Just last weekend I spent some time in two different airports, one large and one very small, but ended up with two very similar experiences.
My personal choice is to opt out of the body scanners. I am not going to question anyone else’s decision or security techniques, but with the devices I wear, it is the decision that makes me feel the most confident.
The routine was the same at both airports. I unpack my laptop and put it in a bin. I take off my shoes (and belt) and put them in a separate bin with my baggie of liquids. I make sure my bags and bins are headed into the x-ray machine before I turn to the TSA representative and tell him or her that I am opting out of the body scanner.
On my flight out, at a very busy airport, the official asked me if I had a reason to opt out.
“Yes. I do.”
“Can I ask what it is?”
(You can, but you shouldn’t. It really isn’t any of your business.)
“Yes. I have medical devices that cannot go through the body scanner.”
“The body scanner is safe.”
“Actually it voids the warranties on my devices and I don’t have $8000, so I am going to opt out.”
It turns out that agent was the same one that ultimately did my pat down. I heard another agent mention to her that they were short-staffed that afternoon.
As I was putting my shoes and belt back on, a woman who had been behind me in the security line asked me if I had actually had a reason for opting out. Still excited about my trip and deciding not to be annoyed, I briefly answered her personal question as well.
— Sara (@saraknic) February 28, 2014
On the way to the airport at the end of the weekend, I ended up talking to my friends about accommodations at public places and not being too embarrassed/ashamed/shy to ask for the services we deserve. As a
somewhat stubborn adult, it is pretty easy for me to stand up for myself but I wonder how hard it is for children and young adults with diabetes. It’s also just frustrating to me that I have to over and over again.
At the airport, I found myself in almost the exact same conversation as I had just a few days before. I asserted my rights again. I defended my position again. I got a pat down instead of the body scanner again.
It was probably no more than a 10 minute inconvenience each time. But it’s not really about the amount of time it takes.
I’m not saying they’re wrong. There are a lot of unknowns in the security technology. There are a lot of unknowns in diabetes device technology. That’s why I prefer to play it safe.
I just wish I wasn’t forced to disclose my medical condition in a crowded security line in front of a bunch of strangers to effectively assert my rights.