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Opt Out Turns Into Opt In

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Children with thank you sign for TSA.

What some protesters threatened as an opt out day has turned into a TSA appreciation day.

As reports continue to come with normal or below-normal wait times, this will be our final update of this post today.

Though volume was around expected levels, our preparations for today kept wait times at such a minimum that some airports are closing screening lanes due to a lack of passenger throughput.

In addition to our operational updates from the field, we’ve rounded up news coverage from across the country about today’s airport travel experience:

Additional Recent Clips, Op-Eds and Editorials

Operational Updates as of 5 p.m. EST:

  • Dallas/Fort Worth: One Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) opt-out today, and wait times consistently under 12 minutes.
  • Dallas Love Field: Wait times under 3 minutes.
  • Salt Lake City: Wait times no more than 5 minutes at both checkpoints one and two; when open, checkpoint 3 has a 2-minute wait time. Across the airport, we have all lanes open and 6 AITs in operation.
  • Atlanta: 39 total AIT opt outs today (again, out of 47,000 fliers). All were screened and continued to their flights.
  • Newark: Average wait times today by terminal were 6 minutes for A and C, 11 minutes for B.
  • New Orleans: The longest reported wait time was approximately 13 minutes. Six passengers opted out of AIT screening. All were screened and continued to their flights.
  • Iowa and Kansas: No disruptions, no wait times greater than 10 minutes. According to federal security director, lots of passenger compliments.
  • Denver: Current wait times are 3-4 minutes per checkpoint.
  • Colorado Springs: 5-minute average wait time, and no AIT opt-outs.
  • Minneapolis: Wait times are currently 5-10 mins. No incidents.
  • Detroit: No wait time over 20 minutes all day.
  • Green Bay: Wait time is 3 minutes.
  • Indianapolis: 24-minute peak this morning at 6 a.m. Nothing near since.
  • Louisville: 5-10 minute wait times.
  • Los Angeles: Los Angeles: 113 AIT opt outs across LAX’s 8 terminals, which is less than 1 percent of the approximately 50,000 travelers screened at LAX today. All AIT opt-outs were screened and continued to their flights.
  • Charlotte: 18,000 passengers screened so far today, and estimated 24,000 will be screened by end of day. 1 AIT opt out today.
  • Cincinnati: The peak wait time was 10 minutes, and average is 5 minutes.
  • Chicago O’Hare: The longest wait was 15 minutes at one checkpoint, and has been under 10 minutes airport-wide for the most part.
  • Cleveland: Under 20 minutes for wait times all day, with a 10-minute average. Current wait times are less than 5 minutes. 0.66 percent opt out rate today.
  • Boston: Approximately 56,000 passengers screened with 300 AIT opt outs, which is less than 1 percent of all travelers and less than a normal day at the airport’s 17 AITs. All were screened and continued to their flights. The longest wait time all day was 12 minutes in terminal A in very early morning, and it was very short lived given all lanes were open.
  • Detroit: 25,000 passengers screened today, and 57 AIT opt-outs. All were screened and continued to their flights.

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team


Submitted by Anonymous on

How to get through the TSA security theater production without x-ray nude photos or getting groped: Read how this guy just walked out!

Submitted by Nicholas Bauer on

You want suggestions? Here you go:

First, you have to admit that you will never, ever be able to make plane travel 100% terrorist/crazy-person-proof. Never. It's impossible. Unless you plan to give full-body transmission x-rays, CAT scans, or body cavity searches, you won't catch everything.

Second, the risk of a terror attack is really quite small and the cost is not worth the price we are paying (money and liberty).

Third, if you HAVE to keep some sort of scanner in place, get rid of the backscatter x-rays and use only the millimeter wave scanner, implement the stick-figure/anomaly software (eliminates both privacy and health concerns), and combine the body scanner with a puffer to detect explosive residue. If there is an anomaly of some kind, first question the person to determine how they react. Ask them what the object is, etc. in *non-accusatory* tones--remember that 99.999% of people are not terrorists. If they act suspicious, then you can do a non-invasive pat down.

Fourth, the security checkpoint itself is as likely to be a target of attack as a plane. Even if they help us stay safe in the sky, are we actually safer as a population?

Remember: Keep it Reasonable. It isn't reasonable to treat most people as potential terrorists.

Lastly: How the heck did Mr. Pistole think the TSA procedures would somehow stay secret from the terrorists given that the entire American public would be going through them?

Submitted by Anonymous on

these numbers are pathetic, the air ports are losing business and they TSA along with mainstream media had the nerve to boast about the lack of people using the air ways. No kidding the air travel was smooth, everybody hit the roads. LOL LOL LOL BTW, Cam and Company and healthnews reports the TSA on November 24th turned OFF THE BODY SCANNERS. lol lol lol

Submitted by Jon on

How many pornoscanners were in operation as a percentage of total?

