Photo by John F. Russell
Sarah Ashworth, right, waits for the rest of her luggage to arrive at Yampa Valley Regional Airport on Monday. Airport officials don’t expect the new techniques being used by the Transportation Security Administration to affect travel this week.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Hayden One of the busiest travel weeks of the year shouldn’t affect those flying into and out of Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden.
Airport Manager Dave Ruppel said Monday that with the winter air schedule yet to begin, there still are only two inbound and two outbound flights a day. And an additional security measure recently deployed by the Transportation Security Administration at airports across the country hasn’t been installed at YVRA.
In recent weeks, two new security measures — a full-body scan and new pat-down procedures — have made national news headlines.
YVRA doesn’t have an Advanced Imaging Technology machine, the full-body scanner that critics say produces a nude image of the person being scanned and is an invasion of privacy. An online group is encouraging passengers to protest the scans Wednesday, what it calls National Opt-Out Day.
If a passenger declines the optional full-body scan, he or she must undergo a full-body pat down by an officer of the same sex. A full-body pat down also may be required if a passenger is chosen for additional security screening.
According to a story in Friday’s Denver Post, the pat-downs “involve TSA officers running their hands up and down the arms, torsos and legs of passengers.” The Post story stated that pat-downs “can include touching close to breasts and genitals.”
Ruppel said YVRA has instituted the new pat-down procedures, but he doesn’t think they will cause delays this week or any issues for passengers.
Steamboat resident Greg Neppl, who returned to the airport from a trip Monday, said going through security at YVRA when he left was standard practice.
“I didn’t have any extra searches,” he said. “The stuff I saw on the news didn’t apply. For me, it’s been the same as it has been for a couple of years.”
Many other passengers Monday at YVRA reported that they didn’t have issues with the new security procedures, which many said they hadn’t yet experienced.
However, Helen Gustafson, visiting family in Steamboat from Old Lyme, Conn., said she went through the full-body scan at Boston’s Logan International Airport.
“It was fine,” she said.
Her husband, Gus, felt differently about some of the additional TSA security measures.
“I think they’re going overboard, to be honest with you,” he said. “I travel quite a bit. In Europe, they don’t do this. It’s kind of ridiculous. But I don’t want to be blown out of the sky.”
Although passengers at YVRA won’t be subject to full-body scans, they could be if they fly through Denver.
TSA spokeswoman Carrie Harmon wrote in an e-mail Monday afternoon that Denver International Airport has six full-body scanners.
Harmon said the machines bounce harmless electromagnetic waves off the body to create a black and white image that resembles a “fuzzy photo negative.” She said the TSA officer who assists the passenger never sees the image, and an officer in a separate room, who reviews the image, doesn’t see the passenger. And she said the image can’t be stored, transmitted or printed, and is deleted immediately once viewed.
“TSA takes passenger privacy seriously and builds privacy protections into its security procedures,” Harmon said in the e-mail. She added that all security procedures are developed to keep the traveling public safe.
Neppl, the Steamboat resident, said his biggest concern about the new security measures is the additional time they might take.
“At the end of the day, if it makes it safer, why not?” He said. “But I don’t think they should invade people’s privacy.”