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SmarterTravel Readers OK with Body Scanners

In a recent SmarterTravel poll, a majority of readers said they were OK with body scanners being added to airport security checkpoints. This represents a stark departure from the results of our first body-scanner poll last spring.

Here are the full results of the poll, which dealt with other pressing airport security issues as well:

1. When we asked last March, a majority of readers said “No, thanks” to the new airport security body scanners. In light of new security concerns, what do you think of the full-body imaging scanners at airports?

  • 58 percent: Think they’re good: Better safe than sorry
  • 42 percent: Don’t like them: Thumbs down for overexposure

2. With new carry-on restrictions, stricter screening, and other security changes, do you feel safe flying?

  • 58 percent: Yes, I think flying is fairly safe, despite the close call on Christmas
  • 42 percent: No, I think air travel is too vulnerable to security breaches

3. Do you think that new security measures (increased scrutiny for passengers from certain countries and widespread use of body scanners) will make flyers safer?

  • 66 percent: No, any determined individual can find a way around even the tightest security process
  • 34 percent: Yes, anything to strengthen security at airports is a good thing and will help

What I take from these results is a sense that you are realistic about airport security, admitting that while body scanners are tolerable and security is sound overall, there’s simply no 100 percent foolproof approach to protecting the skies. The efficacy of body scanners is up for debate, but you have more or less conceded to them on the “better safe than sorry” line of thinking.

Responses to the second and third questions are heartening indeed. Flying is very safe, both from a mechanical and air-crime standpoint. In fact, this is one of the safest stretches ever for mainline air travel, a fact too often lost among all the hype and hysteria still emanating from the threat of terrorism.

But air travel is not and never will be invulnerable to crime, weather, or malfunction. As you indicated in the poll, any determined individual can find a way. It only takes one. This isn’t pleasant to think about, but that doesn’t make it less true, and it’s important to remember when considering the value or hassle of this or that security measure.

Thanks to everyone who took the poll. What do you think about the results? If you didn’t take the poll, how would you have voted? Leave a comment below with your thoughts. Thanks!

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