Question about pat-down

Discussion in 'New Users' started by CactusCath, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. CactusCath

    CactusCath Member

    Hi all. The last time I flew I was determined not to be irradiated and was all set to make a scene, but fortunately the machine was broken. Next month I'm flying with my director & VP, so I don't want to make a scene but still don't want the full body scan; my problem is that I don't want to be touched either. I don't care about being seen -- can I request a visual examination? I am willing to expose any body part for visual inspection, just don't touch me. Will this request cause an uproar? Should I go to the airport 5 hours early? Will I be denied boarding?

  2. RB

    RB Founding Member

    My understanding only. You have a couple of choices. If you are directed to a Whole Body Imager you either do that or you will in fact get a complete rub down by a TSA employee. Even by using the Whole Body Imager if you alarm you will get a pat down on at least the area of concern. There is a chance that Walk Through Metal Detectors may be in use. If so, and you can get into that lane, then you will not get a feel down unless you alarm the detector.

    Most Whole Body Imagers are of the Millimeter Wave type and they do not display a nude image and do not seem to present a health risk unlike the Backscatter Xray Whole Body Imagers.

    If the Imager is two tall (usually blue telephone booth size) boxes that you stand between that is the Backscatter Xray variety.

    Most checkpoints have Body Scanners and they are TSA's primary means of screening.

    I'm not TSA so I could have some detail wrong. Our member Rugape is a TSA employee and is welcome to correct anything I posted.
  3. CactusCath

    CactusCath Member

    Thank you very much for responding to my post, RB. I have heard many times about the two options: full body scan or pat down. However, I would prefer a third option: visual inspection of my bare skin. Have you ever heard of anyone asking for or getting that? Thanks!
  4. Hi CactusCath, and welcome...

    This is totally anecdotal, but whenever I've read of people trying to get a visual inspection as you describe, they're usually denied, sometimes with the TSA clerks freaking out about the request, especially if you lift an article of clothing to try and show them you've got nothing underneath. They don't want to be accused of strip-searching you, you understand, even if that would be your preference. And even though they sometimes strip search people behind closed doors.

    Hopefully Rugape will chime in with something more official.
  5. Rugape

    Rugape Original Member

    Hi CactusCath, I searched all the public pages and the best info I could find is the following:

    "Advanced imaging technology screening is optional for all passengers. Passengers who opt out of AIT screening will receive alternative screening, including a physical pat-down."

    Found here:

    In my experience, there are only the two options if chosen for AIT, either go through the AIT or recieve the pat-down. I know that is not what you wanted to hear, but that is the info I have found. If you have other questions, the TSA.GOV page lists the following ways to contacat them directly to ask for more information:

    "If you need additional information, please e-mail the TSA Contact Center at or call 866-289-9673"

    I hope this at least gives you some of the info you were looking for.

    P.S. Welcome to TUG.
  6. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    There have been other stories of passengers being told to put clothing back on so they could be patted down.
  7. KrazyKat

    KrazyKat Original Member

    Welcome to TUG. The truth is they can pat you down no matter what you do. Period. Many people are patted (down, up) post screening machine.
    Since the X-ray scanners now in-place are being pulled, you might be lucky and not have to deal with them. The clear cylinders are millimeter wave (non-radiation).
    What airports are you going through?
  8. CactusCath

    CactusCath Member

    Thanks to everyone for your answers! I will depart Portland for Seattle, then on to Dubai and Chennai. I suppose they don't have a TSA overseas, do they?
  9. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Most overseas screeners are much more polite and professional than our TSA, although I can't speak personally of either Dubai or Chennai.

    Please stop by & post about your experiences as you travel, either in this thread or in our Aviation Passenger Security in Other Countries forum.
  10. CactusCath

    CactusCath Member

    Ok, I will. Thanks, Mike.
  11. CactusCath

    CactusCath Member

    Thanks to your advice, I gave up on the idea of avoiding the pat-down. I quietly requested a pat-down in Portland (where they do have the scanning machines), and it was conducted very efficiently -- she used the back of her hands and barely touched me. In Delhi India, everyone was patted down. The 2 women I travelled with said the female agent traced their under-wire bras with her hand, but she barely poked the center of my chest, even though I too was wearing an under-wire bra. I don't know why I was treated deferentially on both ends of my trip. Beginners luck? I was traveling in business class, which I thought may have helped, but so were my coworkers at the Delhi airport, and they got a more thorough pat-down. I am glad that I didn't get humiliated, although I don't have the feeling I can count on that in the future.

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