The type of pat-down travellers receive from Transportation Security Administration officers has now been standardized.
Previously, TSA had five different types of pat-down procedures depending on the reason passengers were selected for screening: these have now been consolidated into a single procedure, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The end result is a somewhat more invasive search for many passengers, which could include pat-downs using the front of the hand in some areas, not just the back of the hand. A TSA statement released to local news media said the new procedure, which went into effect on March 2, “does not involve any different areas of the body than were screened in the previous standard pat-down procedure.”
The new procedure also will apply to searches for cause (such as setting off an alarm by security screening equipment, random selection, and passengers who elect to have a hand search rather than passing through security x-ray machines.
A pat-down may include inspection of the head, neck, arms, torso, legs, and feet,” according to TSA. “This includes head coverings and sensitive areas such as breasts, groin, and the buttocks. You may be required to adjust clothing during the pat-down. The officer will advise you of the procedure to help you anticipate any actions before you feel them. Pat-downs require sufficient pressure to ensure detection.
“TSA officers 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.”
Screeners will continue to be of the same gender as passengers, and travellers will still have the right to be screened in private, upon request.