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Nude – O – Scopes / Harmful rays / Pregnant women / Implants or medical devices! Should we all opt out?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


I really respect airline people and ex-airline people like my friend and fellow BA blogger MJ on Travel. Again the people, NOT the machine behind our travel. The people (most of them anyway) are human and have fellow feeling toward you; the airline/security/et al often does not and why should it anyway?

I will again this year far exceed 100 segments, that is I will be in an airplane with some kind of paint on the outside (most of it Delta-ish) that goes up and down. I think in most books that qualifies me as a frequent flyer.

Having said that I dislike the TSA. Now to be clear not for what you may think. I do THANK the TSA folks for keeping us safe each time I fly. I understand they find a TERRIFYING number of guns (and worse) each year. The nightmares they find are so, IMO, under reported and I give them credit for what they do. So I really am a supporter not a basher of the TSA – mostly!

But why mostly. Let’s go back to MJ on Travel and this post about his recent TSA experience. I have flown with MJ a time or two and he really is a true gentleman in every sense of the word with everyone he meets. If you meet MJ you will like MJ – it’s that simple. But he can NOT do the TSA scanners.

pro vision scanner

What about me. I get they are no longer the full “Nude – O Scopes” of the past (ie only a rep in a room far away sees you “nude”) plus the “new ones” all use “harmless” radio waves but it still bugs me what they do and show. I also don’t need MORE rays hitting my body. Yes, I also understand you get more rays up in the air blah blah blah, but I just don’t want more of any of that if I don’t have to! Then there are those who are or even could be with child – IMO – no thank you. Then, like MJ, those with medical devices that could possibly be damaged or cause an issue.

rene deltapoints-com blog passport goes id and dl

So far most of this post is just stating the obvious and is maybe not all that helpful. Time to be helpful. I have Global Entry and TSA Pre check. I will ALWAYS have both. I cannot even think about flying without them. For $20 per year this is the best value in the air. Even if I don’t fly for a year or two I will pay this to keep it forever. This in addition to being Delta’s highest rank elite flyer Diamond Medallion.

I have all this so I don’t have to be scanned. I always choose to opt out when not selected for TSA Pre check for whatever reason. I don’t like the “man massage” I get and find the work around my “sensitive areas” to be very unpleasant and bordering on wrong. Now if I were NOT GOES & TSA PRE Check (plus a Diamond Medallion) I can see the need for this enhanced screening. How about a fix for this?

If the metal detector is working, even if I opt out or “it” selects me for enhanced screening, if I can produce my trusted traveler info and have TSA Pre Check on my boarding pass, show I am an airline elite, then IMO no need for the “man massage”. How about we wipe my hands and luggage with the bomb sniffing machine first. If that is 100% clear send me on my way. If that goes off, ok massage me then.

Delta Air Lines 737-900ER photos delta points travel blog (68)

Clearly I am NOT a threat to anyone (other than requesting the occasional geek photo in the cockpit that is). The only threat I am is to the supply of Woodford on-board the flight. There has to be a way to add a step to avoid pat downs for those who do not need them.

What do you think – should all with TSA Pre Check always “opt out” if not selected for pre check? Is there a tech way or a human way to remove the need for enhanced screenings or due to all the stuff going on around the world I am being too picky and should “man up” and take it if I choose to avoid the full body scanners? – René
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. Rene

    I wish what you suggest could someday be true. As a +/-100k flyer a year nothing would make me happier. I for one have not been through a nudeoscope or the older blue boxes once. I opt out every time…man massage or no. To your point any more radiation is too much…besides this is the same agency that said the blue boxes were safe…then the eu banned them. Thank god for goes.

    I don’t think of the massage as needing to man up as much of it being a necessary evil…and the price of doing business. Do I hate it…yes…its one will I put up with…for as long as I need to.

