I think the last line in the story says it all. Eventhough there are no body scanners at the airport in question, people still have to follow the same procedures as if there were body scanners there.
To top it all off, am I the only person that finds it odd that these new multimillion dollar machines have trouble dealing with belts? Interestingly, or should it be ironically? The picture shows the real meaning of TSA: Three Standing Around.
“Sir, remove your belt.”
“Because that’s the rule.”
“What rule? I never have to remove my belt. The buckle is nonmetallic.”
“It’s the new rule. All belts have to come off.”
“What new rule? I don’t understand.”
“Sir, you need to take it off.”
“But … What if I don’t?”
“Then you’ll have to go through secondary screening and a full pat-down.”
And so I opted for the secondary screening. Not that a pat-down is reasonable, either, but I did not want to submit to something that I felt was excessive and ridiculous without a reason or explanation.
I was asked to stand in a cordoned-off area, where I waited for several minutes as guards stood around looking at me. Finally a supervisor came over, wearing disposable blue gloves, to administer my secondary screening.
“Sir,” he said, “um, you still need to remove your belt.”
“What do you mean? I chose this so I could leave the belt on.”
“No, either way the belt has to come off.”
“What? And if it doesn’t come off?”
“Then I cannot let you through.”
So, it would seem, secondary screening isn’t really “secondary” at all. Instead of simply taking off my belt, I get a full, blue-glove groping and I have to take off my belt. Either that or I’m not allowed to fly the plane.
“Really?” I asked.
And with that I started laughing.
Much to his credit, the supervisor also laughed. He smiled, nodded and proceeded to explain this “new rule.”
Before getting to that explanation, I will note, for what it’s worth, that this particular supervisor, who asked that I not reveal his name or location, was perhaps the most decent and reasonable TSA employee I’ve ever interacted with. He was courteous and professional, not to mention sympathetic. He acknowledged that much of what flight crews are forced to endure does not make sense from a security standpoint. He does not enact policy; he enforces it. Further, he seemed fully aware of the ridiculousness of the new belts procedure.
Belts, it has been determined, can interfere with the images procured by the new full-body scanners being deployed at checkpoints around the country. And so, from now on, passengers need to remove them.
Now, although we can debate the body scanners from an effectiveness point of view, or from a privacy-rights point of view, separately, this at least makes sense.
Fair enough, except for one thing. As I looked around me, I noticed that there weren’t any body scanners anywhere at the checkpoint.
“But sir,” I said, motioning to the left and right, “there are no scanners here.”