A KLM MD-11 at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

A KLM MD-11 at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

As you might know, I am not a fan of body scanners. They provide a false sense of security, violate your privacy, cost too much money and are easy to avoid. Even with all my travels, I have been proud being able to avoid a scan or pat down. In the US, the TSA makes it simple to choose a line that is not operating a body scanner. It is satisfying knowing that the TSA were not the ones that finally got me; it was the security at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS). Guess what? I am okay with it.

Security at Amsterdam is much better and thorough than anything I have experienced while traveling in the US.  First off, there was a security check at the actual gate. Meaning they are dealing with a smaller group of people, where they can spend more time with each passenger. First, everyone has their passport and boarding pass reviewed, then scanned. Next, passengers stand one on one with a security person as they ask you questions about who you are, where you are going, etc. They are checking how you react and  if any flags are raised to cause additional scrutiny. I was only asked a few questions and able to go, but many were there for much longer. It seems smart to have trained employees to detect any issues with an individual. I am guessing that they are paid more than your average TSA employee — and for good reason.

After your talk, it is time to have your bags and body scanned. Much like in the US, you place your bags on a belt, but in this case there was no avoiding the body scanner. Every passenger is required to go through the body scanner. That’s right… No picking or choosing which line to go through.

The security officers welcomed me into the body scanner and asked me how I was doing. This wasn’t some trick to see if I was a “bad guy,” this was just customer service.

I lifted my hands, the scanner went on and was nicely asked to exit the machine. Unlike in the US, where a mysterious person is hiding somewhere viewing your image, I could see my image right outside the scanner, but I was not worried. It was not an image of my naked body, but a representation of my body (think stick figure) and it indicated that I had something on my waist. I was told by the security guard that he needed to pat me down and he gently confirmed it was my belt and off I went.

If an airport or nation is going to operate body scanners, this is how it should be done. Yes, money has been spent on them, but they are also spending money on trained people who are actually friendly. Everyone was required to be scanned and I never felt that my privacy was being violated. If the TSA would move towards this model, maybe we could be friends.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: david@airlinereporter.com

A Detailed Look at Air India”s History Part 2 — Guest Blog
David D

I’d imagine that extra scrutiny in Amsterdam has something to do with this:


And you’re right, body scanners are used inconsistently in the US, but there are some places where they work efficiently, and without the loopholes.

At Terminal 1 at LAX, every passenger goes through the body scanner, no exceptions (at least in my frequent experience). The TSA agents there have been using the scanners for a while and know how to keep the lines moving relatively quickly. Unfortunately, this is far from being the rule.

I am starting to hear from people that the TSA is getting smart and not allowing people to easily avoid scanners — which is good.

I too figure that all the smart security at AMS is from the Xmas bomber. At least when they are reacting, it is not a knee-jerk reaction and actually is beneficial. It seems the TSA just reacts to say they did something.


Slight comment. The TSA agent tested Dallas strip search scanner lines in Feb, 2011, and she went through 5 or 6 times with a gun. No issues.

Avoiding scanners = not good.At least if you believe guns on planes are an issue. Personally, I don’t have an issue with guns on planes but I could live with them continuing to be restricted as “air rage” would probably get a few passengers during the year.

I find it hard to believe that somebody would get through a scanner with a gun, much less five or six times. I habitually wear shorts or khakis with cargo pockets, and they’re always having to pat down the pocket because there’s a button on it. If it is catching a button, it would catch a gun.

Hi John. Fair enough question, I should have added the link. Here is one link.


If interested in the TSA subject, you can find out more by downloading the INFORMATION KIT under the INFORMATION Menu at http:/fttus.org.

The goal of the group is to keep security screening legal. There are things the police do NOT do today because of the Constitution, but the TSA appears to bypass this for considerably less of a threat than police face every day. That is the main issue.

Another unbelievable fact that is documented is that the US Federal Government threatened to implement a “No Fly Zone” in Texas and shut down all commercial traffic when the state legislature had the majority votes to pass a law clarifying that it is illegal to touch their citizens’ sexual organs during a security screening, especially without reasonable suspicion. A link to the US Attorney General letter threatening Gov. Perry is in the INFORMATION KIT.

A final fact I like to share is that a dying, 95-year old Leukemia patient getting on her last plane trip ever, was forced to have her Depends diaper removed so the TSOs could comfortably “clear” her to board by touching her between the legs. Frankly, this sums up the entire travesty supported by fear of nearly non-existent ‘threats’.

