Are You Opting Out?

By  | is asking travelers to just say NO to body scanners November 19-26th, which should slow lines significantly and draw attention to the whole body imaging issue. Christopher Elliot has a great article on the 5 reasons he opts out.

The first one is one of the primary reasons why Jeanne & I always opt out. Traveling an average of 3 weekends a month, I’d potentially be going through the scanners 6-10+ times a month. Yes, there is radiation from all kinds of sources, but when I have the option of declining such exposure, I do! There’s a reason they have you wear a lead vest, etc when taking x-rays.

So if you decide to opt-out this week or any time, here are some basic tips to make it less traumatic (and I’m not saying the TSA is justified, but as long as we have to opt-out, we might as well make it easier for ourselves):

  • Pull your hair back in a pony tail so they won’t have to run their hands through your hair.
  • Wear a collarless shirt so they don’t have to reach inside.
  • Show as much skin as possible — wear shorts or a dress, choose a short sleeve or sleeveless shirt, they don’t have to pat down exposed skin.
  • Do ask for clean gloves. One of the few times I didn’t, a harmful substance was supposedly detected and they had to give me a more thorough screening.
  • If wearing separates, wear your shirt tucked in so they won’t come in contact with your bare mid-section when reaching inside your waist band. Also consider making sure you’re not wearing a low riding waist band.
  • Wear socks or bring anti-bacterial gel or wipes in your carry-on so you can clean your feet prior to resuming your shoes.
  • Be civil. It’s not comfortable for anyone, but I’ve  noticed the TSA agents who appear in a good mood rarely go up my leg so far they meet “resistance.” Those who are clearly having a bad day invariably take it out on me.
  • Show up at least 10-15 minutes earlier for your flight to make sure you’re not panicking if it takes them awhile to find someone to pat you down.

For more TSA tips specifically for women, see my earlier post.


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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