You may have read about TSA implementing enhanced pat downs as part of our layered approach to security. Using the latest intelligence, TSA constantly updates our screening procedures to stay ahead of those who wish to do us harm and keep the skies safe for the flying public. When developing our security procedures, we use input from across the agency, including our Offices of Intelligence, Privacy, and Civil Rights and Liberties.
To add some perspective, TSA has used pat downs since our agency started federalizing checkpoints in 2002. They’re an effective way of helping us keep dangerous items such as weapons or improvised explosive devices off of planes.
So, what might cause you to receive a pat-down? Passengers may receive a pat-down in a number of circumstances: to resolve an alarm at a walk-through metal detector; if an anomaly is detected during screening with advanced imaging technology; or during random screening. Passengers who opt out of enhanced screening such as advanced imaging technology will receive an equivalent level of screening to include a thorough pat-down. Remember, you can always request to be screened in a private area.
You shouldn’t expect to see the same security procedures at every airport. Our security measures are designed to be unpredictable and are constantly assessed and updated to address evolving threats.
TSA Blog Team