I wish all good (and scanner and groping free) travels, if you have to fly.

When I was at PHX I went through security at two of the terminals, and from what I saw everyone was scanned, no other option.

In the US, passengers have the option to get an “enhanced patdown.” Even though I dis-like the scanners, I would rather go through them than a patdown.

Most of the airports I have been to, not all the lines have body scanners at them. There have been a few where there were scanners active in each line, but maybe 1 in 3 were scanned and I was just lucky not to be one of the scanned ones.


Most airports I have been to are just like you said, at DEN, the body scanners are mostly over at the priority security line, which doesn’t make much sense. About 2/3 people over there seem to get scanner, other than that it is just metal detectors.

Beg to disagree with one point. For a frequent traveler, additional security at the gate is HIGHLY annoying. You get in line first, and then some security individual wants to look through your bags again, even though they just looked at them at the security line. And while they are simply looking at the same stuff the X-ray guy just looked at, your lose your overhead space and they have to check your carry-on.

If they can’t catch stuff at the X-ray, it’s a problem, and not one having a few people rumaging through bags at the gate is going to solve.

And as a person that travels to a whole lot of airports, in general where there are scanners, most of them don’t offer a choice. THEY choose who to send through, not the passenger, and one can imagine the kinds of folks that don’t get to choose.

The problem is that it’s easy to scout where no scanners exist at all,and go there. And think places like Cancun or Punta Cana, where lots of foreigners (not just whites or Americans) are wandering around, and that’s where one of these guys might try to go next.

OK so basically because the people irradiating David Parker Brown in Amsterdam were friendly, he is now Ok with it? Is this guy a complete idiot? Yeah, TSA’s thuggishness is an issue, a huge one, but radiation is as big an issue. Do people just not know how to think?? I’m sorry if I seem rude, but the degree of idiocy in this article is staggering. I’m guessing Mr. Brown has been paid off to help “normalize” the irradiating of air travelers. Appalling.

LOL paid off? Unlikely. I think if you read back on my previous stories, you will see I am not a fan of how airport security is operated. However, it is going to happen and the way they do it at AMS and other locations around the world is much better than in the US. If I am having my tax money spent on this stuff and I am going to get radiation no matter what, I rather it be done where it can actually help security and not just be a dog and pony show.


David, basically you are saying…”I oppose this but if you are nice to me while you poison me, I will go quietly.” Think about that.

Whatever you have said in the past, that is what you are saying in the present. I find that disturbing.

I am sorry if I came across like that, but I was trying to point out that AMS has spent money on people and they do not let people get through security without being scanned, which is consistent.

The fact that people are nice have nothing to do with security. It is just surprising when one gets treated with respect by security — that does not happen very often in the US.

There are really two different ideas in that and they are not necessarily related.


OK thank you for that. That makes sense to me. I guess I wish (not that you are here to grant my wishes) is that you would have noticed the courtesy while still acknowledging the health danger posed by irradiating travelers.

Doctor Smith

I agree with Baruch:
1) kindness and courtesy is good and ought to be shown to people
2) radiation exposure to effectuate search without cause (and is therefore excess and needless) isn’t okay when done by people wearing smiles – although it may be less uncomfortable…

Yea, the health danger wherein one scan is the same radiation as a flight at cruise from JFK to EWR. REALLY DANGEROUS.

So let’s double that for every flight with scanners…right? How does that make sense?

If you couldn’t pick up on my comment, even the backscatter scanners aren’t dangerous, not that they are widely used anyway.

I understood your comment. Did you know that radiation damage is cumulative? Chromosome damage is cumulative. A lot of little doses add up. This isn’t an opinion, it’s physics.

Funny thing is, more people will be killed by cancer from the scanners than will be killed AND HAVE BEEN KILLED in terrorist attacks. I feel safer….


I think that is pretty unlikely. However, passengers are exposed to more radiation from flying than they are do to body scanners.


Many locations are moving to Millimeter Wave Machines (MWM) which have as much radiation as a simple electronic device like a camera. The scanner I went through at AMS was MWM. Most of the ones I have seen in the use are the back-scatter sort that have much more radiation, but still not enough to cause serious harm.


Doctor Smith

That’s a good point David. Although I don’t agree with searches without cause or warrant (yah, I’m an American), there is a Huge difference between ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation:

– Ionizing radiation is damaging to our cells and are associated with cancer (they break off unassociated electrons which can damage molecular mechanisms in our cells).

