So, about the pilot that refused to go through the full body scanner…

Last week an ExpressJet pilot was apparently fed up with the security theater which is the TSA, and now his job is on the line over the incident.

First of all, the problem isn’t as the news report’s first sentence suggests:

A Tennessee pilot who says he’s tired of being manhandled by security agents is waiting to see if he will lose his job because he refused a full body scan.

He’s not possibly being fired because he refused to go through the full body scanner. He’s possibly being fired because after refusing to go through the scanner he refused a pat down which is required to go through security. Since he refused, he didn’t make it to work, and instead decided to go home.

Anyway, before we dig too deep into this story, I should mention that I’m about as anti-TSA as they get. We have these lovely full body scanners at my local airport (TPA), and I refuse to go through them every time, gladly submitting to a pat down (I actually find the massage to be quite soothing, at times). You see, I happen to think that most of the stuff the TSA does is for show, whether it be the liquids ban, shoe carnival, their “behavior detection officers,” or the flashlight game they seem to love to play with IDs. At the same time, I do believe that the full body scanner does, in theory, make us safer. I mean, c’mon, looking at someone naked will show you whether they’re hiding something or not! My issue with it, however, is that it’s way too intrusive. You don’t need to see someone’s private parts to figure out whether it’s safe for them to fly or not. I think pat downs work much better.

For me, the bigger issue is the screening pilots need to go through. I remember being in the security line at IAH a couple of years back behind a Northwest pilot that was commuting to DTW for work. He had “SSSS” on his boarding pass, which used to be the code for additional screening back before TSA’s SecureFlight program. I was amazed as they gave him a thorough pat down and searched his carry-on. The TSA doesn’t seem to realize that the biggest weapon the pilot has — the aircraft — is just waiting for him past security. If we don’t trust our pilots to get past security, how can we trust them to freely fly a million pound plane filled with fuel?

But anyway, I agree and disagree with the premise here. I wouldn’t be opposed to them somewhat relaxing the security requirements for crew, but at the same time I think there is some value in a pat down… not so much the full body scanner, though. I sympathize with the pilot, but at the same time, walking out on your job isn’t the solution.

Filed Under: Security/TSA
  1. Ok, there are holes here—if the pilot is commuting/deadheading then the TSA don’t know him from someone who just bought a pilot uniform in the halloween store.

    But if they are on duty then yes it’s silly. After all there’s an axe in the cockpit…

  2. I can conceive of a plan where a non-suicidal pilot brings a device onboard which activates during a subsequent flight. Perhaps that is the TSA’s concern.

  3. Personally I refuse to use the scanners as well. I have a metal implant so it is a given that I undergo more screening.
    I was scanned once in PHX and the whole thing had an unpleasant feel to it. “Turn this way, turn that way; now, turn that way again.” Nope. Not any more. TSA offered to let me go throught the scanner at ORD. No, thank you to that. Pat me down all you want to.

  4. Just departed through DEN twice in so many weeks. First time the FB scanners were there but roped off. Second week the scanners were open and it seemed like as soon as one was free they had someone else in it. I was quite glad I did not get selected since I would have refused and taken the pat down. It amazes me how folks will walk like lemmings through these things. Too bad the public is not aware of their usage or dangers.

  5. Only been forced to go through the scanner once, but that was when there was tightened security entering the US from Canada. But then it was also in an airport with privacy controls I respect, since the checkpoint was run by the CATSA

  6. Though I generally agree with the anti-TSA attitude, there is one possible justification not discussed here. Given the decision to reinforce cockpit doors, it’s more important to scan pilots to make sure they haven’t brought a weapon that would allow them to easily incapacitate the co-pilot. That person is a last line of defense between the evil pilot and the million-pound weapon.

  7. Ok, there are holes here—if the pilot is commuting/deadheading then the TSA don’t know him from someone who just bought a pilot uniform in the halloween store.

    But if they are on duty then yes it’s silly. After all there’s an axe in the cockpit…

  8. so what about the ramp people who dont go through security and they put the bags on the plane hellooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

  9. A couple of days ago the USA today printed a statement by the homeland security cheif. Notice I did not capitalize. She said that if you do not wish to be scaned then you have the right to use other modes of transpertation. Now let me ask you is she saying we shouldnt fly if we object to this humilitating BS. I am sure all the airlines liked that comment as well as Boeing and all the support companies and there employees. The problem here is that none of this is needed if you allow the American people to be what they are. A people willing to take matters into there own hands when it becomes the only means of resolution. The United flight is a perfect example. These people gave there lives to inssure the well being of all of us on the ground. TSA represents the hireing of thousand of people that couldn’t get a job anywhere else. $12.00 of every ticket sold goes to funding this scam. I watch in amazment everytime I have to fly the maner that these self proclamed protectors of our skies do there job. It is the most embarassing display of waste that one can imagine. The scanner is over the edge. If this is allowed then be prepare to have to undress to fly and then of course the orfice search is coming next.

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