CHICAGO (CBS) – The weather is proving to be a bigger problem for travelers than a planned “opt-out” protest at airports across the country. So far Wednesday, it’s much ado about nothing.
CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports that lines seem shorter at O’Hare International Airport the day before Thanksgiving than on a typical day.
Still, many travelers say they had heard about the planned “National Opt-Out Day” protest, and were expecting things to be a nightmare when they got to the airport.
To the surprise of many, it was smooth sailing at O’Hare.
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Nathaniel Crump says he was expecting “a lot of crowds.”
Some liken the images produced to a virtual strip search, but the TSA says the images help officers detect both metallic and non-metallic items.
“Liquids, powders, gels, the types of things used in the failed terrorist attack last Christmas day,” said TSA spokesperson Jim Fotenos.
Online organizers of the protests were urging people to ask for pat-downs, which take at least four minutes, instead of going through the body scanners which take as little as 10 seconds.
The goal? To clog up security checkpoints across the country, so government officials would see just how upset travelers are with the new security measures.
Crump says because of the planned protest he got to the airport early. And he wasn’t alone.
“We’re three-and-a-half hours early, just so we did not have to deal with protesters and what not,” said Laurel Chivari.
Laurel says she went through a body scanner last week for the first time and wasn’t sure why people are making such a fuss.
“It was very easy. You go in there and you put your arms up, and 10 seconds later you’re done,” she said.
For Laurel and her husband, Tom, safety is the top priority.
“We have to just do it,” said Tom Chivari. “Get through it and don’t let them win.”
“It’s about the safety of the nation and the safety of all these people getting on the aircraft, and that’s the most important thing,” Laurel said.
Another traveler told Newsradio 780′s Bernie Tafoya that she opts for the body scanner when she flies but was surprised that she randomly was selected last week for a pat-down.
“To be honest it’s somewhat degrading, because you are doing it in front of males and females,” she said, adding jokingly, “I’d prefer the male pat-down.”
There have been reports of “minor” protests against the body scanners at some airports, but nothing anywhere near the disruption that some were expecting. Despite those protests, the TSA says wait times for security checks at major U.S. airports have averaged 20 minutes or less.