Lowcountry travelers deal with new pat-downs at airport

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - In less than a week, most Americans will be sitting down with family and friends to celebrating Thanksgiving, but before you start eating, you will have to get there first.

For some people, traveling won't be a pleasant experience.

The busiest travel day of the year is quickly approaching, which means more people will be flying through the skies and going through airport security.

All over the U.S., passengers have been complaining about the heightened Transportation Security Administration procedures. Some have compared pat-downs to being groped and the full body scans to being almost pornographic.

At the Charleston International Airport, passengers are somewhere in the middle about the extra safety precautions.

"You can't take safety too far, so if you have to get all up in there and pat me down, then hey that's what you gotta do," said one traveler.

TSA pat-downs at airports are becoming a pain, but there are ways to reduce your chances of being selected.

"What if you're traveling with work colleagues and you're getting a full frontal pat down in front of your boss. It's awkward," said a traveler against the sometimes invasive pat-downs.

While the pat-downs may be awkward to some, head of TSA John Pistole, says safety comes before privacy

"It is clearly more invasive. I'm very sensitive and concerned about people's privacy concerns. I want to work through that as best as we can," Pistole said. "The bottom line is we need to provide the best possible security."

That mentality is no different here in the Lowcountry. The federal security director for the Charleston International Airport Debra Engel couldn't say exactly what the new pat-down procedures are, but she said they are necessary to keep travelers safe in the skies.

"Pat-downs have evolved over the years because certainly taking a look at things," Engel said. "We're looking at what happened last year on Christmas day and make sure that doesn't happen again."

Not everyone is subjected to a pat down. Engel says you can cut down on your chances from being patted down by planning ahead before coming to the airport.

"Think about what you're wearing because you don't want to wear a lot of layers because you'll have to take of your jacket and outer garments, shoes, and don't wear much jewelry," Engel said. "You want to divest as much as you can so you don't alarm going through and we don't have to do any further procedures."

The Charleston International Airport does not have the full body scanners yet, so they have to do pat-downs. The airport does plan on getting the scanners within the next year.

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