  2. I am not a fan of the scanners. I have had a lot of fun with them in the past. Nothing says ‘I hate You’ like a t-shirt with some metal duct tape spelling ‘ You’ or the time I had my wife make undergarments with metalized cloth (That got the attention of several dozen TSA agents). I have dressed in all leather (that will kill the machine as well since the frequency used can not penetrate skin), and I have worn a dosimeter by ‘accident’ when in the booth of doom to the shock and surprise of the TSA and a busy morning airport crowd that became VERY concerned listening to the clicking increase to deafening levels during the scan. After a few months of fun I just went to the opt out process. I found that wearing a kilt ‘regimental’, or bicycle shorts and telling them that they can ‘not bother with the back of the hands, the more thorough the better, I am lonely after all.’ will yield a very fast and less intense gate grope. Its not that I fear the radio waves, or being ‘naked’, I am more annoyed by the unwarranted intrusion on my rights having done nothing wrong. Pre-check is great, but anymore I have found myself opting for the normal line since they seem to be pre-checking non-precheck passengers so much that you find no one in the normal line and 20 in pre-check unable to follow the process for pre-check and it is faster to just get the gate grope.

  3. I’ve never opted out, it just didn’t make a difference to me personally. I absolutely prefer that we aren’t using back-scatter machines and have the gumby image though.
    I think the TSA has done a very poor and inconsistent job in training the screeners in how to deal with those with legitimate medical problems.

    Whether by machine or “man massage” there always will be a need for enhanced screening for a certain amount of high risk individuals as well as a random selection of the normal population.

    The trick is how to pre-screen as much of those passing through a checkpoint to reduce the number of people going through enhanced screening. You get the benefit of this now via Global Entry. Supposedly frequent flyers also benefit from this as well. (Unfortunately despite following all the tips I can, after flying 50+ segments a year on Delta and over 80 segments a year total, I have never got pre-check). TSA’s own pre-check enrollment program is another way. So is allowing members of the military. The next step would be the TWIC card, which uses the exact same background check and enrollment process as the TSA’s Pre-program. In fact as a TWIC holder, if I wanted Pre they won’t even do a 2nd background check, I just pay the fee and get the card.

    Of course any these people will randomly qualify for additional screening, this random element makes it harder to plan on a specific attack vector actually succeeding.

    • @omatravel – txs for your comment and like the card idea. happy to pay more if less massages (from me I know that sounds really dumb). For your situation do check and update all your info on your “my Delta” with your passport letter for letter and space for space and it should help. or, as you say, get TSA Pre and then again make sure all is 100% same. #HELPS

  4. As a fellow FF, I think there’s something to be said for not getting so worked up about airport security, and just going with the flow (I think that this could also be said for many other unpleasant aspects of activities that all of us enjoy). With all due respect, people who willfully act to spite TSA agents (who are just doing their jobs BTW), or object so strongly on principle, just shouldn’t fly – they should take the train or drive instead.

  5. I’m sorry but I think the TSA is a joke and an absolute waste of my tax dollars. I trust my fellow passengers far more than any pre-screening. We now know the terrorist is willing to die so we, the passengers, aren’t willing to sit idly by. Flight 93 proved that. I think it is a basic violation of my privacy rights and i dont believe we are any safer because of the TSA than if we only had the metal detectors or nothing at all, for that matter. There are too many stories of guns, etc., still making it through screening. There are too many stories about inappropriate touching. I also believe someone planning evil would be able to find a work around the pre-check screening. Really, how hard would it be to get on as a baggage handler, food service worker, airline employee, et al, and be able to do something? And, mark my words, it won’t be too much longer before someone is going to file a lawsuit claiming the scanners caused their cancer and the taxpayers will be on the hook for that as well.

  6. I will always use the scanner over the massage. The scanner is quicker and I don’t have a TSA guy getting intimate with me. Your idea of doing the sniff test as a way to get out of the extra screening is good, but I don’t think it will fly so to speak with the feds. I have been procrastinating on getting global entry. Now with the machines they use at customs instead of agents, it does not seem that global entry saves much time.

  7. I never go through ANY scanner using “Rays” of any type. I don’t mind the full pat down, I see this as part of flying in the USA. I DO mind the wait to get a TSA agent that can perform the search.

    TSA is not a joke, it is however a LONG way from El Al Airlines.

    I am all in favor of private screening companies replacing the TSA, San Francisco International, Kansas City International, and Jackson Hole currently do NOT use TSA.

    Anytime the government inserts itself between a private citizen and a private corporation, issues happen and costs go up with rarely a positive outcome.


