Air travel has been a trying experience for decades, but the security precautions spearheaded by the Transportation Security Administration since the 9/11 attacks have taken an unpleasant experience and turned it into a downright frustrating one for many travelers. In addition to long lines, “random” screenings are now so comprehensive they can cause you to miss your flight, and if you complain … well, that makes you even more suspicious.
Auxiliary pat-downs have been an unpleasant and unwelcome part of this experience as well, and if you thought they were invasive before, the TSA would like you to brace yourself.
Historically, and unbeknownst to most travelers, TSA agents conducting pat-downs have had the option of conducting five different types of body searches. In all likelihood, the ones you’ve received have been on the milder end of the spectrum. But upon learning of the porous nature of checkpoints, which have allowed many weapons to pass through undetected, the new TSA policy removes the less invasive options.
TSA spokesman Bruce Anderson’s take is enough to send a shiver down your spine. He told Bloomberg that searches “will be more thorough and may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before.”
They’re also not expected to slow lines down, but they will be a longer ordeal for the person patted down than they have been in the past.
He continues, “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.” Getting “more involved” with TSA agents isn’t very high on most travelers’ wish lists, but the TSA offers cold comfort by assuring us that the searches will be conducted by TSA officers of the same sex as the person being searched.
Oh, and the TSA is very aware of the fallout, notifying law enforcement to expect more complaints from air travelers about invasive touching by TSA officers.
Time will tell if this more invasive technique actually keeps us safer or if the ante will be upped once again to something even more “intimate.”