Last Thursday, The Transportation Security Administration started using a more invasive “universal pat-down” procedure for physical screening of those taking airline flights. The new procedure has been phased in over the past two weeks. TSA would not comment as to whether TSA workers would now be permitted to run their hands over your genitals.
The TSA stated, “The UPD [universal pat-down] lessens the cognitive burden for our officers and reduces the possibility for confusion with passengers and employees as well.”
Prior to the new format, airport security workers were allowed five different types of physical pat-downs at the screening line, but now only a single approach will be used. The new procedures changed the old method of using the back of the hand during pat downs to using the front of the hand on passengers who test positive for explosives during routine swab screenings.
Bloomberg reports that at Denver International Airport, employees and flight crews were already warned that the “more rigorous” searches to be initiated “will be more thorough and may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before.”
People who decline to pass through an image scanner are automatically subject to physical searches. TSA was prompted to make the change as part of the agency’s study of a 2015 report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General that criticized TSA screening procedures.
Another change instituted by TSA based on the results of the study is TSA's decision to end its “managed inclusion” program, which allowed travelers to use PreCheck lanes at peak times.
“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.”
TSA spokesman Bruce Anderson
Those selected for a pat-down will be permitted to request a private area for the screening, as well as the possibility of having a witness; another option would be to request the pat-down occur in public view.
Even airline pilots and flight attendants may be subject to the new rule.