Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) and child passengers

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There’s been much discussion and debate at my house about the new AIT at airport security vs. the alternative TSA pat-down. While it’s one thing to decide for yourself which is the preferred method of compromising your personal privacy, it’s the matter of the child passengers we’ll be deciding for that troubles me more.
I’m not a fan of subjecting small people—babies and toddlers especially—to unnecessary radiation. Yet I can only imagine the profound psychological damage that might come from subjecting my young daughters to physical groping by a complete stranger that is required as the alternative.
After thinking it over and reviewing the facts, it boils down to two significant points  for me that I think are worth all of us noting. Those are:
  1. The millimeter wave technology used in some AIT booths emits thousands of times less energy than a regular cell phone transmission.
  2. The backscatter scan technology used in other AIT booths produces the equivalent exposure any person receives during 2 minutes of flying in an airplane at altitude.
In other words, if you let your child talk to friends and relatives on your cell phone, you’re exposing him or her to greater radiation risk than an airport scan. And if you allow your child to spend more than 2 minutes flying in an airplane… well, you get the picture.
Still, whether or not having security officers stationed in backrooms watching passing images of naked bodies pass by—including those of children—is really the best way to improve our security is a topic I think we should continue to consider and discuss.
For my part, I think beefing up the number of crotch-sniffing dogs at airport security might achieve many of the same results (physical invasion of privacy, element of potential surprise, sensitivity to non-metallic threats, a certain percentage of false-positives to help keep things interesting) and for far less money.
In the mean time, since we do occasionally let our children talk on our cell phones, and occasionally subject them to flights lasting more than 2 minutes, we will comply with the new AIT scanning procedures on our upcoming flights—and hopefully no further screening will be necessary.
What about you?
Have you and your family passed through the new AIT scanners yet? Did you opt for the pat-down instead? How did it go for you? Are you still undecided? Share your thoughts and experiences below or on the Facebook page.
More information about AIT here:

And don’t forget you can always share your feedback concerning U.S. airport experiences with the TSA here

FOLLOW UP : Read about Advanced Imaging Technology at San Fancisco International – with children in this post.

Safe journey,

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning guide Travels with Baby   facebook

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