Every year, millions of Americans get on an airplane, but that doesn’t mean that when you go to check in your luggage, that you should check in your rights as well. Regardless of whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, you should know you rights so that you can make it to your destination with your liberties in tact.
This guide will run you through some of the things that you may encounter at the airport and what your options are. Understand though that this isn’t intended to give legal advice and you should always make sure to consult with a lawyer if you are in need of legal advice. It’s also important to know that if you do want to board an airplane, you are giving legal consent to be searched. This includes having to remove your shoes, unpacking your computer and putting it in a separate bin, only carrying on liquids that are in 3oz containers or smaller, as well as other things.
THE SPOT INTERVIEW
Many airports around the United States have introduced the SPOT program or “Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques” – this program is deemed controversial due to the fact that critics feel this type of behavioral detection doesn’t work and is just another way to do racial profiling.
OPTION: Decline to answer
You have the right to remain silent, including when questioned by TSA, however you should understand that if the TSA officer does not feel that you are answering his or her questions, they may select you for secondary screening.
Most airports in the US have body scanners that they request people to go through. While each airport’s scanner may look differently and use different technology, they all perform the same function essentially which is to scan your fully clothed body to ensure that you aren’t carrying anything deemed as dangerous prior to gaining admission into the secure area of the airport.
Initially, when these scanners were introduced, they presented an image of the body to TSA officers that were in screening rooms that were away from the screening area, however after numerous complains (due to the fact that the image could give a revealing look of your entire body – genitals, breasts, etc.), the image is now a generic ‘gingerbread man/woman’, looking the same irrespective of the passenger screened.
Health questions have also been raised due to the fact that these machines emit radiation due to the use of backscatter x-ray technology.
Option: Do not go through the scanner
You can let the TSA agent know that you would prefer not to go through the scanner, a request which they must honor. They may try to pressure you to go through, however just be clear that you have no interest of going through the scanner. However, if you do decide to opt out, you WILL be subjected to a pat down which you may find to be more troubling than the body scan.
For additional knowledge as to your rights when you step into an airport, check out this video for Larry Bodine.
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