– Non-ionizing radiation isn’t generally associated with cancer (which is why everyone within range of a radio station or cell phone tower isn’t affected adversely)

Electromagnetic radiation (EM) can, however, ionize. X-rays and radio waves are both forms of EM. Ionizing ability is based on an EM energy source’s energy per photon. Radio waves are generally too weak; X-rays generally do ionize.

The virtue that something uses EM waves does not make it safe or dangerous.

Thanks for sharing this experience. And, great to see a classic short-lived (in the US anyway) 3-holer airliner still flying. KLM is probably one of the few passenger airlines still flying this great big bird. Amazing that a change in materials and more efficient engines almost doubled the range of its early predecessor (DC10-10).


Many European airports now have this – I’ve had individual interviews in Madrid and London as well as Amsterdam. Though I believe that in most airports these are only for US-bound flights (and sometimes Israel-bound flights).

@John – AMS airport has eliminated the initial security screening for non-Schengen flights. You do not go through security until you reach the gate, so your bags are not being checked twice. It’s actually a vast improvement over previous operations.

@Baruch – Amsterdam uses millimeter wave scanners, which have been demonstrated to be not harmful, as opposed to backscatter x-ray scanners, where the jury is still out. If 100% of TSA scanners were millimeter wave scanners, I would have no problem.


This link provides an interesting place to start learning more about this. Anything that creates bubbles in my DNA is not harmless.

I think, as disturbing as the potential health effects, is the ease with which people are giving up their privacy in the name of “security.”


“Experimental verification of this simulation was not done. A recent analysis of this work concludes that the DNA bubbles do not occur under reasonable physical assumptions or if the effects of temperature are taken into account.”

Did you even read the section you linked to?

Yes of course I read the section I linked to. I embrace the precautionary principle. It seems very unwise to me to expose oneself to unproven possibly harmful microwaves. When there is more unknown about something than known, I say no thanks.

The Lady

Seriously? Seriously???? You welcome being sprayed with EXTRA unknown quantities and strengths of radiation just because you may receive other radiation elsewhere? Does is not trouble you at all that TSA refuses proper independent testing and ongoing monitoring of these almost certainly carcinogenic machines? Have you not read any of the studies and data from the USC professors and other scientists and MDs who say these machines are almost certainly creating a skin cancer epidemic, particularly among the fair skinned? Are you unaware that Johns Hopkins refuted TSA’s clamins that JH actually endorsed these machines, which were put in place in a slimy backroom deal by former DHS chief Chertoff who now holds a major stake in Rapiscan? Are you really ok with such complex medical equipment being operated by marginally trained, low skilled laborers, likely unemployable elsewhere? how do you know how much radiation you are even receiving? And half the time there’s some anomaly that triggers a pat down anyway – why – because these machines are mostly useless and unskilled labor have ZERO qualifications to be reading your effing XRAYS!!!
The scope of delusion in your story above is beyond anything a reasonable person can comprehend.

The Lady

I am also guessing you dig the dehumanizing, humiliating, ” hands-up, I surrender” pose you are ordered into when sent into this microwave – along with the notion that you are now fully separated from your most valuable possessions both physically and in terms of eye contact, making it very easy for anyone to walk away with everything. And so, with your possessions just sitting there, you won’t dare argue if any further issues do come up, cause all you want to do is get through. This – this highly dangerous, completely unConstitutional, medically harmful and pyschologically destructive system – is what you endorse? Sickening . . .

I think you might have missed the point I was trying to make, and that is my fault.

The security theater in the US is not going away. AMS is using MWM machines that have very little radiation, they use people to speak with you and they are much more consistent in their security. Although I would love not having any security, that is just not an option.

When faced with the choice of going through AMS-style security or the US, I would much rather choose the AMS style.



Some comments and questions.

1) I object to being strip-searched (naked images, no matter how convenient). You went through the modified scanner which is no different from a metal detector search, although it does scan your body parts unlike a metal detector. But, no naked images. This will satisfy 1/3 of the issue for many travellers who respect the Constitution.

2) The radiation piece is likely safe, but not proven safe by independent testing. Millimeter waves focused on your eyeballs for example or skin, over several hundred million exposures, may elevate additional risks. Even pro-TSA doctors predict at least there will be 6 additional cancers from screening passengers in the US (a small risk x over 600 million passenger a year). If the cancer mortality rate is 33%, that is 2 deaths. For those counting, that would be TWO MORE DEATHS in ONE YEAR year than the ZERO DEATHS by suicidal airline passengers on US domestic flights with working non-metallic bombs over the last FORTY EIGHT years.

