New TSA Security Measures for Kids Under 12

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says policy changes affecting security screening procedures for children aged 12 now in the works will be rolled out in a matter of weeks. The changes will mean fewer "enhanced" pat-downs for youngsters; it will also allow kids to keep their shoes on at security checkpoints.

Read about the TSA's Most Outrageous Security Incidents (and what you must know about security)

Earlier this year, outrage erupted over video of frightened-looking youngsters undergoing lengthy pat-downs. Among those angered: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who said he'd hate for this to happen to his granddaughter. The agency is now poised to unveil a variety of new screening options for kids.

How Security Will Change for Kids

The biggest change will be the reduction of pat-downs for children; as TSA Administrator John Pistole acknowledged recently, "The preponderance of intelligence indicates that children 12-and-under pose little risk to aviation security." Other changes in the works:

  • Screeners will send children through metal detectors or walk-through body scans multiple times if needed, in lieu of pat-downs
  • More non-invasive screening options will be used, such as hand swabs
  • Children will not be required to removed their shoes

Read about Anger over 3 Terrible Airport Security Incidents

Pat-downs Not Eliminated Entirely

It's important to note that these changes won't mean children can escape adult security screening procedures entirely; as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said, there can and no doubt will be exceptions: ?There will always be some unpredictability built into the system, and there will always be random checks even for groups that we are looking at differently" and that includes the under-12 set. As the Associated Press noted, terrorists in the past "have plotted to use children as suicide bombers".

Improved Security Screening for Adults, Too

Kids aren't the only ones benefitting from security changes; Pittsburgh International Airport has just opened a TSA-approved express security lane for passengers with a single carryon bag (no purse or laptops, please), and testing is underway at Atlanta, Dallas and Detroit on the so-called "trusted traveler" program that means quicker security lines for pre-selected passengers. The latter also allows passengers to keep their shoes on. In exchange for this speedier experience, passengers must divulge information about their travel plans.

While millions of people pass through security on a daily basis without incident, there are always a few who have a terrible experience; has it happened to you?

Anne McDermott
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