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TSA Implements New Screening Procedures at IAH and HOU

The Houston Airport System wants travelers to be aware of changes now underway at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) as they are screened by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at the security checkpoints.

Advanced Imaging Technology

This year, Houston was selected as one of the airports to introduce the newest technology known as “Advanced Imaging Technology” (AIT). The Department of Homeland Security rolled out the new machines at 39 airports nationwide. Bush Intercontinental is scheduled to operate 18 AIT machines—some are now on site and others will arrive in 2011. TSA installed two machines at Hobby in December.

When you arrive at a checkpoint where AIT is in operation, TSA will ask you to enter the unit with your feet slightly spread apart and your arms raised overhead. While you are in this specified position, a scan of your image allows TSA staff to better detect threats such as weapons, explosives or other objects which may be concealed under layers of clothing.

Trained screeners review the x-ray type image in a separate room, but TSA officials stress that no image is ever stored for any reason and each passenger can opt for a different method of screening, should they feel uncomfortable with the AIT units.

TSA Enhanced Pat-Downs

In October, TSA began a new security screening technique that is more thorough as an enhanced pat down.

The enhanced pat-down may be performed by TSA on a random basis or when someone prefers to have a “pat-down,” rather than being scanned in the AIT or full body scanner.

Either way, if a TSA agent indicates that an enhanced pat-down is required, they will use their hands to check a passenger, rather than using the metal-detecting wand to inspect the passenger from head to toe to check for threats such as weapons, explosives or other objects which may be concealed under layers of clothing. When a TSA agent performs this procedure, they will explain in advance the steps they will take. The traveling public always has the option to ask for a private screening should a person not want to have this measure done in a public place.

On November 16, TSA announced a new policy to offer a “modified pat-down” for children 12-years-old and under who require the additional screening.

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