Airport Body Scanners May Replace Metal Detectors

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2009 7:40 PM CST
Passengers send their luggage through a screen and get ready to pass through a metal detector themselves. TSA is experimenting now with full-body scanners.   (AP Photo/Will Kirk)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Full-body scanners may eventually replace standard metal detectors at airports, USA Today reports. The feds are experimenting with machines that look through clothing for hidden guns or bombs—especially those made of plastic that can elude metal detectors. Tulsa's airport has the scanners now, and San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami, Albuquerque, and Salt Lake City will soon join the test. Privacy advocates aren't thrilled.

"We're getting closer and closer to a required strip-search to board an airplane," said an ACLU spokesman. The $170,000 machines—much pricier than the $10,000 metal detectors—show the outlines of body parts to screeners in separate rooms. "(It) really does not reveal as much as some people might think," said one airport security chief. Maybe more worrisome: The scans take 30 seconds, about twice as long as the current screening. No word on when the TSA will make its decision.