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November 23rd, 2010
05:19 AM ET

Send us your TSA travel questions!

There’s a good chance you’re getting ready to travel this week, so this morning we want to answer your questions about airport security.

Tell us what you want to know before catching that holiday flight and we’ll get you answers from the new CNN Travel Desk.

Post your comments here. Yours could be answered LIVE today on American Morning!

Filed under: American Morning
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Kate

    I'm due to travel from England on Monday to South Korea. I would be there for 3 weeks. Is it safe?

    Any opinions would be great.

    Thank you

    November 27, 2010 at 10:31 am |
  2. elizabeth

    I will be traveling out of state for surgery in early January. After five days I will fly back to my home and I am very concerned about a potential pat-down spreading bacteria from other passengers bodies/clothing to me. Would the surgeon's letter excuse them from touching my head and neck? otherwise I have no problem, but the head and neck are of significant concern to me.
    What should I do?

    November 26, 2010 at 12:26 pm |
  3. Ray Bastin

    I am about to have surgery on my neck which will include a lot of metal hardware inserted into that area of my body. Will I be setting off alarms at the airport or will I be able to go through the new security equipment?

    I travel quite a bit so I just want to be prepared.

    Please let me know.


    November 24, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
  4. SMR10

    New TSA security measures: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian attempted to detonate plastic explosive hidden in his under wear while on board Northwest Airline Flight 253 entroute from Amsterdam to Detroit Michigan and the shoe bomber Richard Colvin Reid boarded the plane at Charles De Gaulle Internatioal Airport in Paris France. Neither one of these men boarded the plane in the U.S. but we are the ones paying the price for these countries lack of security. But one might say that this could have happened to us but it has not, not for 9 years. Our security measures are working. If more security measures are needed it is other countries that need to increase their security. I ask our governemt to stop the TSA (the new SS (Schutzstaffel)) from taking away our rights and dignity. Take a look back in history at organizations that were given too much power and learn from that. SMR

    November 24, 2010 at 7:58 am |
  5. Radman

    Being a radiation safety professional the following questions should be ask:

    How are the whole body scanners calibrated? It has been my experience that the manufacturers report favorable data regarding output and imaging based on their lab data using optiminal settings with well trained personnel interprteting the images, etc. When you evaluate them in the field the doses can be substantially higher. Ten, a hundred to a thousand times the manufactures claimed dose. And this is with it new. As the units age it will get worse.

    Who inspects the devices? They are not inspected by the state radiation control agencies since the federal government owns them but there is no federal agency that has a radiation control program equivalent to the states. Certainly the FDA is not qualified given their lack of attention to even the manufacture of other radiation producing equipment. This is a major and very real problem.

    What kind of training do the operators get? I wil bet it is no better than that given the guys that operate the baggage scanners. Bad image, just run them through again, and again, and again!

    There are so many questions that could be ask to understand if the TSA is serious about traveler radiation safety but I hear non of them.

    It is also interesting that the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors has a resolution against the use of these devices on the general public. It was adopted May 12,1999.

    November 23, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
  6. Qedem

    I'm concerned about TSA workers not changing their gloves after every passenger. This can spread flu germs, bacteria, viruses, scabies, staph infections and no telling what else. TSA workers wear them for their own protection but every passenger has the right to be protected for the same reasons they wear them. I worked in food service and nursing and know the importance of changing gloves. The Health Department needs to make this clear and TSA workers need to go through training about this. Demand that they change their gloves before they touch you!!!

    November 23, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
  7. Erin

    I was a young child in middle school when 9/11 occurred. I recall my response to this day: "This is like something out of a movie." It didn't feel real. The sensation was utterly unique–and in the ten years since, I never, ever encountered a similar feeling. The moment I heard the news about these new scanning and patdown procedures, I rediscovered the same surreal feeling of disbelief, shock and fear that I had felt then. Ten years after 9/11–it took this to do it. This feels like an Orwellian movie–surreal, horrifying, impossible. But it's happening all the same.

    I'm now a young woman saving myself for marriage. When I discovered these new policies–even though I have no flights scheduled currently–I was literally shaking with rage. I nearly vomited. I believe the human body is to be respected. No one outside my family has ever seen me nude, not even my doctor. No one has ever touched me–not even my (female) doctor. My husband will be the first and the only one to do that. The thought of anyone else seeing me essentially naked–or touching me as I've heard has occurred in the news reports–fills me with disgust, anger and fear.

    Even after 9/11, I was never afraid to go to the airport. NOW, I am afraid. I'm afraid because while encountering a terrorist at the airport may be a possibility, if the TSA has their way, encountering these procedures will be a sure thing, and the effort I've made my whole life to respect my body could be irrevocably destroyed in an instant. Fighting terrorism? The TSA is the one now terrorizing countless of other people like me!

