Pat Downs

What triggers a pat-down?

Pat-downs are used to resolve alarms at the checkpoint, including those triggered by metal detectors and AIT units. Pat-downs are also used when a person opts out of AIT screening in order to detect potentially dangerous and prohibited items. Because pat-downs are specifically used to resolve alarms and prevent dangerous items from going on a plane, the vast majority of passengers will not receive a pat-down at the checkpoint.

What can I do to prevent an alarm at the security checkpoint?

The majority of pat-downs occur when a passenger alarms either the metal detector or the AIT unit. To reduce this circumstance, the most important thing you can do is take everything out of your pockets before you go through screening. Also, when traveling, avoid wearing clothes with a high metal content, and put heavy jewelry on after you go through security. 

What do I do during a pat-down?

All passengers have important rights during a pat-down. You have the right to request the pat-down be conducted in a private room and you have the right to have the pat-down witnessed by a person of your choice. All pat-downs are only conducted by same-gender officers. The officer will explain the pat-down process before and during the pat-down. If you have a medical device, please inform the officer. 

Will children receive pat-downs?

Transportation Security Officers will work with parents to resolve any alarms at the checkpoint. If required, a child may receive a modified pat-down. Parents are encouraged to ensure their children have taken all items out of their pockets as they go through the security checkpoint.

Content provided courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration.