gumbyDue to privacy concerns and heavy scrutiny from travelers regarding the use of body scanning technology at airport security checkpoints, the TSA has unveiled new machines that will project an identical “Gumby-like” image for each person, detecting weapons and other non-metallic materials – without actually showing the passenger’s body, TSA officials said.  Both TSA screeners and passengers will be able to see the images at checkpoints.

The new image is rudimentary, gender-neutral figure with mitten hands, a halo of hair, and no nose – a marked contrast to the photo-negative-like pictures that are so explicit that they are viewed in private rooms by TSA officers.  (Insert smutty thoughts here.)  The new machines also produce no radiation – which was a concern for a number of travelers.

The machines are already being installed at Logan Airport in Boston, but they will likely be coming to an airport near you sometime soon.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Think your stuff is secure once it’s safely locked in your hotel room?  Think again.  Hackers have created a device that fits into a dry-erase pen that can be used to instantly open hundreds of thousands of hotel door locks worldwide.  The pen exploits a flaw in lock-maker Onity’s system.  It relies on the fact that the locks have very little security on their memory systems, allowing any device that knows the Onity lock “language” to unlock it.
  • American Airlines grounded 48 of its Boeing 757s for a second time after determining more repairs were needed to keep passenger seats from coming loose.  Earlier this week AA grounded 48 planes after seats had come loose on two of them during three separate flights in the last several days.  Two flights had to make emergency landings.  The airline said the repairs will be completed by Saturday – but some flights will be delayed and others will need to be canceled until the repairs are done correctly.
  • Flying for the holidays this year?  Well, it’s gonna run you a little more than last year.  (What?  Did you actually think holiday travel would get cheaper?)  The average domestic airfare for travel during the upcoming holiday season has risen about 3% over last year.  I wasn’t a math major, but that’s an increase of about $10 on a $300 ticket.  Probably not enough to keep you home, but enough boost airline revenue.  It’s how the game is played.