Travel Advisory: TSA Pat-Downs

If you choose not to have a full body scan before your next flight, you’ll need to have a physical pat-down. You will also need this pat-down if the scanner rejects your scan twice, or if you are randomly chosen for secondary screening. If at the airport you decide you wish to avoid the scan and the pat-down and attempt to leave the screening area, TSA can impose an $11,000 fine on you.

Who does the pat-down?

A same-gendered TSA officer should be the person provided to you. If this is not the case, ask for a supervisor immediately. You also have the right to have the screening in a private area and to have a travel companion join you to view the pat-down.

How is this pat-down different than one I might have received in the past?

Procedures will use a sliding hand technique to search your entire body surface. The waistband of your pants/skirt and underwear will be lifted and a hand may slide inside to make sure no items are concealed her. The genital area, including buttocks, may be checked up to three times. Every part of your body’s exterior will receive a physical pat-down beyond that of most police frisks. A screener will examine your head, your shirt collar, around breasts, and between the legs, feeling up to the top of the thigh until they meet resistance. Women in tight skirts that don’t allow an agent to feel the thigh area may be asked to remove the skirt in a private screening area and will be given a gown or towel to put on. (source) TSA has said to have found many weapons artfully concealed under this new process.

What is all the fuss about?

If your body has been altered in some way, your TSA pat-down officer will know and may ask uncomfortable questions. For example, women with mastectomies have horror stories, involving making women take out prosthetic breasts during their exams. In 2008 under the old rules, a TSA agent exposed one woman’s breast and when she got over the initial embarrassment, another TSA officer stated he wished there was a video of the incident. In another incident, a child was searched causing a little girl to scream for them to stop as seen here:

TSA has advised that all children under age 12 may now receive modified pat-downs as opposed to the ones adults are receiving. They have also stated they may consider further sensitivity training and  that is probably a good thing considering this image was seen on a TSA desktop:

”]In addition to posing problems to breast cancer survivors and children, these pat-downs have upset a bladder cancer survivor, sexual assault survivors, and transgendered men and women.

I don’t have a problem with these scans or pat-downs, how do I avoid the madness?

That’s perfectly fine. I’ll have an advice post up tomorrow on how to best prepare for your Thanksgiving flights, how to prepare for the crowds and potential protesting and how to relax on your trip.

I don’t want a scan or a pat-down, what can I do?

That’s perfectly fine, though TSA may have an issue. I’ll have a post up tomorrow discussing ways people are rebelling, ways you may still be able to take a flight and what your rights are.

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I'm Julie, I love to travel, I'm very hyper and I like to "hype" things and from that, TravelHyper was born. I'm a Missouri native and I cover St. Louis travel ideas as well as my own travels. I also like to focus on places I want to visit and budget travel ideas by creating trip plans. There's so much world out there and I hope you'll find that it's worth seeing and that vacation doesn't have to be out of reach to you.

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