Full Body Scanner: Opting Out

TSA Full Body Scanner

I decided that after feeling the whoosh of the Full Body Scanner machine at the security checkpoint at airport terminals too many times before, and instructing my pregnant wife that she needed to opt out, I had to do it first. So on my trip to Blog House Toronto and TBEX, I decided that I would opt out. I also thought it would make for a good blog post.


“I’m opting out,” I told the TSA agent guarding the entrance of Terminal C at LaGuardia Airport.


“Male assist. Opt out,” he shouted in a mocking tone. He repeated the same call and had me face the conveyer belt where my bag went through.


Another TSA agent collected me and brought me to the end of the conveyor belt.


“What are you a rock star? With long hair like that, you look like a rock star.”


“Just haven’t had a haircut,” I told him.


“Man, I couldn’t grow my hair like that if I wanted to. We’ll wait here for your bags.”


A third agent ran my laptop and the items from my pocket a second time.


“Actually, we can just go ahead and start the pat down and that man can bring your stuff over to you. Is that cool?” said agent number two.


“I placed my wallet in the bin, so I’d like to wait,” I explained.


“Yeah, no, that’s cool. I wouldn’t leave my wallet with these guys either.”


After my laptop and personal effects ran through the machine a second time, I collected my belongings and moved over to a long silver table.


“Just stand on the rubber mat,” agent two said. “Here’s how it’s going to work. First I need you to remove everything from your pockets. Even lint.”


The only thing that I hadn’t removed from my pocket was my passport. So I threw it into the tray.


“I’m gonna pat you down everywhere. I’m gonna use the backside of my hand to touch your backside and groin.” He confirmed this by pointing to the back of his plastic, blue-gloved hand. “Let’s see what else. Oh yeah, then I’m gonna also tuck my hand into your…” He reached into my collar. “Whatcha call this thing?”


“A collar.”


“Yeah, then I’m gonna reach into your collar. What else? What else?” He stopped to scratch his head. “Oh yeah, if anything hurts you when I’m touching you, let me know. Better yet, tell me beforehand. What else? Oh yeah, if you wanna do this in a private room, let me know.” Long pause. “I think that about covers it. You good.”


“I’m good.”


He commenced the pat down. The last time I had been touched by such gentle hands was during my massages in Southeast Asia. Afterward, he walked over to a machine to test the gloves for any reside, I believe.


“You good, man,” he said and wished me a lovely journey.


Anyone Catch the Security Breach When Opting Out of the Full Body Scanner?


While the story is evidence that a very nice man works at the TSA, I hope you caught on to the serious breach in security. When I opted out from going through the Full Body Scanner, I never walked through any metal detector. What was the breach?


Photo by Gyro

Posted on by Noah Lederman in Travel Tips

8 Responses to Full Body Scanner: Opting Out

  1. Jai

    Haha..Good one.
    No I always let them guide me through whatever the F%^& they want. IF I talk back or opt out, I believe I won’t be on the flight.
    Jai recently posted…Hello world!My Profile

    • Noah Lederman

      Thanks Jai. I hear you, especially after watching Due Date and thinking that the screenwriter probably had his fiction hit pretty close to home for some flyers.

  2. Mrs. Gross

    Did you tell him that, in fact, that you ARE a rock star?

    • Noah Lederman

      I did not, but thank you for the reminder/encouragement. In the future, if I ever do receive that question again, I will have a new answer for them.

  3. Paul

    Hey man,

    When catching a return flight from Palm Springs they “randomly” select people to go through the full body scan, while everyone else goes through the traditional metal detector. I was not selected, but of course my wife, who was about 5 months pregnant, was selected. We had discussed earlier that she would opt out if that happened.

    When she did, they were nice enough, but tried to explain that there were no ill effects. To me radiation is radiation and I didn’t want that for my wife or unborn child, regardless of what a person whose highest level of education is probably high school, tries to tell me.

    In the end she had a similar experience as you. Pat down, bag search, but no metal detector of any kind.

    • Noah Lederman

      Hey Paul. It’s nice that your wife listens to you when you tell her to opt out. My wife usually tells me that she’ll opt out and then I find her walking toward the machine as if radiation were her drug of choice.

  4. ciki

    Next time someone asks u if you are rockstar.. say YES! And then whip out your pen with great gusto and sign their t-shirt pronto. Then leave before they book u:P
    ciki recently posted…Bali Hai Seafood Restaurant @ Kota DamansaraMy Profile

    • Noah Lederman

      I think I might take you up on this challenge, Ciki. Though I might use a marker and sign a pseudonym.

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