TSA Introducing New, More Invasive Pat-Down Method

Image courtesy of Inha Leex Hale

The next time you go through a pat-down at airport security, things might be a bit different: The Transportation Security Administration has a new, more invasive pat-down procedure that some travelers might find unusual. To that end, the agency is warning local police departments that they may see an uptick in reports related to these up close and personal examinations.

The TSA calls the new physical pat-down method a more “comprehensive” physical screening, reports Bloomberg, and says the change is intended to slim down the various pat-down procedures from five methods to one.

On the TSA website it currently states that screeners “use the back of the hands for pat-downs over sensitive areas of the body. In limited cases, additional screening involving a sensitive area pat-down with the front of the hand may be needed to determine that a threat does not exist.”

Security screeners will now use the front of their hands on a passenger in a private screening area if another screening method shows there may be explosives, reports Bloomberg, citing a security notice from the Airports Council International North America to its members last week.

The agency is now proactively warning airport officials that people might find these new patdowns odd, notifying employees of “more rigorous” searches that “will be more thorough and may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before.”

“Due to this change, TSA asked FSDs [field security directors] to contact airport law enforcement and brief them on the procedures in case they are notified that a passenger believes a [TSA employee] has subjected them to an abnormal screening practice,” ACI wrote.

Will the average traveler notice a difference?

“I would say people who in the past would have gotten a pat-down that wasn’t involved will notice that the [new] pat-down is more involved,” a TSA spokesman told Bloomberg.

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