The whole purpose of scanning our and our children’s privates AND PERFORMNG SEXUAL ASSAULT is to fight this ridiculously nearly non-existent risk. Yes, it is sexual assault. Go grope your neighbor’s 14-yr old daughter next door when adminsitratively searching for prohibited items (weapons, drugs) when she visits your house and let me know what happens…..if her parents don’t kill you, let me know what the police think.

1) Did they touch your sexual organs or just look at you to see you had a belt? This is a serious question. For example, with current TSA procedures, they violate your privacy for any anomaly, regardless of where it occurs. I have started to see some limited groping – for example, just groping women’s breasts when they alarm in the chest area -perhaps it was an underwire bra or a masectomy scar…tough to say as I didn’t perform them myself and just watched the TSOs.

The details would be nice to know.

2) When you say only examined at the gates, does this mean you could enter the seating areas for gates? When I was last in Amsterdam several years ago, I remember hanging out in the cafe area with restaurants and shops, but I don’t recall when I went through a metal detector. Or, does everyone go through metal detectors, than they separately go through a scanner at the gate? Details please, thanks.

If you can get close to gates, that continues to open up possibility for large scale damage with metallic bombs.

As an American in Amsterdam, you have no rights. I can’t speak for the rights of Dutch citizens. In the US, the fact you are avoiding scanners and groping whenever possible should tell us all what we need to know about the TSA.

I do think that strip search scanners with generic imaging technology will be eventually used as the primary screening. However, that is no excuse for the current violations by strip searching people today. Absolutely no excuse.

Furthermore, the sexual assault patdowns – as long as they occur – are outrageous and people should go to jail.

Man, I wrote up a nice long reply on this one yesterday, then lost it. Let’s see if my second attempt will be just as good…

Answer #1: It was not an “enhanced” patdown like you get in the US. He just lightly patted me down (I think with the back of his hands, not sure) and confirmed I had a belt on. Very non-invasive.

Answer #2: There was a large sitting area after the gate security and plenty of seating outside the security area as well. Our flight was delayed, so we stayed in the smaller are longer than usual which kind of sucked since there was not enough seating. Man, this happened a while ago, so I cannot remember if I did a metal detector and body scan. I think I did.


Thanks for the reply. You know where I stand of course…quite frankly, a “sexual assault pat down” and the electronic “strip searches” may not be the worst thing one goes through in life, but the true core of our country is the Constitution which honors and protects individual rights from a government. That principle is why the US became a leading country in the world and is looked up to by many around the world.

If we let “terrorists” win because the politicians use naked fear to erode our rights, abetted by cowardly citizens, then it is a sad end indeed for a great country. The fact is, allowing any erosion of liberties will lead to more and more over the years and decades.

We have enough legal means to protect ourselves sufficiently.

I have a question about the body scanner. Was it an xray machine like is used in the states or just a metal detector?

Most of the ones in the states are backscatter machines that use xray technology. The one at AMS was a Millimeter Wave Machine (MWM) which has as much radiation as a small electronic device.


To those of you complaining about body scans and the Constitution, a simple question.

What is your alternative?

Unlike many of you, I spend a ton of time on planes, and I don’t like the scanners. That said, I don’t see a reasonable alternative. Terrorists HAVE hidden bombs in underwear, and in other countries such as in Russia, they’ve been successful in bringing down planes and killing people that way.

How do you stop people from hiding explosives in private body areas?

Doctor Smith

In the United States, the constitution affords a person certain protections until reasonable suspicion arises that one has or is about to violate a law. It is not a question as to alternative; it is a question as to legality and constitutionality of the search.

In some places, random searches by law enforcement is common place and acceptable. Agencies who do this argue your very point: ” what is the alternative?”

Any person on the street may be carrying a bomb to place under a bridge, in a convention center, on a

We in the US accept a level of risk to ensure our personal liberties (risk). The US is one of the only countries in the world with such a system (innocent until proven guilty, no search without warrant or a warrant exception (exigency), etc…) Other countries, such as the Netherlands, do not have these provisions per se, so such searches there may be completely legitimate.

