Thursday, April 21, 2016

@AskTSA Travel Tips In Over 140 Characters: Hair Pat-downs


HairThe first reaction many have when having their hair patted down during screening is to wonder what could be hiding in their hair. The second reaction possibly is “why me?” 

We regularly receive tweets such as the one below and wanted to help clarify why and when hair is patted down. 

TSA Tweet: Is it still a custom of yours to pat and check blacck women's hair after they have been screened?

To answer this question, yes, it is still TSA procedure to pat-down anyone’s hair when needed, no matter their race or gender. These approved methods may include visual inspection, swabbing for explosives or a pat-down.

There has been some disinformation out there stating that TSA no longer pats down hair. This is inaccurate. TSA has provided more oversight of the procedure to ensure there’s no profiling, but hair pat-downs are still conducted if one of the following applies:  

  • The hair area alarms for a potential explosive
  • An individual’s hair looks like it could contain a prohibited item or is styled in a way an officer cannot visually clear it 
You’d be surprised what can be hidden in hair. The most notable things we’re looking for in hair are explosives and improvised explosives device components. Any explosive amount could cause injury. 
Lastly, I’ll leave you with a travel tip. Using non-metallic hair pins or accessories may reduce the likelihood of having your hair patted down.
-----------------------------------------------


AskTSA Logo
If you’re scratching your head and wondering what @AskTSA is, it’s a small team of TSA professionals from various agency offices who answer TSA related questions from the traveling public that are sent via Twitter. You can read more about the program in this recent USA Today article. 

If you have any TSA related travel questions, please send a tweet to our @AskTSA team. They’re available to answer your questions, 8 a.m.- 10 p.m., Eastern Time, weekdays; 9 a.m. -7 p.m., weekends/holidays. Travelers may also reach out to the TSA Contact Center. The Contact Center (TCC) hours are Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 11 p.m., Eastern Time; weekends and federal holidays, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., Eastern Time. The TCC can be reached at 866-289-9673. Passengers can also reach out to the TSA Contact Center with questions about TSA procedures, upcoming travel or to provide feedback or voice concerns.  

Follow @TSA on Twitter and Instagram!  

Bob Burns 
TSA Social Media Team 
 

31 comments:

Elissa A Donlan said...

I find this "to be totally ludicrous." As a woman who is nearly 75 years of age, if someone ever "patted down my hair", I would be "incensed!" Your paranoia is "out of control."

Anonymous said...

It would be helpful to give some examples of what TSA has found, unless it's classified.

Sylvia M Berrios said...

Good answer from @AskTSA in this regard! Again, people like to throw the "black" issue on everything when in all reality, it is for all genders and races! I don't mind that they pat down when it needs to be done; I feel safer when this happens! Let's all just not assume it is a one race thing, so that we can live a better, more understanding life and be safe wherever we travel!

Anonymous said...

Please tell us what kinds of things you have found by patting down peoples hair. Not what you're looking for but what you have found.

Susan Richart said...

I presume this blog thread is in response to the dozens of complaints from women of color of TSA screeners putting their hands on peoples' heads without asking permission.

Not a word in the thread about requiring screeners to change their gloves before groping through hair.

How many explosives has TSA found in hair, Bob? None? That's what I thought.

TSA is a total waste of resources.

screen shot/DHS OIG statement

RB said...

TSA treating the public like convicts results in the extreme negative opinion the public has of TSA screeners.

Your reap what you sow.

Anonymous said...

Just curious, has anything been found in anyone's hair that might cause harm to the public, besides lice or infectious hair diseases caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses?

Robert Osborn said...

As a frequent traveller, I expect TSA to do the job they are entrusted with. That's making sure my flight is as safe as possible. I would prefer not to have to listen to the moaners and whiners who can't stand any disruption in their travel plans. Anyone who has experienced real travel disruptions will understand. Until something happens to the others, they never will. Thanks TSA.

RB said...