  8. I fly over 100k a year. I have GOES, which gives me Pre Check. I also have highest mileage level access. Frankly, I don’t care about the rays, nude machine, or the man massage( actually, as a gay man, I prefer the man massage!!!). what I tend to do is observe the TSA agents and when I see them not looking at the TV monitors I actually report them to their supervisors. And believe me I’ve gotten some very strange looks when I do so. I think travel has changed in that we are now a much more secure society when we travel. I also believe that frequent travelers should be given the TSA PreCheck lines because we travel so much… we have already been pre-screened. However I do fault the airlines and the TSA when they take someone out of the regular line put them in the TSA line, don’t give them any instructions and then they take off their shoes and they’re liquids and their laptops and no one from the TSA tells them they don’t have to do that. That’s what causes delays in the TSA PreCheck lines. On a recent trip flying out of Buenos Aires on a US carrier, I was the first passenger at the gate to go through boarding and they immediately pulled me aside and took out every piece of my luggage and even taking out my toiletry bag and going through the toothpaste deodorant and a small package of condoms that I had with me! They literally went through everything in front of the entire assembled travellers getting ready to board at the gate. it took approximately 15 minutes. I don’t know why this occurred. I was a first class passenger with the indication of my boarding pass of senior level mileage program I showed them my Global Entry card and everything yet they continue to do the massive inspection of my carryon luggage. Families with kids, older people, less traveled individuals walked right by without even a second glance. Someone please explain that one to me?

  9. The 2006 book, “Unsafe at Any Altitude” by Susan and Joseph Trento, detailed the inept way the government coped with airport security after 9/11.

    It’s a reminder that government will always sacrifice the liberty of its citizens in order to make the work of a bureaucrat easier.

  10. Here’s the thing about the nude-o-scopes: they are provably completely worthless.

    1: In testimony before Congress, the head of Homeland Security stated that they’d never caught a single terrorist with a nude-o-scope.

    2: The are plenty of US airports where you are guaranteed not to have to go through a nude-o-scope. Be Sky Priority on Delta at MSP, and you get to go through a security gate that does not HAVE a naked scanner. All you have to do is buy a first class ticket.

    Once you’ve done that, you’re behind the security wall, you can get to any domestic flight you want. Yet, with that, we’ve never had an “underwear bomber” on a flight originating in the US.

    The naked scanners are “security theater”, not actual security. Which is why I absolutely refuse to go through one. I will not play their stupid game.

  11. As for the % chance for “Trusted Travelers” to NOT get TSAPre Check, that made sense when you didn’t find out until your boarding pass was swiped whether or not you were Pre Check that flight. But “random security sweeps” that are known ahead of time? Those make no sense, other than in a “we’re the TSA, and you’re always at a mercy” kind of way.

  12. Corbett Kroehler Reply

    Your suggested approach is entirely reasonable and makes perfect sense. I suggest that you write to John Pistole. From the interviews with him which I’ve seen, he seems genuinely interested in simplifying security.

  13. dotti cahill Reply

    I have GOES and get Pre-Check alot but not always… when i go thru the nude-0-scan something always shows yellow on my thigh or head.( i asked them if i should get checked for cancer in those areas as they always have to grab my thigh or head etc..and they look at me like i’m nuts -)-time will tell. I do not opt-out for groping and rubbing if i do not get Pre-Check as i think it is worse….

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  15. After flying in excess of 150000 miles/yr for the last 15 yrs (that’s not counting award mileage), I resent the fact that I am potentially losing TSA precheck on future flights. Am I really a risk to airline security ???? If I were a risk, I surely would have done something by now. I will not go thru the machines, so I go for the pat-down when not given TSA preck. Guess that means job security keeping the TSA agents busy.

  16. just a follow up. Whereas I would get Global Entry, I usually travel with spouse (who will NOT get it) or a gal friend, who just hasn’t bothered. So, whereas I might get thru faster, it means I must wait for my travel companion. So far, I haven’t justified getting it. Maybe time to reconsider.

  17. dot cahill Reply

    Man and women massage is NOT A NECESSARY EVIL it is overkill and nuts that we have to be molested to travel even if we do not ring the metal detector or lite up the scanner just a RANDOM OVERKILL check of our privates !!!!!!! anyone thinking otherwise then go get grabbed and ruibed allover CRAZYYYYY

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