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.