Hobby Airport has now caught up with Bush Intercontinental as the TSA has debuted Advanced Imaging Technology, better known as full body scanners. And even though the four new machines are adding more time to the
long lines of holiday travelers, they came without the controversy they caused when they were introduced at major airports around the country. Rob Parrish is the Federal Security Director for Hobby Airport.
"Deploying this technology is a critical step toward utilizing its capacity to improve our ability to detect explosives. We worked closely with each airport to evaluate what checkpoint configuration allows the best through quick capability using these technologies."
Reporters were given a behind-the-screens look at what Parrish calls the government's best line of defense against both metallic and nonmetallic threats, including explosives, without subjecting passengers to physical contact.
"We've implemented strict measures to ensure the privacy of all passengers. The images cannot be stored. The images cannot be transmitted. The images cannot be printed. And they are deleted immediately after they're viewed. Additionally, there's a privacy filter installed to blur the facial features of the passengers in the machines."
Parrish told me he doesn't know why the scanners caused so much controversy. He calls them the natural order of things.
"It's I think, enhanced security for passengers. In all honesty people think it's something different, and anytime something's different, it generally causes a bit of concern. So, I suspect that much of it was just because it was new and different, and as we see over time the acceptance rate goes up, and people actually appreciate the fact that they don't have to undergo a pat down now."
Because the machines require more staff, more employees will have to be hired. Passengers waiting to be screened at Hobby were biding their time watching Parrish and other officials explain to the media the new security measures. I asked some travelers what they thought.
Passenger: "There's other choices of transport around this country, but if you want to fly, this is what you have to do. So, we'll just do it."
Passenger: "Yeah I do, they're totally uncalled for."
Passenger: "Now it's gonna make everything safer."
Passenger: "I don't travel that much hey, why complain? Get on a Greyhound or the train, OK?"
If you do opt out of the body scanners remember, you will be subject to a pat down.