Southwest Airlines Wimps-Out About Full-Body Scanners

After refusing a full-body scan in Terminal 1 (Southwest Airlines) at Raleigh-Durham Airport, I was subjected to a full-body pat-down.  Of course, I logged a complaint with Southwest about the new scanners and the whole Grade-A pat-down inspection.  Don’t expect much support from airlines in complaining about the TSA.  Southwest responded by basically saying that security is “not their job.”  The full text of my response is below in quotes.

While I would anticipate such spittle from awful airlines such as US Airways and United, I did not expect this from Southwest.  Southwest is clearly the best commercial airliner for customer service, in my opinion.  For them to duck this issue means big trouble for those of us who do not want the TSA groping and scanning us.

The airlines want to avoid this subject at all costs.  They do not want to be associated with the TSA’s bumbling security measures if the public revolts.  Worst of all, when all of these security measure fail to prevent another attack, the airlines want all blame to decapitate the government, not them. 

But, imagine if the government suddenly decided that all airlines MUST charge a fee for luggage?  Southwest would protest on our behalf for sure.  They would sing to the skies about how unfair and inequitable that sort of mandate was.  So, it is safe to say that Southwest has decided that customers do not matter.  Only the TSA matters now.

The escape route for Southwest is the “it’s optional” argument.  They can claim immunity from taking action against the scanners because it is an option and not required.  This argument may keep airlines off the hook for now.  But, we all know that once the public is comfortable with getting scanned naked, the metal detectors will disappear and scanning will be the only thing left.  Then the airlines will argue that TSA handles security and there are no other measures in use by the TSA.

Southwest responded to my complaint by saying that “…there is a delicate balance between privacy and security…”  This argument is wrong.  Expectation of privacy and prevention of illegal search and seizure is a right secured by the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution.  Therefore, a balance does not exist because a Constitutional mandate of security does not trump another Constitutional mandate.  In other words, you cannot violate one law to enforce another without due process. 

I ask of you, fellow Americans, how much is enough due process?  At what point will we rise up and demand privacy and security?  Hopefully, Americans will see the light before privacy becomes the least secure aspect of our lives.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We appreciate the opportunity to address your concern regarding one of the screening processes used by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
It’s important to explain that the implementation of imaging technology was determined solely by the TSA and not by the airlines. The TSA has a responsibility to ensure the security of the traveling public. However, they also recognize that there is a delicate balance between privacy and security; therefore, imaging technology is optional for all passengers. Please visit the TSA’s web site for more information regarding this screening method.
Again, we appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts. Should your future plans require air travel, we hope we will merit your consideration.

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