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Pat-downs Myths & Facts

Myth: All children will receive pat-downs.
Fact: TSA officers are trained to work with parents to ensure a respectful screening process for the entire family, while providing the best possible security for all travelers. Children 12 years old and under who require extra screening will receive a modified pat down.

Myth: The TSA pat-down is invasive
Fact: Only passengers who alarm a walk through metal detector or AIT machine or opt out of the AIT receive a pat-down. For this reason, it is designed to be thorough in order to detect any potential threats and keep the traveling public safe. Pat-downs are performed by same-gender officers and all passengers have the right to a private screening with a travel companion at any time.

Myth: The pat-down is a punishment for opting out of the AIT.
Fact: There’s nothing punitive about it – it just makes good security sense. And the weapons and other dangerous and prohibited items we’ve found during pat downs speak to this.

Myth: Everyone who travels will receive a pat-down.
Fact: Only passengers who alarm a walk through metal detector or AIT machine or opt out of the AIT receive a pat-down. It is one layer in our tool kit to address the nonmetallic explosives threat. In yesterday’s hearing, Administrator Pistole said: “The bottom line is few people in the overall scheme of things will actually receive those pat downs. Now, we’ve heard some examples, and obviously, there’s a vocal group out there who have experienced this for the first time, and, rightfully so, raising concerns, what’s behind this. And the bottom line is we, the transportation security officers in particular, are trying to work in partnership with the traveling public to say we want to ensure that you are safe on this flight. Work with us in a partnership to provide the best possible security. And that’s what it comes down to.”

Myth: Complaints about the pat-downs are extremely high.
Fact: Only a small percentage of the traveling public receives a pat down as they travel through the security checkpoint. Approximately 2 million people fly in the United States every day. The number of complaints is extremely low.

Myth: Pat downs for certain individuals are limited to the head and neck.
Fact: No one is exempt. Everyone is subject to the same screening. TSA is sensitive to religious and cultural needs, but everyone must be screened effectively. Administrator Pistole echoed those sentiments on MSNBC’s Hardball recently.

Miscellaneous Myths & Facts

Myth: Airports can opt-out of TSA screening.
Fact: All commercial airports are regulated by TSA whether the actual screening is performed by TSA or private companies. So TSA’s policies – including advanced imaging technology and pat downs – are in place at all domestic airports.

Myth: Radio Host Meg McLain was handcuffed to a chair after choosing not to undergo AIT screening.
Fact: She was never handcuffed to a chair and many of her outlandish claims were proven to be unfounded.

Source: blog.TSA.gov

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Pat-downs Myths & Facts Myth: All children will receive pat-downs. Fact: TSA officers are trained…