 Robert Osborn said...As a frequent traveller, I expect TSA to do the job they are entrusted with. That's making sure my flight is as safe as possible. I would prefer not to have to listen to the moaners and whiners who can't stand any disruption in their travel plans. Anyone who has experienced real travel disruptions will understand. Until something happens to the others, they never will. Thanks TSA.April 23, 2016 at 10:44 AM

.......................

Robert, if you think TSA keeps you safe you are living in one of your fantasy worlds.

Anonymous said...

Robert Osborn said ".... I would prefer not to have to listen to the moaners and whiners who can't stand any disruption in their travel plans."

And I, as a frequent traveller, would prefer not to have to listen to the TSA cheerleaders try and chastise me for speaking out against the useless Dog & Pony show the TSA puts on that makes you think you are safe while flying.

Not one single thing the TSA does makes air travel even the slightest bit safer.

Big fancy scanners that can't resolve dangerous items if they are in a certain profile.... not safer.

Big fancy scanners slowing down the lines making a choke-point where hundreds of people are bunched up in a small area... not safer and in fact incredible more dangerous and a more attractive target to whatever terrorists are out there.

Pat-Downs of people's hair because it is 'large'.... not safer.

3-1-1 Liquids nonsense.... just plain silly and definitely not safer.

ID Check to even get in line.... not safer.

21 Layers of Security, the so-called Layer Cake approach.... not safer.

Behavior Detection.... not only not effective but not safer too.

Pre-Check.... not safer.

Belts and shoes taken off and put in the bins.... not safer.

Forming 'spot check' lines to inspect passengers tickets and ID's after they have been through security... waste of time and not safer.

Testing passengers water bottles and liquid containers that were purchased in the 'sterile area' of the airport... another waste of time and not safer. And rude too.

THe only things TSA does to make air travel safe are the very things that were being done *before* the TSA was created and those are walk-through metal detectors to find dangerous weapons and the baggage x-ray/scans. None of the crap TSA has added to the security process does anything other than make themselves look busy trying to look important.

Someone else said this in another discussion but it is still appropriate...... Keep repeating to yourself the "Terrorists are not coming for me!"

Anonymous said...

I agree with Robert Osborn. Due to a medical device, I have been patted down for the last seven years. Never in those seven years, has a TSA agent treated me poorly or rudely. They have always been kind and explained their process during the pat down. TSA agents are there to keep us safe.

Fix the TSA said...

TSA has been mistreating innocent passengers for years, and one major reason is the failed millimeter wave scanner.

The scanner is so poorly designed that it sees thick, curly, kinky, long, full hair as a threat and triggers too many false positives. Since TSA screeners are not allowed to think (they are "just following orders"), they grope and prod people's hair.

Women of color are experiencing too many false positives because of the scanner's poor design. They are not the only ones who have their heads pawed by screeners who have not changed their dirty gloves, but women of color are being singled out at a higher rate.

This lame denial of mistreatment of passengers and failure to provide ANY details as to why besides "the SOP says we have to!" is further proof of TSA's procedure and technology failures.

Susan Richart said...

Robert Osborn, you need to do some critical thinking.

Tin badges and faux LEO uniforms do nothing to make your trip safer.

TSA screeners are not doing anything to make your flight "as safe as possible." In fact, there is good reason to believe that the TSA is making air travel less safe because they are focusing on such things as shoes, 1" plastic guns on sock puppets, and "liquid explosives" that don't exist.

By focusing on such inane items, they are creating long, long lines at checkpoints which make a wonderful target for any terrorists out there who want to disrupt air travel.

screen shot/DHS OIG statement

Anonymous said...

THe only things TSA does to make air travel safe are the very things that were being done *before* the TSA was created and those are walk-through metal detectors to find dangerous weapons and the baggage x-ray/scans. None of the crap TSA has added to the security process does anything other than make themselves look busy trying to look important. can you tell me how a walk thru metal detector would find plastic gun? they do exist. How would it find explosives? Carbon fiber knife?
Please Mr expert, tell me.


Someone else said this in another discussion but it is still appropriate...... Keep repeating to yourself the "Terrorists are not coming for me!"
I wonder if those killed in San Bernardino Ca. were this naive also...

