By Xeni Jardin
The new US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport screening procedures have been on our minds and on our blog in recent days, and the comment threads are overflowing with your thoughts, too. Now comes word that on Tuesday November 23, the TSA is expected to announce a clarified policy for those who refuse a "pat down," just in time for National Opt Out Day and the high-volume Thanksgiving travel period. From the Flying With Fish travel blog:
The new clarified policy for those who refuse pat downs by a TSA Transportation Security Officer (TSO), any pat down, is that the person who is refusing the pat down will be advised that they will be denied entry into the airport, and be escorted from the security screening area by TSA TSOs or police officers. If the person refuses the pat down again, they will be approached by a Supervisor TSO (STSO), who will again explain that a refusal of the pat down will result in the immediate removal from the security area by police officers. Following an escort out of the security area to the pre-security area the person will be informed that that they are being denied entry and that they may not attempt to reenter security.
If any person who has refused a pat down makes any attempt to go towards the gate area the TSA security checkpoint will be immediately shut down. The shutting down of a security checkpoint may result in a passenger evacuation of a terminal due to a security breach. Any evacuation of passengers would be based on a threat assessment at the discretion of the TSA and law enforcement at the terminal.Once a Checkpoint has been shut down due to a person that has refused a pat down attempting to head towards the gate area, that person will then be deemed to be disruptive and interfering with airport screening and may be subject to both criminal and civil penalties.
If you refuse a patdown, give up on your flight, and depart the airport with no confrontational behavior, there will be no US$11,000 fine for your actions.TSA TSOs and STSOs are not required to collect the name and personal information of those escorted from a TSA screening area for refusal of a pat down, however law enforcement may determine if they need to collect the information if they are involved in the escorting of a person from the screening area.
So for those of you who intend to refuse a pat down and leave with no argument and peacefully … there will be no US$11,000 fine for your actions. This new policy may also give the TSA additional 4th Amendment wiggle room in allowing people to refuse the pat downs without legal consequences.