TSA Announces Changes to Pat-Down Procedures for Children
WASHINGTON – November 22, 2010 – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today announced changes to its “Enhanced Pat-down” security procedures at U.S. airports affecting children and teens flying over the busy holiday travel season. These changes are designed to reduce the trauma and apprehension some airline passengers – particularly those between the ages of 12 and 16 – as well as their parents may have about submitting to the full-body scans and enhanced pat-downs initiated earlier this year.
Many passengers, as well as organized groups of frequent fliers, have protested the invasive frisking to which passengers have been subjected since new screening guidelines were announced earlier this year. According to TSA officials, these changes are not in response to a planned Opt-Out Protest planned for the traditionally busy Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
“Our first priority, of course, is the security of our passengers,” Said John S. Pistole, administrator of the agency. “We understand that these are the air travelers of tomorrow and it’s important to make sure their experience is as pleasurable and rewarding as possible.”
According to the new guidelines, published on the TSA website, special youth screeners will be identified at each of 73 of the busiest American airports and trained specifically to perform the enhanced pat-downs on children between 10 and 16 years of age.
These specialists will be dressed in new uniforms, specially designed to identify them as “kid-friendly.”
“Obviously it can be troubling when somebody perceived as a stranger searches your private areas,” said Pistole. “We think these friendly and familiar faces will make the experience for everyone, parents included, much more pleasant.”
Any children still troubled by the experience will be given a chocolate bar or, alternately, tickets to a local sporting event.