    "Take a bus," people say, doubtless shrugging off my horror as they accuse me of being a 'prude.' They forget that people who travel for business, or to see a rapidly dying loved one, might need to reach their destination more quickly than a bus can take them. Want to visit your dying mother? A nude photo or crotch-grab might now be a condition of that. They forget that some people NEED planes to travel across oceans, now that we've virtually done away with affordable transatlantic crossings by ship (an opening for a new wave of ship owners, I hope?). A nude photo may be a condition of travel to other continents. Since you cannot drive to Europe and may not have enough money for passage by ship, the TSA's new procedures are restricting the mobility of many Americans who choose to avoid flying because they want their privacy respected. These are innocent people who have done nothing wrong.

    People seem to be willing to give up their right to privacy, to allow strangers to touch their crotches and breasts and take photos of their children, to ensure that they are safe. But as Benjamin Franklin himself said, "they that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty. " America may believe it's protecting its citizens, but it is unabashedly giving up the values of our forefathers to do it.

    I will not give up my values. The airlines will see none of my money until these procedures are revoked.

    November 23, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
  8. Dr. Cathy Judkins

    Is there a way for children who have a history of trauma, such as sexual or physical abuse, to be exempt from this? As a child psychologist, I have received inquires from parents wanting to know if I know TSA policies on pat-downs for children. Any guidance? Would love to see an interview with TSA on how they intend to handle pat-downs with children.

    November 23, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  9. Carolyn Wonderland

    Just two cents from another groped traveler...
    this was my status a few days ago:
    so after being escorted from the airport by the police for letting the f-bomb fly after having my private area violated in a pat down caused by my "wearing too many clothes" yesterday, I have made it through security twice today in less than my pajamas + plan on making it to work in Cincy. whew...mantra: I will never fly unless it is beyond necessary. btw: it was an arrestable offense to refuse the groping....
    after too many comments, here's my update today:
    First off, I'd like to note that the suggestions to profile against my type are not warranted. We should all be subjected to the same micro and macro scopes. Our religious, sexual and other affiliations and leanings should never come into play. I was not arrested, just escorted out of the airport this time. Funny thing: If I were posing any threat, you'd think they would have taken my luggage off the plane... they did not. The TSA agent was uncomfortable with the rub down, too. (Unless one were a call girl, I would assume anyone would be put off by this new job requirement) Her supervisor told me, "you don't have to fly..." to which I replied I dislike flying so much in our post 9/11-give-up-your-rights-for-alleged-security landscape that I drove from San Francisco to Austin twice in one month this summer to avoid the hassles involved. I would happily have driven to Cincy, but I was in Europe the day before. What the TSA fails to realize (to quote Cole El-Saleh) is that this is public transport, a bus with wings, if you will. Since Timothy McVeigh's OKC bombing (the deadliest terrorist attack on US soil until 9/11) I have not had to give up my rights to rent a Ryder truck (nor does anyone assume that if I too were raised Roman Catholic, that would be reason enough to suspend my rights and discriminate against me) Why put on this charade for air travel? I have gone through the nude scanners (the first time completely unaware until I had passed through it) and am concerned about being exposed to radiation in our newly adopted machines (weren't these the same machines that they no longer use at Heathrow?!?!) I am appalled by this act of intimidation,thinly disguised as protection, that exists so that we may choose the lesser of two evils in going through the machines to line the pockets of Rapiscan and reward their lobbying. One in three of us is a rape survivor. As one, I refuse to allow anyone to touch me there without an invitation. I am waiting for what I hope will be a hearing on this matter. I will not fly again if it can be at all avoided. My rights and my body are too important to me to be given away to these wolves.

    November 23, 2010 at 11:59 am |
  10. Carla

    This is a great board-thanks CNN. I e-mailed the TSA my question, but big surprise, they haven't responded. My question is-can we insist that they change their gloves with these pat downs? I certainly don't want any STDs or whatever else from the other people in line!

    November 23, 2010 at 11:30 am |
  11. ed

    Who do we complain to about any unprofessional behavior of the TSA screeners?

