09 March, 2017
To help curb the issue, the Transport Security Administration (TSA) has changed the policy of body searches for a more rigorous screening process. As of March 2, however, they have had only one choice, which TSA spokesman Bruce Anderson told Bloomberg is more "comprehensive" than previous pat-downs.
Where TSA agents once only used the back of their hands, they will also use the front of their hands while conducting pat-downs.
Pat-downs have always been part of the TSA's security screening process. Traveler John McGrail thinks his earplugs are what led TSA agents to single him out for a pat-down.
Aviation expert Denny Kelly doesn't believe the pat-down is as effective as it could be and said the changes to the procedures comes two years after a report found major security lapses across the country.
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Now, security screeners will use the front of their hands on passengers in a private screening area if one of the prior screening methods indicates the presence of explosives.
Although they can't guarantee you won't get a pat down when going through security at the airport, the TSA said there are things you can do to minimize your chances of getting one, such as removing jewelry, like earrings, removing belts or anything else that will tip off metal detectors, or by choosing to go through a full-body scanner. Anderson said the searches will delay flying for those who receive the additional screening but is not expected to cause longer waits for most passengers.
"Part of the screening does include sensitive areas". Even airline employees, who normally breeze through security as "known crewmembers", will face more random checks, according to the new directive.
"To be patted down in a very uncomfortable position - not what I'm looking forward to", said traveler Susan Dawson.
But the agency does expect some passengers to consider the examination unusual. Individuals transiting the TSA security checkpoint who have opted out of technology screening, or alarmed the technology or a canine team, will undergo a pat-down. The TSA merely has to make it look like it's doing something to protect flights - while reducing the "cognitive burden" on its agents, of course.