SSSS for Some Reason. said...

Bold Posting Employee asked "...can you tell me how a walk thru metal detector would find plastic gun? they do exist. How would it find explosives? Carbon fiber knife?
Please Mr expert, tell me.
"

Plastic guns? Simple. The bullet is still made of metal. The firing pin is still made of metal. Walk-Through Metal Detectors would find a plastic gun a whole lot sooner than a nudie-scanner would.

Carbon Fiber knives? How many of those have been found by the Nudie-Scanners? How many of those have been found with the baggage scanners? Tell me Mr Bold Posting Expert.....

"...I wonder if those killed in San Bernardino Ca. were this naive also..."

And what, exactly, does that have to do with the TSA and air travel? Are you trying to imply the terrorists in that case stopped by the local airport first and were turned away so they had to go to plan B?

RB said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
THe only things TSA does to make air travel safe are the very things that were being done *before* the TSA was created and those are walk-through metal detectors to find dangerous weapons and the baggage x-ray/scans. None of the crap TSA has added to the security process does anything other than make themselves look busy trying to look important. can you tell me how a walk thru metal detector would find plastic gun? they do exist. How would it find explosives? Carbon fiber knife?
Please Mr expert, tell me.


Someone else said this in another discussion but it is still appropriate...... Keep repeating to yourself the "Terrorists are not coming for me!"
I wonder if those killed in San Bernardino Ca. were this naive also...

April 25, 2016 at 11:02 AM
...........................
Tell us Bold Posting Intern exactly how a knife or a gun can be used to take over an airplane? Do you really think a pilot is going to unlock the door and let someone in just because they have a weapon? Even if they did have a weapon they would end up beaten to a pulp.

And tell us since you are the one with all the answers Bold Posting Intern exactly how every San Bernardino type attack can be prevented? I'm all ears!

Wintermute said...

BOLDy said...

"can you tell me how a walk thru metal detector would find plastic gun?"

Has the AIT machine?

" they do exist."

Firing mechanism is still metal on most of them. 3D printing an all-plastic gun is hard. 3D printing a gun, except for the firing mechanism, is much easier.

"How would it find explosives?"

Has the AIT machine found them? I seem to recall one of the tests that TSA failed was that the AIT machine failed to find a mock underwear bomb. The machine can't even find the items it was designed to find.

"Carbon fiber knife?"

Not really a threat, and easy to smuggle through the AIT machines. Actually, a gun would be, too, as would explosives.

"I wonder if those killed in San Bernardino Ca. were this naive also..."

Tragic? Yes. But, despite the rising frequency, still a rare event.

Susan Richart said...

Our friend Boldy wrote: "I wonder if those killed in San Bernardino Ca. were this naive also...'

I'm not naive and I don't believe any terrorists are coming for me. Yes, I there is a minuscule possibility I could get caught in a terrorist attack, but there's a far greater possibility that I could get caught up in a gang shoot-out and an ever greater possibility that I'll be killed or maimed in an automobile accident. Worrying about such things is a total waste of energy.

As far as the nudie scopes are concerned, you are aware, aren't you, that if one wants to bring something through one of them, it is possible to do so.

Erin Partin said...

I am "Caucasian" and last time I flew my hair was pat-down by a TSA agent. Let's not everyone be offended by every little thing and you'll keep your panties from bunching up.

Anonymous said...

Yep.. The stupidity here has not changed in the 3 years since I stopped reading this blog. If I come back in three years, the same arguments about the effectiveness/waste/abuse/corruption of the TSA will still be going on. It's just a shame. But then again, the TSA is no longer the most hated organization in US history!

Wintermute said...

Of course they've gotta check SOME Caucasian hair to give half an attempt to look like they're not racial profiling.

Wintermute said...

But... They're not the same nudie scanners that weren't effective as three years ago. These are NEW non-nudie scanners that "see" under your clothes and have all the same specs, except with a gumby image in place of remote viewing rooms that we're arguing over the effectiveness of. There's a difference! /sarcasm

Anonymous said...