    November 23, 2010 at 10:53 am |
  12. Kris

    Looking at this issue from another country (Canada) it is with a great deal of sadness for my American friends and family. Your country is about to celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday of peace and goodwill and family. And, instead, you are being subjected to harrassment and abuse at your airports. There are so many sides to this issue – I imagine that unless they are complete pervs the TSA agents who are enforcing these pat-downs can't be enjoying it. And subjecting yourself to having your breasts and genitals groped can't be a positive experience. It's humiliating. How many "terrorists" have been apprehended this way? How many "bombs" and other "weapons" have been discovered? Statistically speaking, is there any validity to these searches? Seems to me that in the past few years there haven't been many "homegrown" terror plots concerning airlines. So, my question is "why"? Why are the TSA agents being told to be so intrusive (personally speaking if someone assaulted me like I've seen on the videos I'd feel like charges should be pressed against them – class action lawsuit anyone? of if it was my child that was being molested by an agent I'd flip). Who is behind this fear-mongerinig? It is just such a sad statement about the political, fear-based climate in your country. America has a bad reputation on the world stage right now and seeing stuff like this makes us Canadians:
    a) glad we're not American, even though we like to visit your country
    b) pity you guys
    c) thankful for the sensibility of security agents in our own country
    d) wondering how many of you want to move north!
    e) hope we don't have to fly into the states (glad we can drive)
    I hope that most people get where they're going safely and without too much mauling this holiday so that they can be with their families. I also hope that this entire thing settles down and the TSA come to their senses, seems that they are crossing the line.

    November 23, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  13. Revd Stephen Normand

    I have no problem with being scanned but I do feel great disappointment at the attitude and agenda of some of the TSA people doing this job. Many have a chip on their shoulder,give dreadfully dirty looks and make one feel as though you were a criminal. some are rude and power conscious it seems to me. I wonder would they treat members of their own family like this. I also ask have the people who decided this procedure tried it out incognito or have they been given a pass. Imagine the President and politicians aren't subjected to this rude behaviour. I understand the need for all this but I think courtesy comes into it too. The natural nervousness of what travel presents to many of us as we are older added to the unkind attitude of a number of TSA staff does not help good will. I often think for goodness sake I'm a Veteran I served 3 years of my life for the country, some of these people weren't even born yet and this is how they treat you, like a criminal. This whole security thing needs a rethink for it's training program and I'd like to know just what that includes..a job description, qualifications to get this job..who are these people touching us and x-raying us? Like I say , I'm all for security but not for a police state to travel there truly is a difference...we all love America and want to get along let's stop and think this one out carefully and logically..God will continue to Bless us and our country if WE Trust in God and not the human frailty of power and strength.
    Many thanks and Happy Thanksgiving to all!
    Stephen Normand

    November 23, 2010 at 9:43 am |
  14. Jim Garber

    So, this guy in San Diego was arrested for stripping down to his underwear to avoid the scanner and groping. They told him to put his clothes on so he could be patted down properly. That has to be one of the stupidest things anyone has ever said...ever. Why can't you wear a speedo and get out of both the scanner and grope? It would be obvious that you're not carrying a bomb.

    November 23, 2010 at 9:05 am |
  15. Julie

    Average American? Give me a break. Go read.
    Telling people the have to do this or that. Pressure is on for more and more restrictions, all equal to asking the question, "Who is gaining $$$ from most of this stuff?"

    If they had not given the terrorists plane loads of mony by the idiot bush adminstration, that useless war would have ended whole lot sooner. They actually left arms that should have been secured from the beginning. Oil was stolen by American oil barons for 6 1/2 years due some war appropriations.

    Ask yourself Average American, why were the terroists upset in the first place?. 3 months after Bush took office, he put in pipeline through Afganistan. Go look on the map, where the pipeline ended, why 9/11 happened in the first place. I know well as my son in law in servcie was guarding the dang thing. Invasion of Iraq only to steal the oil. Now, Americans, true Americans paying the price over and over, meddling in the middle east. Who gained from that oil? Ole Cheney said it would pay for the war. I am hardly illiterate, sweetie.
    More ligh should be on Korea. Bush promised them oil and renig on the proposition. Why we have to deal with them again. Get them to the table and find out what they want. All we need is for Korea to start crap. They are enhancing nuclear energy to scare the bodooties out of all of us. There had better be some real talks and soon.

    November 23, 2010 at 8:51 am |
  16. Jason

    Why do so many people claim that this makes them safer given the lack of evidence to support such claims?

    Where do we draw the line? How much is too much?

    November 23, 2010 at 8:48 am |
  17. Frank Martinez



    November 23, 2010 at 8:39 am |
  18. John M. Kirton II

    Why can't Americans submit to have the same background checks made on airport pilots, so that they can be "pre-screened" as well?

    November 23, 2010 at 8:20 am |
  19. Scott

    If the full body scans are so detailed and take care of so much, then why do they still make people take their shoes off? So they can look through all my clothes but can't see through shoes?

