Some travelers say updated TSA pat-down procedure is invasive

Historically, and unbeknownst to most travelers, TSA agents conducting pat-downs have had the option of conducting five different types of body searches. Instead of officers choosing who to search more extensively at random checkpoints, more people will be patted down more thoroughly.

The agency was vague on the details of what this new approach would entail, telling Bloomberg that the searches would be "more thorough and may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before".

An airport trade group has told its members that TSA screeners will be allowed to use the front of their hands, instead of just the backs of hands, to search passengers if a previous screening indicated the presence of explosives, Bloomberg News reported, based on a "security notice" distributed by the Airports Council International-North America.

But the TSA has now introduced a standardized procedure that will replace several pat-down tactics used previously.

"We know that the adversary innovates and we have to push ourselves to capacity in order to remain one step ahead", a TSA official wrote on the agency's blog in March 2013. Nearly two years later, the agency is responding to the DHS inspector general's report on the tests with the new, "comprehensive" pat-down procedure.

The TSA also said that in limited cases "sensitive pat-down with the front of the hand may be needed to determine that a threat does not exist".

Passengers have the right to request a private pat-down screening and ask to be accompanied by a companion of their choice. "We need to be secure".

They're also not expected to slow lines down, but they will be a longer ordeal for the person patted down than they have been in the past.

An already-dreaded part of air travel has thus become that much more unbearable, yet many Americans are prepared to accept it. "Security is very important so do whatever is necessary to have a safe flight", traveler Judy Powell told WLS. Even passengers who normally receive expedited screening, such as TSA Pre✓®passengers, may at times receive a pat-down. This "lessens the cognitive burden for our officers and reduces the possibility for confusion with passengers and employees as well", the TSA said.

  • Aubrey Nash