Airport screenings to be ‘a little more intimate’

WASHINGTON — Frisking procedures at airport security checkpoints are changing, and they’re being described as more thorough and comprehensive.

“That back-of-the-hand pat-down that I think most of us are familiar with — it’s going to become a little more intimate,” said Ben Mutzabaugh, USA Today airlines reporter.

The changes apply to passengers tagged by the Transportation Security Administration for secondary screening.

“Which basically means if you go through the full body detector and they get one of the alerts, that indicates there’s something on you they need to check out,” Mutzabaugh said.

The new pat-down policy was prompted by recent secret tests conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, in which contraband was allowed to pass through security checkpoints undetected.

Anticipating potential negative reaction to the new procedures, Mutzabaugh said the TSA has warned local authorities about the new policy.

“They’ve already alerted local police departments near airports that this change is coming,” he said, “and that if they get any complaints from passengers about improper touching, this is probably where it stems from.”

Such secondary screenings are done — in the presence of a witness — by a TSA officer who is the same gender as the passenger.

Travelers can request that the screening be conducted in a private room.

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