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Old Jun 8, 11, 4:45 pm   #1
 
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First-Time Opt-Out: What Exactly To Do/Ask?

I've been avoiding flying since the introduction of AIT, but the time is coming soon when I'll have to. I'm especially concerned that my first itinerary where I'll opt out is LGA-RDU-LGA, and there are tons of horror stories about RDU in these fora.

There's ream upon ream of advice here, some contradictory, but here's what I'm planning to do:
--try to avoid an AIT machine in favor of a WTMD (a SDOO);
--if unsuccessful, calmly say "I opt out."
--Insist that my belongings be brought to me or within my sight;
--Ask the TSO conducting the search change into a fresh pair of gloves;
--Decline to go into a private room or area;
--Ask for clarification if they mention "resistance" in the pre-patdown briefing. ("You mean my genitals?");
--Be prepared to complain if the screening is painful, undignified, disrespectful, et cetera, or if I get any pushback/retaliatory measures/DY...T. (I still think that any patdown is ridiculous and offensive, but I doubt I'll file a complaint if the TSO treats me reasonably professionally.)

Am I missing anything? What else should I know, or plan to do?

If I decide to file a complaint, should I ask a supervisor for the TSOs' names or ID numbers? or should I just describe them on the complaint form?

I think it will probably be difficult to record the interaction for my own protection, as much as I'd like to: my phone or Flip would probably wind up with my carry-on belongings and separated from me. Pity. (And much like other posters here, I hate that I'm dreading my ritual goosing from the government, when alll I'm doing is visiting family on a tight schedule.)
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Old Jun 8, 11, 5:42 pm   #2
 
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I think your plan sounds pretty good.

One more thing you might try is if they ask you if you have any "sensitive areas" pre-pat down, tell them your crotch area is sensitive - although I think some have reported that this earns them an extra-vigorous karate chop.
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Old Jun 8, 11, 6:24 pm   #3
 
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Originally Posted by eturowski View Post
One more thing you might try is if they ask you if you have any "sensitive areas" pre-pat down, tell them your crotch area is sensitive - although I think some have reported that this earns them an extra-vigorous karate chop.
Thanks. I don't necessarily want to start any particular kind of static with TSOs (though I will be prepared to complain if that happens), or give them a reason to be confrontational or retaliatory. I figure that if they ask about sensitive areas, I'll respond that I have nothing that's unusually sensitive, or that my "sensitive areas" are the same as everybody else's.

By the by, numerous people have stated that Pistole has said numerous times that a patdown according to SOP doesn't touch the genitals. Does anyone have a link to this, preferably from an official source or a major news organization? That would be nice information to have if I have to complain about those sorts of issues. Thanks.

I guess the main purpose of this thread is to get everything in one place, kind of an Opt-Out 101 if you will.
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Old Jun 8, 11, 6:36 pm   #4
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Originally Posted by Vidiot View Post
I've been avoiding flying since the introduction of AIT, but the time is coming soon when I'll have to. I'm especially concerned that my first itinerary where I'll opt out is LGA-RDU-LGA, and there are tons of horror stories about RDU in these fora.

There's ream upon ream of advice here, some contradictory, but here's what I'm planning to do:
--try to avoid an AIT machine in favor of a WTMD (a SDOO);
--if unsuccessful, calmly say "I opt out."
--Insist that my belongings be brought to me or within my sight;
--Ask the TSO conducting the search change into a fresh pair of gloves;
--Decline to go into a private room or area;
--Ask for clarification if they mention "resistance" in the pre-patdown briefing. ("You mean my genitals?");
--Be prepared to complain if the screening is painful, undignified, disrespectful, et cetera, or if I get any pushback/retaliatory measures/DY...T. (I still think that any patdown is ridiculous and offensive, but I doubt I'll file a complaint if the TSO treats me reasonably professionally.)

Am I missing anything? What else should I know, or plan to do?

If I decide to file a complaint, should I ask a supervisor for the TSOs' names or ID numbers? or should I just describe them on the complaint form?

