(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – People in three countries would prefer to go through an airport scanner than to be patted-down by an officer before boarding a flight, according to a poll by Angus Reid Public Opinion. 78 per cent of respondents in the United States, 73 per cent of Britons and 67 per cent of Canadians feel this way.

On Dec. 25, Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear during a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Abdulmutallab has been charged with attempting to blow up an aircraft, placing a destructive device on an aircraft, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, and attempted murder of 289 people.

The airport scanners that produce a three-dimensional outline of passenger’s body have been tested at 19 airports in the United States, and the Kelowna airport in Canada.

On Jan. 3, British prime minister Gordon Brown ordered the introduction of full-body airport scanners in the United Kingdom, adding, "We’ve acted very quickly. (…) We’ve recognized that there are new forms of weapon that are being used by al-Qaeda, so we’ve got to respond accordingly. We will do everything in our power to tighten up on the security that is essential."

Polling Data

Which of these methods would you prefer if you had to go through security at an airport tomorrow?





The airport scanner that produces a three-dimensional outline of your body




The pat-down method, with an officer running his or her hands along your outer garments to detect any concealed items




Not sure




Source: Angus Reid Public Opinion

Methodology: Online interviews with 1,001 American adults, 1,019 Canadian adults, and 2,005 British adults, conducted from Jan. 5 to Jan. 6, 2010. Margins of error range from 2.2 per cent to 3.1 per cent.

Complete Poll – CAN (PDF)

Complete Poll – BRI (PDF)

Complete Poll – USA (PDF)