This problem is without solution right now. As it stands, the constitution may doesn”t allow what is happening in our ports (warrant-less searches of the person). We need to sort out how much privacy/risk we think we deserve. Clearly there is disagreement among us as to where that line lies.

It’s actually been litigated, and it is considered reasonable regulation of interstate commerce, for the safety and welfare of all citizens. Whether you disagree or not is for you to decide.

And without some sort of search and protection, we simply would not be able to have air travel. So, in the best interests of the population, this is what we have.

John, Dr. Smith is correct. There is a reason police don’t enter our houses without a warrant, although one might assume for example that any our neighborhoods have people who take drugs which might lead to violence, so removing all drug users is a legitimate societal concern to reduce violence and death. Warrentless entry would enhance our security. Also, forcing people to take a test on how the government functions and assessing their economic background before voting may improve selection of politicians. Preventing people from assembling more than 20 at a time will reduce massive protests which threaten road travel and possibly lead to inciting to violence. But all this is stopped by the Consitution, thankfully.

You are asserting there is no alternative. But even today – since scanners and groping are not 100% everywhere – there is an absolute possiblity someone may get on a plane with some bomb material and possibly have it explode and possibly bring down a plane.

The reality is you are still flying despite this gaping risk. And if you flew before 2009, you enjoyed the 46 years that only metal detectors were used,…and survived! So, the obvious answer is the following:

– Use metal detectors only
– Perform checked baggage and freight scanning (TSA claims this is 100%, but I think the freight carried on passenger planes in the US may not be 100% scanned although checked baggage probably is). This is actually the only threat I care about remotely. The majority of major attacks are cargo bombs.
– Legal intelligence work. We tracked the 2 printer cartridge bombs through intelligence. We uncovered the “pie in the sky” liquid bomb threat through intelligence. The only reason the underwear-failure-bomber was on a plane is the US gave him a VISA, although it was confirmed he went to a terrorist training camp. Our Intelligence agencies overruled the STate Department.

The Russian bomb attemps were cargo bombs, which are not detected using strip searches and groping. The 9-11 hijackings were barging in on the pilots. This is much less of a risk with reinforced doors.

We can live with the non-metallic bomb threat as it has NEVER HAPPENED in the US for over 48 years, and globally, there have only been 2 MISERABLY FAILED attempts since 1997. In 1997, a liquid bomb was used on a Brazilian plane. 1 person fell out of the fuselage hole and died while the plane (smaller than a 727) landed safely. The liquid bomb threat has been around now for 14 years. And, who is to say 10 people each can’t get 2 ozs of liquid through screening, then combine it?

You can’t stop people from hiding non-metallic explosives near their sexual organs, in their internal cavities (women anyone?), or as a prosthetic as the DHS touted a month ago.

The reality is it must be pretty difficult as the 1 failed attempt in 2009 shows – the best bomb-maker on Earth couldn’t perfect it apparently.

So, we don’t throw our freedoms out the window and cower on our couches because of some remote possiblity. We use reasonable legal metal detector means, and fly happily ever after (until a bird strike or mechanical failure crops up).

Jeff, the poster said that the security system itself is unconstitutional, because it is an illegal search. If we go with that premise, then we simply cannot have air travel.

Do you get that?

So the constitutional argument doesn’t hold water.

Now – if you want to talk about degrees, we can talk about them. How far should they go, not SHOULD they go, at all.

It is not easy to dismiss the Constitutional aspect.

What has been litigated and considered legal are the following 3 points of law:

– The Federal Govt has the right to regulate the airspace. Several case precedents….
– US Citizens have a right to travel in the airspace. This was specifically called out in Dulles vs US, Supreme Court case.
– The government may perform what is called an “administrative search”. This basically means searches in a non-criminal context, although fines may result or some criminal activity uncovered during such a search, and this type of search may not require a warrant. The Camara vs San Francisco case actually was won by the defendant that a search warrant was needed, but the same case established that an “adminsitrative search” must comport with the 4th Amendment. This boils down to “reasonableness” and must be “judged by a court”.

No one can legitimately dispute the case history and acceptance of administrative searches at this point.

IMPORTANT! What is considered unconstitutional by many of us is HOW the searches are conducted, not IF the search may be performed. There are 2 parts to a search – is it legal to perform a search, and how do you perform the search?