Some people need to relax. Plan ahead, follow the instructions, go with the flow and you will be soon on your plane. How,do,you know that the TSA hasn't stopped something from getting on the plane that could cause harm to others. There are some ill or depressed people who you could be sitting next on the plane. Just because you don't see what they may have stopped doesn't mean these rude and unnecessary comments are called for. Everyone has a job to do and if you don't like the minor inconveniences then don't fly and thank Osoma Bin Laden and group.

Wintermute said...

We know that, for instance, the TSA has not stopped an underwear bomb because this is one of the items the TSA's vaulted AIT machines has failed to detect in red-team tests.

Also, are you so naive to think that the TSA wouldn't be trumpeting a caught terrorist as justification for their continued existence? They'd be screaming it from the top of mountains!

Finally, what rude comments are you referring to? The ones by our bold friend? Or another TSApologist? Those seem to be allowed through the censorship regime on a pretty regular basis.

Fix the TSA said...

Not surprising to see this blog is a year late: http://fusion.net/story/110149/aclu-to-tsa-stop-the-black-hair-patdowns/

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Yep.. The stupidity here has not changed in the 3 years since I stopped reading this blog. If I come back in three years, the same arguments about the effectiveness/waste/abuse/corruption of the TSA will still be going on. It's just a shame. But then again, the TSA is no longer the most hated organization in US history

wow, you made it three years? Nice work. The same questions, the same answers week after week after week. The same people refusing to accept the answers...it never ends. Every time I look at this blog its like 50 first dates. I can actually predict what "fix the TSA", "Susan", "RB", "winterman" and "SSSS for some reason" are going to question. Its going to be about nudie scanner that don't exist, pictures of guns in a montage, false positives that don't happen...all this has been addressed but they wont let it go... I call this cheap entertainment between important things in life.

Wintermute said...

Where has any of it been addressed by the TSA? Or are you now claiming to speak for the TSA? Nice attempt at insulting me based on my handle. Maybe do some reading...

Fix the TSA said...

Bold TSApologist, why doors it bother you so much that I raise questions about photos on this blog? This is not the first time you've complained and gotten so upset. (I wonder if you'll answer my question this time?)

Please point out where Bob has replied about the duplicate photos, the altered photos, the cutoff photos, his poor file naming, etc.

Anonymous said...

I am a male, with silver gray hair of less than 1/2 inch length. To put a point on it, you can see through it. I use no hair care products and wash my hair with the same soap I shower with. And I go through this pat the hair thing all the time.

It's a pain in the neck for me and for the screener, who I require to re-glove from the box before touching my head. (Many of the screeners cary spare gloves in their pocket, apparently unaware that they contaminate them by so doing.)

I've asked if they can't use their eyes and rather clearly see that there is nothing there and been told that their procedure is to pat down an area that alerts.

I don't show irritation, since the screener is merely doing his or her job, but I do usually remake, "Looka like your million dollar machine that is supposed to keep us safe is broken again and giving false positives" In most cases that is met with a knowing laugh. (although one suit -I presume a manager of some sort- did come over and try a mini-lecture: "Sir, there's noting wrong with the machine. When they alert there's a reason." Right. Like randomly alerting to make it appear that it is doing some good.

I only wish we were made safer by all of this, but the number of weapons removed from flights makes quite clear that we are no safer than we were before TSA.

Wintermute said...

"Just doing their job." I think I've heard that somewhere before, and it wasn't an acceptable answer then, either. On the rare occasion I do fly, I'll antagonize the poor schlob who has to deal with me. Maybe I will make someone's day so bad that they quit. They can thank me later ;)

And don't get me started on the fun I have with the BDOs. If I am not on some watchlist or another as a result of my last trip through TSA theatre, then someone is not doing their job ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm a 70 Y.O male with short hair. I got the back of my head patted in a checkpoint at Laguardia after an x-ray. I was asked in a creepy way for permission.I was surprised but gave it. Later, I wish I had asked if I could rub my belly at the same time as a senior test of dexterity. Another missed opportunity.