The Transportation Security Administration said Honolulu travelers should not expect major turbulence in their travel plans, despite a planned protest over security measures at Honolulu Airport.
The local American Civil Liberties Union has had "several" formal and informal complaints but could not provide a precise number yesterday.
Laurie Temple, an attorney for ACLU Hawaii, said staffers will be at Honolulu Airport from 1 to 3 p.m. tomorrow.
"We will be arming travelers with information on their rights at the airport and directing them to push back against abusive TSA searches," Temple said. "We will advise them to take their complaints to the TSA, members of Congress and the ACLU."
The number of complaints generated from Hawaii to TSA was not immediately available yesterday, but TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said he has heard no indication of any serious issues in Hawaii.
"If there are any protests, it’s going to happen in the public area, which shouldn’t impact security operations," Melendez said.
A boycott tomorrow spawned from Internet tumult, "National Opt-Out Day," calls for rejecting a full-body X-ray scan. Those who refuse are subject to a pat-down search that includes the crotch and chest.
Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole said boycotting full-body scans tomorrow — the beginning of the holiday travel season — would only "tie up people who want to go home and see their loved ones." About 41 million Americans are expected to travel this season.
"We all wish we lived in a world where security procedures at airports weren’t necessary," he said, "but that just isn’t the case."
Nationally, the American Civil Liberties Union has received more than 600 complaints over three weeks from passengers who say they were subjected to humiliating pat-downs at U.S. airports, and the pace is accelerating, according to ACLU legislative counsel Christopher Calabrese.
But there was little if any indication of passenger revolt yesterday at many major U.S. airports, with few people declining the scan.
"Whatever keeps the country safe, I just don’t have a problem with," Leah Martin, 50, of Houston said as she waited to go through security at the Atlanta airport.
At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Gehno Sanchez, a 38-year-old from San Francisco who works in marketing, said he does not mind the full-body scans.
"I mean, they may make you feel like a criminal for a minute, but I’d rather do that than someone touching me," he said.
Melendez said TSA officers in Hawaii are "absolutely" trained to deal with any passenger who might act up in protest.
Jack Richards, president and chief executive officer of Hawaii’s largest travel wholesaler, Pleasant Holidays, said even if many travelers opted for a body search, he does not think there will be delays.
He just returned to California from Las Vegas and submitted to a pat-down.
"It took maybe less than a minute. They were very polite, very upfront, very respectful," Richards said. "Now, did I like it? No, but it is what it is."
Richards said the procedures are invasive but that people should remember the U.S. has not seen a terrorist attack since Sept. 11, 2001.
"They’ve changed the procedures for whatever reason, and you have to trust the TSA and move on," Richards said. "I don’t think this will be an issue at all to Hawaii."
Dr. John Noblezada, an optometrist for Kaiser Permanente, travels twice a month to Hilo. Earlier this month he was among the first to be subjected to a pat-down search at Hilo Airport. Only airports in Honolulu and Lihue have the full-body scanners.
"He said he was going to touch my butt with the back of his hand instead of his palm, and I don’t know how that makes it any better," Noblezada said. "He ran his two hands up my leg, all the way up until he couldn’t go anymore. The worst part about it was when he went into my waistband."
Noblezada said he believes the searches are excessive. But a recent question posed to him gave him pause.
"Say you have two planes, one with the searches and one without. Which plane would you rather get on?" he asked.
More than 400 imaging units are being used at about 70 airports. Since the new procedures began Nov. 1, 34 million travelers have gone through checkpoints, and less than 3 percent were patted down, according to the TSA.
Melendez said if an airport like Hilo’s does not have a full-body scanner, passengers would only be subject to a pat-down if they set off the metal detector.
There have been a number of recent high-profile cases of disgruntled travelers.
The most famous incident involved software engineer John Tyner, who instructed a TSA officer, "If you touch my junk I’ll have you arrested."
Tim Lussier, a 23-year-old graduate student at Hawaii Pacific University, said he is Tyner’s cousin. Lussier went through the full-body scan when returning from Los Angeles from a debate tournament.
He said his first reaction was that he had to go through the scanner. He said the choices available to passengers feel like choosing between the lesser of two evils.
"Government often will do things black and white, and maybe the public will question it and maybe better policy will be found out," Lussier said. "It’s an interesting discussion."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.