We contend that the police cannot strip search you without reasonable suspicion, and there is a case this year in the Supreme Court pending decision on if someone can be strip searched when arrested for minor (say, not paying a parking fine) offense and showing no cause for having weapons on their body. In either result, the difference is the police must have you under arrest or in jail at all times before you can be strip searched. There is no reasonable person who would contend that strip searches by the government without any reasonable suspicion are legitimate. The scanners do a strip search, no matter how convenient or the fact they are not the highest-grade pornography. We have testimony from Denver TSA manager and several reports on how clearly intrusive the electronic strip searches are.

The same thing goes for government employees forcing you to be touched on your penis, testicles, vulva, breasts (some people would add buttocks) withour reasonable suspicion before you can exercise your right to fly as reaffirmed in the Supreme Court and clearly stated in the Federal Code of Regulations (FCR).

I understand that anyone could do something crazy – but in a free society that used to have the strongest liberties and made our country unique and above all other countries in that respect – it doesn’t matter. There is no “unless you’re scared silly” in the 4th Amendment.

If one thinks some nearly non-existent possibility (not to be confused with risk) deserves strip searches and sexual assault without reasonable suspicion, then our the “terrorsits” have won despite the fact we killed the 9-11 leaders. A nation cowering in fear and giving up hard-won liberties is a weak nation indeed!

Amsterdam /Schipol has several advantages –

1) they used to have conscription (national service) for all youths until a few years ago and indeed many teenagers still take part in voluntary conscription – therefore there is relatively a plentiful supply of younger/cheaper labor to staff jobs such as airport security.

2) the Dutch as a nation (in my personal opinion) have a great temperament – they’re pretty laid back, polite etc.

3) The Netherlands used to be set up to be a huge trading nation – they had both tax, legal, logistical advantages to promote shipping of goods through the Netherlands. – indeed even today many people speak several languages – hence working in Schipol (Amsterdam) airport can be good experience for anyone that wants to move into the many trading related businesses …

4) The Dutch really want Amsterdam to be a primary gateway into Europe for travelers – hence they make Schipol work … unlike Heathrow or Charles De Gaul etc… (in my personal opinion) ..

anyway – Amsterdam has lots of advantages … 🙂

Hi David
It’s an interesting little experiment they have going on there at Schiphol airport. It’s kind of an experimental case study for the EU. All EU members and commissioners refer to the airport as their model – as though it were just that … A model of an airport.

You already know that the Xmas bomber waltzed through there that day when all the scanners were switched off and not one US Immigration official was present. Some other curious points too are that security there is run by ICTS who have their HQ just down the road and also who have the worst track record of any airport security firm ever (think 9/11′ think Charles de Gaulle and the shoe bomber, think the underpants bomber and Amsterdam).

Now they really have the scanners switched on, of course everything is running smoothly … to perfection … like a model.

However, they are using the same L3 millimeter wave scanners with auto detect software that Hamburg airport was trying out earlier this year. The German police didn’t mince their words. I believe the translation was “USELESS,” Apparently they came back with an 80% false alarm rate … Basically meaning they were incapable of detecting anything other than metals.

It looks idylic like a model village airport. I fear it may be just that … Only a model

Good information. Thanks Sam!


Hello David,
You mentioned customer service in your article, but I don’t think that should be a point of emphasis with security. Airport security personel aren’t supposed to act as a good-will ambassador, but a means of protecting passengers. Now I’m not saying that security personel shouldn’t act in a customer service orientated manner, but I don’t think it should be considered as a major issue if they don’t greet or treat you like a friend.

I’d prefer that airport security didn’t show any emotion. A job as serious as that, it’s important to keep a straight face and let passengers know that you won’t take no for an answer. We don’t pay the extra security fee for a great customer experience, we pay it to ensure that we’re still alive by the time we land.

With that said, I do like the fact that you were able to see your body scanned image, rather than unknowingly having it sent to the creeper in the back room. I personally am not so worried about body scanners anymore, as I know that everyone else is having to do the same thing.

Great post as always David,


I think there is a certain line between being customer service oriented versus caring about security. When I drive across the boarder from Washington state to Canada, they are cool and professional. They rarely smile or do small talk and that is okay. When dealing with the TSA at airports, many of the people are dicks and are on a power trip. There is a big difference there.

The person I spoke with one on one has that cool and professional demeanor and that makes sense. When going through security, they were still professional, but just had a smile and asked me how my day was. I see that as being okay too.


Quite to opposite for me, I try to get to the body scanner whenever possible. I’ve gotten scanned twice by backscatter and twice by millimeter wave.

