News and notes from Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport

Spring break travelers may notice new TSA pat-downs and policies

More than 145 million passengers are expected to take to the skies this spring, a record high, according to an airline industry group.

Airlines for America said Monday it expects a 4 percent increase in travelers in March and April compared with a year ago.

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.

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 for the pat-down, rather than only the back of the hand.

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.

Free pass to PreCheck coming to end

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.

"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.

Travel tips for vacation-goers

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.

"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.

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 chemicals left on the clubs can trigger alarms.

For more on TSA's new policies and travel tips, read the full story on MyAJC.com.


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About the Author

Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.