By Abby Ott
“Take out your laptop. Please remove your shoes. Put your coat in the bin. All your liquids must be in a plastic bag.”
These commands are heard when going through the airport security process. As the Transportation Security Administration makes adjustments to security checks in airports, travelers are expected to follow the rules.
Recent changes to security have made some uncomfortable, especially with the addition of body scanners. The scanners prompted questions of privacy and ethics for many people. On Feb. 1, the TSA released new advanced imaging-technology software they claim to be more private. Now all people will appear as the same basic outline to TSA agents, and areas that could potentially be a threat will have to be further investigated. If there are no problems, an “OK” will appear on a screen.
Lee Wilson, director of discipleship, traveled with students this winter to Israel as a Global Opportunities trip leader.
“Attention to security is important and good, but we need to be careful to not infringe on individual liberties carelessly,” Wilson said.
Some are bothered by the changes, while others feel it is just part of the process.
Sophomores Raenan Arnold, nursing major, and Hilary Utley, sports medicine major, went through many security checkpoints on their way to Thailand over winter break.
“I’m sure this will just become routine,” Arnold said. “People used to worry about metal detectors, and now they are not questioned as much.”
For some, tougher security is a sign of safer travel. Utley was asked to go through a body scanner during her voyage to Asia.
“I don’t really care what security I have to go through, as long as I know they are making flying safe for everyone,” Utley said.
Frequent flyers such as Dr. Cynthia Jayne, associate provost for intercultural and international studies, say heightened security is an issue travelers regularly encounter.
Jayne is heavily involved with sending professors and students to other universities and study-abroad programs, both internationally and domestically. Answering students’ and parents’ questions regarding security is something she often does.
“What we are learning is that we need to be careful about helping our Union family travel wisely and understand what kind of things to expect from airports,” Jayne said.
From removing liquids to going through a body scanner, some people are becoming more apprehensive about flying due to security issues. Being knowledgeable about the security process before flying ensures expectations are somewhat accurate.
Despite the umbrella of security regulations, Wilson, Arnold, Utley and Jayne agree that security checkpoints vary dramatically between airports. Some airports are stricter, with TSA agents at each checkpoint, while others are more relaxed.
“At some (airports) you can leave your computer in the bag,” Arnold said. “(At) others, you have to take off your belt, jacket, etc. Just watch what other people do.”
While checkpoints might be inconsistent in their rules, be prepared to follow the policies of every airport. By following the rules, the security process will move faster and any problems will pale in comparison to the joy of travel.
“I have to not let things like (security) affect the way I think about travel,” Jayne said. “It is a lifelong commitment of mine to be engaged in the world.”