    November 23, 2010 at 8:18 am |
  20. Average American

    Flying is VOLUNTARY. One does not HAVE to fly. The pat downs are what YOU volunteer to put yourself through when you fly therefore it isn't something BIG BROTHER is doing to you.

    November 23, 2010 at 8:09 am |
  21. Average American

    No Julie ... we can't say Big Brother but we can say an illiterate having access to the Internet. How about trying to master the skill of constructing a semi-intelligent sentence using correct english? Now that would be an accomplishment.

    Stop spewing about "BIG BROTHER". If you don't like the security searches – don't fly then but stop trying to put the general public at risk just because you have the common sense of a blade of grass.

    November 23, 2010 at 8:05 am |
  22. gayle

    Do the TSA agents change their gloves after every pat down? It seems to me that they could be passing on all kind of germs,if they don't do this.

    November 23, 2010 at 7:57 am |
  23. Julie

    WHAT ABOUT the TSA Agent Arrested for Child Molestation?

    Who profits from this intusion of privacy?
    These changes didn't take place because the searches prior to the body scanner machines and intrusive pat-downs weren't working: they were working extremely well. No, these changes happened because "the former Head of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, had an ulterior motive in promoting the Airport security scanning machines that people are objecting to so strongly. The company that makes the machine is now one of Chertoff's clients but in the past under the Bush administration Chertoff was selling these machines to the government and to the Obama administration and they bought it hook, line and sinker...Michael Chertoff has been the leading promoter-sales pitch man for All body Scanners." (Politco)

    Tis absolutely ridiculous. If person looks like a terrorist, then, use profile and check those people out, not some old man with a urine bag. No longer planning on any airplaine trips.
    Does anyone remember how many insurance machines used to be in airports years ago, when they figured out people might take down planes for death benefits? Thank the Lord they removed those. Think twice before you purchase any death insurance. You never know who you are married to.
    My daughter was exposed due her having to remover her bra few months ago. Unfreaking believable. She no longer flies anywhere. She had baby with her. Can we say BIG Brother?
    I agree with respondent above. Have planes with super security for those who think they need this and those of us who do not give a darn.

    Stop al lforeign students that we give free education for, while charging the heck out of our own kids. As stated on CNN 50% of all engineers were given free education from foreign people.. Check out the people the U.S is giving visas for. These are the people they should profile and check going on planes.

    November 23, 2010 at 7:52 am |
  24. Phil

    An hour before going to the airport, eat 3 bean Burritos. Now grope my junk ....

    November 23, 2010 at 7:48 am |
  25. Justin Thompson

    Read my brother's blog post detailing how he calmly refused a backscatter scan and enhanced pat-down, and was allowed to enter the US untouched after returning from Europe.

    November 23, 2010 at 7:42 am |
  26. Jan

    Please consider this: what is the TSA action when a traveler is a monk, nun, lama, or other religious monastic who is traveling by plane?

    November 23, 2010 at 7:42 am |
  27. Joshua Wertheim

    My comment is not about the TSA, it's about CNN (and news) in general. I wake up to breaking news that the North Koreans have fired artillery into South Korea. Whoa! That's newsworthy enough to hear a few details about isn't it? I mean, knowing that those pesky North Koreans are looking for an excuse to start a war with us while we are over-extended in Afghanistan. So, what did we get from CNN? Well, about 45-seconds worth of coverage and then nothing for a good 30 minutes. I suppose if the North invades the South we can expect 90 seconds out of CNN, because we Americans are all so much more concerned about important things like whether Bristol Palin makes it to the DWTS finals.

    November 23, 2010 at 7:41 am |
  28. Michael

    I am soooo sick of catering to special interest groups, individuals and people who are difficult just for the sake of being difficult. I want this enhanced screening. If this makes it safer to fly, then I'm all for it. I'm not going to be put in harms way because of these whining a@#holes! You don't want this type of security screening? Fine, TAKE A BUS!!!!

    November 23, 2010 at 7:40 am |
  29. tpete

    Why are you still talking about body scanners and pat downs? The majority of the population does not have a problem with it. There are a handful of people looking for there moment of fame by posting youtube videos or making witty comments that the media runs away with and tries to make news out of. Even if a million people were vehemently opposed to it, that is still less than one percent of the population and yet the media still tries to incite controversy. Enough already, its time to move on.

    November 23, 2010 at 7:32 am |
  30. Kevin

    I remember the day when you taught children that if you were touched in your 'private' places, that you should report this to your parents. Now we subject this behavior with the parents watching! I am just wondering how you will teach young children the difference.

