NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Things are about to get a little more personal at the airport. Out of the 2 million people screened every day by the TSA , only a small number are selected for secondary pat-downs – but if you’re chosen, you’ll be part of a new standardized procedure that’s more invasive.
TSA says the new standard “…does not involve any different areas of the body than were screened in the previous standard pat-down procedure.” It now includes a more thorough check of sensitive areas like breasts, groin, and buttocks. Checks would be conducted by an officer of the same gender, and a traveler has the ability to request a private room for the pat down.
It all comes after undercover officers 2 years ago were able to smuggle fake weapons past TSA 95% of the time, often by wearing them. Attorney James Winston told 22News the new procedure is protected under the 4th amendment. “There’s always that balancing act to balance a person’s right of privacy – the expectation of privacy – versus what is of a governmental interest. In this case, it’s a safety,” says Winston.
Northampton travelers like Malea Rhodes, aren’t totally on board just yet, telling 22News, “I think across the board it’s going to make people feel really violated.”
AJ Fitzgerald of Northampton agrees, saying, “They need to focus on developing better screening technologies that way they don’t need to physically invade people’s privacy.”
This spring break, more than 62 million travelers are expected to make their way through TSA lines. It’s uncertain if these pat-downs will slowdown checkpoints.