Was this above or below average?

How many who were sent to pornoscanners opted out?

Submitted by Chris Bray on

I challenge the people here who are thanking the TSA for keeping us safe from terrorists to name a single terrorist who has ever been caught or otherwise kept off a plane by the actions of TSA personnel at an airport security checkpoint. One name, please.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Someone asked why 'Anonymous' is a frequent identifier on postings here. One reason, as is the case with me, is that this TSA Website doesn't work properly. It asks for Google ID, but in my case it doesn't recognize it, even though I just logged into Google with it.

This is just another indication of the state of affairs at TSA--it doesn't work.

As for all this glowing stuff about how smooth things went today, it does seem that air traffic is LOWER. Opt out DOES mean not flying at all, which is the case with us. We were going from San Francisco to San Diego--my wife wanted to fly, but I refused. I opted out of the TSA security nonsense and we drove down. So no money for some airline for us, and we didn't have to rent a car, so no money for some car rental agency. But I DID send more money to the Middle East to pay for the oil used to make the gasoline for the drive. This is how TSA policy can help the economy. The safest air travel is no air travel, and if the TSA ever begins to deal with the REAL threat--body packing--that will be the end of commercial passenger air travel. TSA knows it, certainly the airlines know it. Which is why nothing is being done. But all of this crap is for show--TSA ignores the real threat: body packing.

If you don't know what that is, just do a Google search on 'body packing'. You'll love it, and you'll understand why the TSA is lying through their teeth and engaged in this bit of public theater.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bob, go ahead and print LIES like Opt out turns into Opt in. It just makes you look stupid.

Submitted by Kimm on

Hmmm....I'm hearing today that a lot of the porn machines were turned off, leaving no options but the TSA groping session for passenger's enjoyment. Could this have been coincidental?

Also, Thanksgiving and NO LINES????? Really? Since this year I have yet to hear (approximate) numbers of how many are flying, as I have in years past from various airports, I can only believe that there are indeed LESS people flying this year. And yes, I'm sure it will be an "economic reason" spin, and have absolutely nothing to do with TSA and security theatre.

Dogs and Profiling....Dogs and Profiling......THAT means safety.
Untill then, I have stopped flying!

Submitted by Hankito on

Ohhhh Yeah that sign the girls where holding up totally looks like their handwriting uh huh....I'm Finn refer to you as Papa Stalin from now on.

Submitted by Hankito on

Hey I wonder if the tsa is gonna make the airlines say that travel was up for the Thanksgiving holiday

Submitted by Anonymous on

While I serious concerns regarding a government entity using propaganda such as this to promote its agenda, the issue is more concerning when the propaganda is misleading.

How many of the scanners were turned off to avoid National Opt Out Day and then enable you to crow about the lack of opt outs?

When you didn't use the machines to avoid the controversy, there was nothing to opt out of, and the protest was a success.

Submitted by Anonymous on

why is it that if people are on here supporting the tsa they get slammed? is this a negative only blog? you talk about the constitution all the time and our rights well its their right to praise the tsa. stop being so contradictive and making yourselves look really ugly!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hey everyone - this is Bob's/TSA's blog. He can spin this any way he wants. Free speech applies to everyone in this country, not just people who you agree with.

And, y'all might find this interesting:

No, that photo isn't faked.

Based on what I've seen personally, from video from airports across the country and from statistics from major airports (look at parking lot numbers that are posted if you want to get an idea of how many people flew this Thanksgiving), this opt-out day was far more successful than it's organizers could ever have hoped for. Instead of raising awareness of the scanners and rubdowns by being a nuisance and creating a scene (I'm assuming that's why the protest was called) they managed to raise awareness so much that people aren't flying. Administrator Pistole might be able to go to Congress and say "the people against AIT and patdowns are small in number" but not before the airlines will go to Congress and say "look - put a leash on your dog or you'll have to bail us out again". The true test will be Christmas; if numbers are down again, I'll bet we'll see some permanent changes. Hopefully, we'll see the kind of change people are reporting for Thanksgiving - metal detectors and a patdown vs a rubdown.

Submitted by Anonymous on

What about this, TSA? You ignore your own rules and edit out your footage. Let's have an official response.

Submitted by Gunner on

Freedom of Information request:

What percentage of full body scanner manchies were turned off for any reason between the hours of 6 a.m. (local) and 6 p.m. (local) on Wedneday 11/24/2010 at the 20 largest airports that use full body imaging technology?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Nice spin. If the body scanners were turned off, which they were, then of course people can't opt out. We opted out of *flying*. You know that.

You are just making Michael Chertoff rich.

