November 15th, 2010

A Letter Sent to the Air Transport Association

The following was sent today to the Air Transport Association—an organization whose “members and affiliates transport more than 90 percent of U.S. airline passenger and cargo traffic.” Thanks to Jesse for the idea.


To: ata@airlines.org

To whom it may concern:

From a young age, I have enjoyed flying. I love its science and its efficiency.

It is with deep regret, however, that I write to inform you that from this time forward, I will no longer be patronizing any of your member airlines, relegated instead to traveling only by car. I am taking this action in light of the aggressive, arrogant, unlawful, and flagrantly immoral actions being imposed by the Transportation Security Administration as a condition of flying. My personal boycott of flying will remain in effect unless and until substantive changes are made to provide passengers a way to opt out of the naked, irradiating body scanners, and the “enhanced” pat downs.

I have searched in vain for any comment on this matter from your organization. You have remained silent on this issue. This, despite your mission to help “U.S. airlines to flourish” by working with your members “in the technical, legal and political arenas” and allegedly “support[ing] measures that enhance aviation safety, security and well-being,” as your about page claims.

The businesses you represent are losing, and will continue to lose at an increasing rate, substantial amounts of revenue due to travelers such as myself refusing to voluntarily subject themselves to these draconian measures. We are human beings, we are innocent, and we have rights. Until this is recognized, and procedures are changed to reflect these obvious facts, I will not fly.

You are, accordingly, strongly encouraged to take appropriate measures to speak out on behalf of your member airlines, and demand that reason and restraint be manifest in the process to secure airplanes. Americans are no longer fooled; TSA procedures are nothing more than “security theater”. We have had enough. Now, I and others like me will prove it by voting with our wallets.

Your member airlines have lost my business until they stand up and try to earn it back.

Connor Boyack
Lehi, UT

17 Responses to “A Letter Sent to the Air Transport Association”

  1. Clumpy
    November 15, 2010 at 7:25 pm #

    I’ll continue not being able to afford to travel in solidarity.

  2. November 15, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    Here’s my letter:
    I fly virtually every week. But this was the first week that I found myself in one of the new body scanners. I did not realize it until I was instructed to put my feet in the appropriate outlines and raise my arms above my head. I had an immediate visceral reaction to this position as I had breast cancer last year and it felt like I was positioning for a medical scan. As I stood there, I felt fear that I was being exposed to unwanted radiation. Was this triggering cancer in my body? Since then I have researched your new policies and I am absolutely appalled. I will henceforth refuse to be scanned in such a manner. I know you assure us that it is safe but we’ve all heard that before and I absolutely do not believe it. ANY unnecessary exposure to radiation is life-threatening for me. I also object to your offensive and over-the-line pat-down procedures.
    I support and understand the need for security in our country. But you have crossed a moral line and have now impacted MY rights to my own personal safety and privacy. You have GONE TO FAR. I urge you to immediately abandon the new pat-down procedures and body scanners. Your zealousness has clouded your judgment. I will be altering my travel patterns until you do so.

  3. November 16, 2010 at 12:50 am #

    Connor, how did your mom, (I’m assuming it’s your mother anyway) a breast cancer survivor, end up in a cancer machine?! You got some ‘splainin to do.

  4. Connor
    November 17, 2010 at 11:00 am #

    I received the following reply this morning from David Castelveter, Vice President of Communications at the Air Transport Association:

    Thank you for your e-mail regarding your very serious concerns about the enhanced pat down measures recently implemented by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) Scanners. TSA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) set security directives, including aviation, based on a variety of risk-based analysis. Airlines comply with TSA security directives but do not set the directives.

    While we will pass on your concerns to the TSA in our routine discussions, we suggest that you also comment directly to TSA – they have a moderated blog on these very subjects, which can be found at:

    Enhanced Pat Down: http://blog.tsa.gov/2010/11/new-tsa-pat-down-procedures.html

    Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) Scanner: http://blog.tsa.gov/2010/11/white-house-blog-backscatter-back-story.html

    Thanks again for taking the time to voice your opinion. Passenger privacy protection is critical.

  5. November 17, 2010 at 11:32 am #

    With Church leaders speaking out against pornography and teaching the Law of Chastity, will they address against “state-sponsor sexual assault” against LDS air travelers? The body scanners that produce images showing genitals and those images are being stored on those machines, not to mention radiation exposure that could damage DNA that could increase the risk birth defects. If you “opt-out” to go through the body scanner, you will be force to go through “enhance” pat downs that allow the TSA agents to touch our private parts. Should the Latter-Day Saints submit to these draconian measures or refuse to be body scan and not to be touch in areas of their body that is inappropriate that they wouldn’t allow to be done to them elsewhere. In keeping the commandments, the saints would more likely refuse both many they also look to their leader on what they actually should do.

  6. November 17, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    Amen to this, brother. Six months ago I scheduled our first family vacation via airplane – with all the kids. It’s coming up. If this crap is going on I kid you not, I will be sick over it. There will be no junk touching of my family in my presence by government employ-ees.

    I have no problem of never, ever flying again, if this is today’s reality. I’m not even going to rhetorically ask if it can get anymore outrageous – I know it can. Freaky times we live in.