Which one is your favorite?


Millimeter wave is way cooler, having the things spin around you is pretty sweet. Much more exciting than a metal detector, and way way more exciting than a backscatter one.


Airport scanners are yet another one of Bin Laden’s small victories over western society. He is dead, but the results of his actions will live on forever. 🙁

R Lopaka

I’d be more concerned about flying on a MD-11. Actually I wouldn’t fly on a MD-11.

LOL. That is some of the most interesting advice to date :).

KLM is the only one that still operates those babies in scheduled passenger service. I would like to take a ride one last time, but yea. Much more prefer the A330 or B777.


R Lopaka

A well known nuclear physicist/electrical engineer I consult on Crew radiation exposure tells me he’d send his kids through.Millimeter Wave Unit is best.The one that looks like it’s outta Star Trek. MD-11.Have you noticed the trend in hull loses?

John, we have had a right to liberty, free and unmolested travel since birth. It was first encoded into law in the Magna Carta in 1215 and again in the 5th and 9th Amendments to the Constitution, our Bill of Rights. The 4th amendment prohibits these searches. Someone has said it has been litigated. This is in an executive branch court under Administrative law. The ruling in that case did not say this type of search is legal. Administrative law also does not trump the Constitution which is the Supreme law of the land.

Absolutely NOTHING would happen if all of this “security” were removed. Without freedom and liberty there is no security. You are neither secure in your person or property. Read and understand the Bill of Rights. They were written to keep government from becoming tyrants. By the way, if it floods in Russia, do we run for the lifeboats in Oshkosh Wisconsin? No. The last bomb killing people on a US aircraft was 1962. More birds have downed planes. So if you wish to be safer, join Ducks Unlimited and go Goose hunting. And most importantly, THINK and do research before you say things that are not based in reality.

Leonel Nkendem

I thought that by now, there will be scanners which are able to see internal organs of passengers if necessary. I guess until then, it is all fiction.

R Lopaka

NO Shirts….NO Shoes….NO Scanner….No Service.

Mia Mantri

I have heard somewhere that these scanners that claim not to be able to see naked images of people are actually just a smokescreen so that privacy critics think their privacy is being safeguarded, even though it isn’t and that they’re still viewing naked images of people in private rooms. Personally after the way I’ve seen people treated at airports, I just don’t trust them.

@David: You do realize that AMS will allow you to opt-out, right?

Rocco Giuliano

These scanners in all their variations are a waste of money. They can be easily defeated by anyone who understands how they work. And, they represent a total effort designed to thwart just one of an infinite variety of potential threats. Consider: 1] Cleaning/catering personnel largely bypass security. 2] The checkpoint itself is a target-rich environment for a suicide bomber. Conclusion: The checkpoint routine is security theater to make passengers feel safe and justify TSA’s massive expenditures. Finally: The best way to scan for explosives is with bomb-sniffing canines, who can roam the departure area, following their noses with no need for passengers to bunch up at a checkpoint.


Some extra information on the security process you mention:

The interview thing is (to the best of my knowledge) only done for flights to the US, passengers going elsewhere only have a luggage / metal detector / body scan.
The security you describe, apart from the body scanner, sounds the same as what I experienced flying to the US several years before the Underwear Bomb.
For flights to non-Schengen countries security is at the gate, though you do go through passport control (immigration) first. For flights to Schengen countries security is straight after check-in, and there is of course no passport control.

I agree with you on the courtesy of security staff at Schiphol. Last time I flew there they even explained why they opened my bag; apparently a graphing calculator and a bag of liquorice make a bad combination when x-rayed from above :p.
I’m not sure if they are paid more but before being specifically trained for work at Schiphol they will presumably have completed an ‘MBO’ course in ‘Security’. MBO is a post-highschool education that lasts several years, I think the closest equivalent you have in the US would be community college but I don’t know the details of the American education system.

It’s sheeple like you that are going to send us all to the cattle cars.

It is shocking to me that the author of the article is OK with this scenario at Schipol described here. It carries the atmosphere of Nazi Germany. Totally agree with the comment of Jack Ferry. This is not security but bullying of citizens and treating them as sheeple. I am very grateful to the author for publishing this because I could find nowhere else a clear description of what goes on at Schipol airport. Your article helped me in making an important choice, which is to avoid this airport. I struggled a lot finding an alternative ticket but it worked out in the end.


I think you need to do some research on Nazi Germany before comparing it to body scanners.


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