Submitted by Anonymous on

PS: It's hard to get away with lying when people come together via social media. Nice try.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm sure travelers weren't the only ones glad to see the AIT equipment shut down. The TSA screeners that are exposed to the radiation for their whole shift must be glad.

How many times have we seen the government tell its employees or citizens something was safe only to see injury and death years later? The game is played with government denials, followed years later by Congressional investigation, followed by some sort of care or payout after most victims are dead. Of course, the government perpetrators are long gone by then.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Submitted by Anonymous on

Whatever. It just shows how passive we are about our freedoms. Makes me very sad.

I do, very much appreciate the efforts of the TSOs who are doing the job they have been assigned.

I am sickened, however, by the manipulation of the TSA. It's truly unacceptable for TSA to post only "praise" pieces. You are the government. You are not supposed to use propaganda to manipulate public opinion.

You owe the American people more than self-praise and shoving the non-explanation of your procedures down our throats.

This makes me doubly sad because the propaganda machine is even worse under the current administration than the previous admin--and I have been a strong critic of the security theatre of the prior administration.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Without exception, everyone I talked to who flew on Nov. 24th told me that the Porn-O-gammA scanners were not being used...

Submitted by FFMom on

How many people were aware that they could opt-out? Did you inform them of this before the process? In addition to this weren't the machines turned off on Wednesday? Hmmm.

Submitted by K Smith on

I wonder if America knows how you recruit workers to fill the jobs of viewing the images generated by the pornoscanners and feeling up passengers?

You use titillation as a recruitment tool. You promote the ability to see thru people's clothing as a job perk.

" 'A Career Where X-Ray Vision and Federal Benefits Come Standard,' reads a TSA ad appearing on pizza boxes across the Washington region."

I wonder how many porn addicts there are right now in airports all over the country leering at the images generated by the pornoscanners? I wonder how many porn addicts are feeling people up? I wonder how many new porn addicts you are created?

This is very revealing of the mentality of those we have put in charge of security of our airports, bus stations, train stations, and shipping facilities.

This is sick, sick, sick.

K Smith

Submitted by Wimpie on

Opt Out Day was a complete success !
We never wanted to slow up traffic, merely to educate the public and get the word out.

Millions of people now know about this airport travesty.
......"Opt-Out Day" went viral on the net and in mainstream media.
It made every news show and every newspaper in the Country.

The TSA buckled "out of an abundance of caution" and closed nearly all of the body scanners yesterday, so there was nothing to opt-out of.

Any unbelievably, no planes exploded. All good.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Better PR is needed here. How endearing to the public would it have been to be honest about turning off the AIT's, citing that although safety is of your utmost concern that you were also mindful of the publics sensitivity issues? Instead you gloat on the basis of non-facts, and use the result of your AIT shut down to down play the publics legitimate concern? It's inane, TSA. You're showing yourselves to be very inconsiderate. Don't become the one thing you're trying to protect us against .... terrorists.

Submitted by Anonymous on

No opt out required at MCO Friday. MCO Terminal B all AITs are roped off and out of service. Just like earlier in the week. It seems the opt out metric reflects the number of AITs taken out of service.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I do not believe that the TSA can claim victory that there was "less" hassle, lines were short and lanes had to be closed because of "lack of passengers". Travel is way down again this year and has been for many years. If these rules had been implemented prior to 9/11 it is almost a certainty that masses of people would have missed their flights.

Submitted by Shawn on

Wow. I guess it's not a lie that there weren't any opt-outs when the TSA turned off the AIT scanners. No scanners = no opt outs.

Then you just refuse to admit you turned them off despite eye-witness accounts.

Statistics never lie. Unlike government contractors...

Submitted by Blogger Bob on

AIT operations are normal throughout the holiday travel period, including last Wednesday. Any suggestion otherwise is completely false.

In case you were wondering...

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Anonymous on

We don't believe you. There have been numerous reports from many sources that indicate that the scanners were seldom used, and in some places not used at all.

Your lies are getting very old.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have been asking the same questions now several times. I will ask again.


Simple question, it deserves to be answered.

Submitted by Anonymous on

There is some serious denial going on here. And you guys say the TSA are the spinners.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Keep your chin up Bob. You're a trailblazer and the angry responses on this blog prove that you're hitting them where it hurts.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I really do not like TSA. But I think Blogger Bob does a spot on job for them. So get bent Bob, but keep up the good work.

Submitted by TSM West on

Anon said
We don't believe you. There have been numerous reports from many sources that indicate that the scanners were seldom used, and in some places not used at all.

Your lies are getting very old.

