Let me start by saying that I’m not knocking the requirement for airport security. In fact, thank heavens that they’re now very thorough even if they have started letting suitcases resembling small wheelie-bins be taken on as hand luggage – as I said years ago, if you need wheels to move the bloody thing is it ‘hand luggage’? What annoys me about airport security is the lack of consistency. At some airports you don’t have to take your laptop out of your bag – at some you do. This, I’m told, is because of the variety of equipment at different airports. Fair enough.
However, then you get a lack of consistency at the same airport… Heathrow for example. Some days you do have to remove your shoes, some days you don’t. I’ve even been there on days when one queue has to remove their shoes while the others don’t. So Mr Security, don’t get annoyed with me if I don’t follow the rules of the day immediately.
With all this in mind, I was interested in this article on the Beeb’s news site covering Manchester Airport’s trial body scanner. Like a scene from Total Recall (great movie) it provides an image revealing details down to a naked level (okay, not quite down to the skeletal level). It’s heralded as a breakthrough to please people who don’t like the traditional ‘pat down’. But judging by the sample images, it looks like it’s important to be confident about your choice of underpants.
Spokesperson Sarah Barrett says that passengers concerned about the revealing images could refuse to be scanned. That would seem to defeat the object… any potential wrong-doer concealing a weapon, or Wile E. Coyote (no doubt carrying something from the Acme Bomb Company), would immediately exercise that right. You’d hope that they’d then be subjected to the normal rigorous searches.
Reading on, I think I’ve experienced one of these scanners.
They work by beaming electromagnetic waves on to passengers while they stand in a booth
New York, 2005 – the 9/11 atrocities still fresh in their minds – I’m sure I went through one of these scanners to get up to the base of the Statue of Liberty. It surprised me at the time that the security checks to get onto the ferry, onto the island and then into the statue complex were more rigorous than the checks to go up the Empire State Building. Why surprised? Well the Statue of Liberty is out on an island while the Empire State Building is slap-bang in the middle of Manhattan. Whatever the reason, I can sleep safe knowing that I wasn’t wearing y-fronts that day.0