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Changes in Airport Screening Prodecures

Updates in Airport Security Procedures

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is committed to constantly reviewing screening procedures to ensure their measures are targeted to counter potential threats.

In 2005, TSA made changes to passenger screening procedures to strengthen their ability to detect explosives at the security checkpoints. One significant enhancement, which has generated discussion and concerns among some passengers, involves more frequent use of pat-down searches. TSA takes each situation seriously and has procedures in place to address any and all concerns.

In 2004, TSA issued new guidelines for screeners. Patting down the chest area will now only be conducted if it alarms a Hand-held Metal Detector or there is an irregularity or anomaly in the person's clothing outline. Unless these criteria are met, screeners will only pat down a line below the chest area to the waist, followed by a pat-down of the individual's entire back.

TSA screeners are trained to conduct inspections in a respectful manner, while maintaining a high level of security.

Here is more information on the new procedures:

  • To better allow TSA to identify explosives, the agency implemented new passenger screening procedures that, in addition to expanded use of pat-down searches, increases the use of explosives trace detector machines and provides screeners more latitude to refer individuals for additional screening prcedures.

  • The changes are in line with a recent recommendation of the 9/11 Commission Report that all passengers selected for additional screening be checked for explosives.

  • Additional screening, including pat-down searches, may be required of passengers based on visual observations by screeners, even if an audible alarm has not gone off.

  • Screeners are also required to communicate their actions to the passenger prior to conducting the inspection.

  • Federal Security Directors are responsible for ensuring that screeners are properly trained in the new protocols at local levels. TSA Headquarters is closely involved in ensuring that such training has taken place. The training regimen is available to screeners on TSA’s Online Learning Center.

  • TSA policy is that screeners are to use the back of the hand when screening sensitive body areas, which include the breasts (females only), genitals, and buttocks.

  • For non-sensitive areas, including other parts of the torso, screeners are required to use the front of the hand.

  • Screeners are required to offer private screening to passengers who are subject to additional screening. If you are not offered private screening you have the option to request a private screening location.

  • Screeners of the same gender as the passenger will conduct the additional screening.

  • Screeners are required to communicate their actions to the passenger prior to conducting the inspection.

(Source: Transportation Security Administration)