Pilots: Leading the Charge Against Full-Body Scans

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  11.09.10 | 1:53 PM ET

A couple weeks back, we wrote about a lone ExpressJet pilot who faced down the TSA over the new full-body scans. Now a union representing 11,000 American Airlines pilots has joined the fight. Here’s the Allied Pilots Association president, Captain Dave Bates, in a letter to his members:

While I’m sure that each of us recognizes that the threats to our lives are real, the practice of airport security screening of airline pilots has spun out of control and does nothing to improve national security. It’s long past time that policymakers take the steps necessary to exempt commercial pilots from airport security screening and grant designated pilot access to SIDA utilizing either Crew Pass or biometric identification.

Later in the letter, Bates addressed the potential health risks pilots face:

It is important to note that there are “backscatter” AIT devices now being deployed that produce ionizing radiation, which could be harmful to your health. Airline pilots in the United States already receive higher doses of radiation in their on-the-job environment than nearly every other category of worker in the United States, including nuclear power plant employees.

Bates recommends that all pilots refuse the scans and instead demand a private—not public—pat-down. Jeffrey Goldberg has the full letter. Goldberg also points out the irony of screening pilots in the first place:

It is a source of continual astonishment to me that pilots—many of whom, it should be pointed out, are military veterans who possess security clearances—are not allowed to carry onboard their airplanes pocket knives and bottles of shampoo, but then they’re allowed to fly enormous, fuel-laden, missile-like objects over American cities.

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

2 Comments for Pilots: Leading the Charge Against Full-Body Scans

Anon 11.09.10 | 11:15 PM ET

Good luck to the pilots who are fighting these body scans!  Airport security is important but radiating and patting down people is outrageous!  There has to be a smarter and safer way!  Doesn’t anyone realize that radiation accumulates in the body????

hgud 11.12.10 | 3:15 AM ET

I applaud the pilots for standing up to this nonsense.  Just remember the rest of us, and please don’t allow them to set up separate rules for crew vs. passengers.  We are all in this together - so thank you for taking a stand in this matter.

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