Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 8 a.m.
We all know how much airport security can suck. You wait on a rotating line and push your heavy suitcase on the floor, inch by inch, then you're forced to quickly take off your shoes, watch, belt and anything else metallic before walking through the detector. After all this is finished, you're pressured to pick up all your belongings again and move out of the way as fast as possible because the next mobile traveler always seems to be breathing down your neck.
And the worst part of it all is knowing that the security guard smirking at you just saw your naked body on a computer screen.
Well, in terms of the last part, those days are behind us
(us meaning New Yorkers, that is). Yesterday, the TSA announced that it would be moving full body scanners from both JFK and LaGuardia Airport to lesser populated airports. The move is an attempt to speed up the security process that swamps these constantly busy terminals. The nudie machines will be replaced with what are called millimeter wave machines
, which basically do the exact same thing except minus the pictures of your genitalia. Now the guards will only see a two-dimensional bland outline of what you've got going on.
This is great news for two major reasons: First, of course, there's a restoration of our dignity before we hop on a jetliner. And, second, we're pretty sure those full body scanners were pretty bad for our bodies.
The dignity side of this argument doesn't need more insight -- you're not going to be naked on a computer screen anymore, end of story -- but the health side is much more significant.
To get the nudie shot, the full body scanner has to shoot thousands, if not millions, of tiny X-rays at you in a split second like a microwave. And, most radiologists would probably agree, that's not a smart idea
. Although it would take numerous trips through the scanner to see a fatal effect (read: cancer), wouldn't you rather walk through a scanner that doesn't run the teeny-weeny risk of a tumor? We sure would.
Whether it's the several incidents of "inappropriate behavior"
in pat-downs or the collection of thousands of dollars in leftover change
or the Reddit-spawned petition
to abolish the agency all together, it's evident that the TSA has fallen on some tough PR days. This is good for them. They won't look at us naked anymore. At this point, that's really all we can ask for.