The Transportation Security Authority announced new screening procedures it says will be more effective at finding potential threats. The current protocol for pat-down screenings states that agents primarily use the backside of their hands when touching sensitive areas of the body like genitals, but may use open hands "in limited cases".
The change is partly a result of the TSA's study of a 2015 report that criticized aspects of screening procedures.
If you are given a pat-down, it will be done by an officer of the same gender and you can request a private screening accompanied by another person of your choice.
CLEVELAND- A warning to local police departments, regarding a new security policy at airports nationwide.
But it isn't clear just how invasive the new procedure might be. The news agency also says that the TSA will not specify what a "comprehensive" pat-down means, exactly.
About two million people are screened every day at airports in the U.S. by the TSA. The agency said it doesn't track how many passengers are subject to pat-down searches.
TSA pat-downs include inspection of the head, neck, arms, torso, legs and feet, as well as breasts, groin and buttocks.
The shift from the previous, risk-based assessment on which pat-down procedure an officer should apply was phased in over the past two weeks after tests at smaller airports, he said. Alternatively, you can demand that the pat-down be held in public view.
Although many may find the new procedures intrusive, others see the benefits of the tightened security.
"They're not gonna have enough individuals to do the pat-downs and we are gonna miss flights and they're not very concerned when you do miss a flight", traveler Laura Contreras-Ortiz told the television station.
The agency also said airport workers may face more random checks.