DFW Travelers Opt Out of Opt-Out Day

Internet campaign to boycott controversial full-body scanners fizzles around country

Wednesday, Nov 24, 2010  |  Updated 7:30 PM CDT
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The <a title=Transportation Security Administration voiced concerns that National Opt-Out Day would slow down holiday travel, but it didn't." />

Grant Stinchfeild, NBCDFW.com

The Transportation Security Administration voiced concerns that National Opt-Out Day would slow down holiday travel, but it didn't.

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Like at other airports across the country, National Opt-Day was a bust at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The Transportation Security Administration had feared that an Internet campaign to boycott the controversial full-body scanners would bring security checkpoints to a grinding halt.

But security lines at DFW Airport ran smoothly, with no line lasting more than 10 minutes.

Travelers said they were more concerned about possible slowdowns from the boycott than the body scanners.

"I got here extra early in the event there was a protest or delay," Marti Erickson said.

She said she did not mind the new security measures, saying they are "for the passengers' own safety."

"If these people don't like it, put them on a whole separate airline with no security at all," Erickson said.

The TSA said very few passengers across the country opted out of the scans. There were also only a few scattered protesters, such a man who was seen walking around the Salt Lake City airport in a skimpy bathing suit, a woman in a bikini in Los Angeles and two people with signs decrying "porno-scans" in Phoenix.

Wait times for security checks at major U.S. airports from San Francisco to New York were 20 minutes or less Wednesday morning, according to the TSA, and no serious disruptions were reported.

Widespread delays were not expected at DFW Airport. But the nationwide yawn at the boycott even surprised travel experts.

"Given the amount of media attention that we've seen over the past couple of days and the protesters here today, you would have thought that maybe we would have seen more activity, but it just didn't happen," said Jason Scott of Travelocity.

If enough people opt for a pat-down rather than a body scan, security-line delays could quickly cascade. Full-body scans for passengers chosen at random take as little as 10 seconds. The new pat-downs, in which a security agent touches a traveler's crotch and chest, can take four minutes or longer.

The full-body scanners show a person's contours on a computer in a private room removed from security checkpoints. But critics say they amount to virtual strip searches. Some have complained that the new enhanced pat-downs are humiliating and intrusive, too.

TSA officials say the procedures are necessary to ward off terror attacks like the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound plane last Christmas, allegedly by a Nigerian man who stashed explosives in his underwear.

NBCDFW's Grant Stinchfield contributed to this report.


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