The big Opt-Out looked like a big bust Wednesday as Thanksgiving travelers around the country patiently submitted to full-body scans and pat-down searches rather than create havoc on one of the busiest flying days of the year. In fact, in some parts of the country, bad weather was shaping up as a bigger threat to travelers’ hopes of getting to their destinations on time…
“It was a day at the beach, a box of chocolates,” said Greg Hancock, 61, who breezed through security at the Phoenix airport on the way to a vacation in California. He was sent through a body scanner after a golf ball marker set off the metal detector…
“I would go so far as to say that National Opt-Out Day was a big bust,” said Genevieve Shaw Brown, a spokeswoman for the travel company Travelocity, which had staff at 12 of the nation’s largest airports watching for problems.
Protest organizers — some of whom had no plans themselves to fly on Wednesday — were not prepared to declare the event a flop, saying the publicity alone cranked up pressure on the White House and the TSA to review their security measures.
NBC’s reporting the same thing. Twitter lit up a few hours ago over this post at Gizmodo compiling tweets from passengers claiming that the scanners had been turned off at some airports in order to speed people through security. But see the update; TSA denies it, and in fact, there are AP photos on the wire of people going through the machines today at O’Hare (and Logan in Boston). O’Hare, as the country’s central hub, logically should have been one of the first ‘ports to abandon the scanners if the plan was to avoid any opt out difficulties, but the photo doesn’t lie. In fact, TSA is actually crowing about it on their blog under the headline “Opt Out Turns Into Opt In.” (Follow the link for a heartwarming pic!)
One lingering question, though. Did some passengers opt out of the process altogether by canceling their plans to fly?
“One day before the the pre-Thanksgiving wave crests, Atlanta’s airport was notably subdued, vendors and travelers said, with minimal wait times and limited, if any, use of the controversial full-body scanners,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Atlanta-Hartsfield, a Delta hub, is the busiest airport in the nation…
Whether the opt-out protest was successful or not, it appears air travel officials and travelers alike were surprised by the lack of passenger traffic on what is typically the busiest flying day of the year.
A restaurant manager at Atlanta-Hartsfield said she’d never seen traffic so sparse on a holiday.
“Most of the tables on the restaurant’s second floor were empty through lunchtime, and servers said on a day when they should have seen between 1,200 and 1,500 customers Tuesday, they served fewer than 500,” the AJC reported.
Another possibility raised by Wired is that TSA compromised by sending some people through the scanners and others through the traditional metal detector. Quote: “Threat Level observed 30 passengers submit to the ProVision scan without obvious protest or a single opt-out, though screeners diverted one woman headed for the the naked scanner into the metal detector instead, likely because of the small dog she was carrying in her arms.” Hmmm. Is that because the dog would obstruct the screeners’ view, or because the radiation level is unsafe for smaller animals(!)? Either way, my friends, one thing is clear: This is all obviously the result of a sinister libertarian conspiracy.
Via the Blaze, here’s Ed Schultz boldly defending a counterterror protocol that would have made him weep tears of righteous blood had Bush instituted it.