It seems some airport security staff are more interested in looking at what lies underneath women's clothes rather than respecting passengers.

Amy Sullivan, senior editor of Time magazine, was at a security checkpoint in Miami Airport on Tuesday when she opted out of passing through a backscatter scanning device - described by experts as a 'virtual strip search'.

When she went through a metal detector instead and was searched by a woman, a male Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official is alleged to have said: 'Hey, I thought she was mine - I was going to do her!'

Upset: Time senior editor Amy Sullivan said she was unhappy with a male security officer's comment of: 'I thought she was mine' at Miami Airport.
Ms Sullivan was annoyed by the incident, in the context of a 'one-woman protest against the machines' that she said she is trying to make.

Controversial backscatter devices have been used in selected airports since last autumn, and have provoked fury from thousands of Americans pushing for a boycott.

Ms Sullivan's claims follow those of Eliana Sutherland, who was flying from Orlando Airport last November and said security workers picked her out for further screening because of the size of her breasts.

Lynsie Murley, 24, sued the TSA for exposing her breasts during a pat-down at a Texas airport in 2008 and won damages last month for negligence and emotional distress.

© Associated Press
Increased checks: Male airport security staff have been criticised by Ms Sullivan for a sexist culture during searches (file picture)
Ms Sullivan said having a three-month-baby in her arms has meant she has been directed through metal detectors and away from the backscatter devices at six different airports so far.

But this time, without a baby her line fed into one for a back-scatter device - although metal detectors were in use for the other lines. She asked to opt out.

'"Seriously?" the first TSA worker asked me with a raised eyebrow,' she said.

'Yes, seriously. He directed me through the nearby metal detector - the one that would have been good enough if I'd just chosen another line - and motioned for me to wait for a pat-down agent: "Female opt-out!"

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Complaints: Many aeroplane passengers are concerned that the full body scanners being implemented at airports are an invasion of privacy.
'A female agent led me to a table where she set my bags and then sceptically asked if I knew what the pat-down involved. "Do you want to do this somewhere private?" No, thank you.'

Ms Sullivan said the agent explained what she was going to do before performing a brisk but thorough pat-down, which was a 'completely professional experience'.

But what angered her was when a male TSA agent walked behind them and shouted: 'Hey, I thought she was mine - I was going to do her!'

'And that, buddy, is exactly why I'm opting out instead of standing in the see-through picture machine,' she said. 'Thanks for validating my choice.'

© Associated Press
Backscatter: Susan Hallowell, of the TSA, introduced the world to the new x-ray technology in 2003 by hiding a gun and bomb under her outfit in a trial.
Airline pilot Chris Liu was in hot water with the TSA in December for posting a video online pointing out flaws with airport security systems at San Francisco Airport.

He claimed ground staff, caterers and cleaners are hardly searched at all compared to passengers and described security procedures as 'only smoke and mirrors'.

The TSA's security systems were exposed as a laughing stock in December when a man accidentally travelled on a flight with a loaded handgun, but did not know until he unpacked his bag at a hotel.

The TSA was not reachable for comment today.

But its head, John Pistole, has already made clear he understands public concerns about privacy in the wake of tough new airline boarding security checks, although he has also urged the public not to boycott body scans.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waded into the row last November by saying she would avoid a TSA pat-down if possible.