Security checks at many US airports will become more intimate under new procedures rolled out by the Transportation Security Administration this month.
The TSA has adopted what it terms a "standardized pat-down procedure" to replace as many as five different types of pat-down used at the screening line.
And for many travellers, it's going to mean a little extra personal attention from the TSA agents – or, in their own lingo, more "comprehensive" physical screening.
"I would say people who in the past would have gotten a pat-down that wasn’t involved will notice that the [new] pat-down is more involved," TSA spokesman Bruce Anderson told Bloomberg.
Denver International Airport reportedly notified employees and flight crews that the "more rigorous" searches "will be more thorough and may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before."
Responding to the Bloomberg article, TSA spokesperson Michael England said "the new protocol does not mandate the touching of passengers genitals."
The TSA later clarified "the new procedure... does not involve any different areas of the body than were screened in the previous standard pat-down procedure."
However, US travel writer Joel Stratte-McClure has described his experience at a California airport en route to Egypt as being "groin scrutiny," adding that the TSA agent admitted "we don’t like it either" – but explained that "we’ve got to do more extensive vertical and horizontal pat downs" because “bad people conceal weapons in their pants."
An investigation by Homeland Security in 2015, which saw undercover agents smuggle mock explosives and banned weapons through the country’s busiest airports, reported that the TSA failed to detect the dummy kit in 95% of airport security tests.