Pilot Rebellion: Pilots Refusing to Use Full Body Scanners or Submit to Patdown
One pilot union compares patdown to 'sexual molestation'
Nov. 9, 2010 — -- Two of the largest pilots' unions in the nation are urging commercial pilots to rebel against current airport screening rules.
In late October, the Transport Security Administration implemented more invasive patdown rules. Travelers and pilots were faced with a new dilemma -- have a revealing, full-body scan or what some are calling an X-rated patdown.
Pilots are piping mad over the options, saying the full-body scanners emit dangerous levels of radiation and that the alternative public patdown is disgraceful for a pilot in uniform. Some pilots have said they felt so violated after a patdown, they were unfit to fly.
Last week, the head of Allied Pilots Association, a union representing 11,000 American Airlines pilots, wrote an email to pilots suggesting that they forgo both going through a full-body scanner and submitting to a public patdown. Instead, Captain Dave Bates urged pilots to opt for a private patdown.
"In my view, it is unacceptable to submit to one in public while wearing the uniform of a professional airline pilot," Bates said in an email.
Just Monday, the head of the US Airways Pilots Association said the new security screening rules have caused turmoil for not only the traveling public, but for pilots, too.
"These changes are far reaching, intrusive and have been implemented almost overnight, leaving little time for groups who are adversely affected to form a response," Captain Mike Cleary said in a message to the US Airways Pilots Association.
Cleary said that one U.S. Airways pilot was so traumatized by a patdown, that he has been unable to function as a crewmember.
"The words this pilot used to describe the incident included 'sexual molestation,' and in the aftermath of trying to recover, this pilot reported that he had literally vomited in his own driveway while contemplating going back to work and facing the possibility of a similar encounter with the TSA," Cleary said.
Cleary advised pilots to have a fellow crew member be on hand to witness a patdown.
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