I think it will probably be difficult to record the interaction for my own protection, as much as I'd like to: my phone or Flip would probably wind up with my carry-on belongings and separated from me. Pity. (And much like other posters here, I hate that I'm dreading my ritual goosing from the government, when alll I'm doing is visiting family on a tight schedule.)
Don't get bothered by what you read here. The number of opt outs has dropped to infintesimal and the vast vast majority of those are handled entirely appropriately by TSA. If you approach a TSO the way you would want to be approached if you were in the other person's shoes, it won't be unpleasant and you will be on your way.
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Old Jun 8, 11, 7:21 pm   #5
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Don't get bothered by what you read here.
People are rarely struck by vehicles while crossing the street. Still prudent to "look both ways". Especially if the driver of the car can claim his erratic driving was correct according to a secret driving procedure you can't see or effectively challenge in court.

Any chance you could fly out of GSO instead?
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Old Jun 8, 11, 7:26 pm   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vidiot View Post
--Insist that my belongings be brought to me or within my sight;
Having opted out many times at several airports, this is the action that consistently causes me the most grief. I believe this is because TSO's do not receive any guidance or training about this aspect of checkpoint screening. They know they have to change their gloves when asked, and will begrudgingly do so if you press the issue, but ensuring your items are safely within your eyesight is rarely, if ever, acknowledged by front line TSO's.

The best way to handle this is as a statement, not a request. Remember, TSO's are not autonomous beings with the capability to reason and acquiesce to logical arguments. They are creatures of rote habit and can get in quite a tizzy if you don't respond exactly the same way everyone else ahead of you has.

So when a TSO directs you to "stand here" and your belongings are not in your line of sight, don't ask for your belongings to be brought to you (they don't care). Just state "I'm going to stand here where I can see my belongings." Remain calm and do not waver. Many TSO's will immediately resort to an aggressive offense, yelling that you must stand in a particular location or threatening to call law enforcement. Remember that they hold no power of detainment so they cannot force you to stand anywhere. If you remain calm and don't flee the checkpoint, they won't have anything to hold against you.

Do not back down in your stance, regardless of what they tell you. Here are some of their tactics:
- "Don't worry, we have cameras here" -> The cameras are to protect the TSA, not your belongings. A thief can steal your stuff in seconds; tapes, if made available at all, won't do you good hours, days, or even weeks later.
- "Your stuff will be fine." -> The screener isn't personally watching it, so this is an outright fabrication. The TSA accepts no liability for lost, stolen, or damaged items at a checkpoint.
- "A TSO is watching your stuff for you." -> On average, one TSO per week is fired for theft of passenger belongings. The fact that they have a blue shirt and tin badge does not make them trustworthy.

Regardless of what the TSA says, disobeying them is not a crime. The anger and hostility directed towards you is intended to make you comply. Since you know you're not a terrorist, their aggression isn't making anyone any safer. Stand your ground calmly and peacefully, and escalate to a supervisor as necessary.
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Old Jun 8, 11, 7:41 pm   #7
 
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Originally Posted by MDtR-Chicago View Post
Any chance you could fly out of GSO instead?
RDU's much more convenient, especially for the people who will be dropping me at the airport. And while I'm not relishing the prospect of a confrontation -- and sincerely hope one doesn't happen and that everyone remains professional -- I do want to be calmly prepared for one, should it occur. As I might have to tell them, I do fully intend to complete the screening...
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Old Jun 8, 11, 8:12 pm   #8
 
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Originally Posted by Vidiot View Post
RDU's much more convenient, especially for the people who will be dropping me at the airport. And while I'm not relishing the prospect of a confrontation -- and sincerely hope one doesn't happen and that everyone remains professional -- I do want to be calmly prepared for one, should it occur. As I might have to tell them, I do fully intend to complete the screening...

RDU is now one of the worst airports TSA wise. Near 100% nude viewing chambers, difficult to see your belongings and very rude blue shirts.

Last time through when I insisted that I see my belongings and asked for a supervisor, the blue shirt summonned a leo because I was being "verbal".

I really try to avoid confrontations, but its exceptionally difficult to do so at RDU. In fact I have found that even BOS is much easier and friendlier.

Even though GSO is nearly an hour away (vs 15 minutes for RDU), I'm striking RDU off my list except in extreme circumstances.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eturowski View Post
I think your plan sounds pretty good.

