive actions? Just sit back and wait for it to happen? That’s what we were doing ten years ago.

  • Gregg

    Profile Profile Profile Profile Profile as some of the passangers the TSA is putting through these screenings is ridiculous !!!

  • TIM

    I should have the right to pick out a very hairy security guard take him into a private room and after he checks meI should be able to get into the front of his pants as well. Only I won’t stop until he his legs give out from him and hes laying on the floor. And Ill still keep servicing him. we”l’ see how they like that!

  • f

    People will be complaining about this until something happens

  • Jon Reremy

    These x-ray machines are just as likely to kill you as a terrorist’s bomb.

    “Peter Rez, from Arizona State University, said the probability of dying from radiation from a body scanner and that of being killed in a terror attack are both about one in 30 million, making body scanners redundant.”

    “Critics say the low level beam used delivers a small dose of radiation to the body but because the beam concentrates on the skin – one of the most radiation-sensitive organs of the human body – that dose may be up to 20 times higher than first estimated”

    Do you want to die from Cancer or a bomb? Your choice.

    • KPMc

      Since the cancer will take about 30 or 40 years and the bomb almost immediately… I’ll go with the cancer!

  • TT

    I hope the boycott goes on. The delay is caused by the TSA. Not the boycotters.

    • JMB



  • MiniMee

    You heard it here first, 10 years from now the government will have to settle a lawsuit regarding TSA agents and their exposure to xrays causing cancer. Just like 10 years ago, the government said it was safe to work at Ground Zero. Afterall, they said the air was safe down there didn’t they? And here we are today settling with the 9/11 First Responders because of health problems.

  • K123

    Haha, no one is “copping a feel”. This is a strictly professional interaction. This uproar is silly and an example of how much some people jump on causes without thinking about them reasonably, not to mention a tendency of some to inappropriately apply Puritanical and vainly prudish ideas. No one is looking to feel you up, get over it, and let people get home to their families and airport officials do their jobs.

    • Shady420

      I mean really if i was working as a TSA angent and some smokin chick came through I would totally try to cop a feel. So what your saying is their training is so extensive that TSA agents have no sexual urges what so ever…. Come on give me a break

      • KPMc

        Really? You would try and cop a feel from an unwilling participant? Just cause you had the opportunity to?

        That says a lot about you… and if all you worrywarts are right I hope Big Brother IS watching you so he can put your slimey no-class or self control butt in prison.

    • Ann Marie Kellett

      So then you feel that CAIR should be OK with Islamic women removing their layers of clothing and allowing someone to search them? Maybe you should send a letter to CAIR and accuse them of being puritanical and prudish. We all know how well the religion of peace, love and tolerance handles critics.

  • Slownewsday

    Reminds me of the scene, in “Battle of Algiers”, where the French allowed the woman to proceed, without a check. [Trill…..]

  • dabooch

    Eye in the sky should scan passengers as come into the terminal. No choice. no muss, no fuss. Just think your first body scan happened on day one when the obstetrician was taking note of any missing body parts.

    • Mensa Guy

      were you born on the Starship Enterprise?

  • JMB


    STOP IT!!!!!

    • Dave

      It’s unreal how willing people are to give up their dignity and basic human rights. Just because I have no other choice for travel other than air that doesn’t make me a criminal (or especially a terrorist), and therefore I don’t feel like I should be treated like one. I also firmly believe that a vast majority of American elderly, infirm and children in this country aren’t either — we don’t deserve to be treated like “suspects” by our own government when we’ve done nothing to deserve it. Other than airline travel, the only time I’ve ever heard of people being frisked or checked for metal is either when they get arrested or going to a concert/game (and last I checked, you don’t get fondled or forced to take off prostheic limbs ).

      furthermore, as a new yorker, i for one don’t want the terrorists to win (or I should say I’m sick of them winning), and this is a shining example of the very definition of terrorism: “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion (merriam-webster).”

      I voted for Obama, and I believe he’s done a lot of good for this country, but I’m sorry, I do not support him or his administration on this one at all.

      • steve


        I understand you don’t want to be treated like a criminal. But what do you suggest? Do you do away with all the body scans? pat downs? where do you draw the line? Who is to say a white elderly woman isn’t carrying explosives? Anyone can be a terrorist.

        I would rather be safe than sorry. I travel a lot for work and have already gotten the full body scan. It was no big deal, it took 2 seconds.

      • Dave

        steve — I get it, there’s no real alternative, especially now that we’re in it. And maybe we’ll eventually just get used to it (like taking our shoes off), but you have to admit getting the scan or full body frisked might seem very invasive to vast majority of us who just want to go through the whole air travel process as quickly and as hassle-free as possible. I too travel for work at least once a month and actually got frisked a few years back — long before these new rules went into place — and it wasn’t a fun experience then (enough that I learned I never wanted that to happen again). Believe it or not, some of us would feel humiliated to have a naked photo of ourselves taken or have to be borderline cavity searched just because we have to fly for whatever reason.

        So yes, I agree with you that security is necessary and opting for safe rather than sorry, i’m just saying there has to be a better way, and i don’t think anyone on a 1010 wins message board (myself included) has that answer. But we are allowed to at least speak up and say we completely disagree with the process.

        (I’m not gonna bother with the “white elderly woman” remark because I feel like that’s just baiting, assuming I’m referring to only white people when I clearly said “Americans”)

  • Common Sense Kidd

    This is all nonsense. Just profile we do it EVERYDAY. Cal it something else…stereotyping…whatever. We all get profiled…job interviews….first dates..driving in a car…it’s part of life. We know who the real threats are, so why do we have to inconvenience a nation of millions – search 10year olds – for a few thousand terrorists who come from another country???

    It’s friggin insanity. This government is a joke..

  • DanTe

    I love the libturds here. They will gladly follow the muslime’s dictates and give up American liberties to feel “safe” for the moment. To paraphrase Ben Franklin: Anyone who will give up their freedom for the comfort of temporary safety do not deserve freedom.

    Here’s watching you all get irradiated. Oh wait, they don’t use radiation in these scans do they? They use “magic” light. Yeah, that’s it, magic…

    • Michael H.

      Yes, the “libturds” who created the TSA, oh wait, that was a Republican administration. The “libturds” bought all these backscatter machines…oh wait, they were bought in 2008…

      I’m sorry, do you want to lie some more?

      Look around you, Americans of all walks of life are standing up for their rights, and here you are, an armchair commando, spewing hate on the internet. Grow the hell up DanTe.

  • Mike Elizondo

    I assume you enjoy it because it is the only time another person puts their hands all over you!

    • American

      Go back to your sp/c land, eli. We don’t want your kind of ‘democracy and freedom’ here. We like the real thing.

  • A Simple Solution

    Here is a simple solution. Have seperate flights for those who are willing to go through the security check and those who aren’t. Those who don’t go through the security checks and fly on those flights can die with their dignity in tact. Those of us who go through the security checks can suffer a little indignity and arrive alive.

    • Mensa Guy

      would the “non-security” flights be the same price? or would they get more expensive as planes blew up…?

      it’s not an issue of needing security, of course we need it. but we should be able to get on a plane without a dose of radiation or someone copping a feel…

      has to be a better way.

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