New TSA pat-down procedure, PreCheck policy in effect as spring break travelers take to skies


As spring break travelers head to the airport for trips, they may encounter some new airport security policies started this year on pat-downs and expedited screening. 

 An estimated 75,000 to 80,000 people are expected to pass through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on the busiest days of the spring break travel season -- expected to be March 31, April 1 and 2. 

 Some may notice some changes since the last time they traveled. 

 This month, the Transportation Security Administration standardized its policy on "pat-down" procedures with a "more thorough" standard. For one, pat downs may now involve a TSA officer using the front of his or her hand in certain areas for the pat-down, rather than only the back of the hand. 

 The change came after a study in the wake of covert tests by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General in 2015

 Members of Congress said at the time that mock explosives, weapons and other prohibited items went unnoticed in 67 out of 70 tries at TSA checkpoints. 

 Travelers who opt out of body scanners, who trigger an alarm or a canine team alert, or who are selected through "unpredictable security measures" will get a pat-down, according to TSA. 

 The pat-down procedure now being used "does not involve any different areas of the body than were screened in the previous standard pat-down procedure," TSA said in a statement. 

"Targeted screening"-- involving a pat down of a particular area after a body scanner detects an anomaly -- will also continue.  

 In another recent change, TSA in February significantly reduced the number of travelers who can go through PreCheck expedited screening if they are not officially enrolled in the program. 

 The agency says it now has more than 12 million travelers registered in PreCheck or similar programs. PreCheck allows travelers a chance to keep their shoes, jackets and belts on, and to keep their laptops and permitted liquids in their bags. The goal has been to eventually get 25 million travelers enrolled. 

 TSA says it recommends that those who fly three or more round-trips per year enroll in trusted traveler programs such as PreCheck or Global Entry. 

 "In the future, we intend to only have enrolled or pre-vetted passengers, or those screened by canines in the expedited screening lanes," TSA said in a written statement.  

 To speed the path through security checks, TSA spokesman Mark Howell recommends all travelers check their bags to make sure they don't have prohibited items. The long list of prohibited items includes oversized containers of liquid, weapons, knives and replicas of weapons. 

 About 44 guns have been caught at Hartsfield-Jackson security checkpoints so far this year, Howell said. Overall, the agency collects about 1,500 pounds of prohibited items a month at the airport, not including liquids, he said. 

 "Each of these causes a hiccup in the line," because the passenger must review options to get rid of the prohibited item and then be re-screened, Howell said. 

 During big vacation periods such as spring break, there’s an increase in new travelers and inexperienced travelers at airports -- meaning even more prohibited items than usual in bags, according to Howell. 

 Travelers headed on golf trips before or after the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta in April should wipe down their clubs before traveling, Howell said. That's because fertilizers or other chemicals left on the clubs can trigger alarms.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Atlanta airport official on leave after conflict of interest concerns
Atlanta airport official on leave after conflict of interest concerns

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has placed a high-ranking official at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on leave for possible conflict of interest – news that was immediately turned into political ammunition in the campaign to pick his successor. The action was taken against Cortez Carter, deputy general manager at the airport, whose wife owns...
Growth in tech jobs contributing to rise in Atlanta office rents
Growth in tech jobs contributing to rise in Atlanta office rents

The Atlanta area saw some of the largest increases in office rents on a percentage basis in North America over the past two years, and one report said the region’s boom in high-tech jobs has played a role in that. Metro Atlanta ranked third among the Top 30 tech markets in overall office rent growth, with rates increasing nearly 18 percent from...
This app could reduce the dangers of concussions in young athletes
This app could reduce the dangers of concussions in young athletes

Startup of the week: Who they are: PRIVIT What they do: Their app seeks to keep young athletes safer by helping coaches and trainers report and properly treat concussions and other injuries and medical conditions. Why it’s cool: There’s been plenty of buzz recently about the dangers of concussions in impact sports — including the...
The future is here: Augmented reality apps to use on iPhone or iPad

With the release of an updated mobile operating system in October, Apple’s new augmented reality platform is ready for take-off. The first generation of AR apps is available in Apple’s App Store, allowing millions of iPhone and iPad users to view three-dimensional computer-generated graphics on top of a user’s real-world view. With...
Why I’m skipping wireless charging on my iPhone 8 Plus

I’ve had the iPhone 8 Plus for about a month now, and while on launch day I thought I’d be most excited about wireless charging, I’ve found I’ve abandoned my wireless charger in favor of fast charging. I’ve come to like wireless charging when I’ve used Samsung’s phones, as it’s quite speedy, but Apple...
More Stories