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Air Travelers In for Changes Over Holidays

Passengers who do not set off the metal detector may randomly be selected for additional screening, such as a brief search of their bags, screening shoes for explosives, hand-wanding with a metal detection device, or a pat-down.

More passengers will be selected for additional screening, but some procedures may be briefer. A new pat-down procedure, for example, calls for more common sense: screeners will not pat down areas of the body covered by tight clothing or where it is obvious the passenger is not concealing items underneath.

A new pat-down procedure calls for more attention to arms and legs, including touching the back of the mid-thigh.

At a handful of airports, the TSA has trained screeners to look for suspicious behavior patterns in passengers and the agency plans to expand the program. Officials say the program uses observation techniques and does not single out people based on race, religion or nationality.

During the holiday travel period, Dulles International and Reagan National airport officials said that passengers should arrive at the airport two hours before their flight is scheduled to depart for domestic destinations and three hours for international destination. A Baltimore-Washington International spokesman recommends 90 minutes.

"The traveling public is accustomed to security protocols and procedures," said BWI spokesman Jonathan Dean, who said he was assured by the TSA that the changes would not cause any disruptions. "The new actual changes aren't dramatic."

Democratic and Republican members of Congress have expressed concerns about the TSA's plans to allow small scissors and other small tools back on airplanes, in response to concerns from flight attendants and relatives of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said they plan to introduce bills that would ban the scissors and tools from airline cabins. Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation announced plans to hold a hearing as soon as possible about the TSA's new security rules and procedures


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