KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Protests over the new full body x-ray scanners could affect pre-Thanksgiving travel all over the country.
The day before Thanksgiving, November 24th, is considered the busiest travel day of the year. However, this season’s airport bustle may be crazier than ever.
Activist have named November 24, 2010 National Opt-Out Day . They are calling for people who oppose body scanners to refuse to use them. Opting-out of the scans will force long lines for the enhanced pat-downs.
This could potentially clog lines for Transportation and Safety Administration employees at airports all over the country. Plus, it could delay travelers looking to land at a final destination.
Cisse Spraggins, the chair of the Missouri Libertarian Party says the movement will act as a strong message for lawmakers in Washington: get rid of body scanners. She explains, “To send a message that people are fed up with this sort of intrusive government behavior and I don't believe and many security experts, renowned security experts say it's not helping anything anyway.”
She’s been working within her political party and also locally with a group called the Liberty Restoration Project to encourage others to join National Opt-Out Day.
Spraggins says the scans and the pat-downs are both an invasion of privacy but that opting-out of one may be the only way to bring attention to the issue.
"Why do the TSA need to grope people?" Spraggins asks, "And if they're interested in groping people, do we really want them to see our bodies unclothed? That doesn't seem to be appropriate either."
The new enhanced pat-downs include open hand touching. TSA agents used to only use the back of their hands. New measures called for new policies.
Those who opt-out may be subject to the enhanced physical security check.
Though, not everyone is buying into the idea.
Traveler Louis Green-Hunt says the scans are necessary to protect personal safety and national security. She explains, “If they just go ahead and do the scans, it's going to move the traffic through a lot quicker. If they do the pat downs and opt for that, it's just going to slow it down much more.”
The controversy doesn’t just stop with passengers, The U.S. Airline Pilots Association has told their to avoid the scanners and have said the pat-downs are embarrassing to pilots. Some members have even called in sick as a form of protest.
If you plan to travel the day before Thanksgiving, leave extra time for security check points. According to Spraggins, there’s no official word yet on how many people plan to participate in National Opt-Out Day.
Officials at Kansas City International Airport didn’t know about the plans for National Opt-Out Day until NBC Action News called about this story on Friday.
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