Are "enhanced" TSA patdowns in store for US travelers after Oct. 31?

Trick or treat this ain't. Travel blogger Christopher Elliott points to rumblings that the TSA may begin more invasive—oh, sorry, enhanced security patdowns on or after October 31.


  1. The new ‘pat downs’ are already taking place and have been for several weeks.

    They began when people refused to go through the ‘nude-o-scopes’. Many pax believe the more invasive procedure is retaliatory.

    There has been a lot of traffic about this on the tsa’s blog ( and at in the security forum.

    The tsa has, so far, refused to state what the groping is limited to. There may be no limits.

    Tsa has also refused to provide any information to allow the groped to know when the groper has moved outside of sop and is conducting a sexual assault under cover of their authority.

    But I am all for anything the authorities do if it makes me safer. Not.

  2. This is the tip of the iceberg.

    According to an interview in the Washington post with new tsa director Pistole, some tsa agents will soon receive guns and police powers.

    This change has gone almost unreported.

    These things scare me more than any possible terrorist menace.

  3. So, for “security reasons,” the TSA can’t disclose the procedures it is/will be putting millions of people through per day, and will immediately become public info once someone goes through it? That seems reasonable.

  4. I have osteosarcoma. I have two implants: a pain pump and an infusion port for receiving chemotherapy. I am flying to London in November. I am traveling with a walker and a wheelchair. I think I will budget an additional half hour to get through security. It ought to be interesting…

    1. only a half hour? I’d make it at least double that. I traveled w/a friend who was using this weird kneeling scooter device (instead of crutches) because of ankle surgery. The extra time to check out just the scooter easily added a half hour to our security check, and we were flying domestically.

  5. They might as well just go the whole way and force all passengers to wear disposable surgical-scrub-like clothing for any flights. No carryons, either. You get the in-flight entertainment system (which the airlines will magically decide they have to charge $20/hour for use, to cover “flight safety costs”), or stare at the back of a chair.


  6. People need to turn the tables on this lovely “Scope or Grope” nonsense. Per a recent xkcd strip, ingesting Viagra prior to the trip would result in some fun. Women should start showing up wearing Butterfly devices, etc… Confronting US authoritarian garbage with human sexuality should give deserving parties aneurysms all around.

    Or everyone just start singing “Alice’s Restaurant” during your “choice” of Scope or Grope next time you need to travel. If enough people do it…

  7. The TSA’s ever increasing abuse/powers are part of a plan by the government to get the average American used to the process of being incarcerated, which we will all be eventually.

  8. Another reason not to go to the US for vacation. And I thought things were bad enough. Roger Dow, President and CEO of the US travel association wrote a comment in the Financial Times on March 29 that until then, the security fuss had already cost the American turism $509Bn. This will only add to that.

    1. I won’t willingly use any mode of transportation that bans weapons.

      I’m happy with all my fellow passengers being just as armed and dangerous as they want to be.

      But then, I’m not afraid of raw milk, and I let my children swim in the creek unsupervised, too. So I’m clearly a mutant… but at least I’m a happy one!

  9. Lets think of the alternative.

    The knot always tightens whenever someone has figured out how to get around the existing procedures. I am thinking underpants guy is the primary motivator for the most recent demands for passenger searches. I agree it’s heavy handed but I don’t think there are any real creative ways to avoid its necessity.

    I am open to other suggestions that maintain everyone’s safety without having to resort to this, but I don’t think there is much other alternative.

    1. The alternative is that we regard underpants guy and the shoe bomber as the nimrods they are and don’t invent new security procedures every time someone comes up with a half-assed, unsuccessful terror plot. Lest we forget: those bombs FAILED. Even if the shoes and underpants had been successfully detonated (harder to do than it sounds) it’s unlikely that either would have had the explosive punch needed to take down an airplane.

