National Opt Out Day Fails in Memphis

Updated: Wednesday, 24 Nov 2010, 7:51 PM CST
Published : Wednesday, 24 Nov 2010, 7:51 PM CST

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - National Opt Out day was expected to cause major flight delays nationwide, as travelers against the recently installed full body scanners set aside a special day to protest.

But security check points at Memphis International Airport moved along smoothly Wednesday. In fact, Valyria Lewis, a security officer at MIA said travelers were thankful for their safety.

"Most of the attitudes of the passengers was very positive. They've been thanking us and so we're seeing a whole totally different side of what's being reported," said Lewis, who's also President of the local chapter of American Federation of Government Employees.

The full body scanner is a controversial security device that the Transportation Security Administration said is necessary to detect potential hidden hazards for flyers. An added bonus, it keeps passengers moving quickly through security lines.

However, opponents of the new x-ray technology claim it's illegal and violates basic human rights. Travelers like Deb Green and Erin Watson disagree.

"I just think they have to do what they have to do and for security for the airport. So, whatever it takes, I'm cool with," Green said.

"I think that if it's a necessary precaution to keep us safe, then they have to do what they have to do," adds Watson.

Watson said she'd much rather opt to go through the full body scanner its alternative- the dreaded full body pat down.

"I'd rather get scanned than groped. The pat down is kind of awkward," she said.

It’s awkward not only for the passengers, but also for the airport security officers. Lewis recalls a fellow-officer's encounter with an irate passenger.

"The passenger made comments that made the officer feel very uncomfortable-like--"Oh I know you're enjoying that."

It's pretty obvious, no one really enjoys anything about security check points, full body scanners, or full body pat downs, but the TSA and Lewis will argue it's a necessity for safe travels.

"Trust me, if the TSA said, hey we need to take these extra steps. We're reactive," Lewis said. "When the TSA takes those extra steps they're doing it for OUR personal safety."

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