Pilot unions for two of the nation's largest airlines are reportedly telling their members not to participate in full-body X-ray scans at airport security checkpoints which passengers routinely have to go through on the grounds they are overly intrusive. USA Today reports:
Unions representing pilots at American Airlines and US Airways have advised their more than 14,000 members to avoid the scanners, which peer beneath clothing, and instead get a pat down from Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers.
That has created additional problems as some pilots have complained that the hand searches, which were altered by TSA starting Nov. 1, are invasive. One US Airways pilot said he felt as though he had been "sexually molested" by the pat down, said Mike Cleary, president of the US Airline Pilots Association.
"Our members are just absolutely outraged," Cleary said.
David Bates, president of American's Allied Pilots Association, said the TSA hand search is "a demeaning experience," but he also is urging his members to avoid the scanners. The unions have told members to ask that the pat downs be done in private.
The unions argue that the machines are "intrusive" and that they could emit dangerous radiation. A recent Food and Drug Administration review found that the radiation level was so low — some machines emit no radiation — that it posed no health threat.
America's largest pilots union, the Air Line Pilots Association, told USA Today that they are working with the Transportation Security Administration to find alternative screening methods for their union members, but has not instructed their members to avoid the scanners.
Unions have been working to "streamline or eliminate" the security screening pilots go through, claiming that background checks should be sufficient.
Not all security officials support giving airline employees a pass at airport security:
The TSA issued a statement saying its security measures must consider "our enemy is creative and willing to go to great lengths to evade detection." TSA Administrator John Pistole has been reviewing security policies since taking office recently and is discussing alternatives with pilots, the statement said.