      1. I guess it comes down to a catch-22 that the government finds itself in. The 9/11 hijackers did it all with little more then muscle and a few small blades. Immediately following this there were long-running complaints that the government hadn’t put the pieces together. I have a feeling that folks on BoingBoing aren’t to thrilled about the government’s newest attempts to actually put the information together. That quite obviously must go hand in hand with more though search to find those small blades in those few who would bring them onboard.

        So I think we will agree that it is rather perverse. I think billstewart is right to point out that security people have been pushing for the new technology for a while. But what I don’t get is why are people so opposed to this if they honestly have nothing to hide, and it is in their interest as passengers. It all seems rather pragmatic to me.

        I am supposing that the critics of this are opposed to it based upon the principle of unlawful search? The only problem I have with that, is that searches and security at the airport have been around for many years. If you oppose these new searchs on pure principle then you also must oppose the very act of a search before boarding a plane. Any contention containing a compromise (any search before boarding a plane) must be based upon pragmatic considerations. I am interested in hearing how those who oppose the new expanded searches find it pragmatic to do so, I want more then just a statement of principle. Saying it is bad is one thing. Explaining how it’s bad is something else entirely.

      2. Sure they failed. by dumb luck.

        Frankly I don’t see what the big deal is. I would rather someone see me in a blurry naked photo than get close enough to cop a feel. So walk through the damn screener with no tricks, no games, no reason for them to have to invoke another search. Get on the plane and get to where you want to go.

        And then maybe they will calm down, and change tactics

  10. Is there any real evidence that these intrusive procedures actually keep people safe? Or that terrorists are even targeting airplanes anymore? There seem to be far easier targets these days and the enhanced security procedures seem to be more of a PR move than anything else.

  11. ala #7 Great. Now boners will become a threat to national security. But what if the TSA people become artful gropers – will it be ok to tip them afterwards?

  12. The security level at San Jose airport is a brand new shiny “High Orange” level, aka “Wolf wolf wolf and a half!” Apparently America’s at even more risk than during the Bush Administration.

    After I went through the new naked-picture scanners last week, I spent a couple of minutes watching their operations, and asking them questions which they didn’t actually answer, and it appears that they don’t key in whether the next naked picture should go to a male or female observer. And they make you hold your arms over your head, which I couldn’t have done a year ago due to a shoulder injury. Assume the position!

    Goblin and Brainspore, the shoe bomber wasn’t the reason they make you take your shoes off, in spite of the movies the TSA shows passengers in line claiming that it was (they were making people take their shoes off for years before that, because many of them have enough metal to set off the detectors and slow down the lines, and bullying people who wouldn’t obediently take off their non-metallic shoes.) And the underpants bomber was the excuse they used to deploy the naked-picture scanners, but they’d been trying to sell them for a while and got delayed because the religious right wing voters were prudish about that sort of thing.

    1. I was never asked to take off my shoes at the airport (unless they set off the detector) before the Richard Reid incident, so if that was a part of TSA policy it certainly wasn’t being universally implemented.

  13. I recently flew through Amsterdam, and they gave everyone on my 747 a trip through the naked security systems and an enhanced pat down. They also gave an in depth look at everyone’s passports and wanted reasons as to why you visited certain stamps. Additionally, they made sure everyone had a legit address they were going to be at that night. It took 2.5 hours to board the plane. I guess Amsterdam got too much blame for that crazy man with an explosive crotch, so they super scan all Amsterdam-Detroit flights now. Worst security experience evar.

  14. And unfortunately, we’ll just put up with it.

    At least until we read about the attempted Urethra Bombings on the CNN.

  15. I’m wondering what a mass opt-out/boycott of the screeners, and it’s resultant hours-long delays of every bobdamn flight, would do for TSA’s funding requests next budget round.

  16. the TSA may begin more invasive—oh, sorry, enhanced security patdowns

    Is this code for enhanced anal probes?

  17. Still waiting for someone in the know to tell us all about dress codes in airports or air planes. I rarely fly, but have half a mind to fly nekkid next time I’m hastled. I’ve given it serious consideration at federal buildings, so air ports should be easy.

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