Flying Pasties – Don’t let them see you naked
Given my Cornish roots, (and clearly innocent mind) I was initially slightly puzzled as to how the use of ‘pasties’ would be of useful application in shielding your modesty whilst going through airport scanners. After all, hot pastry snacks and underwear, seldom go hand in hand – even in Cornwall.
Anyway, if you’re not up to speed with exactly what a ‘pastie’ is in this context, here’s the deal.
I naturally took the concept of Flying Pasties as a spoof initially. On closer inspection, clearly it is not.
Flying Pasties are rubber pads that you place over your nether regions so that anyone reviewing your image on a full body scanner doesn't see anything that you wouldn't want to expose without first being taken out for dinner.
Flying Pasties aren't stickers or paper cut-outs. They're 2mm thick pieces of rubber that adhere to your skin to cover your breasts and genitalia. According to the manufacturer, when your image appears on the full body scanner monitors, areas of skin covered by the Flying Pasties will not be visible to the security agent.
The pasties come in sets for women including two breast pasties and one bottom and one bottom piece for males.
They are emblazoned with text such as "Private" and "Only my husband sees me naked." The company does offer the option to customize the message your pasties.
Oh goody. I bet this has been a constant source of amusement for the staff working on the bespoke pasties. Any good ideas for customised messages?
But I’m curious about what the Department for Transport make of this. The UK brought in a trial of body scanners in Heathrow and Manchester airports earlier this year, through powers conferred under the Aviation Security Act 1982.
“If a passenger declines to be scanned that passenger must be refused access to the Restricted Zone, with the result that the passenger will not be able to fly.”
So does that include a passenger who is happy to be scanned but refuses to remove his or her pasties? What happens in that situation?
According to Liberty,
“Passengers are selected for scanning randomly or on the basis of undisclosed criteria. There is no alternative: if a person selected for scanning refuses he or she will not be permitted to board their flight.”
The biggest question, perhaps, is just how these are going to go down with airport security officials? What if a terrorist sought to hide a potent weapon behind their pastie? - (something all gents would no doubt like to lay claim to!!) Or what about drugs / other contraband? Could a terrorist hide a sufficient quantity of explosives behind a set of pasties to carry out his or her evil deed? In theory, sniffer dogs should still detect these things without difficulty. At least, one would hope so.
For contraband/explosives carried internally, is there the potential for pasties to be used by criminals as a further means of putting scanners/ sniffer dogs off of the scent?
Yes, savour that image.
Moving swiftly on, I bit the bullet and emailed the Department for Transport about their stance on these products and they kindly answered my email a couple of days ago. They said:
“If as a result of a security scan the security officer is not satisfied that the image enables him or her to make a through [sic] analysis of the potential for threat items located on the body, the passenger may be asked to explain any apparent anomalies in the image.
The security officer may decide that it is necessary to resolve this concern with a detailed physical search.”
“Explain any apparent anomalies”. So would they be satisfied with, “oh, that’s just my pastie, officer”?
And what does a detailed physical search’ involve here? Would the pasties need to be removed? Like any self-respecting government department, any information released tends to raise more questions than answers.
Curiously, I’m heading to the states for Christmas next month, so maybe I should order myself a flying pastie and give it a go, naturally posting a review of my experiences on Law Actually afterwards.
According to the Flying Pasties website, the 2nd generation pasties are currently in production. Here are the designs: