Newark airport controversial scanners are barely used on busiest travel day

November 26, 2010 photo:Jezuez471

The choice between a “virtual strip search” and a “grope” was strictly academic Wednesday for most holiday travelers flying out of Newark Liberty International Airport.

The majority of Newark’s full-body scanners were idle throughout much of the day, depriving most passengers of the chance to opt out of the controversial screening procedure even if they had wanted to.

All in all, Thanksgiving eve was a non-event at Newark Liberty, reflecting the relative calm reported at airports around the country.

“Things have gone very, very smoothly,” said Ann Davis, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration. “Wait times have been kept to a minimum, and we’ve been very pleased to hear quite a few compliments and thank yous coming from passengers.”

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3 Running Late for Flight Trigger Security Alert at Newark Airport

November 2, 2010 photo:gabriel saldana

Three people running late for a flight triggered a security alert in Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport.

The Transportation Security Administration says a man, woman and teenage boy set off an alarm when they tried to open a jet bridge door just after 3 p.m. Monday.

The trio missed their flight to Nashville.

However, TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis told The Star-Ledger of Newark confusion over whether they were on the plane prompted Continental Airlines to bring the flight back. The plane departed 36 minutes late.

Three checkpoints in the terminal were closed for 10 minutes, causing a backlog of passengers.

The incident came just days after a mail bomb plot was thwarted on Friday. Two packages from a UPS cargo plane at Newark were checked.

Controversial body scanners to get initial use at Newark Airport by morning

October 28, 2010

Steve Strunsky | photo:cote

The controversial full-body scanners intended to combat terror in the skies have arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport, with on-the-job training on the devices scheduled to begin Thursday morning. Starting at 4 a.m., screeners are to begin scanning real passengers bound for actual flights, using a single machine at one security checkpoint inside Terminal B, said Ann Davis, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration. TSA officials plan a formal unveiling later Thursday, and additional scanners will soon go into use at other checkpoints throughout the airport.

The scanners are able to see through clothing to produce vivid images of the contours of passengers’ bodies. The TSA says the machines enhance efficiency and physical privacy at security checkpoints, allowing most passengers to avoid a two-pronged process involving a metal detector and a patdown.