A peek at increasing airport security

By Editorial Board

Traveling used to be simple.  There was a time when it wasn’t necessary to remove personal belongings, including sweaters, scarves, hats and shoes. Now it is the duty of all travelers to endure several minutes of humiliation by stripping down from their outdoor attire and waiting in line to walk through a scanner in their socks.

This process was supposed to ensure safety after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. However, the weapon-detecting techniques put in place by the Transportation Security Administration are not always effective.

Since the Christmas Day attack, when a man strapped a bomb strategically in his underwear for concealment on a Detroit-bound plane, airport security has been heightened and the lines for safety screenings are longer with an even more invasive screening process for travelers.

O’Hare International Airport, along with a handful of other prominent airports, now randomly screens passengers using a new type of X-ray body scanner. O’Hare began using this scanner approximately three months after the Christmas Day attack.

There are 44 body scanners at 21 U.S. airports and approximately 1,000 scanners are expected by the end of next year.

The new scanner has the ability to check for powder and plastic explosives, metallic weapons and anything planted on individuals or in the folds of their skin. However, it doesn’t reveal objects placed inside the body.

The screening does reveal the outline of body parts under one’s clothes, which has caused some controversy.

Because this method is considered effective by security officials, revealing the outline of one’s body is a small price to pay for more safety while flying. Travelers also have the option to receive a pat-down by security if they are uncomfortable with the new process.

The only problem with the new screening process is that there are not enough scanners, so travelers are chosen at random. This method will only be worthwhile if all passengers go through the X-ray scanner and are subject to other security measures.

Having airport security get a computer-generated peek under travelers’ clothes or experiencing a thorough pat-down may seem ridiculous, but enduring a few minutes of humiliation is worth the peace of mind of traveling safely.