They were optional in the sense you could choose not to go through, and you wouldn't be allowed to fly, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/8608337/Doctor-barred-from-flying-after-refusing-body-scan-on-health-grounds.html et. al
Well, I'm glad I never had to use Manchester. Screw that noise.
I travel all over the world, although I haven't flown TATL since November. Obviously you'll have scanners on connections. That's not arrivals. Admittedly I tend to fly into JFK/EWR/BWI/IAD, and on from Washington/NY a few days later. I've never heard of any of my colleagues being scanned on arrival, only on connections (which is to be expected)
I thought you were being pedantic but the only time I can remember arriving without needing a connection was landing direct in Detroit, and I didn't need them then. That being said, that was August 2008 and there's a chance it predates them being installed in Detroit (I don't buy this for a major airport but as I don't know I won't comment) but from the shape of MSP's layout from immigration I can't see how you could skip the extra TSA check even if you weren't connecting. I recall being railroaded into the TSA.
So the scanners are before immigration? For my last entry (day before Sandy hit), into EWR, I wasn't even asked if I was there for business or leisure.
For her that was a layover, she was heading to Wichita, perhaps that made a difference. And in MSP as I described above, I think you don't have a choice.
Hmm, do you fly TATL on American carriers (or worse, El Al)? I've heard they have silly extra rules that you don't get on VS/BA etc, but if you route via AMS I'm guessing you're a KLM flyer. Your experiences do not sound normal. I arrived into America 4 times last year, 3 times the year before. I've never seen any security present for people getting off the planes. Add the other 60 flights last year, and the only country where I have seen security on arrival is Israel, where they occasionally ask a few questions (the Erez border being the non-flight exception)
KLM/Delta flyer. MSP immediately parks you in front of the immigration desk, the customs desk and then pushes you though TSA to get into the main arrivals lounge. I'm not a fan of MSP. My fiancee has used other intermediate connecting airports like Atlanta and Memphis and I don't know what she needed to do for those, except that she had to go through the X-Ray at Memphis. She is sickly girl and air flight doesn't sit well with her, and security likes to badger her because she looks 'suspicious and nervous' for that reason.
I've landed in Girona in Spain, Amsterdam, Birmingham, Gatwick and Heathrow in London, and Seoul in South Korea over the last six years or so in various amounts, and it's only my layover in MSP that has ever done this.
Where I do think I have caused misunderstanding is that I used the word 'scanner' to mean both the X-Ray scanners that are the topic of the article and the millimetre wave ones as I don't like either of them, and it is the latter which are present in Amsterdam and mostly everywhere in the UK now (except Manchester unless they've finally scrapped the X-Ray ones, I don't know personally.) At the very least the millimetre wave ones don't generate nude images, for Gods sake. So I admit I misunderstood the GGP there, but at the same time, he made the same mistake because there are only millimetre wave scanners in the UK now, only Manchester had the X-Ray ones and they were optional, and even then you don't need to use the millimetre wave ones to fly out of Birmingham airport. So it's safe to say our friend the GGP is not a British resident and doesn't know what he's talking about there, but I guess the police state reputation of the UK has to be reinforced somehow.
I have had to use the X-Ray scanners on arrival to the USA, sorry but it's true. I wonder if you or the GGP actually do any transatlantic flying and know this or are just parroting what you've heard (as I suspect) because I was flying through Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, and they damn well have full security on arrival, even for connections, although millimetre wave ones. My fiancee flew to America once landing in Memphis, and they scanned with the X-Ray scanners for all landing people to boot. So that's two places where the assumption that you don't get scanned on arrival is outright crap.
X-Ray'd/millimetre scanned, an interview, all fingerprints taken... it's not an inviting country to fly to.
As an aside I find it hard to believe that the TSA doesn't deliberately ensure that international arrivals from airports including Amsterdam require that the gates used are the ones armed with millimetre wave scanners. After all, they have their guys at the gate asking you dumb questions. Airport security, especially transatlantic, is an end-to-end affair and usually your destination country has their guys running security in the host airport. Even inside the EU my flight back from Amsterdam to the UK had G4s employees setting up the gate and running security.
There are no scanners on the way into the U.S. You were either in the U.S. leaving (or an internal flight), or you encountered the scanner in the UK.
Didn't know Schipol, Amsterdam was really in the U.S.A. That's some good-ass weed, right there.
No, seriously, they had them and they had people choosing not to use them, but the representatives just prior to that had refused to believe my passport photo and my drivers license photo, so I wasn't going to press it.
"Any excuse will serve a tyrant." -- Aesop