CHICAGO -- The big Opt-Out looked like a big bust Wednesday as Thanksgiving travelers around the country patiently submitted to full-body scans and pat-down searches rather than create havoc on one of the busiest flying days of the year.
For days, activists had waged a loosely organized campaign on the Internet to encourage airline passengers to refuse full-body scans and insist on a pat-down in what was dubbed National Opt-Out Day. But as of Wednesday afternoon, the cascading delays and monumental lines that many feared would result had not materialized.
"It was a day at the beach, a box of chocolates," said Greg Hancock, 61, who breezed through security at the Phoenix airport on the way to a vacation in California. He was sent through a body scanner after a golf ball marker set off the metal detector.
The Transportation Security Administration said few people seemed to be opting out of the screenings. Some protesters did show up, including one man seen walking around the Salt Lake City airport in a skimpy, Speedo-style bathing suit, and others carrying signs denouncing the TSA's screening methods as unnecessarily intrusive and embarrassing.
By most accounts, though, the lines moved smoothly, and there was no more or less congestion at major U.S. airports than in previous years on the day before Thanksgiving.
TSA local security director Debra Engel said passengers traveling through Charleston International Airport in the days leading up to Thanksgiving faced a seven-minute maximum wait time at the security gate.
"Things could not be smoother," Engel said. "Passengers are nonstop stopping us and telling us we're doing an excellent job."
An estimated 8,000 passengers fly in or out of Charleston International, which does not have the full-body scanners, daily during this time of year.
"Everyone has a smile at the gates," Engel said. "And we're smiling back at them."
For days, the X-ray scans that can see through people's clothing and the new pat-downs that include the groin and chest have been the target of a backlash among politicians, bloggers and others.
The security screenings have been lampooned on "Saturday Night Live" and mocked on T-shirts, bumper stickers and underwear emblazoned "Don't Touch My Junk," from a line uttered by a defiant traveler in San Diego.
Protest organizers -- some of whom had no plans themselves to fly on Wednesday -- were not prepared to declare the event a flop, saying the publicity alone cranked up pressure on the White House and the TSA to review their security measures.
"The TSA now talks about re-evaluating everything," said James Babb, an organizer for one of the protest groups, We Won't Fly. "That is a tremendous victory for a grass-roots movement."
More than 40 million people plan to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA, with more than 1.6 million flying -- a 3.5 percent increase from last year.