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New York Travelers Take Security Measures in Stride

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Don't Touch My Junk" has become something of a rallying cry for travelers unhappy about airport security pat-downs, thanks to the viral video on the Internet. But on Wednesday, the busiest travel day of the year, people at JFK have mostly been taking the stepped-up measures in stride.

At Terminal 7, one of two terminals at the airport where the new machines are in use, San Francisco-bound traveler Carlton Lowe said he doesn't have a problem with scanners or pat-downs. "I think it's a little bit overblown. If they want to touch my junk, more power to 'em," he said.

Still, Lowe said he does have some criticism for the Transportation Security Administration. He says the agency needs to do a better job explaining the changes to the public. "They haven't been very forthright about how the agents have been trained to do this, what are the actual procedures they they have to do, what are they looking for, those kinds of things," he said. "What the public has to go on is a YouTube video."

Some online activists who find the new procedures invasive are encouraging travellers to protest today by opting out of new full-body scanners in favor of more time-consuming pat-downs. Los Angeles-bound traveler Patrick Mahoney said that's a bad idea on a busy holiday. But he added that he does have one concern about going through the scanners: exposure to radiation. "Maybe if you fly more than 12 times a year, you should probably opt out every now and then, for health reasons," he said.

Not all Thanksgiving fliers will be subject to the new full-body screeners. Most passengers will only pass through traditional metal detectors. TSA officials say those pulled out of the line may choose the scanner or the pat-down, but people who refuse both options won't get on their flights.

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