  7. November 17, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

    Abolish TSA. Do it for the children.

  8. Daniel Burton
    November 18, 2010 at 12:16 am #

    I agree with the sentiment. I don’t know that abolishing the TSA altogether is the right solution, or at least the security functions that the TSA is currently tasked to perform. However, I do think some changes, adjustments, reforms, and, for lack of a better phrase, common sense is in order. I just don’t think the current security theater does much more than create the illusion of “doing something” at the cost of billions of dollars, not to mention lost opportunity cost.\n\nWhen the invasion of privacy is added to the equation, I think it’s unbearable…or un”junk”able. Whatever. It’s over the top, and I think some serious adjustment is in order for the balancing of freedom with security. \n\nIsn’t complete security impossible without complete loss of liberty, anyway?\n\n(BTW: if it’s no bother, I quoted a portion of your letter and linked back to your post on my blog)

  9. Connor
    November 18, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

    Yesterday I sent an email to the SLC Airport administration asking under what circumstances, if any, they would opt out of the TSA’s screenings. My question was based on this article which mentioned that the TSA law provides for this opt-out.

    I just received this reply from Barbara Gann, head of Public Relations for the airport:

    In response to your recent message about Salt Lake City International Airport “opting out” of using the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), please note that even if that decision was made, a private contractor would still be required to conduct the same federally mandated screening processes. Opting out would not eliminate the use of the Advanced Imaging Technology machines or the current pat down procedures.

    For additional dialogue, detail or to voice your opinion, please contact michelle.spencer@dhs.gov. She is with the local TSA office.

    Of note: the Orlando Sanford International Airport will be opting out.

  10. Joel
    November 18, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    I don’t buy that response. You’re telling me it’s forced porn, sexual assault or nothing? And Congress passed these requirements when?

  11. David
    November 18, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    Even if what the representative of SLC International said is true, opting out sends the message that out airport is trying to find alternatives rather than rolling over to submit to further assaults.

  12. November 18, 2010 at 5:47 pm #

    Florida said it would take a year to get rid of TSA. Salt Lake can make the decision as a political statement, and hopefully this mess will be sorted out by the time they have a private screener in place.

    Clear example of where state nullification of unconstitutional search is appropriate.

  13. November 19, 2010 at 8:27 am #

    In light of the response from SLC, I would not encourage airports to opt out.

    Think of the troubles in Iraq with contractors. By having the same screenings done by a private company, there may be undesirable consequences.

    I say, let’s focus on getting the mandate removed.

    No scanners, no enhanced pat downs!

    And while we are at it, let’s set some ground rules for how security at borders and airports is conducted. I know borders are exempt from the 4th amendment, and I assume they have decided that airports are de facto borders, hence the “you gave up your rights when you bought an airline ticket” mantra, but there must be a way to ensure a certain level of dignity in these places.

    I think we are in the ‘asteroid’ in Star Wars that turned out to be the stomach of a beast. The beast is no longer trying to hide and is showing it’s teeth and is about to clamp down.

    One thing is for sure, things are changing in America.

  14. November 19, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    I hadn’t flown for years (especially since 2001) when a family emergency required that I fly a couple of years ago. Since I live far away from the intermountain west, and since the emergency was in the intermountain west (where I had not lived for an extended period of time), one of the three airports I used was SLC.

    The other two airports were extremely friendly and very much in favor of traveller dignity; I was not harrassed at all; they were efficient, but there was no threat to my personal dignity–

    SLC, on the other hand, was a nightmare.

    There were so many zones–

    I couldn’t leave my zone to get a drink of water–

    There were agents of HS on every side; it felt that there were more agents than travellers–

    and then I was frisked–

    yes, frisked; it wasn’t the sort of obscene pat-down that is being done at present, but I was frisked; it was the first time in my life, and it was a very strange experience.

    As I left I was relieved that I was done with SLC; I knew the other two airports would be serene in comparison (and they were)–

    and I wondered why SLC is so extreme.

    As an LDS it troubled me.

    Why is that airport so ‘obedient’ to everything that is controlling and wrong-headed?

    I have determined that that will be my last flight–

  15. November 19, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    lm, I think you are correct about the ‘belly of the beast’–

  16. Jim Davis
    November 19, 2010 at 5:21 pm #

    I was very disturbed to find out that my wife, unknowingly, got scanned by the pornosecurity-machine at the Salt Lake City Airport at its inception. They should have told her what the machine did and they should have told her that it was voluntary (like it was originally sold to the public) but none of that was explained. They just told her to go stand in that machine and so she did. BASTARDS!!!

    I’m betting that all of this pressure to change security procedures at the airports is going to force the TSA to change their procedures…but those changes will still violate privacy-just in a different way. The public will see it as a compromise and the outcry will fizzle off. Our privacy will still be getting violated by federal agents. I hope I’m wrong but the invasion of privacy is something I have yet to see reverted by any significant degree in America.

    I also boycott flying until these unnecessary and intrusive procedures are done away with.

    Contact your congressman/woman and tell them to support Ron Paul’s bill: HR 6416-The American Traveler Dignity Act.

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