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TSA Begins Testing Security Without a Metal Detector

Pop quiz: Where is the one place in the continental United States where you’ll never be asked to walk through a metal detector before boarding a commercial aircraft? The answer is . . . Tulsa. Yes, the people of Tulsa can now rejoice; there’s finally something interesting going on there. The TSA is testing Millimeter Wave technology, and that means no more metal detectors (unless you want one).

The Millimeter Wave is a controversial device, though I’m all for it. It’s actually a better security device than a metal detector because it catches more than just metal. When you walk into a Milimeter Wave machine, it scans you and shows the outlines of foreign objects to the screeners. In one example, a passenger had left a credit card in her back pocket and the machine picked it up. This means that it can pick up non-metallic explosives as well. It’s also excellent news for people with metal screws or other non-native parts in the body, since those can be detected without the dreaded pat down.

You won’t be surprised to know that there are those who hate this idea. Some say that it’s too revealing and it’s an invasion of privacy because you see an outline of the person’s body parts, but I think it looks sufficiently vague to me. Here’s a sample view courtesy of Travelin’ Librarian via Flickr:

Millimeter Wave images

But for those Tulsa fliers who remain offended by this device, you can opt for a metal detector and pat down instead. Others are worried about the amount of time it takes – certainly longer than a metal detector. That’s a very valid complaint, and it means the TSA is going to need to adjust the number of machines it uses. I suppose that’s why they’re doing this test.

If anyone flies through Tulsa, let me know how it goes. In the next few weeks, this will also be coming to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami, Albuquerque, and Salt Lake City so more people will have the chance to try it out. I welcome this with open arms. What about you?

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