November 26, 2010 5:32 PM
This coming from the same people who watched the video about the lady claiming to be handcuffed and can still say she was. Time to get a real life people. Everything ran smooth at the airports. No one told any of our airports to change anything. Wednesday was business as usual. The only difference was that the people were able to experience first hand the screening process instead of the listening to the lies that the media put out. Lies which came from people like you on this blog.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
Keep your chin up Bob. You're a trailblazer and the angry responses on this blog prove that you're hitting them where it hurts.

November 26, 2010 5:39 PM

That is HYSTERICAL!!!!! Blogger Bob's no trailblazer; these intimidation tactics and propaganda, along with attempts to suppress individual rights, have been modeled throughout history, the world over by despots, dictators and gestapos much better skilled than Bob.

The TSA and Blogger Bob wield technology like weapons of old. The funny thing about technology these days is that a lot of ordinary citizens possess a lot of technology at their own disposal, and are using it to refute the lies being told by Blogger Bob and the TSA.

***note*** taking a cue from other commenters; screen capture of comment stored.

Submitted by MarkVII on

I "opted out" of the TSA altogether this Thanksgiving -- I drove, so I wouldn't be counted in the TSA's wait time stats or WE HAVE A REFUSAL counts.

Nice trip -- no one yelling or barking orders as I got onto the freeway. No one pawing through my clothing bag, leaving a "love note", then not bothering to zip the bag, leaving my belongings to spill out. No issues with my contact lens supplies or shampoo.

On a different subject, I watched the YouTube video of the TSA personnel dragging their feet so that the Mom with the breast milk would miss her flight. Claims of "retaliatory screening is against SOP" aside, this is clearly retaliatory. I hope she writes her elected representatives.

The TSA needs to be reminded to who they serve, and held accountable -- both individually and collectively.

qui costodiet ipsos custodes

Submitted by Anonymous on

Blogger Bob said...
AIT operations are normal throughout the holiday travel period, including last Wednesday. Any suggestion otherwise is completely false.

In case you were wondering...

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team


According to Bob's warped, Stalinist logic, this statement is probably true. As Bob has repeatedly reminded us, security procedures are designed to be inconsistent to foil the hordes of terrorists that constantly threaten our freedom. So even if the TSA just decided not to use the majority of their fancy new toys on a given day he can claim that there was no change in procedures.

We have always been at war with Eastasia.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSM West said...
The only difference was that the people were able to experience first hand the screening process instead of the listening to the lies that the media put out. Lies which came from people like you on this blog.

So was Mr Pistole lying when he stated the he felt the pat down was invasive and uncomfortable?

Submitted by Rock on

"AIT operations are normal throughout the holiday travel period, including last Wednesday. Any suggestion otherwise is completely false."

Please explain all the first hand and news reports of scanners shut down. I take it they were all lies? What about the photos published online? Could you address those lies?

When my child asks why these people touched him in a bad place what do I tell them? Can we have an official TSA document as to what to tell our children?

What about the woman with the breast milk you refused passage of. Can we get an answer on that? The video if freely available - well, not including what the TSA didn't send her.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSM West said...
The only difference was that the people were able to experience first hand the screening process instead of the listening to the lies that the media put out. Lies which came from people like you on this blog.
If the AIT machines are safe to use and not invasive why did Secretary Napalitano opt out when they asked for volunteers to demonstrate how the machines worked at a press event? Was the press lying when they reported it?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Not "opting out" does not mean people "opt in" by default. I hope TSA doesn't seriously believe that. Is the TSA being run by Mark Zuckerberg? I think given the choice between making a scene and getting AIT screened, people choose to not make a scene (for the sake of their families and other passengers, not for TSA's sake). But it isn't much of a choice.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hi Bob,

Way to play to the news cameras. Turn off the strip search scanners, don't do assaulting body searches and fully staff (for once) the security section.

Wonder how long til things get back to "normal," with rude minimal staff, punitive body searches, and irradiating everyone? Let's keep an eye on Sunday and Monday.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Blogger Bob said:

AIT operations are normal throughout the holiday travel period, including last Wednesday. Any suggestion otherwise is completely false.

In case you were wondering...

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team


Sorry Bob. Of course we should believe you over our own lyin' eyes. What were we thinking? All those machines turned off/roped off were just an unrelated series of isolated incidents.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Um...if Opt Out Day were a success, wouldn't that mean that there were LESS people at the airports, which would mean that they would run more smoothly? Which they did? Which would make Opt Out Day a success?

By the way, those children will probably grow up thinking that "safety" is a valid justification for such gross violations of liberty. Sad, really.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hi Bob,
Which is the real pic? or

Obviously, the "writing" is by an adult and added in Photoshop. Not a bad job, but we've all seen how photos can be faked. I guess people could take that clean pic and make that sign say whatever they want.

Submitted by Anonymous on

why can't or doesn't the TSA implement the same procedures that the Israelis use? they seem to have no problems. and they surely have a LOT more to worry about, daily!