One more thing you might try is if they ask you if you have any "sensitive areas" pre-pat down, tell them your crotch area is sensitive - although I think some have reported that this earns them an extra-vigorous karate chop.
Last time at RDU when I informed the groper that my crotch was a sensitive area, he made sure to hit my testicles and penis no less than 4 times.

When I pointed out that he already ready rubbed them 3 times, he quite proudly corrected me and pointed out that it was 4.

Last edited by essxjay; Jun 8, 11 at 8:41 pm.. Reason: merge consecutive posts
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Old Jun 9, 11, 9:11 am   #9
 
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The steps you itemized in your original post look good. Seems like you got your bases covered.

The one thing I would mention is you probably don't need to go out of your way to question them about "resistance". Honestly, we all know what it means, and I've always felt like it's just antagonistic to press them about it. Yeah, it's a stupid word for it, but is that any more stupid than anything else about the whole screening procedure?

Also, I fly out of RDU at least once a month, and I haven't had the same kind of issues as others on this board have detailed. Of course, YMMV, but I've found they are all bark at first, but then haven't experienced anything retaliatory there yet.
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Old Jun 9, 11, 9:18 am   #10
 
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You might also consider asking them to swab the new clean gloves with a new clean swab before they touch you.
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Old Jun 9, 11, 9:31 am   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mimi111
You might also consider asking them to swab the new clean gloves with a new clean swab before they touch you.
Yes - Absolutely make them do it. I had to go nose-to-nose with a plain-clothes manager to get them to comply with my direction.
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Last edited by FliesWay2Much; Jun 9, 11 at 9:32 am..
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Old Jun 9, 11, 9:39 am   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G_Wolf
The steps you itemized in your original post look good. Seems like you got your bases covered.

The one thing I would mention is you probably don't need to go out of your way to question them about "resistance". Honestly, we all know what it means, and I've always felt like it's just antagonistic to press them about it. Yeah, it's a stupid word for it, but is that any more stupid than anything else about the whole screening procedure?

Also, I fly out of RDU at least once a month, and I haven't had the same kind of issues as others on this board have detailed. Of course, YMMV, but I've found they are all bark at first, but then haven't experienced anything retaliatory there yet.
I respectfully disagree. "Resistance" and most of their canned speech was designed to desensitize the clerks. The term was invented to also desensitize you and me, but that's not its primary purpose. The more frequently we can confront this tactic and make a clerk, one at a time and one frisk at a time, confront what they are doing and touching, the closer we become to winning this war.
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Old Jun 9, 11, 9:59 am   #13
 
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I do believe RDU is one of the worst but can't yet justify flying out from GSO. I may get there one day but not yet.

RDU (T2 at least ) No way to avoid it unless you just happen to get waved thru the metal detector, as all lines have it and the last few times they were putting 100% of the people thru it. I have always opted-out and I always calmly but firmly tell them I will wait to see my belongings then I break eye contact and wait for them. I haven't had anyone yell at me and have had mostly pleasant TSO's doing the pat down. If someone can be pleasant while doing such a thing to another person.


I don't like it, don't like they they are using it as their primary (or only) screening, but I don't provoke anything and have not had any real serious problems personally.
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Old Jun 9, 11, 10:01 am   #14
 
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Originally Posted by Vidiot View Post
I think it will probably be difficult to record the interaction for my own protection, as much as I'd like to: my phone or Flip would probably wind up with my carry-on belongings and separated from me. Pity. (And much like other posters here, I hate that I'm dreading my ritual goosing from the government, when alll I'm doing is visiting family on a tight schedule.)
The TSA allowing a witness of your choosing when you're traveling alone is virtually useless. With the ubiquity of video phones, iPads, etc., does anyone think it would be possible to say your witness is available via Skype or FaceTime?
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Old Jun 9, 11, 11:15 am   #15
 
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Originally Posted by Mimi111 View Post
You might also consider asking them to swab the new clean gloves with a new clean swab before they touch you.
What's the purpose of this? Is it to ensure they're using a clean swab, or is it to make sure that the new, fresh gloves don't have some weird kind of false positive?
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