Travel Tips

Travel Tip: How to Opt out of TSA Body Scanners

You’ve TSA's Pro-Vision X-ray machineseen them at the airports: those TSA scanners that scan your whole body using electromagnetic radiation. But, did you know you don’t have to do it?

There’s a lot of controversy over these scanners, mostly over privacy and radiation levels. But anyone can get opt out of TSA body scanners.

Many people want to bypass the risk. They’re concerned about radiation exposure, are pregnant, or have a medical device. Simply tell the agent, “I want to opt out.”

The tradeoff is that you still have to clear security. So, the TSA will give you a full-body pat down, which can be a little, well, invasive. Kids under 12 get a “modified pat down,” but there’s no standard definition of what that means. Anecdotally, I’ve seen some unpleasant situations (e.g. pregnant women left standing for long periods waiting for an agent). Also, you may undergo further security measures, like a more thorough screening of your luggage.

Now, I travel a lot and I’m OK with going through the scanners. But, if you’re uncomfortable for any reason, you always have the right to say: “I’d like to opt out.” No questions asked.

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