The TSA Gets Touchy-Feely with Flyers

by  Suzanne Steinert | Feb 18, 2010
TSA security checkpoint
TSA security checkpoint / PhonlamaiPhoto/iStock

Since pat-downs and full-body scanners, it seems, simply aren’t enough, the TSA is getting even more up close and personal with flyers in the name of homeland security. Using Q-tips to pick up where metal detectors leave off in the evasive powder explosives search, TSA agents will now begin randomly “swabbing” passengers and their belongings in both security lines and at boarding gates. Over the next few weeks, agents in airports nationwide will start the swabbing sweeps – patrolling terminals with portable detection machines in tow to test passengers’ palms and carry-on’s for traces of explosive chemicals.

The TSA is assuring its latest measure will not single-out passengers discriminately, is only testing for explosive particles (not, say, illegal drugs), and will act to ensure “false positives” are handled respectfully (i.e. innocent gardeners who trigger the red light because their hands are dusted with suspect fertilizer aren’t handcuffed in front of the whole terminal). Regardless, while you shouldn’t need another excuse to wash your hands, we’d recommend doing so before leaving home on your next flight.

While most of you are OK with full body scanners, it appears more physically invasive methods of airline security are on the rise, combining varying types of new technology in the battle against bombs. Considering the needle-in-a-haystack, hit-or-miss approach, do you feel like all these random searches are getting out of hand? Or do you trust the TSA’s efforts to be more comprehensive are the best possible protection?

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