US Thanksgiving travellers wary of new invasive airport scanners
Nov 26, 2010, 11:36 GMT
Washington - US travellers Thursday faced new airport security scanners that have prompted scattered protests across the country, as they battled their way home on one of the busiest days of the year.
About 40 million Americans were estimated to be flying during the US Thanksgiving holiday. Airports ran smoother than expected as an internet-launched nationwide protest against the new scanners failed to materialize on Wednesday.
Nearly 350 of the enhanced screeners have been installed at nearly 70 airports across the country in a bid to improve security. Nearly 1,000 are expected to be in place by the end of the year.
Some have criticized the machines, which show authorities a nondescript naked image of the passenger, as an invasion of privacy.
There were some demonstrations: Jason Rockwood of New York came to La Guardia airport dressed in his underwear, declaring he wanted to make the job easier for the authorities. But the protests failed to snarl airport traffic as opponents of the screeners had hoped.
Some pilot unions called on their members to reject being regularly screened over health concerns. Authorities have rejected the idea that the new scanners pose a health risk.
Meanwhile, the Homeland Security Department is considering reforming an alert system by colours that was introduced after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Washington Times reported.
Authorities have been using a five-colour code to depict the level of alert in the country, with red meaning an attack is imminent and green signalling the all clear. The department may replace it with a two-alert system of simply 'heightened' and 'imminent.'