Airport body scanners have long raised worries about privacy, though few people had actually used them. That's changing. Next Monday some passengers at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago will find themselves in one of the new scanners. Other airports expect scanners in coming weeks, with the ultimate goal of some 900 body scanners as U.S. airports by 2014.
So, what's it like to step inside? The Chicago Tribune's transportation columnist Jon Hilkevitch tried out the newest machine at O'Hare:
The first thing you are told is to take everything out of your pockets, in addition to removing your shoes, belt, wristwatch and jewelry.
Robert motioned for me to enter the scanning unit and to turn to my left for front and back images. You place your feet on footprint markings on the floor, resulting in a slightly spread-eagle position, and raise your arms for about five seconds.
Robert then used a "whisper radio'' attached to his uniform to alert a TSA security officer located in a locked "Resolution Room'' away from the screening lane to check the image. The security officer inside the Resolution Room radioed back an all-clear, and Robert directed me to exit the scanner and pick up my carry-on items.
You'll find his full column at the Trib's website, where you can read more about how they allay privacy concerns, and what happens if TSA spots a suspicious item.