Keep your hands to yourself

Published 9:36 am Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I have to admit I’m looking toward Thanksgiving with a little hesitation.

For the first time in five years, I’ll be going home for the holiday weekend. My family is planning on a big get-together this year and I thought why not. To expedite the trip I decided on taking an airplane home.

But here I am sitting in the office on Tuesday thinking how being in my car for 11 hours to New York would be a whole lot better than the few hours of being on a plane.

It all boils down to the hoopla surrounding Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) new regulations.

Undoubtedly by now, most people have seen just how the TSA’s pat-downs work. To make matters worse you probably cannot get the images of TSA workers placing their hands in awkward places.

The TSA’s new regulations, which were initiated at beginning of this month, involve such invasive pat-downs that many passengers have become infuriated. With such an outcry, disturbing stories of tales from those who have experienced a pat-down have appeared on news outlets across the country.

So that has me wondering if it is really worth it to fly or is all of this attention on TSA pat-downs blown out of proportion.

After reading a few articles on the matter, I found that the majority of travelers will not experience the dreaded TSA pat-down.

According to ABC News, the White House says roughly 340,000 people have been subjected to more intense searches, which translates into one percent of the 34 million travelers since the new procedures took effect.

And apparently there are ways to avoid being selected for a pat-down.

Air industry watchdog groups are recommending steps to take that could lessen your chance of getting a pat-down. The first suggestion, make sure you don’t have anything on that is going to set off the metal detector.

Following basic airport procedures like putting any spare change and jewelry in your carry-on bag before the security line, taking off your belt, having shoes that can easily slip off and not having more than the allowed liquid amounts in your bag can help you pass through the hassle of security checkpoints pat-down free. The TSA has also modified the pat-downs for children 12 and under who need additional screening.

Reportedly, only those passengers who refuse to go through the new full-body scanners (they are only in place at 70 airports) or those who trigger an alarm on the more traditional metal detectors will have to undergo the pat-downs.

Just like the next person, I don’t like the idea of being patted down by a complete stranger. And from what I’ve seen in news reports these pat-downs are a little too close for comfort.

But I guess it’s a Catch 22, because I know these regulations are in place to protect the public in general.

This plane ride to New York, I definitely plan on taking precautions in order to avoid the TSA.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.