Stepped-up security screening at airports in the wake of foiled terrorism plots has provoked an outcry from airline pilots and travelers, including parents of children who say they are too intrusive.
With the busiest holiday travel season nearing, fliers face long security lines and new rigorous patdown checks begun in recent weeks aimed at discovering hidden explosives. As a result, some travelers are questioning whether to fly at all.
The Transportation Security Administration has ramped up airport security after two plots by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. A Nigerian man hid a bomb in his underwear last Christmas and the group tried to send package bombs via U.S. cargo carriers but none of the explosives detonated.
To thwart such attacks, TSA is deploying body scanning machines to U.S. airports but travelers and pilots have complained about potential health risks and that they are too intrusive. The alternative is a physical patdown by a TSA officer.
“Pilots are not the terrorist threat,” said John Prater, president of the Air Line Pilots Association and a veteran pilot for United Continental. “Seeing scarce security resources being used on pilots makes absolutely no sense.”