American Airlines Pilots in Revolt Against the TSA

Jeffrey Goldberg
The Atlantic
Nov. 07, 2010

This is a letter from Captain Dave Bates, the president of the Allied Pilots Association, which represents 11,000 American Airlines pilots, to his members, in which he calls on pilots to refuse back-scatter screening and demand private pat-downs from TSA officers. Bates's argument is multifaceted and extremely cogent. He worries about increased exposure to radiation, of course (a big worry among commercial pilots) and he is eloquent on the subject of intentional humiliation:
There is absolutely no denying that the enhanced pat-down is a demeaning experience. In my view, it is unacceptable to submit to one in public while wearing the uniform of a professional airline pilot. I recommend that all pilots insist that such screening is performed in an out-of-view area to protect their privacy and dignity.
It is a source of continual astonishment to me that pilots -- many of whom, it should be pointed out, are military veterans who possess security clearances -- are not allowed to carry onboard their airplanes pocket knives and bottles of shampoo, but then they're allowed to fly enormous, fuel-laden, missile-like objects over American cities.

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