Coming and Going: Travel news and notes

Friday, December 3, 2010; 9:39 AM

Getting security down pat; travelers rate the airlines.

TSA: Can't touch this

Let's hear it for the opt-in.

In response to the pre-holiday roar over the Transportation Security Administration's body-scanning machines and stepped-up pat-downs, CoGo donated her (fully dressed) body to the science of security searches. The objective: to find out whether the pat-down is more like a cursory frisk or an R-rated grope.

This is how it went down - and up:

Thanksgiving eve at BWI Marshall, we approach the TSA official and inform him that we prefer a pat-down to the giant microwave. He looks surprised, then hollers for a "female assist."

The same-sex official escorts us past the scanning machine to a space with footprint marks and invisible walls. She reminds us to keep our bags within view. We also see a parade of rubbernecking passengers.

Before the fun begins, she explains that she will use the backs of her hands on our sensitive parts. She will touch the insides of our thighs, stopping at the "point of resistance." When asked for clarification, she says, "Until I hit something." Oh.

We briefly baffle her with our flying attire. "You're wearing a skirt!?" she exclaims, before disappearing for guidance. She tells us to scissor our legs, as if we were about to demonstrate a cheerleader split.

She starts with a quick massage of the head, followed by a sweep along the back. She then moves to the front, halting at the collarbone. The bulging neckline of our T-shirt raises suspicions, but they are quickly dispelled with a flash of cloth. She runs her hands over our chest area, drawing an imaginary supersize bra. She continues south to our belly; we instinctively suck in.

Now comes the touchy part. Palms over thighs, no big deal. Hands up inner thighs, a much bigger deal.

"Does this make you feel uncomfortable?" we ask.

"What do you think?" she retorts.

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