TSA officers now have the right to deny your request for a pat-down search “if warranted by security considerations.”
Under a new policy for screening airline passengers, Transportation Security Administration officers at the airport can now require that you go through a full-body scanner even if you ask for a pat-down search instead.
The change in policy that began this month means airline passengers can still ask TSA officers for a pat-down search instead of having to go through a full-body scanner that uses millimeter-wave technology to disclose weapons hidden under clothing.
But the TSA officers now have the right to deny your request for a pat-down search “if warranted by security considerations.” If you refuse to go through the full-body scanner, the TSA can keep you from boarding your flight, according to the federal agency.
A Dec. 18 memo from the Department of Homeland Security that outlines the change does not give a reason for the change.
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In a statement, the TSA said most passengers won’t be affected.
“This will occur in a very limited number of circumstances where enhanced screening is required.”
The full-body scanners that used X-rays to create what look like nude images of passengers were discontinued in 2013 after passengers complained about the potential for privacy violations and exposure to radiation.
The full-body scanners now used at all commercial airports use millimeter-wave technology to create the image of a generic avatar on a screen. If the scanner discovers a lump on the passenger that could represent a weapon, the machine shows a yellow box on the screen avatar, indicating where the lump has been spotted.
On social-media sites such as Twitter, news of the new TSA policy sparked a debate over whether the change would make air travel safer or lead to racial profiling.
Airport workers face more checks
NEW YORK — The Transportation Security Administration is increasing random checks of airport and airline employees who hold badges that enable them to bypass security checkpoints.
The decision follows instances in the past two years in which employees used restricted entrances to smuggle guns and launder money. It’s also part of a larger push to increase airport security after the Paris terrorist attacks and the crash of a jet flying between Egypt and Russia, believed to have been brought down by a bomb.
In a memo to employees this month, Jose Freig, American Airlines’ managing director of corporate security, wrote that “we anticipate the random screening process to increase throughout December and during the 2016 calendar year.”
Last December, an Atlanta Delta Air Lines baggage handler was arrested, charged with using his security badge to bypass security and deliver guns to a smuggler on a number of occasions. A month later, a Federal Aviation Administration employee used his badge to bypass security for a flight from Atlanta to New York with a gun in his carry-on bag, though he was not authorized to carry a weapon.