The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has rolled out a more physical pat-down technique at airport security screening lines.
The new technique, which is being dubbed “legalized groping,” scraps previously used methods at airport security checks. The change in technique was required as the Department of Homeland Security audited that airports were failing to detect handguns and other weapons.
According to public affairs manager Nico Melendez, the procedure will be more streamlined and will reduce confusion and lessen officers' cognitive burden.
However, TSA declined to say exactly where — and how — employees will be touching air travelers.
A notice at Denver International Airport read, “Those selected to have a pat-down will go through a comprehensive physical screening, which will include more rigorous searches that will be more thorough and may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before.”
The move of “more rigorous” searches comes after a report highlighted that the department had failed 95 percent of airport security checks. It had allowed undercover agents to bring mock explosives and banned weapons through airport security checkpoints.
“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,” said Bruce Anderson, TSA spokesman.
He further added that the procedure will cause delays for the individual receiving the pat-down.
The new security check policy will also apply to airline pilots and flight attendants. However, the intensity and frequency of searches will also vary by airport and will depend on the screening program.
The TSA screens about 2 million people daily in the United States but doesn't track how many passengers receive pat-downs after passing through an imaging scanner. Physical screening has for a long time been a part of travelers’ strongest dislike regarding airport security protocol.
People took to Twitter to oppose the new “rigorous search.”
So TSA pat down is going to be more intimate. My last flight I watched this woman get patted down & I actual felt uncomfortable watching it.— Christine (@cmjcmj13) March 6, 2017
Is the TSA required to pat down my cat, or did they just want to pet my cat? They seemed giddy. #planecat— Luxury Cowboy (@yeti_detective) February 24, 2017
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Andrew Burton