FAQ Answer

FAQ Answer

Security scanners - Are the whole-body scanners safe?

Scanner
Body scanners such as the Rapiscan can be used to show items that may be hidden under clothing and have been approved for use at airports in the UK and many other countries.

There are strict rules to protect your privacy, so for example the security person who is checking the screen must not be able to see the person who is being scanned. You may also be able to request that the security person who looks at the scan is of the same sex. When the scan is finished and you move away from the scanner, the images of you are automatically deleted and cannot be restored.

You may have read articles in the press about being exposed to radiation in the scanners and be particularly concerned if you fly frequently. There are different types of scanners, but some of the latest types of equipment for screening passengers use very low dose X-rays.

Before the low dose X-ray scanners were introduced, their safety was checked by the Health Protection Agency (HPA). To put the issue in perspective, the radiation received from the scanning process is roughly equivalent to the natural ‘background’ radiation you receive during 2 minutes flying in an aircraft or one hour on the ground.

At some airports where whole body scanners are used, you may be able to ask for a hand search if you are unwilling to be scanned. This is likely to be more intrusive than the ‘pat down’ checks you may have experienced or seen when a passenger has triggered the arch metal detector – for example, you may be taken to a private room or cubicle and be asked to remove or loosen items of clothing.

There are some airports where you will not be allowed to travel if you refuse to be scanned. It is therefore advisable to check with your airline and the airports you will be passing through to see if they do allow an alternative check.


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Electrically powered medical equipment - Can I take my electrically powered medical equipment in my hand baggage?
  2. Travel Insurance - Do I need to obtain travel insurance for my trip?
  3. What is the risk of contagious disease (an infection that may be passed from one person to another) when flying?
  4. Nut Allergy - I have a nut allergy, am I at risk while travelling by air?
  5. Pregnancy - I am pregnant, is it safe for me to travel by air?
  6. Diabetes - I have diabetes, is there any special advice for diabetic people who wish to travel by air?
  7. Fear of Flying - I am very nervous at the thought of using air travel as a form of transport. Is there any treatment for my fear of flying and what causes it?
  8. Recent Surgery - I have recently had surgery. Are there any restrictions when travelling by air?
  9. Respiratory Disease - I have a lung condition which makes me breathless sometimes. Am I liable to have problems on an airplane?
  10. Disinsection - Is the spraying of aircraft cabins (disinsection) carried out on some flights harmful to health?
  11. Oxygen - I have been told that I require oxygen for my flight. Can I take my own supply?
  12. Anaemia - I suffer from anaemia and wonder if this would be a problem when flying.
  13. Ear Pain - I notice that I frequently get ear pain when travelling by air, what causes this and what can I do about it?
  14. Security scanners - Are airport security scanners safe?
  15. Security scanners - Are the whole-body scanners safe?
  16. Security scanners - Can medical equipment such as heart pacemakers or insulin pumps be affected by security scanners?
  17. Heart Conditions - I have a heart condition; will I be able to travel by air?
  18. Contact Lenses - I wear contact lenses. What is the advice about wearing lenses during my flight and is there any guidance for taking lens solution on board the aircraft?
  19. DVT - Am I at risk of a blood clot when flying?
  20. Dry eyes and skin - After a long flight, why do my eyes and my skin feel dry?
  21. Jet Lag - What is Jet Lag and how can it be treated?
  22. Seat Pitch - The seats appear to be closer together these days on many flights. What regulations apply?
  23. Carriage of Medication - Can I take my medication on board the aircraft?
  24. Defibrillators - Is it compulsory for airlines to carry a defibrillator on an aircraft?
  25. Sleep Apnoea - I suffer from sleep apnoea; can I take my Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine on board the aircraft as hand luggage for use in the aircraft cabin?
  26. Cabin Air Quality - What is the quality of air on board an aircraft?
  27. Infections - Why do I always pick up an infection after I have travelled in an aircraft?
  28. Vaccinations - I am travelling abroad, will I need vaccinations prior to travel?
  29. Malaria - Is it still a problem these days?
  30. Psychiatric Condition - I have a psychiatric condition, which requires me to take medication and I worry that air travel may worsen my condition or that I may not be able to travel.
  31. Reduced Mobility - I have reduced mobility and wish to travel by air. Where can I find more information about my rights to assistance during my journey and will I need a medical certificate?
  32. Plaster Cast - If I have a broken limb with a plaster cast on, can I still fly?
  33. Vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) - I use a Vagus nerve stimulator as part of my treatment for seizures. Can I take my device on board the aircraft?