In the U.S., 142 are currently in operation at 41 airports, and another 309 will be in place by the end of the year, notes The New York Times. On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security released the names of the next 28 airports to receive this high-tech screening tool.
Airports Next-in-Line for Full-Body Scanners
The * denotes those airports that already had scanners in place and will be receiving additional ones.
"As part of the department's ongoing efforts best protect the traveling public and detect terrorism threats, we continue to deploy state-of-the-art advanced imaging technology across the country," DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said.• Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)*
• Bradley International Airport (BDL)
• Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
• Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)
• Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)*
• Dulles International Airport (IAD)
• Fresno Air Terminal (FAT)
• General Mitchell International Airport (MKE)
• Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR)
• Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC)
• Harrisburg International Airport (MDT)
• Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
• Indianapolis International Airport (IND)*
• Jacksonville International Airport (JAX)*
• John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
• McCarran International Airport (LAS)*
• Miami International Airport (MIA)*
• Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
• Nashville International Airport (BNA)
• Palm Beach International Airport (PBI)
• Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
• Richmond International Airport (RIC)*
• Saipan International Airport (GSN)
• Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)*
• San Antonio International Airport (SAT)
• San Francisco International Airport (SFO)*
• Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
• Tampa International Airport (TPA)*
Touted by government security officials and manufacturers as a faster, more accurate, less intrusive alternative to a pat-down, full-body scanners reveal ghostly images of everything, (yes everything) beneath a traveler's clothes, so as not to miss any hidden explosives.
The scanners come in two basic kinds:
- The millimeter wave scanner, which rotates around the traveler shooting radio waves and produces a detailed 3D image
- The backscatter scanner -- which is more prevalent -- which sends two low-level X-ray beams at the traveler's front and back sides, respectively, resulting in a flatter image
The DHS memo notes that the money is coming straight from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka the stimulus package. A full $1 billion was allocated for "aviation security projects," with $266 million going to "checkpoint explosives detection devices" -- your tax dollars at lurk.
The scanners remain optional for travelers (who can have a full body pat-down instead) and the resulting images blur out the traveler's face, and are seen only by a remote operator before being promptly deleted. Still, media coverage has been rife with privacy concerns ever since the first models were installed at Heathrow Airport in London last year.
And while several polls have shown that an overwhelming majority of Americans favor the body scanners (between 70 and 80 percent), some respondents, particularly women, understandably express unease about submitting to a virtual strip search. (For that, a company has developed a counterintuitive, if unrealistic, solution: "Flying Pasties.")
Concerns have also been raised about the radiation emitted by the scanners, but the government and the devices' manufacturers insist they are safe.
Still, a few others -- like Politics Daily's Sandra Fish -- aren't bothered at all by the process, even recommending that the images be sold as souvenirs, like mid-ride rollercoaster photos. With more scanners on the way, such an attitude of acceptance is probably the most grounded.