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Old Feb 5, 06, 11:07 am   #1
 
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Puffer/Scanner at security in FLL

Boarding a flight in C concourse at FLL the other day, I had my first experience with the new TSA machines. I am curious just what all these things do. I don't recall what its called but it had General Electric branding on it and is about the size of a large phone booth. You step inside, place your feet on designated spot, several very strong puffs of air hit you and ruffle your clothing, then you get scanned for about 20 seconds or so before you get a green light and the door opens for you to exit. The weird thing about this to me was that I could actually feel a slight tingling on my skin or the hair on my arms.

What is this machine actually doing? Sniffing for explosives? X-raying my body or in some way peering through my clothes? Seems a more than a little big-brotherish to me, and it was very slow going with a very long line.
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Old Feb 5, 06, 11:10 am   #2
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Officially, these are supposed to be sniffing for explosive and chemical residue. However, I have heard that they are also being used to detect narcotics as well.

I would imagine it is fairly easy to train these devices to detect any type of chemical residue by just calibrating the sensors with whatever chemical "fingerprint" you're interested in detecting.
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Old Feb 5, 06, 4:44 pm   #3
 
 
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They've had one of those at SFO in the UA elite/F/C checkpoint for a while now. They have to encourage people to use that part of the line. You can avoid it if you want to. I avoid it. There's no benefit to using it as you still have to go through the normal checks after you go through the booth.

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Old Feb 5, 06, 4:52 pm   #4
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I'll have to remember to step in fresh wet load of dogsh!t before getting into one of those things.

You know, the kind that curls up along the sides of your shoe, not just on the sole.

Let them calibrate the readings against a whiff of that.
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Old Feb 5, 06, 6:05 pm   #5
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I like it, there is one of these at LAS and the line seems to move a lot faster as you don't have to take off your shoes.
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Old Feb 5, 06, 6:24 pm   #6
 
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Thye are now also at MIA G Gates. Seemings like SSSS selection....

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Old Feb 5, 06, 8:27 pm   #7
 
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I agree. There is one at IND in term D and I always go that direction as I dont have to take off my shoes with that machine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kingalien
I like it, there is one of these at LAS and the line seems to move a lot faster as you don't have to take off your shoes.
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Old Feb 6, 06, 4:14 am   #8
 
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There's one in SJU, but I've only ever seen it in operation once through my trips here. The CN Tower has about 8-9 of them that I saw running around Christmas time. Interestingly, you can go through (according to the security guards there) with your belongings (metal or otherwise). I can't remember if that was the case with the SJU one when I saw it working though.
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Old Feb 6, 06, 7:30 am   #9
 
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I believe this thread to be better suited to Travel Safety/Security than Travel Tech. Please follow it there.


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Old Feb 6, 06, 1:40 pm   #10
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Hah, people would rather have a machine sniff them than take off their shoes
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Old Feb 6, 06, 1:54 pm   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cur
Hah, people would rather have a machine sniff them than take off their shoes
Actually, yes.

IND has a puffer at B/C checkpoint too.
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Old Feb 6, 06, 2:37 pm   #12
 
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Last edited by mikeon; Feb 4, 11 at 7:01 pm.
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Old Feb 6, 06, 2:46 pm   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeon
Yes people do prefer to use it so they can keep their shoes. Because quite frankly, the floors I've seen are dirty and I don't blame the passengers for not wanting to remove their shoes, I'd do the same thing. Just try and imagine what the other passengers have done and that you're stepping on top of whatever they had on their feet/socks.

Sadly, some checkpoints put them after the wtmd so people can't use it which is a shame.


You go through the WTMD, screener 'suggests' you remove your shoes, you refuse, get escorted to the puffer, clear it, collect your stuff. Works fine whether it's before or after the WTMD, but the process is a little quicker if it's before. You can't collect your belongings until you've done both and it's easier to pick them up right after the WTMD due to its proximity to the x-ray.
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Old Feb 6, 06, 3:39 pm   #14
 
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I went through the puffer yesterday in SFO (not knowing that these existed). It was obnoxious to say the least. I do not understand why we as citizens are continually hassled as we try and lead our ordinary lives.

Moreover, I don't understand why it is that we, as citizens, are not saying NO?! Turns out that the TSA group in SFO is actually NOT TSA - they were standing around, talking, chatting, etc. while I was going through this - nobody would gather my belongings, nobody looked at the machine, the guard (or whatever they are called) could not tell me what was actually in the machine in terms of "is it radiation like an X-ray?" etc.

BTW - you HAD to take off your shoes an belts in SFO yesterday (which I did). I was not ssss or anything else on my ticket.

This morning I called both of my senators as well as the Seattle Times to ask them to look into this. More and more rights being eroded every day imo. (No, I'm not "Spiffing" here - just an observation ).
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Old Feb 6, 06, 5:41 pm   #15
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As far as checking people and clothing for explosives goes, the puffer is the most effective method. The ETD is nearly as effective, but you'd have to swab most of the person to be as effective as the puffer. I think being swabbed all over would be more obnoxious than being puffed.

X-raying selected articles of clothing, e.g. shoes is just about useless when it comes to detecting explosives. The x-ray will not tell the screener there are explosives present. The screener would have to make a visual determination that something is not what it appears to be. Moreover, since explosives are malleable and non-metallic, they can be hidden in clothing or in a person. The puffer will catch such a ploy. The ETD will probably catch such a ploy. The x-ray will not.

I am all for the puffer and 100% against the Shoe Carnival. If Team SFO tells you your shoes must come off, politely tell them NO. I did that last month and just got the ETD treatment. No cheap feels. No arrest.
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