What you Should Know About Airport Pat Downs

There's a veritable firestorm in the media regarding the TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) full body scan and pat-down airport security checks. All of this sudden hoopla regarding TSA security checks is due to the change in procedure in how pat-downs are conducted, put in place by the TSA the beginning of November. The new methods, says ABC News, are much more invasive, with same-gender screeners feeling under breasts and up passengers' thighs to their crotches.

A November 23, 2010 ABC News article attempts to calm the media frenzy a bit by pointing out that the TSA estimates that 2 million people fly each day but that the agency has received only approximately 2,330 complaints specific to these pat-downs since the procedure went into effect nationwide on Nov. 1. Roughly 340,000 people have been subjected to more intense searches - just 1% of the 34 million travelers since the new procedures took effect.

And the truth of the matter is, most passengers will not have to undergo the intensive, privacy-invading, scanners and pat-downs. And if you want to be one of them, ABC News offers this suggestion:

Don't set off the metal detector. Plain and simple. There's certainly no way to ensure that a TSA official won't deem you a candidate for the more intensive security checks, but not triggering the alarm of the metal detector will definitely minimize the possibility.

As reported in the ABC News article, Anne Banas, executive editor of travel web site SmarterTravel, said "there's not a ton you can do" to avoid the pat-downs but that good preparation can lower your odds. "Be really, really smart before leaving the house," she said.

That means putting any spare change and jewelry in your carry-on bag long before the security line. Take off your belt, avoid clothing with excessive zippers, and women - don't wear an underwire bra. If you have screws or plates in your body, declare that upfront to the screener.

ABC News also pointed out that children 12 years old and under who require extra screening will receive a modified pat down; all passengers have the right to request private screening at any point during the screening process; and everybody has the right to have a traveling companion present during the private screening.

For more information about the pat-downs, TSA carry-on rules or anything else about airport security, check out the TSA's traveler tips section.

(Photo credit - theage.com.au)
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