    November 23, 2010 at 7:22 am |
  31. Cory

    My two concerns about the scan are that I've not seen a true representation (only internet hype) as to what the images really look like, and if the scans do look like what we see on the internet, what privacy assurances do I have that the images are not being recorded? I worry that my privacy could be breached and the images of my scan leaked to the internet.

    November 23, 2010 at 7:18 am |
  32. Average American

    I think States that have the lottery where a portion goes to the State to help with education should stop taking their cut and give all the winnings to the winners because it clearly isn't working. Americans are getting dumber by the second. Most of those complaining about being "groped" should consider themselves extremely lucky that anyone would want to touch them in any fashion.

    November 23, 2010 at 6:58 am |
  33. Jacy Hanson

    As a frequent business traveler, I am always concerned about airport security. I travel domestically and internationally totaling about 40 trips a year. I go through a lot of airports all over the world and Washington Dulles, my home base, is the only airport where the metal detector sounds every single time I fly. I've been patted down so frequently at IAD that the TSA security staff know when i've both gained a few pounds, or lost a few pounds. Even with this frustration, I am completly supportive of whatever measures TSA wants to put in place that will help secure air travel. The TSA agents have always been extremly professional and have never made me feel uncomfortable during the pat downs. For those of you who don't want to go through these extra security precautions, take a train or drive!

    November 23, 2010 at 6:58 am |
  34. Jose Oliva

    Are US Officials and their families also subject to these Body Scans and Pat Downs – They Should Be! If a US Army Major can go terrorist – then so could anyone. And foreign officials and their families should also not be exempted.

    November 23, 2010 at 6:57 am |
  35. Tyler Sprague

    I'm able to choose my own TSA person to do my pat-down? Can I choose the gorgeous woman to do it?!

    If the TSA hired hunks and gorgeous women for the pat-downs, I'm pretty sure no one would be complaining.

    November 23, 2010 at 6:50 am |
  36. Randy Hobler

    CNN "Top Journalists" excuse me! You have all these "top journalists" and scads of researchers huddled over computers working FULL TIME and a mere viewer like myself knows that in Europe they have deployed radio scanners (NO X-RAY RADIATION AT ALL–HELLO, CNN!) that also do NOT show intimate parts of the body, but DO show any dangerous liquids, explosives, etc. Using such technology would TOTALLY eliminate the need for pat-downs. CNN is covering this TSA thing 24-7. And it doesn't know about this readily available technology? Why isn't CNN
    investigating who the brilliant decision maker was at the TSA who TURNED DOWN the vendors who have the radio-based scanners? Why? Because CNN is so brilliant. Come on, guys, you're missing the boat.

    November 23, 2010 at 6:48 am |
  37. Ed

    When planes were dropping out of the skies, Americans complained that something should be done. So, something was done to insure safety. Until something better comes along, the current procedure is all that's available. A little discomfort is acceptable as long as assurances to prevent terrorists from exploding planes is maintained.

    November 23, 2010 at 6:47 am |
  38. Darryl Guidry

    Come on America grow up! Think beyond your privacy rights and think of the safety of your children, family, and other passengers. TSA screeners use common sense and respect when screening travelers with obvious medical needs. We are a charitable, intelligent and caring society certainly safety should take priority over principle.

    November 23, 2010 at 6:28 am |
  39. Andy Putzel

    The controversy over TSA screening procedures, including the new full body scanners and body searches, was basically a blip in the news cycle. The whole matter deserved no more than a 30 second "sound-bite" explanation from the TSA. Then, various media outlets fired an artillery barrage at a knat and the war started. The number of actual complaints from travelers is miniscule and the majority of people polled support the use of the full-body scanners. If you report some real news and leave this fairy-tale alone, it will be dead by tomorrow.

    November 23, 2010 at 6:27 am |
  40. HighFlyer

    This whole security situation is simple to solve. If you do not agree with the security procedures, drive or stay home. I think an uncomfortable minute is worth saving my life. This is all simply a case of Americans wanting something to whine about. It is really sad that we have people who are looking to get there face on the news or Internet and cause a scene. As for junk.. Grow a pair!

    November 23, 2010 at 6:17 am |
  41. Bill

    Whatever happened to "PRESUMED INNOCENT". I can't believe the Civil Liberties are not involved. What's next, gropings by the Wal-Mart greeter to be sure someone has not shoplifted?

    November 23, 2010 at 6:16 am |
  42. chi

    I have an idea, let's have planes for people who want to go through security and one for people who don't want to go through security and let's see how many people choose the latter.

    November 23, 2010 at 6:14 am |
  43. Roxanne

    What ramifications do you think "Opt-Out Day" will have for travellers flying on the 24th? Any tips for getting through it?

    November 23, 2010 at 6:12 am |