If international travel and airport security measures weren't uncomfortable enough, TSA recently revealed they're making pat down procedures a little more invasive in US airports. A spokesperson told Bloomberg, "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."
Photo by Skitterphoto
The TSA has warned airport officials, crew and law enforcement that the new procedure "may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before". If CNN correspondent Angela Rye's recent experience is any indication, yeah, the new procedure does sound a lot more "involved".
The TSA doesn't get very detailed on what the new procedure will look like, but the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) sent a security notice to members that offered a vague description, according to Bloomberg:
Now security screeners will use the front of their hands on a passenger in a private screening area if one of the prior screening methods indicates the presence of explosives, according to a "security notice" that the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) sent its U.S. members following a March 1 conference call with TSA official.
The TSA website doesn't give you much to go on in terms of options, either. They simply say:
At any time during the process, you may request private screening accompanied by a companion of your choice. A second officer of the same gender will always be present during private screening.
Not very comforting, considering it's the same procedure, just in private. According to LegalMatch, rejecting a pat down altogether will likely get you booted from the airport. It's worth noting that if you reject the full-body scanner, you'll get a pat down instead. That said, you can still get a pat down if you go through the full-body scanner. (Also, TSA can still reject your request if you'd rather have a pat down and a scan, so that's not even necessarily an option).
If you're travelling to America and want to avoid a pat down, here's what one TSA agent told Reader's Digest:
Don't wear shirts or pants with extraneous pockets, buttons, or zippers, or anything with sequined bling on it. These items tend to appear suspicious on the scanner, which is programmed to flag anything out of the ordinary.
Of course, "don't look suspicious" is pretty ridiculous advice, but the TSA isn't exactly flexible, and their policies seem to only be getting more aggressive. If nothing else, these new procedures are something to be aware of next time you fly to the US. For more detail, head to the links below.
Travel can be dehumanising, which is why it's important to be the best human you can be as you slog through airport security. Even if you can't make the experience of getting herded and scrutinised fun, you can take simple steps to at least avoid adding to the unpleasantness.