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Travel professionals OK with TSA pat-down, other measures

November 19, 2010 |  3:34 pm

Bodyscanner@lax Despite the uproar among some airline passengers over newly increased security measures at U.S. airports, most travel professionals don't share that outrage.

A survey by the National Business Travel Assn. found that 81% of professionals who manage the sales and purchase of hotel rooms, airline tickets and car rental services for big businesses said they accept the new procedures used by the Transportation Security Administration, and 54% said they support the use of the new tactics.

The survey of the 934 travel professionals by the National Business Travel Assn. came in response to augmented security measures launched by the TSA in the last few months.

Since Nov. 1, the TSA has instructed airport security officers to use more thorough pat-down search tactics on airline passengers. In the past, TSA security officers used the back of their hands to brush over sensitive body parts such as breasts and groin areas. Now, security officers are using their palms and fingers to probe and feel for hidden weapons and contraband hidden under a passenger's clothing.

Over the last few years, the TSA has also expanded the use of full-body image scanners that use low levels of radiation to create what looks like a nude, computerized image of the scanned passenger to uncover objects hidden under the clothing.

Despite assurances from the TSA that the levels of radiations are too low to cause health problems, the unions that represent pilots for American Airlines and US Airways have both urged their members to opt out of using the scanners to reduce the health risks.

But the survey by one of the nation's largest business travel groups suggests business professionals are not worried about the privacy rights violations or health risks related to the new measures.

"Business travel professionals are adopting a wait-and-see attitude toward these new measures," said association director Mike McCormick. "They are realistic about the threats to our aviation system and understand the TSA's remit to protect the traveling public."

The survey also found that business professionals would be willing to pay for a one-time, in-depth security check to allow them to pass through airport security lines more quickly.

-- Hugo Martin

Photo: A TSA official goes through a full-body scanner at Los Angeles International Airport. Credit: Los Angeles Times