Airport full body scanners, and avoiding them

I have mentioned the evil full body scanners on this blog in the past. Any radiation is bad, radiation is cumulative, and so should be avoided if at all possible.

I was aware that Schiphol Airport had these scanners, but I didn’t know which flights they were used on. It seems that they are not employed on flights within the  Schengen area, but they are on long haul. This is just an observation.

When I arrived at the departure gate I noticed two lines of people going through security, and all of them were going through one of the two scanners. To walk through the normal metal detectors takes perhaps three seconds, but to walk into the full body scanner machine, assume the “surrender” stance, and walk out takes maybe 10 seconds – three times as long. Boarding the plane commenced one hour 20 minutes before departure, showing a lot more time is needed. Half an hour or more extra.

EU law mandates that passengers have a choice as to whether they get scanned – but this doesn’t apply to the UK, strangely. Schiphol’s website stated people have a choice, but I notice that now they have removed this information from their website. You can download this new brochure, without the choice paragraph.

This is the paragraph they removed:

The choice is yours
This new way of inspecting persons may be different from what you are used to. This is why, for now, the use of the Security Scan is not obligatory.

But there is no notice to the effect that you have a choice posted, and people followed others like lemmings into the machines.

Obviously I couldn’t photograph this.

Many people still had a pat down after the scanner, so they submitted to extra radiation for nothing.

I just picked the line with the friendliest looking attendant and said I didn’t want to go through the machine, and that their website also stated this. I had a printout of this page, but didn’t need to show it. Another person appeared and asked me to remove my shoes and put them with my carry on luggage to be scanned by the normal machine. I was patted down, and then I picked up my possessions and quickly moved away from the source of radiation.

Newspaper articles have said US TSA workers are coming down with cancer.

Opting out was simple, the attendants polite, if a little put out, and faster than for those who were irradiated and then patted down anyway.


    1. I have only read in the media of the EU law. However, what I do if I am unsure of an airport’s practice is to check their web site and then print out their policy and take it with me just in case. I did this for Schiphol (AMS). If their web site does not show their policy I email them, as I have also done for AMS, LHR and LGW (Gatwick), and if their policy allows choice, I print it out to take with me.

      The only country where they force you seems to be Australia. The UK reversed their compulsory policy – they just intimidate you, apparently. But I do plan my routes to avoid the scanners as well.

      1. Thanks for this. I’ve managed to avoid the scanners at Schiphol 4 times now. Each time it was unpleasant, with the workers asking many personal questions and intimidating me, but it’s possible! 🙂

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