5 Ways to Avoid the Dreaded TSA Pat-Down

Navigate Through Security Procedures

Video: Can TSA See Your Privates?

Fact or Fiction: The TSA can see your privates during an airport body scan.

Most travelers didn’t expect to kick off their vacation being felt up by a well-meaning TSA agent. While many people consider it another level of security, other fliers are aggravated with existing security procedures. Approximately 78 airports are using full-body scanners – officially known as Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) – and, the debate rages on between those who find the revealing scans an invasion of privacy and those who agree it’s all in the name of safety.

Refer to the TSA's Passenger Civil Rights if you feel you are wrongly treated. In the meantime, check out our tips on how to navigate security without a pat-down.

Expose Yourself With AIT 

If all goes well, you can avoid an airport pat-down if you opt for the full-body scan and pass through with no issues. You may expose more of yourself than you wish in the digitized photos of your body; however, the TSA assures the public that images cannot be stored, printed or transmitted. TSA staff is not permitted to bring cell phones or cameras into an AIT viewing room, so you should be protected from your scans showing up on Facebook or beyond. And with the millions of travelers passing through security, it’s safe to assume that TSA staff has little time to review pictures outside of the scope of their work or pick their favorites as they flash on the screen.

Empty Your Pockets 

It is part of the airport routine to empty your pockets at the security line, but there’s always the risk that a rogue penny or errant house key tucked into a back pocket may sound alarms while you’re passing through a scanner. Simplify the security routine by clearing out your pockets before you get to the airport, keeping any essentials in your carry-on bag to avoid a close encounter with a TSA agent.

Dress the Part 

You may already consider your travel clothes for ease and comfort, but now consider the materials, too. Avoid any clothing with a high metal content—we’re not talking a suit of armor, rather trendy tops with built-in necklaces adorning the neckline, metal snaps or studs and even underwire bras that might set off an alarm. You’ll already be expected to take off your belt or skip it altogether (elastic-waist-band pants are more suitable for packing in a holiday feast anyway).

Ditch the Bling 

Exercise your right to accessorize once you arrive at your destination and take the “less is more” approach for airport travel. Heavy jewelry, including necklaces, earrings, watches and bracelets, could trigger an alarm in a metal detector or body scanner. Remove these before you proceed through security, or stow them away in your bags.

Bypass the Airport 

The only true way to avoid the full-body scan and the pat-down is to hit the open road in a car, bus or train. While not every airport has installed the full-body scanners, the TSA plans to continue expansion through 2011, which means the new travel security procedures aren’t likely to change anytime soon.

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