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Early Detection Key to Cutting Down Terrorism, Women's Health Risks

San Francisco ( — Arguing there is more than one way for a passenger to bring a "ticking time bomb" aboard an aircraft, the FAA today unveiled a new, more rigorous airport screening system that includes a mammogram.

scanner at San Francisco International

"Patienger" at O'Hare International

Although the new system has caused massive delays at airports where it has been tested, female passengers overwhelmingly approved of the added precautions.

"Sure, I worry that someone will bring a knife or a bomb on board, but what if I have a bomb slowly ticking away inside of me?" said 53-year-old Pamela Sardozian as she slowly disappeared with her luggage into an x-ray machine at San Francisco International Airport.

"I feel much more confident knowing our government will be securing America's skies and scanning America's breasts," she added.

"When it comes to passenger safety, you can treat the luggage, or you can treat the whole passenger," explained FAA Security Director Alicia Axill. "Certainly, we are addressing complaints that weapons are still making it past security, but frankly, terrorists are not the number one killer of women between the ages of 35 and 54."

In light of the new procedures, the American Medical Association now recommends that all females aged 35 and over fly at least once a year.

The FAA's Axill conceded the new system will be costly, as current x-ray machines for carry-on bags will either be replaced or retrofitted to accommodate small suitcases, laptop computers, and women weighing up to 250 pounds. In addition, low-wage security personnel, blamed for many of the recent reports of laxity, will be replaced by highly paid, board certified radiologists and fully licensed technologists.

To offset an expected $100-per-ticket fee for the procedures, the FAA also announced that it has come to an agreement with health insurers to have plane tickets covered as a medical expense. "The HMOs have promised to treat these claims just like any other medical claim," said Axill. "They're not going to pay."

mammography scan

San Francisco International

At San Francisco International, passengers waited in line for hours as Dr. Susan Lazerini and two of her colleagues busily scanned both luggage and female "patiengers" passing through x-ray machines.

"What I'm looking for here is anything suspicious, such as nipple retraction or spiculations or microcalcifications within the breast tissue or... hold on, let me finish dictating this case," said Dr. Lazerini, as she turned to speak into a small dictation machine. "I find moderately dense parenchyma with no focal mass or developing density. Impression: no suspicion for malignancy at this time, but she has a gun."

While passengers with suspicious findings in their luggage are subject to arrest and imprisonment, those with a suspicious finding on their mammograms are asked to book a follow-up flight within six weeks.

Shortly after the new system was announced, it came under fire from male frequent fliers who argued they should not have to wait in the same line as the women, and were upset that complimentary magazines in checkpoint waiting areas did not include Sports Illustrated.

Axill, however, was able to squelch the discontent by threatening to add prostate exams to the new procedures.


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