No ‘enhanced’ pat-downs for kids 12 and under, TSA says

Children going through airport security will no longer be subject to the aggressive pat-downs that have riled some passengers and will instead face less-intrusive hand searches from screeners, the Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday.

“After a thorough risk assessment and after hearing concerns from parents, we made the decision that a modified pat-down would be used for children 12 years old and under who require extra screening,” TSA spokeswoman Kristin Lee said in a statement.

The TSA last month began “enhanced” pat-downs on passengers who decline to enter body scanners that create graphic images of people under their clothes and are viewed in a private room by screeners. Some passengers complained the pat-downs were intrusive, while others have protested the body scanners as a privacy invasion.

The TSA decision to ease screening for children came as the agency was sued Tuesday by two airline pilots seeking to block the use of body scanners and enhanced pat-downs. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., by Michael Roberts, an ExpressJet Airlines pilot who created a minor stir last month when he refused to undergo a body scan and a pat-down at Memphis International Airport, where he was trying to board a flight to his base in Houston. The other plaintiff is Continental Airlines first officer Ann Poe.