Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Another Stress for Holiday Travelers

It's crazy enough traveling during the holidays without dealing with the added stress of new security enforcements. But that's what people will be facing at many major airports around the country. Already a nuisance for frequent fliers who spends weeks in airports, new security regulations will soon hit the not-so-frequent holiday fliers. An article in the RedEye this morning detailed the ins and outs of what Chicago travelers can expect this season. Next week, travelers at O'Hare International Airport will face full-body scanners and "enhanced" pat downs, which many have described as highly intrusive and downright offensive. The Transportation Security Administrations new precautions are not being taken lightly, and many are questioning the  appropriateness and the efficiency of these systems.

Whether they really will work is yet to be seen, but people are wondering if its worth the humiliation they are being put through during security check points. The pat downs that are causing such a stir require TSA officers to rub their hands all over a passengers body, including their chests, backsides and genitals. Passengers claim they feel violated and want to file complaints for the invasion. So is this really better than the alternative? Traditional metal detectors are being replaced by full-body scanners, which require a person to stand between two machines that take an x-ray photo of them to reveal any concealed items. If people choose not to go through the scanners, they will have to be patted down.

Security at airports and on planes has been a huge concern and will continue to cause tension during the holidays. With bombs disguised as ink cartridges being shipped by terrorists on jets and various other security breaches occurring in recent months, people are worried about their safety and seem willing to give up privacy and deal with inconveniences for increased security measures. But it appears those once-reasonable souls have reached their tolerance level, especially with long security lines and carry-on restrictions. Travelers have even created "National Opt Out Day," a day where people boycott flying. Thanksgiving Eve is the designated day for this protest, and we will just have to see the impact is has air travel.

For those who do choose to fly that night, they will have to face at least one of the new security systems. But if they do not want to deal with either, they may want to look into other means of transportation. Either that, or fly out of smaller airports like Midway, which has yet to receive body scanners. And travelers should take advantage of that while they can, since the scanners will show up in the near future.

I for one, am fine with going through the body scanners. I'll let you know how they are when I fly out of O'Hare in a couple weeks.

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