Everything you need to know if you’re flying today (but were afraid to ask)

It’s National Opt-Out Day. Ready to fly?

Here are a few things you should know.

Will my flight be delayed? If you’re flying out of one of these airports, it should be smooth sailing, according to Flightstats (numbers in brackets are average on-time departure performance during the past three Thanksgiving holidays).

1. Salt Lake City (89.00 percent)
2. Minneapolis (86.61 percent)
3. Portland, Ore. (86.43 percent)
4. San Diego (85.00 percent)
5. Seattle (84.88 percent)

Here are the five worst:

1. Miami (67.03 percent)
2. Dallas (69.23 percent)
3. New York (71.04 percent)
4. Atlanta (71.19 percent)
5. Chicago (O’Hare) (72.32 percent)

How’s the weather? So far, so good. At 6:45 a.m., no major flight delays were being reported. Here’s the holiday travel forecast.

Is this really Invasion Of The Body Scanners? Hardly. TSA whole body image scanners exist in only 68 of 494 airports, reports TSA-watcher Steve Frishling. You have a 17 percent chance of encountering a whole body imaging scanner at your departure airport.

But what if they want to scan me? I posted some advice about how to handle an airport with a scanner. Bottom line: know what you’ll do before you arrive at the airport. Update (3:30 p.m.) There are reports that some checkpoints have turned off the full-body scanners and are waving passengers through in an effort to expedite screening. TSA denies it.

Will there be protests? While I do not support National Opt-Out Day, a recent poll of more than 1,000 air travelers found 70 percent of air travelers do. Here’s another poll that reflects a similar sentiment. Whether passengers will refuse to be scanned is another question. My sense is that most people just want to get home for the holidays. The best way to make TSA change its wrongheaded policy is to sue it, like this guy.

Related story:   Is it too easy to lose the TSA's "trust"?

What is the government’s advice? Here’s what you need to know about scanning and pat-downs, as far as the TSA is concerned. It is also self-reporting wait times at checkpoints.

What else is on the government’s mind today? Oh, other than that TSA officer who allegedly kidnapped a woman in Atlanta and Janet Napolitano’s career-ending interview in which she calls for body scanning devices to be installed in places like train stations and bus terminals? Not much.

What did you just call me? An internal Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by this blogger labels any person who “interferes” with TSA airport security screening procedure protocol and operations by actively objecting to the established screening process, “including but not limited to the anticipated national opt-out day” as a “domestic extremist.” The label is then broadened to include “any person, group or alternative media source” that actively objects to, causes others to object to, supports and/or elicits support for anyone who engages in such travel disruptions at U.S. airports in response to the enhanced security procedures. It instructs TSA operations to obtain the identities of those individuals and other applicable information and submit the same electronically to the Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division, the Extremism and Radicalization branch of the Office of Intelligence & Analysis (IA) division of the Department of Homeland Security.

Whatever. I think they already know who I am.

This “domestic extremist” wishes everyone a very happy Thanksgiving holiday.

Update: 9:20 a.m. I called my contact at the Department of Homeland Security this morning to verify the authenticity of the memo quoted by Canada Free Press. The government says it is not authentic.

Related story:   Does TripAdvisor have a problem with fake reviews?

Update: 10 a.m. I looped back with the blog post’s original author, Douglas J. Hagmann. He stands behind the memo, which came from a “trusted source” who has provided him with accurate information in the past.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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